What’s in Store for Digital Experience Management in 2014

Posted by on January 13, 2014

2014 is here in full swing, and promises to be an exciting year as the web continues to evolve and new products and trends continue to disrupt the industry.

In 2013, we saw the continued rise of mobile and the age of the customer, where enterprises worldwide re-evaluated strategies to optimally engage with their customers in this digital era. As mobile devices continue to proliferate and have become the new norm, consumers have increasingly higher expectations of the right content delivered to them when and how they want it, resulting in customer experience management skyrocketing to the top of every organization’s priority list.

However, experience management doesn’t just apply to customers, but instead extends to include all organizational stakeholders – customers, employees, partners, etc. We also saw organizations take a closer look internally and focus their efforts on employee community building. Realizing that workplace environments are changing, with a greater need for enterprise collaboration now than ever before, companies are implementing social intranet solutions that offer dynamic and social environments to facilitate community and collaboration.

In addition, many organizations are also building web-based social communities for their external stakeholders for further engagement to improve customer relations and build brand loyalty.

Tackling these daunting digital experience management tasks require careful planning and execution. Organizations need to first determine their business strategies and goals and take the time to really understand their audience to formulate the right messaging. A well thought out strategy sets the right foundation to build your systems – customer experience management, social intranet, customer portal, etc. – upon. The technology should be an enabler of your goals and facilitate your business users to effectively carry out your business objectives.

At Rivet Logic, we believe that software should be agile systems that can easily be customized to fit each organization’s unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all tool, and your underlying system must be flexible and developer friendly to allow various customizations and integrations with other existing enterprise applications. In addition, your system must be user friendly for business users. As we’ve seen over the past few years, there’s been a shift from IT to Marketing as Marketing’s responsibilities have expanded to include multi-channel web content management, customer experience management, and more. The tools we employ must be easy to use for non-technical business users.

In 2014 we’ll continue to see these trends evolve. Organizations will continue to put a large emphasis on customer experience management and creating a seamless omni-channel experience as mobile continues to grow. Businesses will also focus more on big data. The explosive growth of social media and mobile devices has generated an enormous amount of user behavioral data that can be harnessed to provide organizations with valuable insight on how to better address the needs of their customers and employees.

 

Enabling Smarter Enterprise Collaboration Through Social Intranets

Posted by on November 19, 2013

Traditional intranets – while offering a variety of tools for improving internal communication, workforce productivity, collaboration, and more – are often seen as stuffy, boring systems that employees NEED to use, but not necessarily would WANT to use.

However, that’s all changing now. In an age where Customer Experience Management (CEM/CXM) and producing engaging digital experiences across various channels is at the top of every organization’s digital strategy list, some of that is crossing over to modern intranet solutions. Organizations are now beginning to see the importance of providing that same level of engagement to their employees that they do for their customers.

A new generation of social intranets have emerged that focus on building internal employee communities while incorporating social tools to facilitate knowledge sharing, employee interaction and feedback, and team-building and collective problem solving.

Over the last few months, we’ve presented on this hot topic at several events, including two webinars, two Liferay Roadshows, the Liferay North America Symposium, and KMWorld Conference. Let’s take a deeper look at how a social intranet solution can be used to facilitate smarter enterprise collaboration.

Social Communication is Critical – From Internet to Intranet

Looking at the history of social media in general is important in helping us understand why social features have become an essential part of today’s intranets. Most of us were around before social media and remember when it all first started. As with any new technology, there was some initial resistance. However, it was interesting to see how quickly people naturally gravitated towards using social media and embraced the openness that came with it.

Fast-forward to today and you see users worldwide that are socially active. This proves that the need for social interaction is not cultural, but rather it fulfills a natural human need – the need to share, to discover new things, and to be connected to one another. This is why social media has become an essential part of our internet experience today.

Naturally, companies have caught on to this, and Web applications and services that provide social features started sprouting up globally. In fact, it’s hard to find a successful Web application nowadays that doesn’t incorporate social features to some extent.

