You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. It starts with what incredible benefits can we give to the customer. Where can we take the customer?
Steve Jobs

Consumerization and the evolution of customer behavior is forcing companies to change how they market, engage, sell and retain business.


Customers no longer interact solely with the web site, call centers or stores. The trend now involves customer engagement with the entire business over time, via multiple channels both physical and online, and on their time frame and needs. Whatever way and whichever time they choose to engage with a brand, that is where brands should meet them and also strive to strengthen loyalty by building lasting customer relationships.

As a result, corporations are investing more and more money building and assembling comprehensive Digital Platforms for customer acquisition, engagement and retention. At the same time, corporations are finding it more and more difficult to keep those increasingly expensive platforms aligned with business needs. The cost and complexity of digital application development and delivery (AD&D) is exponentially increasing (taking a bigger chunk of budgets every year), while the chances of deriving real value from those platforms are decreasing dramatically (due to evolving consumer needs, requirements and new innovations in technology).

Yesterday’s web-only sites have become today’s mobile-first, data-driven digital experiences.

The digital architecture, application development and delivery (AD&D) necessary to support next generation experiences requires significant planning.  The first step is to define a digital operating model and Digital Enterprise Architecture that allows for the rapid integration of new technologies to fuel the digital transformation.

Below are three different views of the Digital Solution Architecture:

  • A touchpoint, application and technology view
  • A ad-tech, marketing and sales technology (Martech) view
  • An individual digital project view

Digital Architecture – CIO view…. Application and Technology

The emerging requirements that CIO are focused on include:

  • Empower companies to connect with their customers through engaging experiences
  • Create easy-to-consume integrated digital experiences (e.g., responsive web platforms for desktop, mobile, tablets and other device types that provide mass audiences immediate access to content, transformations and information they crave)
  • Integrated Social Engagement (Integrated social publishing and analytics; Apply social insight and data for new marketing campaigns)
  • Integrated Mobile Engagement (Deliver mobile first experiences)

The pressure on CIOs is immense. When something interrupts the seamless experience or fails to deliver on expectations, customers notice. And, moreover, they react. Consumers share their disappointment within their social networks. Given the amount of competition, disappointed consumers will often move onto other sites that will better anticipate and meet their expectations.

Delivering on constantly changing expectations requires world-class digital architecture. The figure below illustrates one digital reference architecture.


Digital Architecture – CMO View…. Marketing and Sales Perspective

Most marketers were not trained to be technologists, analysts, mathematicians or economists. They were trained to be top-of-the-funnel demand generators and brand marketers. However, they are being forced to make significant sales, marketing, service and commerce solution and platform decisions.

The emerging requirements that CMOs (and their chief marketing technology officers) are focused on include:

  • Personalization of digital channels – Deliver relevant messaging to the customer through email, mobile and web
  • Visualizations of customer journeys — Gain new insights on how to engage customers
  • Apply pre-defined models and learning to future campaigns
  • Predictive Analytics (predictive support for customer profile and next best action; attribution and marketing mix support)

CMOs realize that companies with the best data-driven analytics and customer experience design are the ones that are going to win. When we talk about analytics, we mean the companies that have the best algorithms. For example, GE has the analytics (and instrumentation) to figure out wind speed, temperature, vibration, and more, and they can quickly determine if a wind turbine is going to fail. That is predictive analytics. Companies with the best design are companies, like Apple, that strive to make the user experience, interfaces and adoption easy. When you put analytics and design together, that’s when you make “customer engagement” magic.

The figure below illustrates one reference architecture for Digital Marketing and Sales.


End-to-End Digital Solution Engagement Project View

A solution architecture for a production ready user engagement and experience is shown below. The architecture of digital project: engagement & experience < service delivery < portal foundation < systems of engagement < systems of record.

Everything starts with Design. Design is a catalyst to drive change in the way that the world works and lives.  Service design combines the customer experience with the technology platforms.

Most strategic business solutions actually start by empathizing with end users, customers and employees. Outside in design is very much at the center of that. Companies are looking to transform their businesses through design-led innovation.



Simplicity in mechanical design is really, really good. Complexity is the enemy.” -Helen Greiner, CyPhy Works

Simplicity in digital architecture is the ultimate goal. The challenge is how to get there.

I am a firm believer in the transformation potential of enterprise architecture and design. As customer experience design rises rapidly to the level of C-suite conversations, there is a growing recognition about the role of architecture innovation in enabling business success in everything from superior customer experiences to far-reaching organizational change.

Combining architecture innovation and design experience with the business operations and technology platforms and capabilities is the future.

Notes and Additional Thoughts

Why focus on digital architecture? The average life span of companies in S&P 500 index is getting shorter and shorter. The primary cause of failure: Lack of technical adaptation to changing consumer, customer and tech trends.