Author: Ian Truscott

New Paper: Taking Online Engagement to the Cloud

I am pleased to say that my third paper for Outsell’s Gilbane Group was published yesterday, in which I return to thinking about cloud computing and the benefits it offers for deploying web experience and engagement technologies.

Titled Taking Online Engagement to the Cloud this short beacon paper looks to provide a guide to digital marketers, senior IT folks and business analysts faced with the decision to deploy these technologies outside the server room. In it we set out to answer the following questions:

  • What do we mean by the cloud? There is a great deal of hype, sales, and marketing messaging around “the cloud.” We explore what it really is and the opportunities it represents for digital marketers.
  • What are the deployment options when working with a cloud platform partner? The decision around deploying to the cloud is not always a binary choice to host in the server room or not. We look at possible solution architecture options and the benefits of each.
  • What do organizations need to look for in a WEM solution in the cloud? If deploying into the cloud is an attractive option for an organization, we consider the key attributes that organizations should build into their selection criteria when choosing a solution.

As with all of our papers, once you register you can download it for free from the Beacon area of our website. While you are there, I suggest taking a look at our Whitepapers section, scrolling down a little to the Engage Me! paper by Mary Laplante. I think it’s a great introduction to our research on the business practice of web engagement and web experience.

I hope you enjoy the paper and I’d very much like to hear your feedback – either here or you can find me on Twitter (@iantruscott)

The paper was sponsored by FatWire and we are looking forward to joining them on a webinar to explore this subject further – follow us on Twitter for an announcement on that. 

Content and the Next-Generation Portal Experience

Last week I was pleased to have my second paper published here at Gilbane "Content and the Next-Generation PortalExperience" that you can now register for and download (for free) from the Beacon area of our website.

For many organizations, access to back office services is becoming an essential part of the experience they need to provide their website visitors.Their external websites form the front line of customer service and their Intranets play a vital role in employee engagement as the expectations rise for both audiences on what they can do over the web. In the paper I discuss how a portal infrastructure can be a natural fit for providing this blend of relevant services and content and there is an opportunity for organizations to shift their portal infrastructure from internal workhorse to a contemporary services interface.

The downside, as many organizations have discovered is that a portal implementation can come at the cost of the primary fuel of web engagement – good quality, fresh, relevant content. In the paper I look at the reasons for behind that and suggest a possible solution of adding a contemporary web content management system.

Like any enterprise integration, the fusing together of a portal platform and a WCM has it’s own risks, principally that the resulting solution does nothing to improve the lot of the content author as it has the potential to expose these business users to multiple interfaces and complex processes. In the paper I go on to take a look at how to avoid and mitigate these risks, with the advice on some key attributes organizations need to look for when selecting the WCM system.

I hope you enjoy the paper and I’d very much like to hear your feedback – either here or you can find me on Twitter (@iantruscott)

 

The paper is now available from the Beacon area of our website and from e-Spirit, who sponsored the paper. You can also register for a webinar that e-Spirit will be hosting on 10th February 2011 during which I will be talking through the main points of the paper.  

 

Introducing the Web Engagement Capability Model

To support our research and analysis, Scott Liewehr and I have been working on a capability model to define how we look at Web Engagement that you’ll see coming through our work over the coming months and I thought I’d give a bit of a preview here.

As I have discussed previously (in this post) there is more to this Web Engagement thing than Web Content Management, although the lines are blurry as there are a myriad of vendors that can claim capabilities here. Some of this great stuff is coming from WCM vendors, analytics vendors and some very nice niche players that we think our clients should look at as they build out their engagement strategy.

Note – I am using the term ‘engagement’, not ‘experience’ – in my opinion the experience is a vital element of engagement, but it’s not the broader topic – maybe more on that in a later post.  

Clearly, if you are a digital marketer, this can look confusing and I know of at least one organization that has deployed three different web analytics packages as each fulfills a different engagement function. Our intention is that as we delve into this engagement tier, we can start to unravel who exactly does what.