However, for a while, social interactions were kept out of the workplace, and employees would change their behaviors to fit within the constraints imposed by their employers. And those who were initially rejected for rallying for social interaction within the workplace were the same visionaries that saw the benefits – as a tool for providing constructive feedback, and to help employees be more efficient, hence improving productivity.

This initial resistance to social interaction within the workplace was no different from the resistance from internet users when social media was first conceived. Intranets are changing, and organizations leading that change are already reaping the benefits.

The Social Intranet

So what makes an intranet social? Unlike the public internet, intranets are trickier, since there are usually a lot of organizational rules to follow, many of which go against the essence of being social. Here we will cover some common features of a social intranet.

Intuitive

First and foremost, it has to be easy to use. Just like social applications on the internet, social intranets shouldn’t require user training. Nowadays, people learn how to use Web tools by talking to each other about it. While the availability of online help resources is always useful, discussion forums teach users a lot more.

Light Community Management

One of the biggest obstacles that get in the way of social intranet adoption are an organization’s existing anti-social rules, such as policing all content. Imagine if every time you posted a forum question someone had to review and approve it before it gets posted. Chances are, you’d never ask anything. Instead of being policed, social intranets should be moderated, where users can post freely, and processes can be put in place to correctly handle improper posts. This also means that some organizations would need to change their company culture and rules prior to adopting a social intranet.

Content is Produced and Consumed

Another key difference between social internet and social intranet apps is that consumers of content are as important as producers of content. We tend to always praise producers and call consumers leeches. This isn’t the case in social intranets, however, since it’s the consumers who are the ones using this content to be more efficient and productive at work. Producers without consumers are useless.

Integrated Search

And last but not least, social intranets tend to be heavy on enterprise search. Discovery is an essential social feature, and search is one of the best tools for enabling discovery, so great social intranets typically put a lot of emphasis on integration with enterprise-wide search solutions.

The change is here, and early adopters are reaping the benefits. In fact, a recent research report published by Nielson Norman Group on social intranets has found that many companies see intranet information sharing and other social features offering true competitive advantages. And more interestingly, many executives recognize that social tools are an expected part of a knowledge worker’s standard toolkit.

Building a Social Intranet – Now What?

Building a successful social intranet means selecting the right tools for the job, and Liferay Portal is one of the best tools to take on this task. Liferay provides all the social intranet features discussed in two ways – through Liferay Social Office or as a tailored social intranet built on the Liferay platform.

Liferay Social Office

Liferay Social Office is a packaged social collaboration solution that successfully addresses many social intranet features.

  • Dashboard – A dashboard is an essential part of any social intranet and offers a great way to keep users informed of what’s going on.
  • Sites – Liferay has site-based architecture, allowing organizations to create sites that serve very different purposes – departmental sites, project and team sites, and even regular websites with editorial content.
  • Contact Center – A big part of social communication is to stay connected, so social intranets put a lot of emphasis on having an easy-to-use people directory. Liferay successfully addresses this through Contact Center, which even includes user profiles in search results.
  • Team Calendar – Liferay’s calendar feature can be used in any site to manage site-specific events.
  • Search – Liferay enables enterprise search through integrations with Apache Solr, Google Search Appliance, Endeca, and more, allowing you to make enterprise-wide information discoverable from within the social intranet.
  • Liferay Sync – Liferay addresses the growing need for ubiquitous file sharing through Liferay Sync, a feature similar to Dropbox/Google Drive. In addition, your enterprise security constraints are honored even when you’re outside of your company’s firewall.
  • Related Content – This feature allows content authors to associate content of different types, resulting in a very rich and dynamic information architecture. For example, reader of a blog post who then posts a relevant question in a forum can relate the blog and forum posts, exposing future blog post readers to the forum posts.

Even more, Liferay Social Office has additional social features such as micro-blogging, private messaging, announcements and alerts, full-featured document management, comments and ratings, and much more.

