Our Digital Transformation: As A Digital Product Agency
We talk DefinedLogic’s trailblazing approach to digital transformation and what changes to expect from its new positioning as a digital product agency.....
Mike Simon, principal consultant and now partner at DefinedLogic, has stepped into the primary leadership role of the company. In addition to this, we’re also proud to announce that we’re partnering with Gerent LLC on their Salesforce implementations. Going forward, we will provide the experience strategies and customizations our clients need to successfully integrate Salesforce into their business.
Mike Simon, along with Gordon Forsyth, Senior Brand and Product Practice Lead, took time to answer questions about what changes to expect from the new strategic alignment and why Digital Product Agencies are uniquely qualified to guide business’s digital platforms to success.
What led to you joining the DefinedLogic team?
Mike: "Alex Shanley, one of the founders of DefinedLogic, and I started our careers together about 30 years ago. He was in operations research and I was in I.T. for the supply chain industry at the time. We worked on a number of very cool, very interesting projects together. That is where Gordon and I met as well. As my career progressed, I was always interested in getting back to core consulting".
When did you realize you wanted to take more of an active part in the direction of the company?
Mike: "I think it was when I saw the pieces of our strategy really coming together across the different capabilities we have in place aligned to the confluence of the market itself. What Gordon does in brand and product around customer experience — really getting to the heart of how customers think and how the brands we work with need to transform — that confluence is really making what we’re doing very, very, very interesting right now.
We can be very impactful for the brands we work with. Wanting to really accelerate that was one of my core considerations".
How does this insight inform our new strategy?
Mike: "The complexities of marketing technology and all the different pieces that, in reality, are interconnected need to be worked on inter connectedly to drive digital innovation, engagement, and experience.
Our clients often know what the problems are. They can clearly articulate those. But for themselves, to understand the context and how those pieces need to fit together to really make for a completely instrumented and measurable marketing technology platform… that’s the foundation for creating differentiated customer experiences that grow business."
Now that you’re at the helm, how do you plan to drive value for our customers?
Mike: "One goal is to help customers easily understand that complex landscape and how all the different pieces need to fit together relative to their unique challenges, their unique strategies, purposes of engagement, and so forth.
For all the things that we’ve been putting together in the marketing funnel approach and our digital experience platform architecture, I think that’s the essence of where we can help customers holistically."
Gordon: "The need is growing for companies who can bring together the different facets of digital innovation from the marketing technology piece to the product management piece to actual development and design work.
And it just so happens that DefinedLogic has expertise across all of those disciplines and can pull that together into a turnkey solution for companies. This is pretty timely because I believe that the need for that type of a turnkey solution is only going to get more acute in our existing situation when companies are being disrupted and remote work is putting a lot of pressure on companies to remain productive. DefinedLogic already has a setup and a way to do those things for companies in that turn-key fashion. It’s pretty compelling."
How would you define a digital product agency in contrast to a digital agency or a traditional consultancy?
Mike: "Customers have a digital product. It could be a web site. It could be a portal. It could be a portfolio of apps. And we ask: what’s the value of that product, what’s the purpose of that product, and what is it that the client is trying to do with it through every touchpoint?
Digital advertising agencies or creative agencies or marketing agencies tend to focus narrowly on certain aspects of a product, whereas we combine all the aspects into one coherent solution. That’s the differentiation we have.
Virtually every customer that we’ve come across that’s interested in digital transformation has lived in environments where they have multiple quote-unquote agencies that they deal with, a creative agency, advertising agency, and so forth. They struggle with that because orchestrating all of those different disciplines together when they should be one discipline or at least should be seen as one discipline. It’s the main reason why they have not been able to get the value from digital investments they could have."
Gordon: "Traditionally, companies have been pretty siloed around the different business activities that go into creating a successful digital product strategy or even a broader customer experience strategy. But increasingly in today’s environment, the companies that are winning market share are companies that have a differentiated customer experience.
