Digital transformation is a journey, not a sprint. As every industry strives to adapt to new technologies and shifting customer expectations, many companies leap in without a plan or partner to rely on. They end up with siloed, ephemeral solutions rather than resilient, meaningful change throughout the entire organization. Today’s digital leaders understand that grand ambitions are only realized when they’re backed by data and analytics, supported by key stakeholders and turned into actions that directly impact the customer experience.
I recently spoke with Andy Hieb, Practice Area Lead at Slalom, about keeping a clear view of the customer amidst the rapidly evolving technology landscape. Slalom—an Acquia partner—is a global, modern consulting firm that works with companies to strategically shape the vision of their business and execute that vision through in-depth technology and engineering projects. For nearly 20 years, Slalom has helped well-known names including Charter Communications and REI glean valuable insights from data and connect with customers across every touchpoint in order to truly understand each facet of the consumer journey. Andy himself is also a vet in the open source and Drupal space. Having been involved in the Drupal community for many years, he believes in the power of open source software to provide centralized control and access to data as well as the flexibility to integrate seamlessly with other technologies.
The Rise of Content-as-a-Service and Experience Design
One development Andy is most excited to see in the content management space is the rise of content-as-a-service and the growing autonomy of content editors to create more holistic experiences. “New content-as-a-service technology enables content to be woven into engineering projects. Business and marketing users can now own, create and oversee their content which can be provided as a service to be consumed by a larger application just like any other service,” he said.
Andy has also noticed a lot of energy around experience design and front-end engineering. Today, marketers need to deliver engaging content experiences across a variety of channels and implement more specific targeting and personalization tactics at accelerated speeds. The rise of headless and decoupled approaches to content has made it possible to remove the friction of getting IT involved in the publishing process. “As someone who’s been in the CMS space for more than 13 years now, I was used to owning the whole stack from back-end development to content modeling to the presentation of that content on the front end. Now with headless, we don't necessarily need the traditional monolithic CMS that owns the entire content process, and we can do whatever we want on the front end which is both exciting and challenging.”
The Ethics of AI and Data Use
Another major advancement that’s gone from dream to competitive business strategy is the use of AI with things like chatbots, recommendation engines and other machine learning tools. Andy believes that one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to embrace AI is forgetting to always keep people at the center of your initiatives. Communication around data use also needs to be clear and transparent between clients and their customers to build trust and loyalty. “There are still some serious considerations around ethics to be aware of and biases in algorithms. Companies are still learning when it's appropriate to remove human interaction,” Andy said.