Custom Social Intranet Solution

Another approach to building a Liferay-based social intranet is to create a custom solution utilizing Liferay as a platform. One of the most popular Liferay use cases is actually a Human Resources (HR) Portal, which is often the first step towards building a social intranet. An HR Portal provides an efficient means of disseminating company information and news, and offers an ideal medium for employee outreach and engagement.

Over the past few years, Rivet Logic has built a variety of intranet solutions for customers with varying business models. Through working with these customers and understanding their requirements for these intranets, we’ve found certain features to be commonly sought across all intranet solutions. Based on these features, we’ve built an open source HR Portal that we’ve contributed back to the Liferay community, now available through the Liferay Marketplace. This easy-to-deploy portal solution comes with many useful features, including:

  • Corporate news authoring and publishing
  • Customizable news publishing channels
  • User-friendly people directory
  • Customizable portal-wide main navigation bar
  • Smart news carousel
  • Customizable quick links

Choosing the Right Approach

So how do organizations determine which approach to use for their social intranet? Liferay Social Office is Liferay’s equivalent to Sharepoint, so it may be better suited for organizations that like what they’re getting out of the box and aren’t looking for a tailored solution.

Those looking for a more tailored solution can either use the HR Portal as a starting point and build an intranet on top of it, or use Liferay as a platform and build an intranet from scratch. The bottom line is, there is no right or wrong approach, but rather determining what each organization needs and finding the approach that best fits with those requirements.

Learn More!

If you’d like to learn more about social intranets, we have several resources to help you gain a better understanding:

Attend Complimentary Crafter CMS Training at Alfresco Summit

Posted by on October 15, 2013

Crafter Software is pleased to offer complimentary Crafter CMS training!

Learn the basics of Crafter CMS for web content and web experience management in a single day class hosted on the day prior to the Alfresco Summit.

You will learn about:

  • Crafter CMS Architecture
  • Content type management and template construction
  • Creating dynamic and targeted experiences

Trainees will be required to bring their own machine (Windows or OSX).
Software, training and lab materials will be provided by the instructor.

Trainee skills should include:

  • Basic understanding of WCM concepts: content types, templates
  • Basic HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Helpful if Trainees have:

  • A background in Alfresco
  • Understanding of basic operating system concepts
  • Ability to code and compile Java (some advanced labs will required coding.)

Request your training today.  Space is limited and registrations will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis!

Sign up for Barcelona

Sign up for Boston

 

Rivet Logic Participates in DCG’s Guide to Service Providers for WCM and CEM

Posted by on August 12, 2013

Digital Clarity Group recently launched their Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management – 2013 North American edition.

The research report provides valuable insight regarding the growing demand and necessity for customer experience management (CEM), and the key role service providers play in helping organizations deliver successful digital customer experiences.

“The forces of digital disruption have empowered consumers and created a growing demand for rich, engaging, and consistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. Customer experience management (CEM) designates an evolving set of practices, technologies, partnerships, and business values that, taken together, enable organizations to orchestrate, offer, and optimize consistently superior customer experiences. Mastering CEM is an imperative because the quality of the experiences you offer and support will increasingly determine the fate of your company.”

It is crucial to realize that no software vendor offers a packaged solution or a complete platform for customer experience management. Companies draw upon a broad, growing, and rapidly shifting ecosystem of software solutions to support CEM. Because most interactions depend, or at least draw, upon content in a digital format, web content management (WCM) tools and practices will continue to play a central role in the CEM ecosystem for the foreseeable future.”

While technology is an enabler in delivering CEM, the real success lies in how the initiative is implemented, and choosing the right service provider — whether it be a systems integrator, digital agency, or consultant — plays a critical role.

“The customer experience imperative is clear. Organizations must create connected digital content experiences across all of the channels they manage,” says Cathy McKnight, Partner and Principal Analyst, DCG. “Successful deployment of these tools requires true expertise and, most of all, experience. Selecting the right service provider to help deploy these solutions can make or break an organization’s plan.”

The full report takes a look at 42 North American service providers that organizations might want to consider in a Web content management system implementation. Rivet Logic is proud to be a featured systems integrator participating in this report.