We are also seeing campaign management and digital marketing requirements entering the WCM selection process, often disconnected from a wider strategy. I am not suggesting that having digital marketing requirement in a WCM RFP is necessarily bad – we just need to go into this with our eyes open and get some clarity over how we structure those requirements.

Our concern is that we learn the lessons of ECM and big IT and stay alert to the risk of implementing a system that ticks a lot of RFP boxes, does lots of things OK, but nothing really very well or that we take our eye off the ball of the innovation in this space. In either case the engagement capabilities of an organization could become constrained.

We will be coming out with some pretty graphics, but here I want to discuss the five main pillars that Scott and I are putting together by which an organization can judge their web engagement strategy and capabilities:

  1. Content Management – Yes, content management, not web content management. This is the capability of an organization to manage and publish different kinds of assets to multiple visitor touch points. Not necessarily one system, but a joined up integrated process combining the disciplines of managing localization, governance, multiple sites, digital assets, publish to email etc.
  2. Social Media – Not just about an organizations presence on Youtube, Twitter or Facebook, but how that is leveraged and measured to form an integrated part of the audience experience.
  3. Visitor Insight – Are you just counting visitors? Having lots of visitors may just mean they like pictures of funny kittens; having well understood engaged visitors is a business asset. Do you know who are your most valuable and engaged visitors?
  4. Integrated Campaign Management – In most organizations our websites are part of a greater digital communications machine and our audiences view us a single entity across multiple touch points. This capability is about how each of our digital marketing moving parts work together.
  5. Organizational Preparedness – The discipline of customer engagement spans various parts of an organization that have often been traditionally in separate silos. From customer services, to the database marketing guys to the cool guys in the black rimmed glasses in the agency – your capability to engage relies on how joined up are these folks in delivering this multi-channel brand experience.

Remember this is a capability assessment, not a vendor maturity model or a magic err.. anything. It’s a way for people to think about implementing Web Engagement and the areas that may need focus.

We’ll no doubt tinker with the names as we start to publish more on this, but hopefully this can give you a taste of our thinking here.

New Paper – Looking at Website Governance

I am delighted that I’ve just completed my first solo paper here as an analyst: Looking Outside the CMS Box for Enterprise Website Governance. I say solo, but I ought to start by saying I’m grateful for having had a great deal of support from Mary Laplante as my reform from vendor to analyst continues.

This paper has allowed me to pick at a subject that I’ve long had in the back of my mind, both in terms of CMS product strategy and of what we, as content management professionals, need to be cognizant of as we get swept up in engaging web experiences – that of corporate content governance.

When I write and talk about web engagement or the web experience, I often refer to the first impression – that your website meets all of your audience, prospects, customers or citizens. They don’t all see your shiny headquarters building, meet the friendly receptionist or see that you have todays copy of The Times on the coffee table – but they do see your website.

Mistakes such as a misspelling, an outdated page or a brand inconsistency all reflect badly on your attention to detail. This tarnishes the professionalism of your services, the reliability of your products, and attention you will pay to meeting consumer needs.

Of course, when those lapses are related to compliance issues (such as regulatory requirements and accessibility standards), they can be even more damaging, often resulting in financial penalties and a serious impact on your reputation.

I see this governance as the foundation for any content driven business application, but in this paper we focus on website governance and aim to answer the following questions:

  • What are the critical content governance risks and issues facing the organization? 
  • Is your CMS implementation meeting these challenges? 
  • What solutions are available to address governance needs that are not addressed by CMS? 

The paper is  now available for download from our Beacon library page and from Magus, who sponsored it.

Magus are also presenting business seminars on website governance and compliance  on October 12 in Washington, DC, and October 14 in New York. My colleague Scott Liewehr will be presenting at those events, drawing on the analysis in the Beacon as part of that seminar program. You can learn more about those events and register on the Magus website.

