A Guide For CTOs to Amplify Collaboration With Their DXP Platform Engineering Partner
Technology leaders today have a number of challenges to work through and overcome. Despite picking the best technologies and the best teams, common missteps can occur, even at the largest of companies.
Digital experience platforms offer the hope of increased efficiency, cross-team collaboration, and integrated technologies, but they often need to be engineered to yield better results through decision-making and technical implementation.
I've worked with numerous CTOs and CIOs looking to amplify the partnership with their Digital Experience Platform (DXP) engineering partner and yield better results.
Based on my tenure in technology and hundreds of conversations with CTOs and CIOs, this article serves as a guide to course-correct common missteps or even help avoid these blunders in the first place.
Build a Holistic Platform, Not Just a Website
If you start out by simply trying to just build a website as a standalone event and not consider it within the bigger picture of a customized marketing platform, you are at best setting yourself up for day one success, but likely not long-term success.
Remember that when you create a website, you’re really building the base of a marketing communication platform, which is something that should be used well beyond the first moment of deployment.
Organizations invest a lot of money into licensing and customizing platforms. To get the most out of this investment, it takes thought, strategy, and a clear understanding of what your true objectives are behind using the platform.
Part of co-innovation and digital flow is considering how to continually optimize the performance of this investment. When you approach a platform implementation holistically, you're proactively thinking about the long-term durability of the investment and the fact that the message, your company, and your targets are going to change over time.
I always encourage folks to consider the "Myth of Lift and Shift" when thinking about creating a comprehensive platform and not just a website. The myth is that we want to move a website to a new technology without changing anything about the site itself.
This is conceptually similar to moving a house from flat terrain to a mountain without redesigning the house. Yes, you still have a place to live, but is it helping you realize the value of why you moved in the first place?
When moving to a different platform, this same mindset should be applied. However, people find the change hard to cope with or even conceive, and they believe everything is going to stay the same, but the fact is that it simply can’t.
To prepare for the effort of switching platforms, it’s crucial to be grounded in the reasons "why" behind the change.
First, list all of the reasons you need to move to a different platform. Also ask, "What problems will moving to another platform solve for us?" That will help you identify your why.
No matter what your reason for building a new platform is, there is always a driving factor behind the why.
Look at the change not as a chore or sunk cost, but as an opportunity to get really clear on your purpose and use that to prepare for your future rather than letting the past hold you back.
Employ a Customer-Centric Architecture
When you lose sight of your customers by letting technology dictate your approach, you start serving the means rather than the end, meaning you’re implementing technology for its own sake rather than serving a business purpose.
In the early phase of a relationship between your organization and a DXP platform engineering partner, it’s crucial for your partner to understand the business need and customer so the platform customization can be architected with those factors in mind.
In every situation, there are a thousand ways a partner could implement a website and platform, so it’s crucial to be clear on who we are building it for and what value they will receive from it.
For example, are we implementing the platform for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)? Are we creating an internal employee portal? Or building for some other purpose entirely?
Possessing a strong understanding of your customer and how you want to engage with them informs the best ways for your DXP platform engineering partner to execute implementation and design. If you only think about the tools as a technology implementation, you’ll miss the full context and will lose sight of the customer and benefit.
Sharing this information with your DXP platform engineering partner will help ensure they create a durable, valuable marketing tool rather than just serving a single deployment event.
Establish Connective Tissue Between Departments
Often, departments within an organization talk to each other but have their own unique goals and objectives in mind when building a platform rather than a single set of overarching, unifying goals.
That tends to create data silos and issues surrounding the points of control around data flow. Each platform wants their piece where all of the data is held.
For instance, if your team is only considering its objectives with a commerce-centric lens, that’s a problem because you haven’t examined the whole scope of what you're trying to do as a broader organization, both internally and externally. Where is catalog information coming from? Product imagery and data? Pricing? Where does customer data sit and is it actionable?
A good partner can serve as communicative and connective tissue between the departments in an organization. They will help your team look beyond individual department goals and see a cohesive picture that can better inform the implementation.
See DXP Platform Engineering Partners As Allies
Sometimes, technology leadership within an organization feels threatened by a DXP platform engineering partner coming in and touching the code. As a partner, we’re here to create mutual success, and so I often have direct, honest conversations with technology leadership in that regard to make sure we’re truly aligned around outcomes. This helps make leadership feel more comfortable with our work as a partner and ensures they feel seen and respected in the process.
Is your partner having transparent, collaborative conversations with you?
One of the most reassuring signs of a great relationship is when a long-term client looks to shift technologies or platforms and asks us to orchestrate it and take on the new platform. This reflects the depth of our relationship and our understanding of not just the technology, but of their business and industry and how technology differentiates them. It’s likely you’ve spent years building a relationship with a partner, and hopefully, they are investing in equal amounts to learn your industry and your business.
If the relationship is right and they have the tech capabilities, what better partner to then lead the next phase of your technology journey? We’ve built out teams with technical specialization around platforms and tools, but these aren’t the only or defining characteristics of a great partner–it’s a relationship built on trust.
Often, a challenge I see technology teams face is that they’re viewed as a sunk cost, and so they operate around cost management instead of value delivery.
Your partner should help you prove the value of technology to the business and your customers and users.
When We Work Together, We Succeed Together
If there’s one lesson to be learned from this blog post, it’s this: Don’t be afraid of a partner. Instead, figure out how to get the most out of them. Make sure they’re being brought in to enable your team and set you up for long-term success.
If you have a great relationship and start on common ground, it’s going to lead to a successful end result.
If you feel uncertain where to start, just know that it’s never too late to step back, rethink, and shift to build a united vision.