Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Month: February 2007 (Page 2 of 7)

New CM Pros President – Congratulations Mary and All!

The new Content Management Professionals board of directors has chosen their officers for 2007. Congratulations to all – especially our very own Mary Laplante, who will be the President. The full lineup is:

  • Mary Laplante, President
  • Linda Burman, Vice President
  • Emma Hamer, Treasurer
  • Joan Lasselle, Secretary
  • Travis Wissink, Director at large

For more information, see the CM Pros site at http://www.cmpros.org/, and join CM Pros for their Spring Summit meeting in San Francisco in April.

Geeks Learn to Go Global

Carnegie Mellon University, one of the top-ranked institutions producing technology talent, recently announced that it will offer a new Masters of Science program in software management at its Carnegie Mellon West campus in Mountain View, CA. The driving force is our increasingly global economy.
The school recognizes that going forward, developing good, useful software won’t be sufficient for managers who want to excel. The curriculum combines software engineering, one of CMU’s sweet spots, with business and organizational coursework. The goal is to prepare graduates for the reality of the software business in the 21st century. James Morris, dean of Carnegie Mellon West, says that the program’s “… cross-training gives our students the perspective and contextual understanding they need to see and seize opportunities in the global market.”
The deadline for applications is June 1. See the program description in the Carnegie Mellon West brochure for details.

Not All Newspapers Are Suffering

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) self-refers as the “Gold Standard in Media Audits” and is the place to go if you want to find out current U.S. newspaper circulation figures. Unfortunately, you have to be a member — they’re not giving this sensitive information away — and so it’s difficult to get up-to-the-minute data. You can find out the “Top 200 Newspapers by Largest Reported Circulation” ), but not what those circulation figures actually are, and how they’re trending.

But the ongoing decline in newspaper circulation in North America is not a well-kept secret, and if the ABC won’t spill the beans, others will.
According to a February article in Media Life Magazine, “in the U.S., the circulation of paid-for papers dropped 4 percent from 2001 to 2005, hitting 53.3 million. It also dropped 2.3 percent in 2005 compared to the year earlier.”

A May 2005 article in The Washington Post reported that “circulation at 814 of the nation’s largest daily newspapers declined 1.9 percent over the six months ended March 31 compared with the same period last year…The decline continued a 20-year trend in the newspaper industry as people increasingly turn to other media such as the Internet and 24-hour cable news networks for information.”

In the midst of this gloom, the February 17th issue of The Economist reported that in India there are some 3000 big newspapers, and they experienced a 12.9% increase in circulation last year. Competition is fierce, and profits substantial.

The article also made reference to a key factor that may explain this bright news: Internet access is available to only 1.2% of Indians over the age of 12.

I remember years ago at a DRUPA trade show in Germany (DRUPA focuses on the printing business) meeting Naresh Khanna, the editor of Indian Printer & Publisher magazine. That year everyone was speculating about the possible impact of the Internet, but Naresh said to me: “Oh, we don’t care very much about the Internet in India. We’re just excited that we’ll soon have color pictures in our newspapers.”

The Web Content Management Blog at the Gilbane Group

Welcome to the Web Content Management blog at the Gilbane Group. I’m Tony White, the moderator of this blog and Lead Analyst for Web Content Management at the Gilbane Group. The WCM blog will serve as a forum for a wide range of business and technical users, enterprises, software vendors, system integrators, consultants, and not-otherwise-specified domain experts/novices to discuss a wide range of topics – from product-specific questions to industry trends, tried-and-true use cases to bleeding-edge technologies, caveats to best practices. A good deal of the conversation will focus on subjects such as Web 2.0, rich internet applications, usability and the user experience, vendor claims, product evaluations, application integration, user training, implementation times, industry-specific practices, regulatory compliance, localization and globalization, digital assets, Web services, content syndication, cost of ownership and return on investment, open source products and strategies, and hosted versus licensed applications – just to name a few. We will undoubtedly discuss products and technologies from vendors such as CrownPeak, Day, EMC/Documentum, IBM, Interwoven, Microsoft, RedDot, Percussion, Stellent, and Vignette, but feel free to make comments about (or from) others as well.