Click here to learn more about CEM and to download a special edition of the report.

 

Rivet Logic and Liferay Talk Social Intranets at Boston Roadshow

Posted by on August 07, 2013

A Liferay Roadshow is making a stop in Boston on August 14, 2013, and Rivet Logic is hosting the event! This lunch seminar will teach attendees about Liferay Portal 6.1, its robust capabilities, and how it can be used to address a variety of business challenges — in particular, achieving smarter enterprise collaboration through a social intranet solution.

For today’s enterprises, building internal employee communities within the enterprise offers tremendous strategic advantages, including greater opportunities to share knowledge across departments, to encourage employee interaction and feedback, and to assist in meeting organizational challenges through team-building and collective problem solving.

This special lunch event will cover topics including:

  • Organizational benefits gained through collaboration
  • Why organizations are turning to social intranet solutions to facilitate community and collaboration
  • Implementation best practices for a successful implementation and optimal user adoption
  • How to quickly and easily get started with a free, fully functional HRPortal solution that’s available through the Liferay Marketplace

Attendees will also see a live demo of Rivet Logic’s HRPortal solution, which serves as the foundation for any social intranet implementation.

For more information and to register, visit http://discover.liferay.com/RivetLogic081413.

We hope to see you at the Roadshow!

Morpheus Drive – A Simple File Sharing UI for Alfresco that Solves the Dropbox Problem

Posted by on July 18, 2013

We all know that file sharing is necessary and much sought after by those in both the consumer and enterprise spaces. In fact, file sharing has become ubiquitous, meaning the ability to share files with anyone and anywhere with the availability of an internet connection, without the need to be inside a private network.

There are many reasons why people love ubiquitous file sharing. For one, it’s extremely user friendly and promotes high productivity – people aren’t wasting time trying to figure out how to use foreign tools. Good software is simple and doesn’t require much training, if any at all.

More importantly, what knowledge workers truly appreciate about these tools is the sense of freedom they get – the freedom to share files. Most people have probably experienced some common difficulties with file sharing in the workplace – from large file sizes, to file type restrictions, to inconveniences created by traditional file sharing methods (email, ftp, etc.) due to security policies in place that prevents document sharing outside the firewall.

The Dropbox Problem

As a result, users have turned to, and have become big fans of, tools like Dropbox, which give them the sense of file sharing freedom they desire. However, when presented in front of an organization’s legal counsel or CIO, these tools will often encounter resistance, fear, and ultimately rejection.

What’s so scary about tools like Dropbox? Here are two important reasons to consider:

  • Legal Issues – When you put your content up on a public infrastructure, you don’t really know where your data physically resides. This becomes an issue if you’re under contractual obligations or NDAs that disallow this.
  • Access Control Issues – What happens when an employee leaves a company and the content he/she uploaded is sitting out there? Or even worse, if that employee leaves under less than ideal circumstances, the problem is magnified because you don’t know what they could potentially do with the content. In the worst case scenario, those documents could be assets that affect your bottom line (e.g. internal strategy documents, intellectual property, etc.).

The above examples indicate real and serious concerns behind legal and CIOs’ reluctance to embrace the Dropbox’s and Google Drive’s of the world.

In addition, there’s also the issue of customization with these tools – you can’t just simply customize Dropbox. If you want something specific to your organization, then you’re pretty much out of luck going the Dropbox route.

Solving the Dropbox Problem

So how do organization go about to achieve ubiquitous file sharing without Dropbox?

The solution is Alfresco – an enterprise grade content management platform – that’s equipped with a variety of products that can help solve this problem with features such as an enterprise class repository, fine grained permissions, auditing, locking to help facilitate collaboration, versioning to manage content history, and workflow. Alfresco is also very flexible with its deployment options – it can be on premise or you can leverage Alfresco Cloud.

Alfresco in the cloud is a fully managed SaaS offering that helps organizations keep control of its content while providing users with powerful ways to access their content securely on any device, anywhere.

