The first Forrester Wave on Digital Intelligence tools tackles customer interaction

Adobe reigns above the others, but no tool covers all 15 capabilities -- yet.

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Customer interactions create a lot of data, and a lot of tools track that data.

To help evaluate those tools and organize the kinds of data, Forrester Research recently released its first Wave report on Digital Intelligence (DI) platforms. In the report, “Digital Intelligence” is the name for data describing how customers interact with a brand. More specifically, it is defined as:

The practice of developing a holistic understanding of customers across digital touchpoints for the purposes of optimizing and perfecting the experiences delivered and decisions made by brands during moments of engagement.

Since this is all focused around customer interaction, I asked report author and Forrester analyst James McCormick why this isn’t called something like “Interaction Intelligence.” “Digital Intelligence” seems to cover all insights from all data.

He said the category name extends back to the primitive days in the last century when marketers tried to understand online customer interactions primarily through server logs and email open rates. Then came site analytics, social, mobile and now the Internet of Things (IoT), among other additions. But he agreed that Digital Interaction Intelligence might be a useful way to think of the category.

The report divides the intelligence data into three tiers, with 15 capabilities distributed among the tiers:

  • Digital Data Management includes data warehousing and tag management in a base level that gathers and assembles data for the two higher tiers.
  • Digital Analytics is the middle tier, and it generates insights that drive decisions and automation in the top tier. This includes application analytics, cross-channel attribution, digital performance management, interaction analysis, IoT analytics, predictive analytics, social analytics, voice of the customer and web analytics.
  • Digital Engagement Optimization is the top tier, where customer experience, business decisions and customer engagement take place. This tier includes behavioral targeting, online testing and recommendations.

Ten vendors were chosen for analysis, and each has a sizable enterprise business, advanced core capabilities and advanced optimization.

None, however, covered all 15 capabilities in the three tiers, although McCormick pointed out that “these are still the early days.” He added that, in a few years, one or two vendors might cover all 15, although it’s likely that more capabilities will be added by that time, like videogame analytics.

On the report’s Wave diagram (which we’re not allowed to reproduce), only Adobe places in the top Leader category of vendors that are strong on both Current Offering and Strategy. The report praises its “strength and depth in digital intelligence, primarily for optimizing customer experiences and engagement” that reside within its large marketing cloud.

From the Forrester report

From the Forrester report

IBM, SAS and Evergage placed in the second-highest category of Strong Performers, followed in Contenders by Google, Optimizely, Webtrekk, Localytics and Mixpanel. Cxsense is the only vendor in the bottom-rated Challengers.

Although customer interaction seems fairly clear as a data category, there are others that appear to overlap. McCormick acknowledged that the emerging Customer Data Platform (CDP), for instance, includes a profile management system, as well as capabilities for segmentation and other functions.

Digital Intelligence platforms can employ profile management systems, he noted. The key characteristic of DI: it recognizes “moments of engagements, [reading] customers’ digital body language.” Any other functions are outside, McCormick said.

As for the increasingly important category of Customer Experience, McCormick said that DI measures what can be measured in CX. But how do you measure the warm feeling one might get hearing a brand’s classic jingle or seeing photos of Disneyland?

“A huge amount of customer experience is unmeasurable,” he said, “and always will be.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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