 

Adobe to Acquire Day Software

Yesterday, it was announced that another CMS poster child of the late 90’s is to be acquired as Adobe Systems Incorporated and Day Software Holding AG announced the two companies have entered into a definitive agreement for Adobe to acquire all of the publicly held registered shares of Day Software in a transaction worth approximates US$240 million.

This follows Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture late last year and clearly demonstrates their intent in entering the web experience management (WEM) market place that we cover with interest here at Gilbane – as we anticipate they bring together the audience insight gained through the web analytics of Omniture and Day’s CRX content platform.  

This will presumably add momentum to Day’s own move into the WEM space with their recent product marketing strategy, as they have reinvented themselves to be closer to the marketer with recent attention paid to functionality such as personalization, analytics, variant testing and messaging around using their repository for marketing campaigns and asset management.   We await with interest firm integration plans. 

In addition Day are a longtime advocate of CMS repository standards (JCR and CMIS), something that is also close to our heart at Gilbane. This announcement has also sent tremors through the Open Source community, as they wonder about Adobe’s commitment to the Apache projects like Sling and Jackrabbit that Day have been so supportive of.    

Whilst Adobe and Day have been very quick to state that they will maintain Day’s commitment to these community projects, it’s hard not think that this commitment inside Day is cultural and we wonder whether this can realistically be maintained as the acquisition matures and Day is brought into the fold. 

The acquisition also raises questions about what this means for Alfresco’s two year relationship with Adobe that runs pretty deep with OEM integration to Adobe LiveCycle – and Erik Larson (Senior Director of Product Management at Adobe) has publically stated the intention to integrate Day and LifeCycle to create a ‘full suite of enterprise technologies’.  It will be important for the Adobe customers that have adopted the Alfresco based integration, to understand how this will affect them going forward. 

One other area that I am sure my colleagues here at Gilbane in the Publishing Technologies practice will be watching with interest is the impact this will have on Adobe’s digital publishing offering.  

As we’ve seen with previous acquisitions, it’s best to be cautious over what the future might hold. From a WEM product strategy perspective bringing Ominture and Day together makes a great deal of sense to us. The commitment to standards and open source projects is probably safe for now, it has been a part of the Day identity and value proposition for as long as I can remember and one of the most exciting things could be what this acquisition means for digital publishing. 

Let’s wait and see… 

Suggested further reading:

Into the Engagement Tier…

Recently I wrote an article for my blog – Taking the W out of CMS – exploring content management and content delivery as separate disciplines and this is a follow up to that article.

To summarize that article – firstly, to know me professionally, is to know that when it comes to the tribes of CMS folks, I am firmly in the WCM tepee.

Secondly, I disagreed the first time this discussion rolled around, as the millennium clicked over – we were all going to use portal platforms and content management functionality would be in our application server infrastructure (we don’t and it didn’t).

Thirdly, the difference between the systems we are building for tomorrow and then – our digital engagement activities were single threaded following a website groove and the end was very much the driver for the means.

For the mainstream CMS industry it was a web site centric world and in most projects and applications the term ‘CMS’ was interchangeable with ‘WCM’. Today we have a fragmented communication channel; it’s the age of the ‘splinternet’ (in this context, a term coined by Josh Bierhoff), delivering relevant content consistently to multiple places.

This not just devices – our websites are less the single and only web destination, folks consume information about our products and services from other web destinations like Facebook and Twitter (to name two). Plus, of course the needs of customer, consumer and citizen engagement means that we can chuck in multiple touch points, in e-mail, call centres and real life.

We used to get ourselves worked up about ‘baking’ or ‘frying’ content management/delivery applications, about decoupled systems that produce pages and dynamic content – but (as I said in response to a comment on my original blog post) today’s consumer wants super dynamic content fresh caught that day, prepared their way, hot off the griddle – Teppanyaki served to share – family style.

So, we have a new level of complexity and requirements for our systems to support our digital marketers and communicators. A level of complexity of requirements that sits between our content repository and our consumer, which used to be the section of the RFP that simply said “must produce compliant HTML”.

