Continuous Improvement: The 1% Challenge


Continuous improvement of your Sitecore platform has the power to transform your company’s online performance.

At the end of 2022, the Artificial Intelligence chatbot ChatGPT exploded onto the scene with 100 million users in just two months. But not all innovation comes with a big bang. Sometimes, it stems from slow but steady progress: plugging away at the small changes that, when compounded, can lead to breakout growth.

Optimizing your digital platform should be no different. In this blog, we will explore how a continuous cycle of incremental enhancements can transform your company's digital performance over time.

Winning the extra 1%

In his keynote address at Sitecore Symposium 2022, Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis issued “The 1% Challenge” to organizations, encouraging them to find ways to continually improve to “win the extra 1%”:

“There is a fine line between victory and defeat. For many of us, it often comes down to that 1% — it's the last throw in a match; it's the last quarter, often the last idea in a meeting. If you can win that extra 1%, can you imagine the impact this can have on your business?”

The case for continuous improvement

In the fight for the extra 1%, Amazon, Google, and Netflix deploy code changes on their digital platforms thousands of times a day to stay ahead of the competition and to keep up with the rapidly evolving needs of customers and technology advancements.

The Big Five lead the way in an agile development process known as “continuous improvement” that requires companies to make constant updates and improvements to their sites.

It’s an approach that is being increasingly adopted by industries around the world as the race to be first to market with innovation hots up. The Middle East is no exception, with 94% of top CIOs surveyed saying that the average speed their companies deploy software updates is every 12 hours or less.

Goodbye to “one and done” builds

Winston Churchill’s assertion that “Perfection is the enemy of progress” is as true in the digital age as it was in the 1950s. Gone are the days where companies take months and sometimes years to launch big-budget websites that are then left to stagnate.

Organizations are instead adopting a “build-measure-learn” culture of continuous improvement (at speed and scale) by analyzing data, gathering customer feedback, and, in response, making strategic tweaks to their existing digital platforms.

In Google’s 2022 Accelerate State of DevOps Report, 17% of 33,000 tech professionals globally said they are deploying new code on demand multiple times a day. The tech giant explains why these constant improvements are so critical:

“To make meaningful improvements, teams must adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement. Use the benchmarks to measure your current state, identify constraints based on the capabilities investigated by the research, and experiment with improvements to relieve those constraints. Experimentation will involve a mix of victories and failures, but in both scenarios, teams can take meaningful actions as a result of lessons learned.”

The small wins all add up

Every change that’s made to a site, needs to be informed by data on the areas of friction and on the results of the software update, post-deployment.

Continuous improvement could look like simply adding breadcrumbs as a navigational aid on a site, updating a faulty lead form or making call-to-action buttons bigger for ease of use on mobile. Over time, these small fixes to customer pain points all add up to a better user experience overall, which ultimately results in happier visitors and increased business.

This data-driven approach to improving your site’s functionality frequently involves the use of intelligent tools that do things like A/B testing and heat-mapping to determine the best version of a page or user flow. Implementing Google Analytics tags to measure the effectiveness of your platform is another quick win.

Horizontal Digital has been working with clients to optimize their existing Sitecore platforms using these and many other continuous improvement strategies.

George Smith, Regional Managing Director (EMEA) for Horizontal Digital, sees his team as an “elite pit crew” whose expertise, speed, and agility help clients to get the most out of Sitecore to stay in pole position:

Sitecore is the supercar of digital experience platforms. Once you’ve invested in it, you can’t just leave it parked in the garage – you need to be constantly fine-tuning, enhancing, and servicing it so that it remains in peak condition and continues to deliver on your digital strategy.”

The need for speed

Rapid cycles of continuous optimization help companies gain first-mover advantage, and the sooner you can get a product out, the sooner you will start seeing revenue in a highly contested online space.

The added benefit to being first to market with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is that you will start getting customer feedback sooner so you can make improvements where you need to, saving you a lot of resources that might have been wasted building the “perfect” prototype with features that nobody wants.

In addition, these frequent smaller deployments are generally low risk and promote quick learning, allowing dev teams to experiment and iterate on-the-go. If there’s an issue, it’s much easier to roll back a minor change than a full-scale deployment.

These are just some of the benefits of continuous improvement that together can culminate in the digital transformation of your company, delivering way more than a once-off flashy site launch ever could.

Interested in optimizing your digital performance? Contact us to learn more about Horizontal’s Continuous Improvement Program.