Digital Experience Platform and the foundation called WCM

The buzz is just getting louder, it was Liferay who introduced the acronym DXP a couple of years back and was then followed by other WCM and Enterprise portal vendors (Adobe, Day, Sitecore, and Vignette).

To me, this concept is here to stay. It’s too early to evaluate the pros, cons, and business implications of this concept. We still have to witness a large size implementation of these “DXP” yielding some true business results. Well, This is my take on DXP, I am sure most of the readers would relate, especially the ones coming from the CMS background. So…let me try to answers some questions which come to my mind –

Q-1) What is DXP?

Answer:  Digital Experience Platform, is an emerging category of enterprise software where the base Content Management Product is an integrated set of technologies to create, manage, analyze, deliver relevant content to the targeted audience on a variety of end-user devices. This is also a marketing term coined by WCM/Portal vendors to position themselves above pure WCM vendors. A term that is now helping them to sell more licenses. A Nice-looking User Interface, an SSO software to back it up with integrations of the below software from the same vendor-

  1. Web Content Management
  2. Analytics
  3. Local/Social Collaboration/Community
  4. Targeting/Segmentation
  5. Omnichannel Delivery Platform
  6. Connectors for other WCM/ECM/DAM products

..and the list goes on.

Q-2) Is DXP a product, suite, or framework?

Answer:  For product marketing & sales group it’s a ‘suite’, for a buyer it’s a ‘product’,  for a technical developer it’s a ‘framework’,  for a business user/content contributor it’s a User Interface with drag-drop of layouts & content and for an end-user/content consumer it’s a ‘this is what I need’ delighter.

 Q-3) Do you need DXP or WCM?

Answer:  You need a WCM for creation, modification, targeting, publishing, versioning, and managing the lifecycle of content. You might need a Mobile delivery platform if you are targeting your content to a range of Mobile Platforms. If it’s just a couple of handsets you don’t even need the Mobile Delivery platform (more on a separate post). Analytics is a way to go if you want to know your online users, website visitors but it’s no point buying an analytics product from the WCM vendor. Separate specialized analytics software will give you more flexibility, control, and a higher degree of reuse. Revisit your business and technical requirements,  talk technically to the product vendor to check “how” DXP can help you cater to those requirements. So far, I have not seen anyone specifically writing requirements or budgeting for DXP.

However, if the DXP vendor is giving the customer the flexibility to choose from a range of products (those part of the DXP suite/framework) and charging only for the selected products then I think it’d be a good way to move forward.

Q-4) Is DXP a revolution, evolution, or transformation?

Answer: It’s not a revolution, but yes, there is a significant change in the way consumers are using the web. Users do not want one-sided communication but also want to contribute, provide feedback, personalize their content from across multiple channels, not just ‘web’.  DXP is an effort to provide a rich experience to both the content contributors as well as content consumers. Having said that, it does not mean WCM has evolved or transformed to DXP. The core WCM remains the same, and ironically, product vendors are not putting much effort to enhance the content management capabilities of WCM.

Final Thoughts:

Product vendors always look for some buzzwords to be in the news, to market their product, and to impress buyers. ‘God lies in the details ’ – don’t get fascinated, involve your IT staff, let your technical team sit with a vendor, let the vendor explain to you the basics and underlying components (REST, SSO, JSF, Taglibs, Delivery model, Web-services, etc). Get feedback from your technical team and see if similar can be achieved with your existing software infrastructure without much effort and cost.  If you still want to use DXP, check with the vendor if you can choose and use your apps on a’ la carte basis.

Who should #fixwcm?

It started with an intention to solve the world’s WCM problems at Aarhus09.

Analysts felt that there is something broken in WCM that needs to be fixed. To figure out what exactly is broken they all jumped on Twitter under #fixwcm hashtag and started tweeting it with a whole lot of questions, comments, concerns, advice, and inputs.

What motivated me to write this post was the fact that most of the tweets were just raising the issues and none of the Analysts tried to address the way they would want to fix a particular issue. Then the tweets took a bizarre turn and the blame game started. Fingers were raised against Customer’s Business Team, Customer’s IT staff, Vendors, SI’s, Architecture, a mix of all these and whatnot.

