Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Month: June 2019

Gilbane Advisor 6-26-19 — Deepnews.ai, iPadOS, open AI, agile vs waterfall

Introducing Deepnews Digest

Frederic Filloux and team have been working for 18 months on the Deepnews.ai project that uses a deep learning model to find the most relevant and non-duplicative articles on a particular news topic. They recently released a beta version of a newsletter that uses their model. The project, and his progress reports, are worth a look. Read More

Deepnews Digest 600

Agile versus waterfall

Apparently, there is some controversy over which approach is best. While this might make sense for a particular project, choosing one as an overall technology strategy is just silly. Scott Brinker explains (though he doesn’t say ‘silly’). Read More

The iPad operating system

Horace Dediu has one of the best takes on Apple’s WWDC announcements. I would agree that the new iPadOS is the most interesting/surprising of the announcements (Dediu says “most significant”). But I think the most interesting, if more predictable, announcement is the separation of the Apple watch App Store access from the phone. This is an important step in making the watch a stand-alone computing device with market reach well beyond Apple. Read More

AI can thrive in open societies

According to foreign-policy experts and the defense establishment, the United States is caught in an artificial intelligence arms race with China—one with serious implications for national security. The conventional version of this story suggests that the United States is at a disadvantage because of self-imposed restraints on the collection of data and the privacy of its citizens, while China, an unrestrained surveillance state, is at an advantage … This idea makes for a compelling narrative, especially for those trying to justify surveillance—whether government- or corporate-run. But it ignores some fundamental realities about how AI works and how AI research is conducted. Read More

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The Gilbane Advisor curates content for content management, computing, and digital experience professionals. We focus on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December.

Digital Experience is all about integration and agility

Digital Experience” (DX) covers a lot of territory – so much so that discussions about DX technology often result in a consensus that collapses as projects surface incompatible expectations. “Customer Experience” (CX) had a similar problem, getting way out of hand with expectations of “omnichannel”, including brick and mortar. If you’ve been around enterprise software for a while you’ll be familiar with software category labels outgrowing their britches and acting like they can do anything, if you’ll forgive the anthropomorphizing. 

Digital experience is not a single thing that you buy. It is a solution you build with unique collections of products for a specific audience. This is not a walk in the park given the vast number of potentially-relevant components. It can help to keep in mind a few universal laws of enterprise software, and one very relevant piece of history. 

Universal laws of enterprise software

  • Software products never stop growing. Even if there were a cure for feature bloat, ongoing maintenance will add code.
  • Software categories, which are created by a combination software marketers and industry analysts, grow, shrink, and get re-purposed to meet the business needs of their creators, and to accommodate new technologies and industry applications. 
  • Software companies, like all businesses, need continuous growth. That means new products, expanded product capabilities, perhaps a suite, and if possible, a platform play for a bigger piece of the pie.
  • Software needs to be integratable because enterprises have complex data and workflows that all involve software. 
  • Software needs to be agile because even the best software engineers and product managers can’t anticipate all the ways customers will use the software, and neither can their customers. 

A lesson from the past

Before the Web juggernaut progress had been made in building graphical user interfaces for business applications and managing and presenting digital content in increasingly friendly ways. But the solutions were mainly proprietary, which meant multiple user interface learning curves, and complex and costly integrations. The Web, with a much simplified and standardized markup language for content and a way to present it in a browser, soon became the dominant digital experience for both business and personal computing. The Web experience was so simple that the audience for digital content increased dramatically. Brochure-ware and simple intranets blossomed. Then things got complicated. 

The promise of e-commerce and new business models fueled investment fever. But the integrations required between the web publishing and the backend systems necessary to support web commerce (pricing databases, supply chain, logistics, etc.), didn’t exist. Early attempts to build them were custom, complex, and costly, and the results were fragile. The technical challenges were compounded by a lack of domain and integration expertise in dot-com startups, and a lack of agility and organizational resistance in larger organizations. “Frictionless commerce” failed on the front and back-ends, and the dot-com bubble burst.

DX today

We have come a long way, but the pace of new technologies ensures integration and agility will remain core challenges. DX is riding high today and that is a good thing. DX is not a bubble. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be overly ambitious strategies, unsuccessful implementations, and weak products. 

  • Don’t forget the laws of enterprise software, or the lessons from the dot-com crash. 
  • Note that integratablility and agility are as critical for operational efficiency as they are for a smooth digital experience. 
  • DX is about audiences, not just about customers, employees, or partners – each of these can be made up of many audiences. 
  • Scope for success. Ensure your strategy includes achievable projects for well-defined audiences. You will be more successful and able to implement in less time by picking specific integrations that have high value, for example, content managementCMS) with CRM, or e-commerce
  • Don’t limit DX technology research to a single analyst firm. They mostly cover the same vendors, but their analysis often differs significantly. 
  • Be sure to develop enough in-house expertise to make well-informed decisions about the applicability and readiness of new technologies such as deep learning, AR, blockchain. 

And of course, join us at Gilbane’s Digital Experience Conference in Washington DC, April 29 – May 1, 2019, where we’ll be looking at the latest DX technologies, integration strategies, and practices.

NOTE: This article was first published by eContent Magazine on November 26, 2018

Gilbane Advisor 6-4-19 — Martech metrics, B2C AR, B2B AR, machine talking

Martech stack metrics

Scott Brinker: “Martech stack utilization is a misguided metric… (when it’s disconnected from value)”. This is certainly true. Products/tools in your stack usually have many features, only a subset of which actually provide value for your needs. Identifying and

Martech stack value

focusing on those features can save resources and provide more accurate ROI calculations. Read More

4 questions retailers need to ask about augmented reality

It seemed like AR was poised for rapid adoption (beyond Pokémon Go) a couple of years ago when apps started appearing from Ikea and others. Indeed I thought so. There has certainly been a lot of activity and some very useful applications, but as usual the use-case specifications, cost justifications, integrations, and learning curve take a time-toll. Bain & Company has some good advice for execs creating or reviewing a plan. Read More

Google announces a new Glass augmented reality headset for B2B

Much of the advice in the Bain article we reference above is also relevant to non-consumer AR applications. Whether B2B AR deployments are ahead of B2C or not, project planning should be informed by research into both. ROI calculations will be very different, but technologies and user experience design considerations largely overlap. Google Glass was a consumer flop but their Enterprise Edition is making some progress and what they are learning is valuable. After all, employees and professionals are consumers too. Read More

Can we trust machines that sound too much like us?

David Weinberger raises a good point. He is not asking whether we can trust machines. He is asking whether we want to loose the trust signals we get from talking with humans when we can’t tell the difference between machine and humans voices. He also wonders about the efficiency and how our preferences will evolve. Human sounding machines will not always be the right choice. Read More

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The Gilbane Advisor curates content for content management, computing, and digital experience professionals. We focus on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December.