A digital experience is an interaction between a user (customer, partner or employee) and an organization that is possible only because of digital technologies.
Digital Experiences in the Context of Digital Business
Digital experiences are that portion of technology that allows companies to go beyond digitizing paper processes in order to create services that are possible only because of the internet and other modern technologies.
They have two key components: they use digital technologies and they provide some kind of interaction between a single user and an organization, usually a company. Mobile apps, websites and smart devices all provide digital experiences to the customers, partners or employees that are using them to interact with companies.
Digital experience strategy isn’t an IT-driven initiative; it’s a customer-needs driven initiative. There’s a huge difference between simply using digital technology and actually leveraging it to improve customer experiences and better address customer needs.
Technology on its own doesn’t make something a digital experience. Reading a scan of a paper document, for example, isn’t a useful interaction to include within the scope of this definition because it doesn’t offer anything experientially different than reading a physical copy would.
Companies should think of digital experiences as processes that do what a physical process cannot. A scanned document can convey written information as well as a piece of paper, whereas a digitally enhanced pdf can include cross-references to other documents, right-click definitions, online collaborations, auto-translations and digital signatures.
As another example, event registration software that allows you to download a list of registrants and their information is digitizing the manual process of checking them in (i.e., instead of searching for names on a printed roster, you're searching a spreadsheet on your computer in order to confirm registration).
Contrast that against a system in which you can enter a registrant's name and view their registration status, process pending payments, confirm room information and check them in from a single dashboard. This takes separate physical processes and unites them with one digital solution to save time.
Digital Experience vs. Digital Customer Experience
Digital experience is a broad category that encompasses the many digital channels that businesses need to manage today. However, digital experience is not the same thing as digital customer experience. Digital experiences are single interactions, whereas digital customer experience is the sum of all digital interactions that a person has with an organization.
When companies discuss improving digital customer experience, they are concerned with improving user interface, mobile responsiveness and design, communication methods, delivering real time data, etc. across all interactions, rather than individual touchpoints.
The distinction between digital experience and digital customer experience is generally only a concern to companies themselves. Customers have shown that they don’t care about the idea of an “experience”. They are simply focused on getting what they want in the most convenient way available.
When businesses are speaking about digital customer experience, they’re usually also making an effort to put themselves into the shoes of the customer, and trying to understand the impact and importance of digital channels from that viewpoint.