Sitting at my office, I was wondering if anything was perfect. Well, there is always room for improvement, keeping this in mind I start by saying that WCM is not weak and down and does not need an instant hotfix to have it up and running. However, we need to identify the problems and fix them.

I could not restrict myself to 140 characters, so here is my take-

WCM Market/Vendors: It is a mature market with a high level of healthy competition with quality offerings. Vendors have gone beyond providing workflow, publishing, multilingual, multi-site capabilities. Competition among vendors is high and those who provide innovative solutions out of the box, easy to implement utilities at a lower cost, usually take the pie. They keep their product abreast with Web2.0, integrations with LDAP, Content delivery on the portal environment, or adhering to open standards and the list goes on.

#fix: Every platform/product has limitations, therefore, Customers need to identify which vendor suits best for their requirements. Customers should take help from analysts firms or consultants and include their IT staff to identify if the offerings from the vendors are technically correct.

Roadmap and Objective: OK, so you want to implement a WCM for your enterprise. Good…btw what are you going to do with it? What are the purpose and the business objective? Will it be a profit center or a cost center? Who is the target audience? Is it for internal employees, customers, partners, microsite, or a website? Where do you see the WCM implementation after 3 years?

Primarily, figure out your business objectives. It is important to align business objectives with the WCM solution. You should have a clear roadmap and your profit objectives must be aligned to your WCM investments. Profit not just in terms of $$$ but maybe in terms of relationship with your customers, partners, suppliers, etc etc. You should also keep a track of the returns on your investments. You might need to revisit your objectives and the implementation if you are not getting the expected returns.

#fix: Change your ideology. Use WCM as a tool that will give you some profit. Do not invest just for the sake of implementing a technology or a product. Have a business justification for the investments you are going to make. Associate each of your high-level needs with some measurable CTS (critical to success) parameters and keep measuring/refining until you get the expected results.

 

 

System Integrators (SIs): These folks contribute a lot to a WCM project’s success and failure. Know your SI, make sure they have enough expertise and experience in the solution design, implementation, and delivery. Ask for proof of concept, not in the content authoring, workflow, publishing, archiving part but specific to your implementation standpoint. Check what they have to do for the integration points. SI’s on the other hand must refrain from being biased towards a particular vendor and influence the customer

#fix: Customer should communicate their business and technical requirements to the SI’s to get what they need. Do not hide anything to save cost, this might lead to an adverse effect in near future. Do not go ahead with any WCM vendor/SI if you have only 20% of the requirement. SI’s at the same time should tie the solution around customer’s present and future requirements around WCM products. System Integrator should educate the customer if a single product or a mix of few can fulfill the requirement. SI’s should also educate/advise the customer on how to leverage the best of WCM by integrating it with the Customer’s existing infrastructure (If, in case).

End Users: You have to know your audience- People accessing CMS directly or indirectly, from the internet or intranet, be it partner, customer, supplier, website visitor, personalized content visitor, etc. You need to know who is invited to your party. Are you giving them the attention they require? Are you serving the right content at the right time when they need it? Are they party-goers/ regular visitors?

Investments in Web Analytics might be a bad idea for few companies during a recession, but I think they act as a guide to know your WCM implementation better. Try to factor in Analytics while budgeting for WCM, this is going to help you to find the source of your profit.

#fix: No fix required, add sugar to make your coffee sweet. Try playing “Roller Coaster Tycoon 2” (Part of my #sixsigma project these days) and analyze your customer’s view/take on your park and try to co-relate with your WCM objective.

Yes, the stats of WCM project failures are bad. We can’t blame a single entity in the WCM ecosystem. If vendors are involving themselves in CMIS or JCRs, why can’t analysts develop WCM  benchmarks, models, evaluation criteria and then trace it to see who needs a #fix 🙂

How IBM is #1 in web portal software?

IT analyst firm Gartner, Inc., has ranked IBM as the worldwide market share leader in the Portal Products and User Interaction Tools enterprise software segment. Here is my take –

There is no question on the capabilities and functionalities of IBM WebSphere Portal V 6.1, which is well designed to collaborate the information from users, communities, corporate enterprises, and the Web. I will not discuss the cool and robust features of IBM but will list down the external factors that might have influenced the ranking-

1. Technology: Still the market share of .net is much less than java. IBM being a java based portal and is adopted by organizations who either already have java based software infrastructure or their decisive people are pro-java. I agree with Janus

“Microsoft is known to give away SharePoint like candy, so SharePoint might indeed have less revenue. A substantial portion of SharePoint licenses remain unused.”

