Building Digital Experiences? Be Smart About Digital Site Governance

Digital site governance continues to be top of mind for many companies building new websites and digital experiences.

Digital site governance continues to be top of mind for many companies building new websites and digital experiences. Global organizations are managing multiple sites and experiences across dispersed teams, using a variety of content management systems and tools, driving up costs and creating managerial headaches for IT and digital business teams.

When you’re in this kind of multi-brand, multi-region, environment, you need to start thinking about governance and automation holistically in terms of organization around workflows, delivery, maintenance and enhancement of sites over time.

Ask yourself: What does digital site governance mean to you? Do you want to provide teams with specific roles and access for sites? Are you looking to document corporate standards and educate your team on how to follow those guidelines? Or, do you want to enforce very specific policies; whether those pertain to how you’re building sites, what technologies or applications are allowed to be used in building sites, and or what baseline requirements must be met?

Maybe you just want to ensure that all of your digital experiences are consistent across the organization — from the look and feel of your overall experience to the type of content that is used across all of your sites.

Digital site governance encompasses all of these areas and more. Our definition of digital site governance centers around people, technology and processes. This includes user roles and permissions, as well as development, delivery, and management standards of sites. When you start to think about governance, you will need all of these components to have an effective program.

Additionally, you need automation behind each of these areas to make managing digital site governance as efficient and low cost as possible.

Before developing your digital site governance strategy, here are a few areas to consider as it pertains to people, technology and standards.

Getting IT and Digital Business to Work Together

In order to be successful in your digital site governance approach, it will take teamwork. In our experiences working with companies such as Warner Music Group, Astellas Pharma, Commonwealth Financial Network, SABMiller, and Nasdaq, we recognize that it takes a team to come together to create a digital experience, from planning to production through to operations.

When you start to look at the teams involved in building a digital experience, there are often two very different roles with conflicting goals: digital business and IT. Both digital business and IT need to work together for governance to be successful, we will explore their conflicting priorities below.

  • IT: IT processes are centered around lowering risk, speeding delivery velocity, and cutting cost. IT teams are constantly evaluating how they can have better visibility, trust and control across people, policies, and technology standards within the organization.. This group may include architects and technical professionals that are responsible for the digital platform itself or architecting security, performance, and availability. In addition, the IT team may have developers, site managers and site engineers who are building a variety of themes and branding across different sites.
  • Digital Business: On the other side of the house is digital business. This group may be made up of marketing, commerce, fulfillment and customer support professionals, among others. Those on the digital business side that touch the customer experience, for instance marketing and commerce teams, play a crucial role in creating the content and campaigns that drive the digital experience for customers. Digital marketers want to build and create new sites to be consumed on an ongoing basis, and their perspective of a positive business outcome is ultimately increasing revenue, and growing and retaining customers. Like the marketers, the commerce team also cares about results in terms of how many customers check out and complete their shopping purchases. Increasing engagements and conversions means being creative, having fast launches, and being able to turn around new campaigns quickly — without worrying about site governance and security. At the end of the day, their priorities are centered around how to engage customers throughout the digital or shopping experience in order to increase bottom line metrics.

Adopting a Digital Platform for Managing Experiences

Organizations may choose to adopt their digital platform for building, delivering and optimizing digital experiences across the organization. When it comes to planning an approach for multisite delivery and governance, IT and digital business teams must first take a step back and evaluate all of their content platforms; in particular, their digital platforms, to understand the current state of planning, development, delivery, and management.

First, uncover what digital properties exist within the organization, as well as the projected future state. At some point, digital business teams will want to begin optimizing their dot-com site and digital customer journey to improve engagement, brand loyalty and conversions. IT needs to be prepared for this. Invariably, as new digital properties are built across brands and products, the complexity increases. On the front-end, there will be a need to access, publish, and support experiences across a number of different channels, whether that be mobile, social, or even IoT.

On the back-end, there are multiple tools like CRM or marketing automation systems that store customer information that marketers or commerce teams will want to leverage in order to personalize content for their customers across the journey. This architecture of front-end and back-end systems starts to become complex; in particular, when assessing the architecture and required system integrations across multiple brands and regions.

It’s key to choose a digital platform that will allow you to capitalize on the tools and investments you’ve made and take a best of breed approach to building customer experiences so you can get started right away with the tools that you need. Your digital governance program should be able to enable this. In this instance, governance is ensuring that the process and technologies are working correctly — from planning to development all the way through to the user experience of the platform.

Implementing Standards Around Building Digital Experiences

Without digital site policies or standards, even with the right digital platform, there will be governance gaps in preventing digital business and IT from coming together to build ambitious digital experiences. There are a few challenges to be aware of in trying to close gaps and bring these teams together.

For instance, one challenge is the increasing costs across the organization due to the complexity of the customer journey and the technical deliverables around those digital experiences. Organizations with regional operations may be managing multiple platforms and content management systems across languages to build and deliver digital experiences — driving up the cost. Companies have started turning toward governance for digital properties via one digital platform to centralize and manage all of their technologies and experiences. The end result is a reduction in costs and maintenance, while establishing a repeatable, reusable mindset to digital site delivery and governance.

The vision of success is one in which the IT team can become a trusted service provider of a continuous range of sites across the organization regardless of brand, region, or team.

While the goals of IT are very different from digital business, both groups must work together to be successful in building and managing digital experiences to create positive outcomes for each other, and most importantly, a positive experience for the customer. The vision of success is one in which the IT team can become a trusted service provider of a continuous range of sites across the organization regardless of brand, region, or team. These sites will be easily monitored, well managed, and low cost while still enabling digital business’ creativity and digital experience needs.

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