jump to navigation

CMS and All That…. July 14, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in brand, CMS, eWorkPlace, Java, Joomla, Web Culture, Weblogs, Work.
1 comment so far

I’ve been very busy in the last month. I’m architecting a new web platform for a medium-large UK organisation.

I’ve done a lot of Content Management System rescue engagements in my time. Like customers implementing CMS as a silver bullet that will solve every problem conceivable. In my experience, this is never the case. It always depends on the customer. If you’re a medium to large business. You will need more than a CMS to fully engage with customers across multiple touch points.

If you’ve got a really good web application for managing relationships etc you can get by for a little while. Problem starts if you really want to do A/B campaign splits and really test customer life-cycles or user segmentation. Personalising user experience occurs in two ways what you accurately inferred about a customer and what they told you about themselves. In most cases, you’ll get the latter with a CMS !

I thought about writing this post because, after several years of people buying content management systems. If we exclude open source offerings such as Mambo or Joomla which are not really enterprise scale CMS. I feel most CMS vendors always think all presentation logic and meta-data should be coupled into the CMS. Whatever happened to Portals and Commerce Engines. Are you sure you really want to be making Web Services calls to build dynamic content in each JSP or ASP Page ?
I know JSRs are really difficult to follow and hardly anyone is implementing JSR 170 correctly. I still think CMS vendors do themselves serious disservice if they keep selling their solutions as one stop shop for everything from integration to back-end system, personalisation, etc.

If you’re in the market buying a CMS, ensure decoupled delivery is the default mode you engage with the vendor. Meaning you deliver content into a Content Repository for example, a database schema for a dynamic JSP/ASP whatever to use jsp tags to look-up the data and render it using an ORM.
Effectively, you’ve exposed all the meta-data for any degree of personalisation you might want. If however, the html, stylised content, tags and content items are all locked in deadly embrace in jsp pages. I really feel sorry for you and your company. You really ought to start again.

Effectively, there is no decent means other than the CMS of doing personalisation campaign management analytics whatever. Please don’t come and tell me I should be making SOAP/WSDL calls to a CMS repository. You don’t need to do that. Just bung it in a database schema bodytext, headline and all and off you go. Use an Object Relational Mapper with caching capability to retrieve the data into your dynamic JSP/ASP pages.

Remember, the CMS will need to notify your Object Relational Mapper of additions or changes to the content items. You can still carry on deploying static content to your Webserver document root. It’s better there. Except, the CMS or Portal provides decent full-text search of documents such as pdf. Don’t waste your time putting them in a CMS.

Two of the vendors we saw delivered a decoupled implementation. They know who they are and I really appreciate their effort. For us and the vendors, it means if we decide to buy an eCRM Platform or Personalisation engine none of the new vendors can turn round and tell us we’ve never integrated with that CMS before. I’ll just give them the reference implementation to use. Saves everyone a lot of time. (This is a MacDonald’s tip for you).

One of the best CMS implementations I’ve worked on that still does that to date is Den Norske Bank, Vital and Postbanken in Norway with Guray Sen & Razorfish. Same parent company different trading divisions, same database schema all very dynamic way before anyone thought of JSR 170. It’s called common sense and flexibility meaning you can localise to whatever language since all content is dynamic.

Given this frustration of mine, I seriously recommend if you’re in the market for a CMS, tell all the vendors to deliver a decoupled delivery implementation of the content items into a Tomcat or JBoss reference implementation using hibernate and a decent set of taglibs to retrieve an array of news-feed and a detail news item page from a MySQL database. See below for an example schema.

What you’re doing is building flexibility into your content architecture. All data should be available for creating a 360 Degree View of the relationship with your customer where-ever it lives.
More importantly, if you’re using a personalisation engine or campaign management platform with your web application, you’re now in a position to really personalise the user experience and create effective campaigns that really affect your audience. Even better let the user liven up their interaction with your site as they wish e.g. Playing with the colour scheme or delivering relevant news-feed based on item-Types such as football assuming you categorise your content repository.

Finally, the demands of participative architecture (AKA Web 2.0) means delivering an online experience that has stick-ability is a serious challenge going forward.

CMS vendors really need to be careful with the messages they’re sending out when selling their solution. I came away from this excerise feeling all CMS tools are actually, the same. The difference now is in usability. If you’re doing due dilligence means you need to ensure you get what you want and what the users want !!!

ContentSchema

Reinventing Brands for Generation Y June 14, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Bazaar, brand, Chaos, Collaboration, Edge Thinking, generationy, Social Software, Web Culture, Weblogs.
2 comments

It’s becoming apparent over the last couple of years that participative architectures or Web 2.0 will bring seismic changes to IT, the workplace and the way companies engage with their target market using their brand.

Here are some good indicative links, Dion Hinchcliffe’s Five Techniques for Using Web2.0 to Reinvent the Customer Relationship, Deborah Eastman of Biz360 recorded a podcast with podtech.net about measuring the impact of blogs and mainstream media on the value of the brand.

I like this article about Enterprise Valuenetworks. It’s important, because in IT we tend to think that implementing process oriented applications is all about analysis, the old fashioned way top down bottom up etc, I’ve covered all the grounds.

Yeah right, the problem with this approach is that you tend to have the most important bits falling through the crack because, people oriented activities do not lend themselves to data modelling or use case modelling for that matter. Meaning we invariably exclude these fuzzy processes. An evident effect might be corporate sites rarely deliver any incremental value to the brand.

Why ? We forget real people in all the mad rush to encapsulate process automation on sites or brochure-ware. participative activities are random and amorphous.

Generation Y and their younger sibling that have grown up with social networking platforms such as facebook and myspace to define their identity will subsequently engage emotionally with companies or brands that identify with their outlook on life and provide positive aspirational means to express these identity.

These values could be social, fashion or health related. If these were the case, I can imagine a situation in the future where businesses that provide quality syndicated feeds related to my lifestyle will get more of my attention. The feed content might include Blogs, Videos and forums. These content might also be user mediated.

So the Advertising model we have today will surely go away. Why waste your money advertising to folks that aren’t interested. RSS feed subscriptions may one day become the real measure of brand value and loyalties. If businesses spend more time providing really valuable content that encourage user feedback and participation you’ll be onto a winner. I’m not talking about posting a Nike shoes video advert on a site for customers to watch. Feeds might be the best indicator of group intention.

It’s exactly what Lego are doing now with Lego Factory. If I can design my own Lego bricks to order, I’d be more inclined to value the brand and pay more attention to their message board.

So think about it, is it not better to empower your customers to have a real say in your products? rather than a feedback buttons on your site. If any industry needs it more than any other, I think banks could do with a human face. For too long in this industry, the computer has been saying yes or no….. Here’s my mind map of what’s wrong and how to put it right.

UserExpectations