Experience matters, it always has. We used to use the term to principally describe an individual’s competency in a particular skillset or craft. But, in these post-millennial years, we more normally use it as a measure of a person (or group’s) feelings, emotive reactions and pleasure when using a product or service – and these days, that product or service is often a piece of software.
Some dismiss the new importance we’ve placed on experience as some kind of symptom of Generation-Z neediness. Put off by the fact that we now brand this space eXperience Management (XM) with its quirky second-letter-capitalization, experience naysayers think that we should all get used to clunky products, mostly because that’s the way their grandparents and parents got through life.
In truth, ‘silver surfer’ grandparents down to 40-somethings and onward the new youth of today all demand proper fit-for-purpose digital experiences. These are users that know they can swipe away, delete or click back to reject a piece of technology simply based upon look and feel if it doesn’t gel with them very rapidly.
Analyzing the eXperience spectrum
Aiming to analyze this seemingly quite intangible element of software application development and delivery, enterprise software company Progress conducted an eBook study entitled ‘Digital Experiences: Where the Industry Stands’. With ambitions to gain insight right across the eXperience spectrum, Progress didn’t just focus on business users, it spoke to more than 900 software application development engineers, web design specialists and marketing professionals.
Why should we trust Progress to carry out this type of study? The company is in a comparatively small group of vendors that provide capabilities for both web marketing and applications development initiatives, a combination not oft found twinned inside one wider platform. Further, this research was done in conjunction with a 3rd party survey firm who managed the recruitment of the survey participants. Additionally, Progress confirms that it is making the research generally available (at no cost) and is not ‘gating’ the survey. or using it to directly support marketing and sales lead generation efforts.
Where Progress used to champion its competencies in Business Process Management (BPM), Complex Event Processing (CEP) and other predominantly infrastructure layer technologies, the company has now moved onward. Progress currently puts its money into cloud technologies, software application development as well as a group of what it calls adaptive user experience products for web, cross-platform mobile application deployment and user interfaces.
In its own words, the company claims to provide everything needed to design, build, deploy, run and manage digital experiences effectively across different channels and touchpoints.
Looking at its survey, Progress notes that while many respondents understand the importance of new eXperience initiatives, 53% of enterprises are struggling and 90% of the 900+ respondents have canceled or delayed digital experience projects in the last 12 months, citing everything from lack of communication, to resource constraint, to executive buy-in.
Some 79% of organizations have a mandate to use digital experience to achieve competitive advantage — and 93% agree that coordinating digital experience and app development efforts can accelerate digital transformation outcomes more quickly. But not everybody can get the whole experience vibe truly off the ground.
“We took on this research because digital experience is crucial to any business, a key driver of digital transformation, and we wanted to get a sense of exactly where larger organizations are in their planning versus execution,” said Mark Troester, vice president of strategy, Progress. “The high response volume indicates that the interest is strong, but as with any major undertaking there are impediments. The goal of our research is to help organizations wade through the noise, determine the best course of action and to provide a resource to draw on the experiences of other industry leaders.”
In an attempt to answer to eXperience exasperation that’s going on out there, Progress reminds us that it enables developers to deliver new technologies and also allows marketing self-service to optimize the so-called ‘customer journey’ as it plays out. The company says that as the core of its Digital Experience Platform, Progress Sitefinity makes it easy for marketers and developers to deliver compelling, multichannel user experiences by integrating apps, content and enterprise data for consistent, seamless delivery of personalized experiences to end-users.
How was it for you?
Whether enterprises large or small are getting it right or not, we can safely say that experience (sorry, eXperience) is becoming a defined entity inside organizations and may be used as a barometer with which to gauge commercial success.
There’s no doubt it will still be thought of as too fluffy for some. Turn up for a job interview and ask the HR director what kind of experience management program, platform or policy the firm has and you’ll still most likely be rewarded with a set of raised eyebrows and a ‘who does this person think they are?’ kind of expression.
We’ll hear this term more directly tabled in software engineering going forward. Often starting with technology tools used in the Human Resources department (to make sure people have a good experience in their working life)… and often dovetailing with software designed to handle everything from identity management to collaboration to data visualization and analytics… if we (the users) have to use it, then it has to provide a good experience.