When talking about delivery of content, this is typically where our requirement starts to gain some uniqueness between projects.

The question is, so you have your well-ordered, neatly filed, approved content – but what are you going to use it for?

A requirement for an approval process supported by workflow is fairly ubiquitous – but if you are a membership organisation that engages its audience over email or a consumer packaged goods company with fifty products and a YouTube channel – your Engagement Tier requirements are going to be quite diverse.

This diversity in requirements means two things to me.

1. As an industry we are very good at understanding, defining and capturing CMS requirements – but how are we at identifying, understanding and communicating an organisations engagement needs?

2. If there are diverse requirements, then there are different solutions – and right now it’s is a blend of dynamic web content delivery, marketing automation, campaign management, email, web analytics (etc. etc.) – There is no silver vendor bullet – no leader, no wave, no magic quadrant – its different strokes for different folks.

It’s this that I want to explore, how do we define those needs and how do we compare tools?

So, into the Engagement Tier – my colleagues here at Gilbane challenged me to draw it. Hmm.. right now it’s a box of content, a big arrow and then the consumer.

I am going to need to work on that…

 

Engage with a Persuasive Web Experience

Hi, I’m Ian Truscott and as you may have seen I’ve recently joined our WCM practice (you can get a bit of introduction to me here) – I am pleased to say this is my first blog post (hopefully of many) for Gilbane.

It’s an exciting time for this segment of the CMS industry and to be joining Gilbane and I am looking forward to sharing my passion for web engagement – hence the unashamedly buzz word laden title.

Depending on the commentator; we are either in a social media age, or we are post the social media revolution – in either case the Internet is no longer an extension of the traditional passive consumption media channels, it is a place where information and brand consumers get involved.

In fact, folks are now arguing that it’s no longer ‘social’ it’s just ‘media’ – the way we create, consume and socialize content has changed forever and for everyone. And of course, there is so much of it – how do you make your message stick?

This has mean’t a shift in focus for our industry, we’ve seen the age of the IT developers platform, been through the focus on ‘easy to use’ for content contributors to now – where being audience centric has become mainstream thinking (and a business imperative).

This has spawned a number of descriptions for this extension of WCM and the tools and practices we need to apply to become audience centric, including Persuasive Content, Web Experience Management, Customer Engagement or Web Engagement.

All of these have something in common; a cycle of listening to the audience, understanding their needs and behaviour, using that to create and optimize content and some form of relevance based delivery.

At it’s simplest, from a tools perspective – it’s the intersection of WCM, web analytics and personalized delivery. But it gets more complex,  with the inclusion of social media, CRM, marketing automation, e-mail, mobile delivery, auto-categorization, search – this list can go on.

Yes, you can throw the kitchen sink at this one – but software and industry best practices are being aligned, for sound business reasons and they are aligning behind the audience, the citizen, the consumer.. you in fact.

I’m going to finish on a couple of quotes from Frank Gilbane – from the foreword to ‘Web Engagement’ by Bill Zoellick (a book I’ve enjoyed for a while):

The most unique characteristic of the web is in the way that it changes the relationship between your business and it’s customers.

You will not be able to take advantage … and know your customers without engaging them in a way that encourages them to share information with you. 

Engaging your customers requires understanding the new tools and data that are available and applying them in a way that nurtures a new level of trust. 

Not just saying that to be nice to the boss (although it can’t do any harm!), or to point out that the book was authored by a Gilbane alumnus – I think the most relevant part of the quote is the date that Frank wrote that foreword – it was February 2000.

Hence my excitement in joining Gilbane, a firm that has a great, long standing pedigree as an authority on web engagement, which is, as I say, my passion and I look forward to the privilegeof contributing to that.

Interested in reading more on Web Engagement? – I suggest reading this White Paper by Mary Laplante or check out our guide for marketers at Gilbane San Francisco – where our speakers will be discussing a lot of the subjects I touch on here.