Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Online Experience Optimization: The Next "Big Idea" in the Cloud

Every modern business does business online. This means that every modern business decision maker needs the answers to five key questions.
  1. Do we know what customers, competitors and competitors' customers are saying about our company online?
  2. Do we know that every online interaction with our company is equally compelling, fluid, frictionless and fulfilling, regardless of the user's device or connection type?
  3. Do we know what colleagues, customers, partners and prospects really think about doing business with us online, especially compared with other companies?
  4. Do we have solid, defensible evidence for all that we know or think that we know?
  5. Can we act on what we know in ways that help our business to succeed and grow?
To be able to answer these questions with confidence, business decision makers must integrate multiple previously separate initiatives ranging from content management and social networking to analytics and infrastructure management. Here's a high-level look at just some of the elements involved in every user's online experience with a company – such as yours.
  • The user's access device – whether PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
  • The network connection – whether wireless or wired, dial-up or broadband, etc.
  • The company's Web site or sites (and the equivalent portal or portals for internal users).
  • The content displayed by the Web site and/or internal portal.
  • The tools used to create, edit, curate and manage that content.
  • The tools used to measure and analyze all aspects of the online experience, from the performance of the Web site to who's accessing which content how often – plus more.
A holistic view of these and other relevant elements is essential to achieving a critical goal of every modern business: online experience optimization (OEO), for both external and internal constituencies.

The perceptions of those "from without," including competitors, customers, influencers, partners, and prospects, directly affect multiple human factors that in turn directly affect revenues, profits and competitive positioning. The perceptions of those "from within" affect things like employee job satisfaction, loyalty, referrals of superior new employees and overall business agility and responsiveness.

OEO touches every aspect of every type and size of company that does business online or plans to do so. Business stakeholders include advertising, marketing, public relations, sales, internal and external support teams and business performance decision makers, among others.

Technologies involved range from Web site construction and management tools to content management systems, analytics tools and support for “the mobile, social cloud.” Example relevant vendors include IT stalwarts such as Adobe, IBM, Oracle and SAP, disruptive upstarts such as Consona, Medallia, Nimble and Zoho and even so-called "digital agencies" such as 311 Media and Surge.

OEO is clearly a "big idea" that demands immediate and sustained attention from business and technology decision makers – and from the vendors hoping to sell to them. And based on the initial findings of continuing OEO surveys, that attention is needed now.

When asked to rate their companies' abilities to know and respond to what's being said about those companies online, only 18.5 percent of respondents chose "Excellent." Some 44.4 percent chose "Good," while approximately one-third said their companies were "Fair" (22.2 percent) or "Unsatisfactory" (11.1 percent) at this critical OEO element.

Respondents were also asked when they believe that decision makers at their companies will start to collect and act upon what's being said about them online. Approximately one-third of respondents expect this to happen within the next six months. But a quarter of respondents don't expect it to happen within the next year, and 41.7 percent said they didn't know when it might happen.

I'll have lots more to say about OEO here and elsewhere, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can take those surveys I mentioned in approximately three minutes each, anonymously if you prefer, and request summary findings at and Thanks for your help – please tell everyone you know!


  1. This is an interesting idea for sure! I am a big proponent of context (device, connection, task, attitude, etc) being a big driver for what we present in terms of content/offer or action. What I like about this is that both the context of the user AND the context of the brand/marketer are mixed in the same transaction/conversation AND that there is an aggregate POV on what is working and what is not. Let's keep this conversation going. ~ Ben at Adobe.

  2. Great things to take into consideration when looking to enhance your online business - so many things keep changing that you gotta keep adapting or get left behind!
    -Jack @ Inventory System


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