Jill Orofino, Dell EMC

Last April at the CMS/DITA North America conference in Reston, VA, Patricia Burrows (@PatNBurrows) and I gave a presentation that addressed the challenges of pursuing a unified customer experience during times of change. In our talk, we walked through the pursuit of such a vision through DITA migration, leadership, and organizational change, and a host of other circumstances that had the potential to throw us off course—but sometimes served to bring the customer experience journey into sharper focus. For example, EMC took its first foray into publishing responsive HTML to the web last May in an initiative where we combined efforts with Marketing, Education Services, and Online Support. The result was a marked step forward in moving to new form factors and resulted in this experience: https://www.emc.com/en-us/documentation/unity-family.htm.

As many of you know, EMC has gone through perhaps its most significant change to date—its newsworthy, even historic merge into Dell Technologies.  In the four months since the deal was finalized, the former EMC Information Design and Development team has joined with their Dell counterparts to form a new team supporting one of the world’s largest private companies under Jerele D. Neeld’s leadership (@JereleNeeld). What a tremendous responsibility for our new team! How do we plot a unified customer experience to support this huge new challenge?

Those on both sides of the merger in charge of its successful execution were quite clear that the Dell and EMC sides shared many common values. And as we start work as a newly combined Information Design and Development organization, commonality is emerging in our specific area, too. The core tenets we share are a passionate and steadfast commitment to customers, a desire to innovate on their behalf, an affection for data (and data-based decisions), and a dedication to delivering value to the business and articulating value effectively.  Since these have formed the basis of former EMC’s unified customer experience journey, it’s both comforting and exciting to know we’ll continue in this vein.

And yet the exact path to a unified customer experience might differ from what’s preceded it—perhaps for both sides of this new organization as we identify best practices across the board. Our core tenets are so very close, and yet there are naturally differences in the way the heritage (or pre-merger) teams have brought them to fruition. The technical underpinnings of the HTML presentation on the web are different. Our content creation platforms are the same, though with different implementation and information models. Our efforts in content strategy have taken differing approaches.  For example, we’ve each focused on the smart use of personas in planning content fine-tuned to our customers’ roles, tasks, and pain points. To promote adoption, however, the former Dell team began with “high touch” small-scale pilot training (one writing team, 3 personas); the former EMC team released key personas for all products, with support for use managed in our community of practice social intranet. With the help of Cathy Ewaschuk (@c_ewaschuk) and Hilde Wesiert (@TDInnovations), we’re now working together to apply lessons learned to strengthen both.

As we make decisions about our shared course forward, we should expect to explore new areas and methods of content creation and delivery, uncharted and possibly uncomfortable. And that discomfort is okay, as long as we stay true to the foundational tenets that have kept the unified customer experience journey moving forward through all sorts of inclement weather (such as the budgets, resource cuts, and politics Pat and I touched on back in April). It’s a good time to find common ground and take the best from both worlds, a task that’s easier than we might think at first. In a new environment where much can seem unfamiliar, our unified customer experience focus is a tie that binds. It connects us to our customers, our company, and each other in ways that can only lead forward to success.