While Alfresco on premise allows certain content that needs to be kept behind a firewall to safely reside there, Alfresco Cloud provides the necessary freedom of access. However, given that a single piece of content’s lifecycle might require that it move in and out of the firewall, we don’t want to have to manage two distinct repositories.

The solution is Alfresco One, a hybrid cloud solution that enables an on-premise repository to maintain a bi-directional sync with a cloud-based repository. This solution also allows you to fully control permissions and access control for all your content in a single manageable store, allowing for content sharing across organizational boundaries without sacrificing internal processes.

 

CIO Approved Ubiquitous File Sharing

This hybrid solution meets all of your ubiquitous file sharing needs – large file uploads, consumer-like internet based file sharing – while also providing rich content services and eliminating the CIO’s and Legal’s headaches.

Organizations have the flexibility of picking and choosing what constraints to place on specific content, and content can now flow in and out of your firewall as needed.

As a web-based solution like Dropbox, you can easily interact with the system through two available web-based interfaces provided by Alfresco. Alfresco Share is a collaboration-based interface with a document library, calendar, and discussion forum, among other collaboration tools. The other option is Alfresco Workdesk, a configurable case management oriented user interface that enables organization of content into dynamic query-driven folders.

While these are great interfaces, they’re also tailored to meet specific user needs and aren’t always appropriate for all use cases – Alfresco Share is project oriented so all your content is boxed in this way, and Alfresco Workdesk is oriented around case management. Although it’s possible to customize in both cases, there are framework limitations imposed by best practices that maintain supportability and upgrade paths.

The Morpheus Way

Luckily there’s Morpheus Rivet, which gives users the best of both worlds by providing a highly customizable consumer-oriented, simple-to-use user interface without sacrificing any of the features of Alfresco.

Morpheus Rivet is composed of two components – Morpheus Drive and Morpheus IDE. Morpheus Drive is a simple, easy-to-use and customizable web-based user interface that communicates with the Alfresco repository to expose all of its powerful enterprise features. The UI is simple – similar to Dropbox and Google Drive – intuitive, and more importantly, is highly flexible for customizing the UI.

Morpheus IDE enables these customization by providing a development environment that allows users to easily customize Morpheus Drive to fit specific needs. The development environment allows users to code, edit existing Drives, preview and test the environment, and publish it out to a live Morpheus Drive.

With Morpheus IDE, you can also manage UI’s not only how it appears on a browser, but also on tablets, mobile devices, and virtually any channel you want to publish the interface to. This helps to greatly reduce costs from having a separate system for each channel.

With Morpheus Rivet, organizations can now achieve ubiquitous file sharing through a user-friendly interface, without compromising on security and customizability.

For more information about Morpheus Rivet, contact sales@rivetlogic.com.

Happy Employees = Greater Workplace Productivity

Posted by on July 02, 2013

While most employers try to create a positive work environment for their employees, it’s hard to keep constant track of employee satisfaction levels, especially for large enterprises with thousands of employees. What most organizations don’t realize is just how great of a financial impact employee happiness can have on the organization.

Do the terms “absenteeism” and “presenteeism” ring a bell? According to a recent infographic created by digital agency Gravitate, lost work days caused by absenteeism — a habitual pattern of absence from work — related to stress cost approximately $30 billion a year, and even worse, lost productivity resulting from presenteeism — when a worker is physically present but lacks productivity — costs the U.S. approximately $200 billion annually! Those are some astounding numbers and should make any organization re-evaluate their workplace environment.

Not every organization can afford a Google-like playground of a work environment, where the abundance of employee perks make up for any extra added stress in the work place. So what can the rest of the organizations do? An effective way to increase employee satisfaction is through employee engagement, facilitated by collaborative internal communities that connect like-minded colleagues within the organization. Bringing an organization together has positive effects on the company culture, resulting in increased employee satisfaction and loyalty.

In a recent white paper, “How Social Intranets Enable Smarter Enterprise Collaboration“, we discuss the increasing need for enterprise collaboration in today’s workplace, along with how organizational benefits can be achieved through effective collaboration, and how a social intranet addresses these business needs.

