Archive for category CXDNow

Introducing Ecosystem Thinking

 Ecosystem Thinking = Systems Design + Design Thinking + Holistic Strategy
It seems everywhere I go, everyone is talking about the importance, value and nature of the ecosystem.  It’s especially poignant as I am once again in the middle of one of the most active technology ecosystems in the world, working as a mentor again this week in Google’s Launchpad Accelerator program. In fact, the broader purpose of the program is to cultivate a startup ecosystem globally that engages all key stakeholders in this important sector of the economy.

While I won’t be getting too deep into the Google Launchpad case study today, it is relevant as I sit here in the midst of it, how perfectly it epitomizes what I have been talking about for a very long time. In the room around me right now are many representative stakeholders of the startup ecosystem. Several early stage and growth stage startups, numerous mentors like myself donating there time to help others, Google employees who run the program, Google employees who are here to contribute their domain expertise, a couple of VC partners, several academics and several AI experts.

There are a few foundational aspects to Ecosystem Thinking in my view, but none more paramount then the concept of convening participants for cultivating mutual benefit. The fact that Google does this without any strings attached to the startups, mentors and others beyond that important lesson from philosophers Bill & Ted, “Be Excellent to Each Other”, is literally the icing on the cake.

It is a strategy that many traditional business leaders would consider folly. But this level of openness, of good will and positive intent is the magic that  magnifies the value. No one needs to be here. Even the Googlers are here by choice. Everyone is getting what they need and contributing what they have. We are in it together.

This is another foundational tenet that will be harder for old school companies to support, despite its necessity. The program is designed for the interactions/relationships between participants to provide reciprocity for everyone. As Rachel Happe of Community Roundtable often reminds me, the most important ROI of a community is for people to feel as if they got more out then they put in.

Of course, this is what we learned from bringing Social Media Club to the world. It was also key to my work at Deloitte Digital in the development of the Engagement Curve. A realization that the proverbial lever for creating value and finding market success was the depth and breath of REAL Relationships the company formed with key stakeholders while serving the market. REAL being an acronym for Reciprocal Empathetic Authentic and Long lasting. This is indeed what I feel uniquely here as a part of this Google Launchpad ecosystem, and part of the inspiration for finally writing this today. That sense of belonging, the feeling of being in the right place, with the right people and being valued by the people here as much as I value them. My hope in writing this book on Ecosystem Thinking is to convince hundreds of world leaders from Global 2000 C-Suites to embrace this mindset, but I know that reading about it is no substitute for feeling what I am experiencing right now.

OK, so that is a practical introduction to what I mean by Ecosystem Thinking and some key aspects of it, but what is the key theory? what does it mean?

The Heart of Ecosystem Thinking

Ecosystem Thinking is based on the hypothesis that leaders who optimize their organization’s strategy and operations around the co-creation of shared value will be the biggest winners in their respective markets. This requires leaders to transcend their short term thinking for a more balanced approach to long and short term, with an expanded understanding of who the key stakeholders are. It’s no longer just the investors and shareholders, companies today need to serve the market, not just the stock market. So we accomplish our goals by thinking differently, a mix of systems design, design thinking and holistic strategy, supported by a natural sciences approach to growth and vitality.

Tactically speaking, we have a lot more to share on this, but first and foremost, the work supporting Ecosystem Thinking as I have come to regard it is based on applying experience design and journey mapping to all stakeholder relationships, not merely customers. This means employees, partners, local community leaders, families of employees, alumni and countless others. In our complex world, the only way to engender and earn the trust of so many people simultaneously is to do this intentionally, to come from a position of openness and empathy. A strong ecosystem won’t happen accidentally as it is not human nature to deal with the complexity that this entails.

