Journey Orchestration Technology Across Four Stages

In a previous post I took at look at six key customer journey scenarios you'll want to use to evaluate Journey Orchestration Engine vendors for “best fit” at your organization. Here I’ll cover the core, cyclical stages of journey orchestration—and how JOE technologies support them.

A Quick Review

Most enterprises struggle to provide prospects and customers with a coherent experience across all their interactions.

I can understand why.  In particular a large enterprise will operate at overwhelming scale, across inevitable organizational silos, and manage a multiplicity of tools and technologies to address a dizzying array of customer touchpoints—all in the context of an ever-changing marketplace.  Yet you must still treat each individual prospect and customer with personal care and attention.

It's in this context that the organizational practice of journey orchestration has emerged. Journey Orchestration Engine technology seeks to enable that work. Real Story Group’s newest set of vendor evaluations will help you navigate the evolving landscape of JOE offerings, with 13 solutions covered.

A Functional Look

JOE technology can theoretically support four different types of activities, which combine to form the cycle of journey orchestration. (See the orange portion of the diagram below.)

Journey Orchestration Cycles - Source: Real Story Group
JOE platforms can optionally provide services across four different journey management stages.  Source: RSG

Not all JOE tools support all four cycle stages to the same degree—nor do they necessarily need to as long as those services are addressed by another system with which the JOE integrates. But in considering journey orchestration for your organization, we advise you to understand where you’ll be designating each of these four services. Let’s look at each in turn.

1. Watch & Learn:

JOE technologies may support journey discovery and analysis. That is, a JOE may ingest actual customer and prospect journey data from all disparate sources—historic and real time, behavioral and transactional, demographic and geographic—which it may then organize and analyze in time series, by segment, by individual, and so on, in order to surface insights.

Some of you are already performing this sort of “quantitative listening” today, aggregating information into data warehouses and then applying visualization and dashboard services on top.  In the event, you may not need packaged JOE services for this phase, though JOE tooling might provide better scale, more real-time analysis, and more apt journey visuals.

2. Journey Planning

JOE vendors will typically provide some sort of canvas to design and visualize proposed customer journeys, e.g., from anonymous prospect to recognized customer, from inactive customer to active customer, and so forth.

Here it is important to distinguish between actual customer journeys discovered in the Watch & Learn stage from business-defined and planned journeys which are intended to guide customer behavior to achieve your organization’s goals, such as improved conversion and retention rates.

Ideally journey planning tools enable the creation of informationally rich maps that include online and offline touchpoints throughout the customer lifecycle—from marketing/sales acquisition to commerce/service interactions, inflection points, and campaigns.

Decisioning at each step becomes a critical service, and JOE platforms offer a variety of different approaches at varying levels of complexity here here. Decisions may be based on rules or test results, informed by predictive analytics, or driven by AI/ML; they may occur in batches, in near-real, or real time.

Such tools may include simulation capabilities to “pre-test” a new or varied journey plan using historic information to predict how prospects and customers will respond to the proposed sequence of actions and communications.

3. Activate & View

To orchestrate, a JOE must support event and data integration (inbound and outbound, digital and offline, sales, marketing, service, billing, commerce, back office) to enable the inflow and outflow of activity. This is necessary to both inform decisions and effect action.

Actions, whether segment-based or personalized on a 1:1 basis, should be omnichannel in scope—or at least accommodate the channels your organization requires. The set of potential touchpoints grows ever-wider: email, text, chat, web, mobile, social, direct mail, in-store, call center, voice, and IoT. Actions may take the form of personalized content, next-best offers, agent guidance, direct mail drops, and so on.

Note that in most or even all cases, the JOE platform does not execute those actions; rather, as the name implies, it orchestrates the overall journey, by triggering those actions.  In this case, they leave that work to the individual engagement platforms, while tracking the deltas that emerge over time.

4. Analyze & Optimize

Vendors will typically provide some level of reporting and analytics on the performance of the orchestrated activities (historic and/or real time), if for no other purpose than to catch glitches in execution. Some JOEs may provide minimal reporting, but make it possible to feed a data warehouse or BI/visualization tool for in-depth analysis.

In either case, you will want the ability to track KPIs and trends, to drill down, and to slice/dice by audience segment / persona / profile / individual, by journey / campaign / interaction plan, by outcome, by date range, and so on.  

Optimization is where you modify journeys based on test results.  Here again, there’s ample room to apply automation and machine learning in high-volume environments.

Where to Begin

A good place to start is by taking an unflinching look at whether, how, and to what extent your organization currently practices these journey orchestration stages—with or without a JOE in place. Where are the gaps and opportunities? Which channels are critical? What existing execution technologies would a JOE technology need to orchestrate? What data stores and touchpoints would need to feed your JOE?

Curious about how the various vendors stack up? Download a free sample evaluation and let us know what you think.


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