Yes, the Adoption of SharePoint (MOSS) is much higher than any portal in the market (07-08), and who does the marketing better than MS, but the point has still not reached where SharePoint can be ranked as #1.

2. Choice: Do customers have choice?..ummm –lets find out-
a) Opensource/Liferay: Even though Liferay is named as the Visionary portal product in Gartner’s magic quadrant, the financial industry has no confidence in this open source portal. On the other hand, IBM software is being used by the top 10 global banks.

b) Sun JES Portal: before the acquisition: The setting sun finally decided to stop the further release if its enterprise portal product (last version 7.2) and decided to contribute towards Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj).

c) Oracle/Weblogic/Webcenter: Oracle invested huge $$$ in their Webcenter portal project but failed to market their so-called strategic portal product. Market still questions Oracle’s portal leadership. With five portal products under its belt, seems like that sale and marketing team is confused on which portal to highlight. I believe that aqualogic and weblogic are doing pretty well but not widely adopted as IBM WebSphere.

3) Leadership/Support/Cost: IBM tops the chart in terms of cost for its product, services and support. Even then, organizations opt for security, availability, collaboration and other web2.0 stuffs over the cost. It might be because IBM promises better ROI. I believe that 2011 will be a crucial year for IBM portal after the economic recession ends as most of the organizations have kept their decisions on hold for buying an expensive portal products.

There can be other reasons as well such as innovations, industry types, underlying architecture etc that might have valued customers more in buying this product.

More information about the report, features, and a case study is here-
http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Web-Services-Web-20-and-SOA/Report-IBM-Number-One-in-Portal-Software-333186/

Another buyout. Who’s next?

Another big acquisition from shopaholic giant. Finally Oracle bought Sun Microsystems.

Anyways..I’ll leave other analysts to comment on hardware/storage/cloud computing and other areas. I am more interested to speculate the future of software products from Sun, example Sun Portal, Access Manager, Directory Server, and other open source projects. Here is my take in that –

Oracle already have five portals under its belt, out of with they have clearly indicated of taking Webcenter, Aqualogic and Weblogic forward.

With this buy out, Oracle might dispose Sun Portal, as this product from Sun is not doing great from last few years, even after Sun made heavy investments and revamped its portal suite during ’06-07. Sun failed to generate more ROI and is now supporting only its top 100 customers.

I also fear that it might be a dead end for all open source initiatives from Sun, as Oracle has never shown any interest in the Open Source arena. This might badly affect project Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj), NetBeans IDE, PostgresSQL etc.

I think, Liferay is becoming more vulnerable for acquisition by Oracle as Sun had an interest initially and still have few ongoing projects with Liferay.

On the greener side, Oracle will get benefited with Sun’s IDM suite as Access Manager & Directory Server are widely used and now Oracle will have a reply to IBM’s Tivoli suite.

Let’s wait and watch what next will come under Oracle’s Business Process Management tag.

Interwoven to be Acquired by Autonomy

It was a mixed feeling for me when I read about Autonomy acquiring Interwoven. Yes, it is a surprise move as quoted by cmswatch, but some of the industry observers see it as a pending acquisition. Both Interwoven and Autonomy are niche and big market players in their area. Where Autonomy has a huge customer base for its Infrastructure and Intelligent Search solution, Interwoven on the other hand is a well-known ECM provider.

I think that it is more than good for Interwoven in many ways. Interwoven will have a strategic advantage of getting more customer base. A direct access to more than 20,000 Autonomy clients.
The Intelligent search from Autonomy can be embedded within Interwoven’s CMS, DMS, and Collaboration tools as Interwoven uses Vivisimo as a search engine for most of its product line, but now with Autonomy coming in, the search will eventually get impacted because Autonomy will push for Verity(Interwoven dropped Verity).

Though Autonomy has its own solutions for BPM, Search, and Record Management, it will be a challenge to manage the same offerings from Interwoven as well under the same hood.

With recession on the go, is this acquisition a fall in number of ECM player or a rise of one more CMS vendor to compete with Vignette or Fatwire WCM.

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