You see, another foundational belief of ecosystem thinking is that everything matters. So in a world where we strive for simplicity, we often run from this level of complexity, but it is what is required to succesfully compete in today’s world. There are not many people who can contextualize such a wide set of data and disciplines thoroughly to strategically understand and lead an ecosystem, but this is indeed the sort of person that is needed in a role of Ecosystem Architect. I believe they share many character/personality traits in common with community managers, such as genuine concern and the sort of expert relationship management of connecting the right people, and proverbial dots. They also, like myself, typically will have an inter-disciplinary background and as a result, are likely to have a ‘non-traditional’ resume. But I am getting ahead of myself here, so lets wrap this up for now instead.

So What?

In today’s connected society, marked by a near real time market and increasingly higher customer expectations, getting things right is the price of admission in many markets. While we need to understand the sharing economy, the gig economy, the collaborative economy and the virtual economy and how all these evolving aspects of our broader socioeconomic framework impacts our organization, I believe it is the inter-connectedness of all people, information and resources that is truly paramount.

This is why I believe that Ecosystem Thinking will be essential for all organizations, or at least for those companies who are or aspire to be market leaders at scale. In order to enjoy the trust and support of a large market, adopting an ecosystem mindset, and cultivating as many REAL Relationships as possible is a necessity. This is across all aspects of the business – from talent recruitment, to supply chain management, to investments and of course to customer engagement.

To lead an organization that leads a given market is to lead an ecosystem. So studying how this is done well and constantly working to improve is the ultimate key to success. It is also, as we will discuss in the book and over the months ahead, how we reduce costs, increase quality and optimize profitability over the long term.

Are you ready to join this journey? Are you ready to lead an ecosystem?

BRACE Yourself.

HELP Others.

EACH Moment Matters.

This is the mantra of Ecosystem Architects and the change agents who will lead this emerging set of strategies and tactics. Are you ready? Let’s get to work.

Side Note: I’ve been working on this for so long but have been waiting to write and share this introduction till I managed to mold the thoughts into a more linear narrative. After receiving some great validation this week talking to other mentors here at the Google Launchpad AI/Machine Learning event in NYC, I realized I just need to write and refne it all later.

I’ve done a lot of work on this from my early startups to building the platform for the Palm Economy to building a global community of industry professionals. I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’ve spoken to hundreds of experts and practitioners. I was even reminded by my former counselor and mentor Matt Law that Deloitte has a partner focused on Ecosystems now – their report on Ecosystems is here. What’s written above isn’t the full story, it’s not complete, it’s not neat and it’s not ready for prime time. It is ready for constructive criticism, your insights, and your stories.

So this is the official beginning of the book which I’ve been developing across my whole life. To help more people see the world of business, and society more broadly, through the holistic lens with which I have been blessed/cursed. To share models, strategies and tactics that will provide valuable sense making. And ultimately, as the book is currently framed, to provide global business leaders with an understanding of the new mindsets, methods and measures required for optimizing business results in the modern economy.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

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The 5 V’s of Software Product Management Prioritization

The Five V's of Software Product Management PrioritizationI spent this past week with some incredible entrepreneurs as part of the Google Launchpad Accelerator program in Singapore to support the graduation of their Asian participants in class 3. It was an extension of the mentoring we provided them back in February in San Francisco, primarily to assist in their OKR Recalibration for the next quarter. Seeing the progress of these great startups, and meeting several new ones who are being incubated in the Singapore startup ecosystem was an incredibly energizing and educational experience which I will be talking about further in the weeks ahead.
During our mentoring session with a local startup not in the program, an expert agile development coach, Muthu Rajamani took lead in coaching them on a more structured and efficient approach for their design and development processes. As is often the case in maturing startups, we invariably hit upon the difficult challenge of prioritizing feature development, so I began looking for my article on my personal approach to software development prioritization.

From my own personal experience as a product manager founder building several products with no coding skills and minimal cash, this was a challenge with which I am all too familiar. While building Alynd I developed a fairly straightforward method to determine how to prioritize a development road map. Turns out, I never actually wrote the article, so I am doing that here to share with everyone. I wasn’t so sure that it would be useful to anyone else, but Muthu told me he liked it, so I promised to finally publish this.

