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What Does ‘Digital Asset’ Mean in the Age of the Customer? Blog Feature
John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on October 13th, 2015

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What Does ‘Digital Asset’ Mean in the Age of the Customer?

Customer Experience

Forrester has dubbed the current era in business The Age of the Customer, “a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.” In other words, being customer-obsessed – or deeply knowledgeable about and engaged with your customers – has become a business imperative to remain competitive.

You can’t just wave a magic wand and make your organization customer-centric overnight, though. You have to have a plan and implement it piece by piece with the end goal of improving the customer experience (CX) held paramount at every stage. This requires a new, unprecedented level of technology innovation and integration.

We’ve been focusing lately on digital asset management (DAM) and sharing assets across technologies and business functions, so let’s take a look at what “digital asset” means in the Age of the Customer.

Digital Asset Evolution

It used to be sufficient that everyone within the organization who needed it had access to brand assets like the company logo, licensed photography and marketing collateral. That group was usually limited to just people involved in marketing and advertising, plus a few others who needed such access.

But brand assets and business needs evolved to include more types of media, and there was soon a requirement to account for people outside the company’s firewall who needed access to documents and templates that they could rebrand and distribute appropriately and consistently – people like technology partners and channel partners. So the DAM systems had to mature accordingly.

Even today, though, most DAM systems manage digital media files and fully-formed documents intended for a single channel or customer touchpoint. It’s still rare to see reusable objects (i.e., parts of documents) in a DAM system.

Georges Seurat's Study for a Sunday on La Grande Jatte

Much like pointilist paintings, digital assets are more granular than they first appear.

Digital Asset Revolution

In the Age of the Customer, we’re forced to think beyond discrete assets and touchpoints to complete customer journeys. Now, customers move from device to device, channel to channel, touchpoint to touchpoint. So today, brand assets have to be consistent across multiple touchpoints because customers can very clearly see inconsistencies between touchpoints, and inconsistencies reflect very poorly on a brand. You can be assured that some portion of your customers will share their experiences with other potential or existing customers. And you know what they say… the devil is in the details, and bad news travels fast.

Therefore, in the Age of the Customer, brand management goes from important to imperative, and is fast approaching existential. If you don’t manage your brand, the public and your competitors will do it for you, and that can be a serious threat to the wellbeing of any business. Reputation and word of mouth will make or break a brand’s success in a world of highly empowered and vocal customers.

Put simply, brand consistency is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s simply not negotiable. If the look and feel across your digital delivery platform are different — with varying layouts, inconsistent styles, etc. — then you risk looking unprofessional or lacking attention to detail. And if your brand seems shoddy, what does that say about your products and services?

Consistency across Customer Journeys

To achieve consistency, you need digital experience delivery technologies that can all draw upon the same assets, including reusable objects, layouts and style sheets. And your DAM system is at the center of that. It has to be able to give employees and partners both inside and outside the organization access to traditional assets and to more granular digital components used to create consistent brand-approved assets – components such as layouts, templates, and style sheets – to provide order and consistency to the resulting communications.

We do have the technology available today to accomplish this level of sharing, and we have the imperative of customer experience to justify making it a priority. However, as I noted in my CMSWire article, “Overcoming Those DAM Customer Experience Obstacles,” many DAM vendors have been a bit slow to evolve to accommodate the need to share such granular assets and do so across organizational silos. Rather than wait for the vendors, I think the most customer-obsessed companies, the ones that are really working to achieve a smooth and consistent CX across customer journeys, will adopt open technologies that can be stitched together into powerful digital experience delivery platforms.

Are you in the process of working out a future-ready CX architecture for your organization? I’d really love to have you take part in our LinkedIn think-tank, CX Architects. If you want to be a part of discovering the best path forward in creating consistent, customer-centric digital experience delivery solutions, please ask to join by clicking below.

Click here to explore the  Customer Experience Architects  LinkedIn Group