The Next-Generation of Intelligent Customer Experiences

Experience a new, strategic approach to CX

In early October 2019, Cruce Saunders, Founder and Principal of [A], delivered the keynote for Adobe DITAWORLD, the world’s largest online conference devoted to DITA. This year there were over 5,000 attendees at the 3-day conference hosted by Adobe. Master-of-ceremonies, Stefan Gentz, (Senior Worldwide Evangelist, Technical Communication for Adobe) managed sessions and facilitated hundreds of live questions, which are visible in the keynote recording.
In his keynote on “The Next-Generation of Intelligent Customer Experiences (ICX)”, Cruce presented an entirely new approach to how content drives business and the ingredients of an Intelligent Customer Experience. There were several strategic takeaways:
  • Successful ICX involves eliminating friction in the customer journey, as customers will always migrate towards the path of least resistance.
  • Structured content and customer context are essential to the creation of exceptional customer experiences.
  • A combination of content models, structured content and customer context assembles interactions which respond to customer needs.
  • A successful ICX is channel-agnostic, contextual, fluid, automated and conversational.
Danielle Villegas, widely known as “techcommgeekmom” captured the most salient key points in her blog, which is provided in its entirety below. A Content Analyst at Deloitte, Danielle has also served as a “resident blogger” at Adobe for over two years. The content of this post was initially published on the Adobe Technical Communication Blog and republished with permission from the author Danielle M. Villegas and Adobe.

Summary of “The Next-Generation of Intelligent Customer Experiences (ICX)”

Are you ready to take off into a new orbit of opportunity?

When Cruce Saunders, CEO at [A] speaks, he has a calming, soothing way of explaining how Intelligent Content works and weaves a narrative that is compelling as you listen to it. Today’s talk weaved in a nautical theme to creating Intelligent Content. According to Cruce, we are all creators and communicators of customer experiences. We need to create more content, which is an ocean of opportunity in a complex environment! To do so, we need to be adaptable like an octopus!
Customer usage of information flows with the current, along the path of least resistance. Customers will always follow the path of least resistance, so content needs to provide fluid experiences that live and breathe in fluid content across channels.
Smart businesses are always tapped into where the customer will go for minimal effort. For example, Blockbuster video stores didn’t initially have Netflix on their radar. But now Blockbuster is nonexistent, and now Netflix is dominant. Why? Netflix removed the obstacles so that customers could remove friction points. With Netflix, customers didn’t need to go to a store, not having enough choices, time choosing, driving home, then watching, and then returning video. While initially, Netflix mailed movie rentals to you, it’s even faster to provide those services now digitally. Netflix took that mailing friction point out eventually, too! We all want less friction!

The Customer Journey is the Customer Experience, and content is at each step along the journey. Customer experiences are getting smarter, as smart companies and adaptive organizations are starting with the power of strategy, engineering, and operations to bring it to life.
Another example provided is Disney, as it’s driven by omnichannel and omnisensory content experiences. In fact, they’ve been doing it since the 1950s! (Cruce showed a diagram from Disneyland from that time!)
Smart organizations realize that content is part of the Customer Experience. They look at content as the core business driver for the future of their organization. They understand that customer experience drives business. We can’t put customers through hunting and pecking to find what they need. It has to be done in a conversational way.
Cruce quoted David Bowie speaking about web content in 1999, saying, “It’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about … The gray space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be all about.”
We need context for the customers and understand their intent. Modular Content is essential in Customer Experience as it completes the trifecta of customer, content, and context—creating an exceptional customer experience. It’s all about relevance.
It’s a mess everywhere—some of the biggest, smartest organizations on the planet are facing huge problems. Those who see the scalability of advancing ahead get ahead. The problem is that customers buy and experience horizontally in any order they want, but we create content vertically. Enterprise publishing and brand publishers face massive technical debt. A cluttered IT landscape and disconnected content silos make it hard to create new experiences.
Intelligent Customer Experience (ICX) asks us to evolve people, processes, and technology to move from one-off page design to the assembly of fluid experience using fluid content. We need a middle path—a master content model that will watch customer movement, listen to customers, and guide us in gathering and understanding customer intent.

ICX uniquely assembles interactions between an organization and a customer in which the content RESPONDS to the customer’s specific context. In this way, ICX is:
  • Channel agnostic—It facilitates customer journeys across more channels, devices, and platforms while decreasing per channel production costs
  • Contextual—It targets structured content to a customer’s changing needs and context, and anticipates needs and recommend solutions
  • Fluid—It assembles unique experiences by moving beyond page-based thinking and towards modular content as a service, flowing intelligent content into many views and containers
  • Automated—It personalizes at scale, streamlining content production and publishing while adapting for an uncertain future
  • Conversational—It listens to customer intents and delivers relevant content responses with real-time semantic matching, reducing friction, and building loyalty.
The Core Content Model® (CCM) promoted by [A] provides a representation of content that can be mapped to the different representations across the content lifecycle, entirely from end to end. The significant shift will happen when the content assets are valued as intangible intellectual property on the corporate balance sheet. It will happen when C-suite executives understand the value of content assets as a significant strategic drive of market value.
The five steps in realizing ICX:
  1. Start with a vision for ICX. Get customer experience stakeholders together, build a vision, and know the goal.
  2. Understand the content ecosystem. Map the content process today and where it needs to go. Assess talent, bandwidth, and capabilities and know the content.
  3. Build content orchestration by building a content model. Develop structural and semantic standards and share them.
  4. Upgrade and align content technology. Integrate tech platforms and content templates to use standards. Map context data to structured content using shared tags. This is a process that doesn’t happen overnight!
  5. Update organization and operations. Build new patterns around content development and management to support the creation and use of content fragments.
We need to invest in more than technology—we need to invest in the people and process. Creators who build the future of CX have the power to make the world more beautiful, humane, and inclusive!
Intelligent CX can be:
  • Accessible
  • Diverse
  • Private
  • Aspirational
Cruce closed by letting the audience know that if you want to learn more about the Master Content Model, you can start atthe [A]cademy. If you want to learn how to adopt an octopus consciousness, he recommended the book, Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery.

End of original article

Our thanks to Danielle

What a great summary! Danielle did a great job of capturing the most essential points of the keynote.

You will also find links to recordings of all the other DITAworld 2019 presentations here.
Further resources and full video of the keynote

Self-study resources, workshops and video training:

  • The presentation includes powerful usage of the Core Content Model®. You may find more useful reading “[A] Guide to Mastering the Core Content Model.”
  • The keynote also addressed the need to coordinate content strategy, content engineering and content operations. You will gain a fuller understanding by reading “[A] Guide to the Content Services Organization” exclusively available to members of [A]’s free Content Order.
  • To investigate having [A] providing an onsite workshop within your organization, take a look at the array of available workshops in [A]’s online catalog.
  • For a deeper dive into the role of Content Intelligence and how it supports ICX, consider enrolling in [A]’s self-guided “Cornerstones of Content Intelligence” self-guided video training program.

Moving forward with a new mindset

Thankfully, we are finally moving beyond static, chunky web pages and PDF documents. The journey to ICX is not going to be easy or fast. But, the steps are manageable and well-managed organizations are already taking those first steps. 
The best thing that we can do for now is to build a realistic, relevant vision of what ICX looks like for each of our organizations. Then take concrete steps, no matter how small, towards the final goal.

To help with this, [A] offers an introductory workshop focused on ICX to educate and allign teams and stakeholders, as well as a more in-depth ICX workshop for crafting strategy, requirements, and a realistic roadmap.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation.
[A] Presentation
The Next Generation of Intelligent Customer Experiences