In a resource strapped startup, whether in early stages or inside the proverbial tornado, making choices such as this is a weekly if not daily occurrence. There is so much to do, and never enough time to do it all as quickly as we would like. Of course, choosing which stories within a broader epic is often easily accomplished as a matter of understanding the dependencies and holding to the course laid out in the road map of what has been promised to customers, investors and other stakeholders. But when choosing between two stories or epics that are seemingly of equal importance, flipping a coin is not a good option. While you could look at potential revenue impact or estimated value I felt that a more holistic strategy would be best.

This is how I came to develop the 5 V’s of Software Product Management Prioritization. I hope you find it helpful.

Vision: Is the particular feature or module a core component of the vision itself? Does it advance the big idea at the heart of the product itself?

Valuable: Is it something that is of value to the company itself? Does it reduce friction in the product in some way or provide a differentiated experience from competing products in the market? Will it be valued by a large or small number of users?

Validated: Has it been validated through user requests or feedback? Is it something you know that your users actually want?

Viable: Is the effort required something that is viable? I.E., is it something that we have the knowledge and ability to do or is it an entirely new, untested technology or concept? Can we actually do this in a relatively short period of time or are there many unknowns relative to the technical feasibility of the code?

Visible: Is it something that the users (and investors) will be able to see in the application and recognize it’s value? Where they will take notice of what you have actually accomplished? While decreasing page load times and decreasing CPU loads is certainly valuable and often necessary, is it enough of an improvement to make a noticeable difference?

The few occasions I used this method building Alynd, I mostly was able to take a binary approach to making the decision where it was clear that one choice met all 5 criteria and the other choice did not. That said, there will often be two or more stories competing for attention that meet all these criteria and need to be further differentiated. In such cases I believe a simple scoring of each criteria for each story on a scale of 1-5 would be useful, while also considering viability more closely together with associated effort estimates.

In thinking further about this over the last few days, I hit upon one other criteria which might be considered, not part of my original approach, but the more deeply I have gotten into OKR’s over the past couple of years, the more this makes sense. It is in regards to the ultimate manner in which we can determine if we made the right choice.

Verifiable: Will it be possible to know whether or not this choice was indeed valuable to the company and to the users? How will be know if it is or isn’t? What’s the measure of success and what qualifies as a successful effort?

Clearly there is a lot more underlying this prioritization process, and it needs a wider effort of experimentation and iteration to refine further. I hope to explore this with you in the comments or in direct conversations. So what do you think? Does this make sense? Can you apply this to a current prioritization challenge and share the results with us? I would love to know if this works for you as well as I imagine it should.

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Beyond Social Listening and Influencer Marketing, Leveraging Social Intelligence

There were so many rich gems from this conversation with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird on last week’s CXDNow, that I’ve rewritten the headline almost 10x and have struggled with how to best synthesize our one hour show for you. Marshall and his team are rightly excited about “Contextualized Segmentation”, I am personally a fan of “Market Engagement Optimization” which I’ve been thinking about for a few years and “Holistic Business Strategy” which I have been touting for over 15 years. But after listening to this whole conversation a second time and reviewing my notes, I think what best encompasses what Little Bird does, especially as it impacts our ability to design great customer experiences, social intelligence is the clear winner.

Why? While Marshall shares that the first thing most people do with Little Bird is to find who are the influencers a company should talk to about a new product launch, as they start to understand the capabilities more fully, they quickly are able to create value across their entire business strategy. From marketing, to recruiting, to trend watching, to content curation and especially for learning from the market to inform their product strategies, Little Bird is able to best identify the truly influential people and the conversations that really matter to your market.

How do they do this? As you will learn in this episode, their key metric is based on the relationships and connections between those who are regularly engaged in conversations about key aspects of your market. It’s not only about who has the most ‘potential reach’, but about how many other connections a given influencer has within a given network. Going further, Little Bird helps you to see the clusters of the types of influencers engaged in the conversation – are they high volume self promoters or are they true influencers? What potential sub-communities exist? And now with the latest release, what are the phrases and language being used within those sub-communities that may be salient but not obvious.

