Commerce in the Age of Innovation: The Necessity of Cohesive Requirements Gathering

As new touchpoints and degrees of context continue to rise, one trend is clear in this new economy — things are looking good for the Chief Marketing Officer. As Samuel Greengard, Contributing Writer to CMO.com writes:

Digital marketing consumes a growing percentage of IT spending within the enterprise. The figure now stands at about 11 percent of revenue, according to Gartner. In fact, the consulting firm predicts that CMOs will outspend CIOs for information technology by 2017.

If Gartner’s prediction is true, this means the CIO will increasingly serve the marketer’s agenda.

However all is not well between the CMO and CIO. According to a 2012 Accenture report, The CIO-CMO Disconnect:

  • 10 percent of IT executives surveyed believe CMO and CIO collaboration occurs at the right level.
  • 77 percent of CIOs dubbed marketing and technology alignment as important compared to only 56 percent of CMOs.
  • Half of IT leaders said that marketers often introduce technologies without considering IT standards.

CMOs had their own level of dissatisfaction, with 4 in 10 CMOs saying that IT development processes do not keep up with the speed of digital marketing.

While much has been written about the CMO/CIO discord, there is a lack of material on how to bring these two teams together.

Bringing East and West Together

To create the cohesive customer experience across physical and digital touchpoints, a symbiotic approach to requirements gathering is required where the business, product, marketing, ecommerce and analytics teams come together and act as a cohesive entity to set the vision.

When considering the technologies and implementation approach to the business’s digital experience or innovation platform, this multi-disciplinary team needs to set the bar at the highest level and take into consideration the following parameters:

  • Design for change For innovation and for rapidly shifting market pressures such as the emergence and impact of a smart watch.
  • Design for context For ever increasing points of knowledge about your customer.
  • Design for real time marketing For the ability to react swiftly to market forces.
  • Design for the API Economy For the ability to connect your business to a data point or groups of data points provided by other parties or brands. Design also for the ability to extend your data out to other developers and partners.
  • Design for Complex Event Processing and Predictive Insights Big data is on everyone’s mind and holds the key to profitability as patterns emerge and are exploited to capture the given intent of the customer to purchase. Complex event processing will become the marketer’s best friend, taking into account numerous data points and mapping them to a particular response without direct involvement.

Putting it Into Practice

A highly recommended task to bring various departments together is to design an app or undertake a multi-department proof of concept with the proposed technologies.

The key here is to assemble the requirements across the board from marketing, to user interface design, to commerce aspects such as account and profile information, to determining logged in state versus logged out state, to security concerns, to QA, to A/B testing and analytics all the way to API data ingestion.

Not only will this exercise help you realize your potential as a business or brand, it will help bring down ingrained silos. Everyone will be on a learning curve: The marketer may be learning about the underlying technology, while the CIO may be busy inventing new processes and procedures that align to marketing requirements while Product may be identifying new roles that have to be filled.

The Requirements Reality Check

From the initial state of your app or proof of concept, the next step is to peer into the future to see what your desire is for its next iteration and then examine your work to see if it supports this extensibility, or if you have to re-code or re-work your design from scratch.

Also check to see if the requirements that you laid out in the first round seem trivial or out of place. Did they miss the mark or nail it on the head?

People, Process and Product

Odds are you may find that as a business you will require constant realignment of purpose, vision, scope, people, process and product to meet the demands of this ever-changing digital age.

The sooner disparate teams start communicating, understanding and examining their roles and responsibilities in this new era the better off your business and brand will be. There is no textbook out there to tell you how to do this: only trial and error is going to establish the first round of lessons learned.

Data-Driven Innovation and Contextual Commerce

At Elastic Path, we spend considerable effort trying to understand the writing on the wall to see what’s coming up next and how best prepare for the new reality of data-driven innovation and contextual commerce.

Our latest entry to the marketplace is the Elastic Path Edition for Adobe Experience Manager, which we launched at this year’s Adobe Summit in March. As industry blogger Ray “R” Wang writes:

The Elastic Path Edition For Adobe Experience Manager received much fanfare from partners and customers at Adobe Summit. Attendees were drawn to the integrated CMS with AEM, advanced product/service bundling, personalized merchandizing, dynamic pricing, order experience, and trade promotion management capabilities out of the box. The recent partnership with MRM/McCann adds credibility and momentum to Elastic Path’s vision and strategy.

It has also caught the attention of BCTIA awards and is a finalist in the Product Innovation Category with the winner to be announced this June.

Future Forward

We are excited about this product as it places Elastic Path’s commerce capabilities in the hands of anyone and everyone who touches Adobe’s Marketing Cloud – and by extension – Adobe’s Creative Cloud. This new audience may include product developers, marketers, data scientists, SEO, analytics and the mobile developer.

One may not immediately think of these roles as being involved in ecommerce, and they may not be directly, but we hope to see this expanded set of developers, artists and analysts help spawn disruption with the insights they bring from their various points of view when applied to the creation of a brand’s digital experience.


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