The rules for participation in this blog are roughly the same as those for Frank Gilbane’s CTO blog, which are listed in his July 23, 2006 entry – the exceptions being that you don’t need to be a CTO to make comments and that, while we welcome entries by guest authors, this blog will be authored, assembled, and edited primarily by me. If you would like to begin contributing to the blog, click here to submit a comment or entry.
Cheers!

Which Would You Have? Software as Service or Service with Your Software

I received an unsolicited email from jetBlue yesterday, one of many that I routinely receive from various travel providers. This one was different. I was not one of the thousands stranded by them last week and I have only traveled on jetBlue for one trip. They could have omitted this mea culpa letter to me in hopes that I had not already noticed all the media hype around their operational breakdowns and plans to recover from a faulty infrastructure. However, by calling attention to their lapses in such public ways this week, they have insured that I will include them in future travel planning.

Years ago as the President of a software company, I received a truly disturbing email lashing from a client sent after 6 PM on a Friday. The accusations about my company’s service were vitriolic and uncharacteristic of client reactions. I stayed at the office late gathering all the information I could find from the customer support database to learn what might have precipitated the outburst because I wanted to send a thoughtful, accurate and timely response. Without attacking the client I sent a chronology of inquiries and responses with a copy of a remedy sent to them weeks earlier. Then I went home with hopes that Monday would bring a more constructive dialog between the client and my company. The issues were amicably resolved, the client remained a good client, gave us high marks in referrals, and the matter was never mentioned again.

Unfortunately, personalization of client vendor relationships is missing in too many business relationships. A great amount of marketing copy appears describing how software tools and search interfaces support “personalization.” We know that SaS (software as service) or ASP (application service provider) models have come into their own. We also see the major search software vendors posting record growth and grand projections for even more. What this all adds up to is the convergence of a perfect storm of client disappointment as we experience a total disconnect between what vendors mean by “personalization” and “service,” and what customers want. Customers want software that is intuitively simple to personalize, and service that places the responsibility for software problems squarely with the vendor.

Based on my recent experiences with vendors, I see huge industry problems ahead. These are being exposed at all levels: discussions with sales representatives, exchanges with search company executives, deployment of software issues, documentation and training quality, and exchanges with customer support personnel.
Here is my list of vendor weaknesses:

  • Lack of understanding by company representative how their software works
  • Failure to really understand prospect needs, environments, and requirements
  • Poorly written documentation and training giving no context for how the software might be deployed
  • Technically sophisticated features delivered with no coherent path to deployment
  • Inability to communicate honestly with clients
  • Lack of clarity on what industry standards and terminology mean to clients
  • Failure to use their own products by all employees in vendor organizations
  • Inattention to building quality support infrastructures to service clients

I am not calling for a “customer bill of rights” for the enterprise search software industry. Instead, I am calling for you who procure software to take control of your own experience by doing a lot more than looking under the hood for technical specifications, features and functionality. You need to:

  • Look inside the vendor’s organization to see what kind of personnel it has, what the turnover is, how many people are supporting service functions compared to developers, etc.
  • Listen to what you are being told; do serious validating research, on your own, to discover customers using the software. Talk to as many as you find; look at blogs and chat rooms to discover where the pain points and good experiences lie.
  • Read documentation to understand how much time, effort, and expertise the deployment and maintenance will really require.
  • Test drive products with your own data.

Every search company can’t grow 100% year-over-year for years on end. You will be suffering mightily for a long time if you make a big investment in one of those who ignore the customer experience. There is also a good chance they’ll be sold off to the lowest bidder once they realize their inability to service their clients and remain profitable. Take your destiny in your own hands; take enterprise search on in slow and measured increments so you will know what you are getting into.

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