When it comes to developing mobile apps, creating products for new devices, and unifying the customer experience cross-channel, less than one quarter of companies report they “always succeed,” while more than 60 percent “often or sometimes fail” according to a Forrester study commissioned by Elastic Path.
The 3 key challenges in delivering successful digital projects survey respondents were identified as:
1. Not enough designers and developers. New and innovative projects that require skilled resources, and capacity to get the job done, and responsibility often falls on the shoulders of an already stretched IT team.
2. An inability to respond fast enough. As with many IT projects, time to market for new digital experiences is hindered by resource and technology constraints.
3. Unsuitable technology. Existing enterprise applications are often not equipped to handle multiple devices, clients and create a consistent customer experience across channels and touchpoints.
Only 25% of IT professionals report they have enough designers and developers, while 16% believe they respond to changes and new devices fast enough, and 25% believe their existing services and systems cannot support mobile demand for scale or performance.
The IT Bottleneck
Extending commerce experience to new touchpoints requires exposure of back-end data and services (such as customer profiles, ERP, CRM, CMS, personalization engines, reviews, etc) can be highly complex. No matter which department beats the drum for moving these projects forward, it’s mostly IT that bears the implementation burden. 80% of companies require direct IT involvement — 51% place the entire effort on IT groups, 29% develop the strategy within a different group (marketing, product, etc) passing implementation on to IT.
Indirect IT involvement is possible – 12% take a “self serve” approach, enabling other groups to design the user experience using APIs, middleware and other system and data access strategies provided by the IT function. The remainder silos each touchpoint with their own development teams, with no coordination across touchpoints.
The preferred approach
Forrester found that “what is” is not what IT pros believe is best. Though most businesses surveyed are not using the self serve method, 66% believe unifying platform capabilities into a consistent set of APIs is the most desirable approach for ecommerce (58% for content management solutions).
The benefits of this approach were cited as:
1. More secure. Access and authentication through just one interface vs. many is far more secure.
2. Easier to use. Complex enterprise systems involve a variety of APIs that can be very different from each other, including their programming language and semantics. Using a unified API smooths over inconsistencies and provides developers with one consistent way to work with multiple applications and data systems.
3. Easier to scale, with increased performance. When well constructed, it’s easier to scale to a variety of modern touchpoints in a functional way.
4. More suitable to integrate. Unified APIs combine resources into a simpler format that can be pushed to new touchpoints from across platforms.
The result is companies using a unified service layer (middleware or API) were twice as confident in their ability to support mobile in terms of scalability and performance, and three times better at delivering mobile apps.
Businesses are not failing at digital projects for lack of strategies and ideas. Improving efficiencies on the IT side can increase the number of successful, on-time deliveries. A unified service layer simplifies the job for designers and developers (and enable IT teams to scale up when needed with less skilled resources), and can empower the business user with self-serve capabilities. Using this approach can help an organization keep pace with and future-proof against with the demands of customer experience on emerging technologies.
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