Building Digital Experiences Around Your Data

Yafaa Ahres

Digital experiences are key to delighting customers and partners, reducing cost and securing your business for the long term. Five technology leaders compare their methods.

Drawn by the thrills and delights of their interactions with organisations as individual customers, enterprises are now demanding the same.

These experiences are an opportunity to set a vendor, for example, apart; differentiating one’s offering is just the first step however.

When building digital experiences, leaders are considering the entire journey of the customer to delight them at each stage.

And to do that, they need data.

In this roundtable filmed at The Studio in London, five technology leaders compare and contrast the experiences, products and services demanded of them, as well as the data that’s needed to fulfill those demands.

Building digital experiences in fashion

Bastian Buch works in the fashion industry, already a market leader in delighting its global customer base, but there is always more to be done, he says.

“We are leveraging data from two sides: tracking and predictive modelling.

“Our traditional web page structure is statically curated, think of female and male clothing.

As we’ve become more sophisticated in our offerings, and customers expect slicker performance, we’ve been tracking what customers prefer to see.

This has required us to track customer routes, check signals and experiment with page design using this data to build a better page.

Now, we know customers want curated pages around experiences, such as holidays, so that’s what we build.”

He goes on to explain that in parallel his team are trying to build a service where customers can buy entire outfits from a digital influencer based on the data his team has collected on the preferences of customers.

Over in the UK, and within a markedly different industry, Lorna Allen leads the technology function at one of the largest not-for-profit debt advice organisations in the country.

They serve six million people and have operated for over 30 years. 

They “work with all large banks, anyone who approves credit” and are extremely data-led to secure its social purpose of helping people out of debt.

The data they collect not only means they provide a better service to those customers, but the insights are also used to “lobby and influence policy change”. 

Cautionary tales

Understanding what the customer needs, understanding the customers jobs and focusing on that where you’re investing is vital in strategising for businesses

- Leon Gauhman, Elsewhen Founder and Chief Product & Strategy Officer

In both instances however, these leaders said data and its uses should be carefully monitored. The ability to weaponise information, flip its anonymity for ill use, is always a threat.

Technology leaders, when building digital experiences, are balancing personalisation with privacy.

The same can be said for Paul Williams, in the utilities sector. 

“We try to manage customer experience better by providing information back to the customer for them to make smarter decisions, like with smart water meters,” he says,

“whilst also sharing that data collectively with third parties, sometimes even competitors, so the industry has a birds-eye view of water usage. It’s a fine balance,” he adds. 

Data bleeding, or the accidental sharing of sensitive information, is always a concern, but Paul explained that all data is anonymised to reduce conflict of interest and the value of being able to find new ways to build digital experiences was an opportunity they have to take.

This isn’t new information for Leon Gauhman, Elsewhen Founder and Chief Product & Strategy Officer.

Leon knows from first-hand experience how the right data, interpreted correctly and used effectively, can delight, protect or serve customers, or sometimes all three.

“Done the right way, data solves customer problems, reduces cost, improves processes and evolves products and services,” he explained. 

That leaves then the greatest challenge when building digital experiences, Georgina Owens reminded the roundtable.

“The ethics of data, knowing that we have this wealth of information and how we should use it, that’s what is keeping me up.”

Both enterprises and vendors alike are attuned to this challenge. The fine line between personalisation and invasion of privacy is one they all must tread with intention. Not all data can, or should, be used; interpreting which data should be analysed and utilised to build better experiences is the true test of the business that wants to build better digital experiences using its data for customers. 

This roundtable was created in partnership with HotTopics, the thought leadership platform where the world’s most influential business leaders connect, share and inspire.

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