I think the reason I am biased towards thinking of Little Bird as a Social Intelligence tool is best summarized by this quote from Marshall in the podcast when I asked him what is different about his product. He said his best customers are “Leveraging influencers not just for what they will tell the world about you, but for what they will tell you about the world.”

This post only scratches on the applicable insights we uncover in this conversation. To get the most from it, find yourself an hour on your commute or in the evening and listen to our conversation between Marshall Kirkpatrick, Dave Gray and myself as soon as you can.

Sponsored by XPLANE:

XPLANE is a strategic design consultancy focused on addressing complex challenges on the inside of organizations. We leverage visual thinking, people-centered design, and co-creation to design solutions that accelerate the way our clients envision, explain, and realize their goals.

About CXDNow:

CXDNow is back for season 2 of our series focused on understanding and successfully executing on customer experience design so that your organization may better serve, and ultimately win your market. In season 1, we focused on the fundamentals of CX Design through conversations with CX leaders such as Brian Solis, Risto Lahdesmaki and Tom Illmensee among others. As we move into 2016, we will be bringing you stories from more leaders around who will share their deep insights and practical advice in pursuit of advancing the field for the benefit of all.

If you are interested in being a guest on the show or sponsoring us, please contact us.

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#CXDNow – Understanding and Engaging Your Market in Conversations that Matter

CXDNow with Chris Heuer, Dave Gray and guest Marshall Kirkpatrick
It is clear that we all need to better understand what our market is talking about and who are the people influencing our market so we can design better products and share our value with potential customers. But how do we figure out where to start? How do we sort through all of the noise to find the people and conversations that matter most to our organization? How do we optimize our engagement for maximum impact with limited resources?

In the first episode of 2016, Chris Heuer is joined by co-host Dave Gray of XPlane to talk with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird to dive into a conversation about the contextual segmentation and analysis of a company’s market to effectively engage in influencer marketing. In this conversation, we’ll look at graphs of Twitter friends around companies and markets, analyze their connections for opportunities, and talk about how you can combine data analysis at scale with authentic communication and creativity in your work.

We will also answer your questions! So join us on Blab this Friday January 29, 2016 at 10am PST for an in-depth conversations into the influencer’s role in customer experience design and how we can better engage them to improve the experiences we are providing and increase awareness of what you have to offer the market.

Guest: Marshall Kirkpatrick

Marshall Kirkpatrick is a co-founder of Little Bird, a social media marketing and research technology that does contextual segmentation analysis of target markets, online audiences, and company stakeholders, using social graph analysis.  In this episode of CXDNow, Marshall talks with Chris Heuer and XPlane’s Dave Gray about how you can use knowledge about the different contextual segments relevant to a company to optimize your work, in marketing or design, for maximum relevance, efficiency, and impact.  

Sponsored by XPLANE:

XPLANE is a strategic design consultancy focused on addressing complex challenges on the inside of organizations. We leverage visual thinking, people-centered design, and co-creation to design solutions that accelerate the way our clients envision, explain, and realize their goals.

About CXDNow:

CXDNow is back for season 2 of our series focused on understanding and successfully executing on customer experience design so that your organization may better serve, and ultimately win your market. In season 1, we focused on the fundamentals of CX Design through conversations with CX leaders such as Brian Solis, Risto Lahdesmaki and Tom Illmensee among others. As we move into 2016, we will be bringing you stories from more leaders around who will share their deep insights and practical advice in pursuit of advancing the field for the benefit of all.

If you are interested in being a guest on the show or sponsoring us, please contact us.

 

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#CXDNow – What’s needed, what’s next?

