Throughout my many years in the world of web development, I have seen a repeatable pattern emerge: Someone has an idea for a new digital initiative, lengthy internal discussions begin, multiple stakeholders are involved, a project plan is conceived, and one or more developers are now tasked to build the application.

The new initiative requires data from various sources (such as ERP, PIM, DAM, CDP, etc.), which is owned by separate roles in the company, spread across different departments, and handled by different experts for each system of record. In my previous article, I discussed some of the issues that can arise when these various systems cannot cope with the load from the outside world or might not be available 24/7.  

The standard routine to access this data is to open ports, set up VPN tunnels, create logins, and enable access to the different records, depending on the system.  Another often overlooked issue, that is equally severe if you ask me, is that the developers now need to learn what this new data means. They need to interpret the data from the different systems, served to them in different formats. Although it often might be JSON-data, the representations of this data will for sure vary between different vendors and setups.  

Next, they need to unify the datasets; break out the order lines from an order in the ERP, connect the order lines to product information from the PIM, connect the customer from the order to a record from the CRM or CDP, get images from DAM, order status from WMS or OMS and so on. To say the least, it is a bit of a hassle. 

Finally, when all of this is done, they will need to start filtering the data, ensuring that they only expose the relevant data for the task at hand. 

This is where my biggest objection towards this way of working lies! We should let developers spend their valuable time where it matters - actually building the experience.

Why do we task developers with interpreting and analyzing data that they do not understand the business significance of?  

Here’s an analogy – Let's say you have a very large API containing all the books of a library and you are about to build a themed application about the topic of love. Instead of letting a developer select and search for the correct terms and filters, you would be better off using a trained librarian with specific knowledge in this area to set up and define the data for your API. This way, you would avoid books about Slovenia and H.P. Lovecraft 👾 and at the same time include William Shakespeare’s sonnets and The Bible’s Songs of Solomon. The developer, on the other hand, could focus on building the experience using one single unified and documented API.

If we apply this scenario to the business world; Occtoo would be the tool your digital teams use to filter and translate your enterprise data into experience data that matters! The Occtoo experience data platform gives you a faster, slimmed-down API, containing only the right information needed for the project (Listen to Jimmy Ekbäck discuss building experiences with speed and scale using experience APIs).

Taking it one step further, you could make the API dynamic and differentiate the data. After all, you might want to show different content in Malmö compared to Shanghai. Making decisions like this on corporate business data is domain-specific knowledge that individual developers do not possess. 

Organizations that effectively support their digital teams are 2.6x more likely to accelerate their digital transformation

In the Gartner podcast ThinkCast, Jaime Capella talked about the rise of the Business Technologist and how organizations that effectively support their digital teams are 2.6x more likely to accelerate their digital transformation. It is your digital teams that sit on the knowledge about your corporate data, what it means and how it should be put together and used.

This is the perfect tool to support your team in onboarding, unifying, and distributing your data. 

With Occtoo you can let developers focus on building the experience while your digital teams curate the data just like a trained librarian would do, making sure that the data exposed leads to the correct experiences with value for the corporation.

Work within guidelines, but without boundaries

The data assets you need to build relevant experiences live in your enterprise data silos. You need to unify these enterprise data assets so that you can start to combine them with behavioural and contextual data that you collect in your digital destinations and build new digital experiences with them.  

Occtoo was built to help digital officers, marketers, and developers move into a new state, where they spend less time integrating and moving data, and more time being creative with data. The best part is that with our Experience APIs, these new combined data sets are fuelled into an experience in milliseconds, on a global scale, creating zero friction in the customer experience. This task is impossible with your normal legacy systems, because making tens of thousands of API calls per second, will make the systems fall over and the data becomes inaccessible. 
Occtoo is an Experience Data Platform built to fast forward the way businesses create relevant customer experiences everywhere and reduce the overload on frontend developers. Occtoo’s Experience Data Platform gives your digital team (with little or no coding skills), instant access to all of their data without any costly and time-consuming integration projects so they can pick and choose the right data assets your frontend developer needs to build a specific application.

Companies such as Cartier, Nordic Nest and Fjällräven, have already adopted this way forward to enable their teams to spend more time on the right things, and deploy experiences faster. Take a look at some of the applications they have built using Occtoo.

See Occtoo use cases