And in many cases, that differentiated customer experience is rooted in a digital product that they’ve created and continue to evolve. Every company, to some degree, is going to need to be a digital product company and a customer experience company.
Since companies in the past have approached those things in silos where they may have someone who’s doing digital advertising and someone who’s doing their search marketing and someone who’s doing their brand advertising, a product management approach to those things is much more integrated and holistic in its view of how we are driving value for our customers. And that’s the level of thinking that we bring to our customers right out of the gate, backed by processes that are rooted in agile and lean product management processes that work through dev ops, analytics, and marketing activation.
It’s that whole package that’s compelling to a number of companies that need that capability quickly. It makes sense."
What have been the early responses to this way of thinking?
Gordon: "The big turning point for us has been that we have seen that this works. The clients that we have built relationships with around integrated product teams work better. They get more work done, they’re more innovative, they move faster. I think all of the digital innovators today would point to the fact that breaking down silos, being more collaborative, improving communications, boosting creativity, driving more efficient development and delivery is what is making them successful today. And DefinedLogic is an agency that does exactly that is what we deliver for our clients."
Mike: "And what’s interesting is that most quote-unquote I.T. guys have no clue about the marketing technologies. It’s like when I was a CIO, for example, the marketing technology stack wasn’t part of my budget, wasn’t part of my purview. I think it’s the case for a lot of quote-unquote I.T. guys and traditional I.T. shops, except for those that are truly innovative around digital engagement. And then what we bump into is that marketing departments are kind of left to their own devices to understand all the inner workings of marketing technology. But then also to do the provisioning and the integration. This old way of looking at business is holding companies back. This increased value has opened our customers' eyes to how important this unification is."
Mike: "The evolution of that really goes back to what we’ve been talking about already in terms of integration. A year and a half ago in a meeting at Weichert, Gopi Ramineni, Gerent’s Founder and CEO, asked Weichert, “who is your digital agency? Because we need to know who it is that’s going to be developing the front end to the Salesforce back end.” And Weichert pointed to us.
I asked Gopi how often that question comes up, that you have to find a digital agency, and he explained that it’s virtually every deal that they do. And he said, “ I’d love to not have to cede that to another partner or to the client’s internal folks versus being a boss for a holistic solution.” It became a natural kind of a hand-in-glove fit."
Will anything for our current customers change as a result of this partnership?
Mike: "Nothing’s going to change per se. It’s more a function of what more we can do now for them now than we would have been able to do previously. I mean, that is change, but it’s all positive change."
So many companies are undergoing or needing to undergo digital transformations, what is your advice for them?
Mike: "I would say all of them should be in digital transformation aggressively. And if they’re not, they’re going to get left behind.
And there’s nothing revolutionary about that statement. But the adoption of technology, the expectations that consumers have for engagement, and digital is increasingly becoming the main medium of those engagements. I think that’s going to be true for any kind of a business, whether it’s B2C with the things that we know about in online banking or even B2B and how it is those younger generations, in particular, interact with more industries with an expectation of the same level of ease of use that they see in their personal lives."
Gordon: "In the past, people have talked a lot about delivering differentiated customer experience. Businesses who make this happen are doing three things. First, they are really buying into an investment if they can measure it. Second is maturing their digital product management. Companies who are winning today are developing a really effective product management expertise and capability. And that means not just launching a product and then forgetting about it. It means committing to a continuous process of innovation around the digital products that are driving that differentiated customer experience. And then the third is an investment in marketing technology capabilities like a Salesforce, or a Sitecore or an Adobe, HubSpot. They’ve done a really good job of bringing together a lot of disparate technology. The things that you can do on these platforms now are amazing and are only going to get more amazing when you have a single source of data for customers with AI giving companies the ability to make really fast decisions about what’s working with customers and what’s not. So those things coming together is what I think is going to drive a lot of innovation in the next few years."