Leveraging social tools that help connect people in creative ways, a social intranet offers a unified solution for addressing a number of corporate objectives — corporate branding and messaging, application aggregation, enterprise collaboration, social networking, document management, and more — while yielding a variety of organizational benefits, including employee engagement and satisfaction.

To download the white paper, visit, rivetlogic.com/resources/information-center.

 

Employee Happiness as a Business Tool

 

 

Crafter Rivet Spins Off Into Crafter Software

Posted by on May 10, 2013

Rivet Logic Announces the Spinoff of Crafter Software

This week Rivet Logic announced the launch of Crafter Software Corporation, which will offer commercial support and licenses for the Crafter CMS open source project (previously known as Crafter Rivet). Crafter CMS is an award-winning web content and experience management solution that allows organizations to build and manage rich online experiences on the web, mobile, social, and all digital online channels.

“We have seen tremendous commercial demand for Crafter’s modern, open and well-designed solutions in a variety of industries,” said Mike Vertal, CEO of Rivet Logic. “With hundreds of sites now in production and interest surging from major organizations around the world, we knew the time was ripe to spinoff a new company entirely focused on continued development and global support of Crafter.”

Crafter Software’s solutions are offered as both a Community Edition under the GNU open source license, and as an Enterprise Edition with a commercial license and global support.

Rivet Logic will continue to offer Crafter consulting and full-lifecycle implementation services for Web content and experience management solutions.

What does this mean for you?

If you are an existing Crafter Rivet user or customer, you will continue to get the great consulting and solution support from Rivet Logic, along with software support from the dedicated team at the new Crafter Software — all from the same team that was supporting you before.

If you are considering Crafter for your next Web content management solution, you now have the extra confidence that Crafter Software has been established to focus on the continued innovation, development and support of Crafter on a global basis.

If you have any interest in a new, modern enterprise Web CMS that was built for the new era of web engagement, check out the new Crafter Software at craftersoftware.com and craftercms.org

Learn More

To read the press release, visit www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130507006137/en/Web-Experience-Management-Simplified-Crafter-Software

For more information on Rivet Logic’s Crafter-based WCM/WEM solutions and consulting services, visit rivetlogic.com/solutions/web-content-management and rivetlogic.com/services/crafter-consulting

Website Snapshots with Crafter WEM and Alfresco

Posted by on April 04, 2013

Every now and then we see a requirement from customers who specify that a snapshot of the entire repository for the website be maintained on a deployment or on a daily basis in order to enable a audit of the entire site at a given point in time, or to allow a rollback of the entire site at a given point in time.

The versioning system within Alfresco’s core repository does not natively support snapshots.  While it is possible to model this capability within the system through custom coding, the solutions tend to be complex while the demand for the functionality remains low.   In any technical solution it is important to keep things as simple as possible.  Whenever you run into a narrow requirement that threatens to complicate your systems you need to take a step back and determine:

  • Is the requirement is truly necessary?
  • Can the requirement can be changed slightly to work better with the existing technology?
  • If the requirement is necessary, can you can integrate with a 3rd party that solves the problem directly without complicating the overall solution?

In our example we are left with the third option.  Given this, the first question is: are there any existing, robust, affordable solutions for maintaining snapshots of an entire collection of “assets” that already exists and can be cleanly integrated?

The answer is “Yes.” Snapshot capabilities while not very common in web content management systems are extremely common in source code control systems like SVN, Git and others.  All of these off the shelf source control systems are extremely robust and are free open source platforms.

Following the idea that we’re going to integrate with an existing source control system to meet the snapshot requirement, the second question is: can our WCM environment represent all content and metadata as files?

Again, with Crafter WEM the answer is yes.  All content and metadata are represented as XML files or raw native formats such as images, rich documents, videos etc.

Our third question is obviously: how does the integration work?

