Reimagining Human Experiences from End-to-End

In the latest from the Qualt Q&A video series, WEVO’s Jenni Bruckman dives into reimagining the digital human experience with Brandon Gerena, Partner and Experience Architect at IBMiX. He uses his past experience in testing and optimization at Atlas (now part of Facebook), and later at Razorfish and Accenture, to lead into his career as a specialized experience architect for the financial services industry.


Brandon continues to build his personal brand in financial services, by leading large teams through Discovery phases that include user research, as well as competitive and behavioral analysis. 

“I continue to build upon much of that experience I gained earlier in my career to now define much larger transformations for my clients. What I’m seeing is there’s a big opportunity for us to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent in ways that are becoming more and more urgent than in the past.” – Brandon

Watch their full conversation and read on for key takeaways.

Importance of the end-to-end journey when reimagining human experiences in the digital space 

The old habits of designing these point solutions have to stop. Brandon says we must take a step back and think about the variety of touchpoints and think about consumer perceptions. 

“A bold leader at IBM, Bridget van Kralingen, said it best: ‘The last best experience that anyone has anywhere, becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere’. It’s hard for Experience leaders to predict where a customer journey might begin, or end.”- Brandon

Challenges in informing new experiences, segments, products, and capabilities of a marketing organization

The democratization of data. The tech has arrived, but surprisingly there’s slow adoption. 

“The idea of your insights team being a separate, siloed team is no longer sustainable. We need to unlock and enable front line marketers and content creators with these insights and the ability to query in an intuitive way so they can immediately affect change to those experiences.” – Brandon

How do organizations put a system in place to apply sentiment and behavioral insights to affect change?

Brandon points out that companies who are doing it well have embedded it into the culture of every campaign and experience they launch. There’s little reason why we can’t make it the North Star without the fear of knowing it’s the “data stuff”.

“It’s a line item in the creative brief, and it’s baked into the design requirements of the build so there are modularities. That is the north star we should be looking towards – where it’s embedded. We’ve now arrived at a new paradigm where it’s at our fingertips.” – Brandon

Some companies prioritize a lift-and-shift approach while others focus on a complete end-to-end replatform — which is more common? 

The struggle, from Brandon’s viewpoint, is that organizations are still trying to cost-cut. By doing that, they’re not realizing these new platforms are purpose-built for marketers and experienced owners on the front lines to work more efficiently. With that, they’ll be able to delight customers more readily.

“The idea that you have 10,000 pages within your content library is no longer acceptable. You have to be able to templatize, unify, and simplify. Personalization is no longer a buzzword. It’s become something we live and breathe that will render the experience different for you. We have to get scientific about it — get it in a more turnkey fashion that will shift this lift-and-shift philosophy and future-proof your business.” – Brandon

How do experience insights help companies get better use out of the functionality of their products?

When you make a huge investment in martech, you have to commit to get the full value out of it. 

“The web-based tutorials and training are step one. Knowing how to use the tools is half the battle. The other is rethinking the way your marketing organization works. Gone are the days where you own a channel and don’t map your organization to the steps of your journey.” 

It’s also about integrations.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of flavors in your Lifesavers stack. But it means it’s on you to get those integrations right, so the customer – and your marketers – don’t feel the handoffs and handshakes. You have to look at the integrations with that lens of the employee experience and customer experience hand-in-hand.” -Brandon 

How do companies and leaders take customer insights from a capability to a way of doing business?

Brandon assures the audience that it will involve a lot of empathy and curiosity on behalf of everyone in the organization. It also involves the willingness to take risks — testing and learning what’s working and what’s not. You embrace the risk and fall into it with data and evidence and out the other side you become a much more successful entity. 

“We don’t know what we don’t know. It takes a degree of flexibility. We must really listen. Today, we go from insights to action. These risks are better informed today than ever before, so you don’t have that excuse anymore.”