CXDNow with Tobias Rose
The time for customer experience design is now! In this final episode of our premiere web series CXDNow, host Chris Heuer interviews Tobias Rose, writer, designer and entrepreneur. Tobias has led a fascinating life, from his early professional life in the wine industry to a chance meeting with a monk who asked for his help with a reservoir for their village that lead to his career as a CX Designer. In the first episode we learn of Tobias’ origin story. How his trip to Cambodia resulted in a nonprofit that forever changed a small village and the people who live there. It’s a fascinating tale of one designers realization of the importance of empathy in all we do. Through his story you will see all of the key characteristics that are necessary for someone who wants to be a leading customer experience designer.

It a longer format part two, Tobias is joined by Sarah Grzybowski from IBM’s Journey Designer team to discuss the future of CX design, what we need and what we see coming next. We get some sneak peaks into the IBM Journey Designer product and its future as a management dashboard to optimize the customer experience across their journey.  It’s clear as we discuss in this episode, that technology is only part of the solution. What’s really needed is a greater depth of empathy across the entire business landscape, so that we finally embrace radical customer centricity instead of merely paying it lip service.

In this our last episode of the series one for fall/winter 2015 we were able to touch upon many of the key pieces of advice that everyone needs to be a great CX designer. We will be posting some more recaps of this content and different educational snippets over the course of the next several weeks. Join us again in January 2016 for our next series and a further exploration of customer experience design now. Thank you so much for joining us and special thanks to IBM Commerce and the Journey Designer team for their support of the series.

 

Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.


Tobias Rose Interview – From Global Change Maker to CX Designer

Tobias Rose & Sarah Grzybowski – What’s Needed, What’s Next

SPONSORED BY IBM JOURNEY DESIGNERIBM Commerce Blog logo

For more about the #CXDNow series, why I am doing it and where we are headed, read this background post.

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Putting CX to Work. See the forest AND the trees with Dave Gray

CXDNow Dave Gray Interview by Chris Heuer
In this extended episode of CXDNow, host Chris Heuer interviews Dave Gray, founder of world renowned visual communications firm XPlane and author of Gamestorming, The Connected Company and many other great works. Disclosure, Dave is a friend, a mentor and an advisor to my company, Will Someone.

During the conversation, we skim across the broad concepts and processes before diving quickly down into the detailed depths of putting CX to work. How do we approach Customer Experience Design? Sure, it’s about empathy as we continue to discuss, but what does being able to draw have to do with it? As Dave Gray says, “whatever strategy you think you should have, if you can’t draw it, you can’t do it”. It’s this approach, going beyond design to use design as a way of thinking that distinguishes the work of Dave Gray and his team at XPlane. In this 20+ minute episode, be prepared for a rapid fire dose of killer insights that will take your CX Design to the next level. From how to see, to how to think, to how to do – Dave walks us through the forest and shows us the trees.

Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.


SPONSORED BY IBM JOURNEY DESIGNERIBM Commerce Blog logo

For more about the #CXDNow series, why I am doing it and where we are headed, read this background post.

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A Conversation with a Master, Dave Gray’s Origin Story

CXDNow Dave Gray Interview by Chris Heuer
In this episode of CXDNow, host Chris Heuer interviews Dave Gray, founder of world renowned visual communications firm XPlane and author of Gamestorming, The Connected Company and many other great works. Disclosure, Dave is a friend, a mentor and an advisor to my company, Will Someone.

Over the course of 20 minutes we go back to the early 90’s to learn how Dave’s experience doing graphics to support stories in the newspaper became a business, became the signature style for Business 2.0 magazine and ultimately lead to a completely different way of making strategy real. In many ways, the very same evolution that lead to the rise of Customer Experience Design, with Dave at the proverbial ‘tip of the spear’. It’s a fascinating story, and one that is both inspirational and informative. Listen in and find out why XPlane is one of the most sought after firms in the world.

If you would like to be a part of the taping of the show live and join in our post interview conversation, you can join us next Wednesday November 11, 2015 at noon PST as we discuss the future of CX Design, what is needed and where we are headed with several leading practitioners.

Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.


SPONSORED BY IBM JOURNEY DESIGNERIBM Commerce Blog logo

For more about the #CXDNow series, why I am doing it and where we are headed, read this background post.