Let’s review our business and technical requirements:

  • We want a snapshot of content that went LIVE on our site on either a deployment OR daily basis.
  • We need to be able to audit the entire site at a given point-in-time if an investigation is required (by law or organizational policy)
  • We want a integration with a source control system that does not complicate our overall WCM software and solution.
  • Our solution must cover all content and metadata

Now let’s review a potential solution for these requirements.

alfresco-wcm-repository-snapshot-arch

Getting published content in to the source control system

Because Crafter WEM is a decoupled system where the authoring and delivery system are independent systems separated by an approval process, and a deployment, multi-channel, multi-endpoint deployment is a natural part of the architecture.  As you can see in the illustration above, we have a typical deployment to our web infrastructure in the DMZ and we also have a deployment agent inside our corporate firewall, which will put content and metadata in a disk location managed by SVN, Git, or some other source control management system. All metadata and content can be deployed to the source control endpoint.

Delivering content and metadata to the source control system is a simple and robust solution.

Creating a snapshot

To create a snapshot we must check-in (AKA commit) to the source control system.

If we want to create a snapshot on every single deployment we can use a simple callback in our deployment target configuration to perform a check in via a command line operation.

Code Listing 1:
The configuration below demonstrates how to invoke a command line operation from the deployment agent after content has been received.

<beans xsi:schemaLocation="...">
    <bean id="MyTarget" init-method="register">
        <property name="name"><value>sample</value></property>
        <property name="manager" ref="TargetManager"/><property name="postProcessors">
            <list><ref bean="commitSiteOnDeploy"/></list>
        </property>
        <property name="params">
            <map>
                <entry key="root"><value>target/sample</value></entry><entry key="contentFolder"><value>content</value></entry>
                <entry key="metadataFolder"><value>meta-data</value></entry>
            </map>
        </property>
    </bean>
    
    <bean id="commitSiteOnDeploy">
        <property name="command" value="svn  "/>
        <property name="arguments">
            <map>
                <entry key="ci" value="PATH TO DEPLOYMENT"/>
            </map>
        </property>
    </bean>
</beans>

However, if we want to commit a daily (or any time-based snapshot) we can accomplish this with a simple operating system based scheduled task that performs the check in via a command line operation.

Reviewing a snapshot for audit

Reviewing a snapshot in the event of an audit is as simple as a check out of the particular version from the snapshot repository and launching a Crafter Engine instance on top of the checked out content.

Reverting our WCM environment to a particular version

Reversion of our entire site would require the following steps

  • Check out the particular version
  • Either create a new WEM project based on the check-out content and re-deploy to your targets
  • OR import the checked out site in to your existing WEM project and then deploy to your targets.  Take care to analyze your deployment history for deletes as these will need to be managed if you choose to revert over top of your existing project.

Performing Diff Operations

It’s possible to perform a diff operation between versions at any time. Almost all modern source control repositories support version dif functionality.

If you wish to compare the head of your repository with a particular version you can take the following steps:

  • Check out the trunk of your snapshot repository
  • Copy your preview directory in to your snapshot repository check-out
  • Use source control repository to perform diff operation.

Summary

Repository snapshots are an important requirement for a small number of organizations.  Crafter WEM is able to support these requirements with simple, robust integrations through its deployment architecture and readily available, affordable source control systems.

Building Enterprise Customer Portals with Liferay

Posted by on April 04, 2013

Remaining competitive in today’s market means customer-driven companies must continue to provide their clients with added value, and one of the most effective ways of achieving this is through a customer portal that enables a holistic view of the information customers care about the most. Customer portals also present an opportunity for organizations to generate revenue through strategic discovery features that expose clients to products they might be interested in.

Liferay for Customer Portals

Liferay Portal provides a versatile platform for solving a variety of business needs, including intranets and extranets, collaboration sites with blogs, wikis, and forums, consumer facing websites, and social community sites with built-in social networking features. And one of the most common use cases we’ve seen is customer and self-service portals.

Liferay’s site-based architecture makes it ideal for customer portals. A key capability of these portals is to provide separate sites, pages, and content for each customer. And since Liferay allows you to easily create individual customer sites with very little work, the scoping of the content and digital assets within those sites is supported natively.

