26 May 2021

The new wave of Customer Experience Management the Experience Platform: Part One Data & AI

Written by Scott King In 2017 The Economist controversially reported that data overtook oil as the most profitable commodity in the world*. You could say a barrel of crude data is now worth more than a barrel of crude oil. Whether or not you subscribe to this comparison, most would agree that just as oil has fuelled the past millennia, it seems it is data that will become the lifeblood of the coming times.

And it is this lifeblood that contains billions of unique data signals that imparted every time a consumer digitally interacts with a brand. This drives the inherent value of data by revealing micro-moments of consumer intent, that is, the wants and needs of every individual as they interact with a brand. But just like examining a jumble of jigsaw pieces will not reveal the completed puzzle, examining an unstructured set of data signals does little to reveal the broader intention of the consumer.

 

However, when these signals are composited into a coherent pattern, they create a detail-rich digital self-portrait of the intent, wants, needs, and even the consumer's mood. This intrinsic understanding of consumer expectation is enabling brands to deliver hyper-personalised experiences across all stages of consumer engagement, enabling brands to meet and exceed modern consumer expectations with beautiful and intelligent experiences at scale. 

Traditionally, it has been the role of the Customer Data Platform, or CDP, to collate the masses of data signals, assemble them into addressable opportunities of insight and make them actionable by experience. However, herein lies an issue, the more data collected, the harder it is to action. The more pieces the jigsaw contains, the exponentially more difficult it is to complete.

To empower brands to fully meet the demands of the modern connected consumer expectation at scale, the CDP has needed to evolve. Enter the Experience Platform.

Over the next two articles, I will discuss the following core competencies driving the next wave for marketers, experience makers, and businesses on the cutting edge of customer experience innovation. I hope you find it insightful, stimulating your thought leadership on how you can also take advantage of this game-changing technology.

Part One: Data & AI

  • Data Onboarding and Unification
  • Decisioning and Data Science on Platform
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Data Privacy, Security and Compliance
  • Journey Orchestration, Analysis and Insight

Part Two: User Experience 

  • Audience Creation and Discovery
  • Real-time Channel Activation
  • User Profiling and Identification
  • Extensibility, Scalability and Performance
  • The Future of Experience

The next wave, Experience Platform

Manifested from the desire to harness the masses of data signals and the insights to deliver consumer expectations by applying learnings from the capabilities of CDP and DMP technologies, Experience businesses such as Adobe have been able to develop a new wave of solution coined the Experience Platform.

The platform is virtually unrestricted regarding the sheer volume of real-time data signals and consumer events it can consume, agnostically from any source. By applying advanced decisions across this master data set and making the output actionable across all and any experience channel.

Data Onboarding and Unification

By now, experience makers are all too familiar with the fact that organisational data lives in silos. This is born of the simple fact that this data is collected by individual business intelligence systems which are not built to integrate, synchronise or otherwise 'talk with' other systems.

Additionally, these systems capture data in bespoke or unique formats, schemas and data languages. Often these data systems are utilising their primary key or user identification tokens unique to that particular system of record. These disparate data systems create tunnel-like visions of an individual consumer.

Thus, the first challenge experience makers typically address that of data and profile unification. The Experience Platform is engineered to onboard, translate and collate any data set in real-time, creating a single master system of record. Similarly, the system can unify the multitude of disparate primary keys, user identifiers against a singular master key, unique for each consumer.

This allows experience makers to create an accurate 'single view' of the consumer across all interaction points, revealing the true nature, wants, needs, intent, and the individual historically and now.

Decisioning and Data Science on Platform

Once these massive data signals are collated and disparate data sets are unified on the platform, the raw data is organised and translated into a coherent data schema. The platform applies experience intelligence capabilities such as platform real-time data science, rules-based decision and audience segmentation. With data science on the platform, the system can run traditional modelling capability (such as R, Python) to identify trends, propensities, cohorts, causalities.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Augmenting these models are automated and intelligent artificial machine learning capabilities that constantly track the multitude of data points, looking for their opportunities for actionability while simultaneously becoming smarter and more efficient through self-learning and training. The AI-driven algorithms can perform incredibly detailed and complex analysis, automatically identifying audience segments or journeys of significance. Insights that would take data scientists days of analysis are surfaced in milliseconds, in an always-on continuation.

Data Privacy, Security and Compliance

With this degree of decision and identification, privacy and compliance management are critical. No more will brands accidentally get caught with their hand in the digital cookie jar called the Browser Cookie. Experience Platforms have embraced consumer privacy, at their core, adhering to current policy and standards requirements.

With the ability to implement and customise data accessibility, compliance and sovereignty rules at the most granular level. An individual key-value pair set such as 'gender=female' can be restricted entirely from actionability, allowed to be privately accessed, or given freedom of access by all systems of action. Else, this same level of obfuscation and control can be applied across an entire schema or data set or table.

Journey Orchestration, Analysis and Insight

Now that marketers and experience makers have a system that, on the one hand, can combine all data sources into a singular master record set.  As well as an all-encompassing business intelligence system of record, combining offline, typically historical datasets (such as transaction or CRM). With online datasets that typically contain real-time interaction data (such as web analytics), creating an accurate "singular customer view". It can then make powerful decisions using data science, AI and rules on what to do for an audience cohort, segment or individual.

Finally, it can action that decision into each connected channel, be it email, website, search, display or social channels, emerging channels such as voice, or even back into traditional offline systems such as call centre.

Combining these three powerful capabilities allows experience makers to orchestrate journeys, with complete control, across every digital and non-digital interaction point. This orchestration can be created and managed using friendly and efficient visual user interfaces, making advanced workflow creation accessible.

Overlaying this orchestration capability is a powerful analytics capability that provides insights and performance measurement. Informer experience makers of how consumers respond to these journeys, pinpointing what is working, what is not, calculating return on investment, and identifying further opportunities to enhance and optimise each experience.

An unprecedented capability now exists to create, manage and execute end-to-end and holistic customer journeys, across all touchpoints, channels and across all stages of a consumer's engagement with a brand such as a customer lifecycle, giving experience makers unprecedented power and control over how a brand interacts with an individual, able to meet and exceed the wants and needs at every interaction. *"The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data".

 

*The Economist. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2017/05/06/the-worlds-most-valuable-resource-is-no-longer-oil-but-data Published 2017-03-06.