Developing an implementation strategy is always an exercise in committing to an ongoing process that involves making the best choices in the present, becoming cleaner architecturally over time, and realizing that there will be some messiness involved. Because nearly everyone gets caught “in the weeds” in the course of maintaining complex IT environments, it is critically important to step back from time to time, and to re-affirm the commitment to general principles – to take into account what you want to achieve over the next two to three years, thinking not only about specific implementation issues, but also about the people and processes in place that will determine their success or failure. That said, let’s turn our attention to a few pieces of implementation strategy essential to making a digital experience platform operational.
First, it is helpful to think about the ecosystem of applications that will potentially be connected to the incoming technology platform. These may include CRM, ERP, portals, ad servers, marketing automation, content delivery networks, analytics tools, e-commerce suites, digital asset management platforms, AI systems, and on and on (see Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape for a glimpse of the 5,000+ possibilities). The really complex part of implementation resides in the actual work – with its myriad details – of connecting one app to all of the others, potentially through a virtual or API layer. That is not what this post is meant to address. Rather, this post simply encourages thoughtful reflection on the types of issues involved in implementation planning. For instance, if you know that your company is assembling a team to choose an enterprise DAM platform, it would be useful for the architecture and IT teams to take a preliminary, but close look at the APIs of the leading half dozen DAM platforms to make sure that they allow for a loose or tight integration (depending on which DX platform you choose), and to make sure that the DAM application can integrate in the preferred way. It is important, generally speaking, to continue looking at internal development standards currently being used at your company – which languages these include, which development frameworks – and to continue a forward march toward bringing all enterprise applications onto these standards. Over time, as platforms are replaced, the newly-selected applications should be based on these same standards whenever possible. If your company isn’t already expert – specifically as related to digital experience platforms – in the areas of information architectural planning, budgeting and staffing, product education/training, marketing/IT transfer-of-information processes, typical implementation timelines, and selecting implementation partners … GET OUTSIDE HELP.
One recent consulting client failed to take this reflective step back before diving into the very deepest part of the digital-experience pool, and wasted over $1 million on software licenses and three years of IT’s time. Don’t let this happen to you! Keep calm, and take the all-important step back.