LIferay easily supports the two most important features of customer portals – personalization and site-based security.

  • Personalization – Liferay allows for creation of personalized pages for each customer. The information collected within each customer site can then be utilized in creative ways to further enhance personalization and increase user engagement. Liferay roles and teams are often used as an elegant way to differentiate between user types within a single customer site, which in turn opens the door for further fine-grained personalization.
  • Site-based Security – Liferay’s architecture facilitates security by enabling straightforward management of site members and their permissions within the site. Moreover, end users can be appointed as site administrators to help decrease help desk load while providing customers with much needed content ownership and management capabilities.

Challenges and Solutions

Every project has its challenges, and it’s important to follow best practices and address them in the beginning to ensure a smooth implementation. From our experience in implementing customer portals of varying sizes, we’ve seen a number of common challenges and have found successful ways of addressing these with Liferay’s flexible platform.

Information Architecture

The quality of the information architecture will have a large impact on the success of the portal. The information architecture defines the types of content your customers will see inside the portal and the navigation within the portal to get to the right content, so it’s critical to define and categorize the content and display it in a way that’s easy for the customer to understand. A customer portal that makes finding important content difficult is destined for failure.

To resolve this in Liferay, you need to gain a clear understanding of Liferay’s architecture along with best practices. It’s important to involve a customer sample when defining and categorizing your content to determine which content is important for each customer.

Integration

Integration is a critical part of every customer portal because, more often than not, the content that customers typically care about usually resides in external third-party enterprise systems, some of which may change over time. Therefore, the best way to approach integration is with a reusable integration layer.

Liferay supports this with their service builder library, which allows developers to create a standard service layer abstracting all integration logic. With this, technical architects can easily provide their developers with a standard API to use for systems integration, resulting in increased developer efficiency and better overall solution maintainability.

Flexibility

Many customer portal solutions in the market were built to satisfy the immediate needs of those customers. This often leads to the solutions becoming inflexible, so when new technology or new use cases are required, these solutions simply can’t keep up. In addition, today’s users expect Web-based solutions to constantly evolve and get better, making the portal solution framework’s flexibility a key factor in determining both short- and long-term success.

Liferay addresses this challenge with its native support for the implementation and deployment of custom plug-ins to address any future customer needs. Additionally, Liferay was built with customization in mind – almost every aspect of the portal can be customized or overridden without sacrificing the ability to maintain a clear and supported upgrade path.

Branding

The ability for a customer portal to support different branding aesthetics for each customer provides a much appreciated, tailored experience to the users of the portal. The challenge here is that the majority of portal frameworks in the market today don’t easily support site branding, which usually forces adopters of those technologies to stick with one look and feel for all customers. Support for interchangeable skins or themes in a portal, though challenging for the portal vendor, enables more personalized user experiences.

Liferay’s Themes, Layouts, Mobile Support, and Custom Site Metadata allow developers to create unique look and feel options for each customer. The technical knowledge required to implement different skins is standard user interface technology such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This doesn’t just make branding easy, but also quite flexible.

Innovation

Interaction within a customer portal is typically thought to be business-to-customer. However, customer interactions don’t have to be unidirectional, and a new market trend is introducing social customer-to-customer interaction within portals. This social interaction can be particularly beneficial to companies whose revenue depends on successful ongoing transactionality between customers.

Liferay’s flexible platform and robust feature set also allows it to support innovative new features as market trends change. Rivet Logic is proud to be one of the few, if not the only, Liferay partners to have implemented such a portal with a fully integrated marketplace experience for buyers and sellers of services to collaborate and transact within the portal. With features like Google Maps-based discovery, quote management, private messaging, customer service, and more, we were able to build an extremely successful customer portal with the help of Liferay’s flexible framework.

Liferay’s robust portal platform provides a versatile solution for satisfying a variety of enterprise needs, including building consumer-facing websites. Implemented correctly, these customer portals can bring great value to your customers, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.