There’s no denying the profound impact that the ‘digital age’ continues to have on our day-to-day and business lives. Mapping the range of types of devices and platforms that users now use to engage with brands and businesses is only becoming increasingly complex to navigate. So, as the digital experience becomes more and more important, the question is who is tasked with ensuring the customer experience on these channels?
The ‘digital age’ is no longer a new concept, but its chief in the business arena has had less time to define and settle into their role. In spite of this the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is stepping out of the shadows and proving their value in creating an engaging digital customer experienceat organisations such as Aviva, Travelex and Lastminute.com.
However, digital innovation is fast-moving and complex to manage. And while there are examples of brands creating amazing user experiences on new device types, there are still challenges in moving to an agile testing process – a development methodology that allows for closer, continuous collaboration between dev and test teams that responds to customer needs and enables the faster release of apps. The fact remains that old quality assurance (QA) methods are putting too many error-prone apps onto end users’ screens and disrupting the customer journey.
The CDO has been assigned the cross-functional task of both unifying business needs with technical capabilities and managing the fast delivery of high-quality mobile apps and website that help drive revenue and customer satisfaction.
As mobile payments, smartwatches, voice activation and virtual reality move from the sidelines to the mainstream, the stakes and complexity of the CDO’s role will only grow. So how can they prepare for these challenges and prosper in this day and age?
#1: Keep up with the market
Today’s CDO is only too aware of how fast the digital market evolves. Research firm Gartner expects releases of mobile operating systems (OS) to drop from 10 months to six months between cycles, and mobile device release frequency to go from 10 to eight months.
With shorter release cycles, CDOs will need to steer teams to keep up with the market to remain competitive.
It’s no longer, if it ever was, an option to tell customers that a service is only available in one browser, that an app only works on a particular device or that it doesn’t work on the latest OS upgrade yet.
As the facilitator of digital production, the CDO needs to embrace an agile approach to software development to deliver a new app version every few weeks that works on multiple devices and OSes. Simply put, CDOs need to be obsessed with keeping up with demands of the market and users, or risk watching them both rolling on without them.
#2: Remember ‘digital’ means web and mobile
Today’s technology has moved past the days where developing and testing for ‘digital’ followed the same practices as the traditional web’s stable environments and infrequent browser updates. Now, the term digital requires enterprises to optimise both web and mobile assets and deliver a memorable, consistent user experience. However, the fragmented nature of mobile complicates the equation.
Mobile devices change frequently, are not always plugged into stable power or internet connections, and the nature of mobility means that the environment — where the user is, what they’re doing and under what conditions — will always vary. It will be the CDO’s job to make sure the customer has the same high-quality, digital experience across all devices, whether on a desktop, mobile browser or mobile app.
#3: Open up to DevTest methods
Older QA methods are no longer able to keep up with the speed of digital transformation, and CDOs are increasingly looking at how mobile cloud testing – due to its remote access to multipledevice types and 24/7 availability — is better suited for today’s app and web testing.
A cloud based application testing lab can integrate additional software tools for building apps and test automation, enabling remote DevTest teams to continuously release apps in a fast and agile way. In the ‘cloud test environment’, teams can also perform both mobile performance testing and app monitoring for specific customer types (i.e. personas) in different geographies, running different devices under real world network conditions.
Outdated processes are a death knell for today’s CDO no matter what their industry. It may seem convenient to buy and test manually on mobile devices in-house, but these costs add up.
To mimic your customer’s experience with physical device testing requires you to purchase each device, fix it if the screen cracks, update the device, ask IT to fix driver conflicts, and replace it if it’s lost.
Just as it’s time to move on from slow and steady web development, CDOs can lead the charge to upgrade from the in-house testing lab to cloud environments.
#4: Stay ahead of the competition and the customer
Technological disruption is happening in every industry, and the most dangerous aspect for the CDO to overlook is probably the changing face of their competition. What Amazon has done to retail stores is happening in banking (PayPal), transportation (Uber), hospitality (Airbnb) and travel (Expedia). Each of these industry disruptors are using digital channels to bring their users a new, better and more convenient experience for everything from finance to holidays.The CDO needs to keep a vigilant eye out for any digital disruptors out there with eyes on their market.
For better or worse, digital channels have also made it very easy for consumers to move to an alternative. Customers are switching banks because the app is not performing well or doesn’t allow for quick logins. They are switching airlines if they can book and manage their flight from end-to-end on one app. They are going to another retail store. In short, they are going where they can get the better, and sometimes also more affordable, digital experience.
The onus is now on CDOs to analyse customer usage data — which devices, OSes and networks are customers using? How often do they open the app and how long are they staying? — and in turn work with DevTest teams to make sure identified customer desires make it into the next app release, and the one after that.
Though marred by pressures and often unclear expectations, the unique role of the CDO now also occupies the space that will allow it to drive forward their business into the new age, bringing satisfied digital customers with them.