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Join us to talk with Dave Gray about his approach to Customer Experience Design on this week’s #CXDNow

CXDNow with Dave Gray
This Wednesday at noon PDT we will be speaking with a true master of Customer Experience Design, my friend and advisor Dave Gray. Author of GameStorming, Founder of Xplane and one of my favorite visual communicators of all time.

Chances are, if you’ve built an empathy map and downloaded a free template from someplace, it’s either his, or it’s based on the one he designed and gave away.

If you are striving to make CX part of your career path or simply trying to figure out how to bring CX into your organization’s processes around customer engagement and marketing, you must join us to talk to Dave this Wednesday November 4, 2015 at noon PST.

Dave Gray: Bio

Dave Gray is a leader and manager with a background in design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies, as well as mid-sized businesses, startups, executives and individuals.

His area of focus is the human side of change and innovation, specifically: How can you get people to adopt new ideas? How can you win their hearts and minds? How can you get people, including yourself, to change deeply embedded habits and behaviors? How can you transform a business strategy from a good idea to a living fact in the real world?

He is the founder of XPLANE, a strategic design consultancy, and co-founder of Boardthing, a collaboration platform for distributed teams.

He is the author of two books on design, change and innovation: Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers; and The Connected Company.

Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.

SPONSORED BY IBM JOURNEY DESIGNERIBM Commerce Blog logo


For more about the #CXDNow series, why I am doing it and where we are headed, read this background post.

 

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Chris Heuer Shares his thoughts on the role of the Customer Experience Architect – #CXDNow

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CX: Making the Business Case with Risto Lähdesmäki

CXDNow with Risto Ladsesmaki
The time for customer experience design is now! In this episode of our web series CXDNow, host Chris Heuer interviews Risto Lähdesmäki, CEO of Idean. Following up on our discussions with author Brian Solis, and IBM Journey Designer Product Manager Doug Foulds, and Tom Illmensee, Director of UX for Prezi we are now diving into making the business case, or rather selling CX to management, and clients.

In part 1 we talk about Risto Lähdesmäki’s journey from his roots as a designer through his first user research firm and how it evolved to become Idean, with offices now around the globe. His thinking and his agency has grown as the idea of UX and CX has evolved. He talks about how he has been fortunate to connect with so many clients who really ‘get it’, who innately understand the value of CX. He also shares some of the differences between Europe and the United States.

In part 2 we discuss some of the aspects of the value proposition, most especially the reduction of friction in the customer’s journey, and the competitive advantage of those who understand CX and embrace it and iterate on it. In this episode, hear why he believes that every dollar invested in UX/CX can return 10-100x and help them win back market share and earn the loyalty of their customers.

In part 3 we are joined by Rit Mishra, a Senior Design Director at Idean to work out loud by collaboratively discussing and working on the Empathy Map and Customer Journey for our new community movement, We Are the Solution. In this very informative segment, we layout a basic framework of how we look at the CX before, during and after, from both a backstage and front stage perspective. If you are trying to figure out how to start with CX, this is the segment you want to watch.

Finally in segment 4, we dive deeper into some Q&A, talk about the future and about other key pieces of advice for getting the most out of CX.

If you would like to be a part of the taping of the show live and join in our post interview conversation, you can join us next Wednesday November 4, 2015 at noon PST as we interview Dave Gray, author of GameStorming and all around smart+nice guy. In this interview, we will go deep into his practical advice from his many years of experience doing CX and UX for customers through the firm he founded XPlane, as well as

Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.


Risto Lähdesmäki Interview Part 1 of 4 – How did you get into UX?

Risto Lähdesmäki Interview Part 2 of 4 – Making the Business Case

Tom Illmensee Interview Part 3 of 4 – Putting CX to Work, #WeAreTheSolution

Risto Lähdesmäki Q&A – Part 4 of 4

SPONSORED BY IBM JOURNEY DESIGNERIBM Commerce Blog logo

For more about the #CXDNow series, why I am doing it and where we are headed, read this background post.

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