Month: August 2017

Improving Customer Relationships Through Mobile Strategy

Posted by on August 29, 2017

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As more consumers move towards using their mobile devices as their first and often only method of interaction, it becomes necessary for businesses to engage in a clear and comprehensive mobile strategy. Mobile strategies encompass new, innovative ways of engaging with customers, in addition to ways of measuring mobile accessibility and the success of a mobile campaign. Customer relationships can be vastly improved through the heightened connectivity of the mobile age — and companies that aren’t paying attention to this could easily be left behind.

Choosing Between Native and Web Applications

The first decision your business is likely to make is whether it’s going to invest in either native or web-based applications. Native applications are applications directly installed on a user’s device. It requires further engagement to convince a user to install a native application, but the native application is more likely to be effective — the user is going to see and interact with it more often, and it will have advanced engagement features such as push notifications. Web applications, on the other hand, are really just responsively designed websites, and though they can be accessed through a mobile device, they do not give additional functionality on the device itself. On the other hand, web applications are more affordable and more likely to be accessed.

Understanding the Customer Benefits to Mobile Accessibility

Customers today are looking for certain features through mobile devices. It is these features that a company will need to provide if they are to develop a solid and successful mobile strategy:

  • Self-servicing through a mobile app. Most customers today prefer to be able to find information themselves rather than having to work through a customer service representative — and this is advantageous both to the business and its customers.
  • Fast purchasing and check out. Being able to complete an e-commerce transaction on-the-fly is what draws many customers to purchasing apps. Companies need to be aware that the faster the ordering is, the more likely the customer is to commit; this is why “one-click” ordering features have become so successful.
  • Ease of contact through multiple channels. Customers want to be able to email, instant message, or call a company quickly through their mobile application. Different customers and different situations require different venues of contact, so having these choices is important.

Of course, mobile strategies are also changing and customers are starting to desire even more from their devices. Leading companies are creating instant mobile chats run by artificially intelligent bots, for example, which can offer even better self service. Companies need to keep on top of these changes to remain competitive.

Developing Your Metrics for Success

The goal of a mobile strategy is to increase engagement, customer acquisition, customer retention, and overall sales. In order to track the success of a mobile strategy, a business must fist settle on identifiable metrics that will define whether or not the mobile strategy is truly working. Metrics may include metrics on the strategy itself, such as how many installations a corporate app has achieved, or metrics on the overall performance of the business, such as improved ROI since the mobile strategy was first conceived. Regardless, the metrics must remain consistent across reporting to identify any potential strategies for optimization.

Improving customer relationships through a comprehensive mobile strategy is about more than simply providing mobile features — it’s about developing these features in a way that they are attractive to customers and that they ultimately fulfill the customer’s needs. With that in mind, it becomes exceptionally important to test out these features and optimize them over time. Mobile strategies are accelerating and evolving as they become more important to the core operations of many businesses.

Top 10 New Features of Liferay DXP

Posted by on August 24, 2017

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With so many choices for today’s consumers a click or swipe away, the companies that stand out will be those who deliver highly personalized experiences in the channels of their customer’s choosing. That’s why Liferay has redesigned the next evolution of it’s platform, the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), with new functionality to equip businesses with the tools to create, manage and deliver end-to-end digital experiences across all digital channels.

In this post, we’ll share some of our favorite new features in Liferay DXP…

Modularity

Liferay DXP’s new modular architecture empowers businesses to build powerful, adaptable, lightweight and innovative systems for the digital world. This functionality has been distributed into hundreds of modules, allowing you to use only what you need for your project. Built using a framework that allows for modular deployment of applications, portlets and libraries, Liferay DXP’s modular architecture gives businesses extensibility unthinkable until now and an elegant development model.

Audience Targeting

The new version of Audience Targeting contains advanced segmentation of audiences with new segmentation rules. Visitor segments can be created based on user profile custom fields, user language, IP address, sign up date and last login date. A report builder is available to generate reports for segments and campaigns. Additional reporting capabilities include the ability to view and download the list of users of each segment. Finally, targeted assets can be filtered in the Asset Publisher using advanced filtering settings.

New Mobile Experience Features

Liferay’s updated mobile tools enable you to create applications for collaboration and social, while ensuring that the information on your phone remains completely secure. New features include:

  • A new set of screenlets for Liferay Screens, including Image Gallery, Blogs, Comments, Ratings, Generic Asset Display, PDF Display, Video Display, Audio Display and Image Display.
  • Improved support for structured web content in the Web Content Screenlet.

Elasticsearch

The default search engine in Liferay DXP is now Elasticsearch for improved monitoring, tuning and clustering. Subscribers have the option to extend Liferay Support with support for Elasticsearch installations.

Media Selector & Inline Image Editor

The ability to upload a picture, select an uploaded file, and even take a picture or video to add to your content is now easy with Liferay’s new media selector. This feature is also highly extensible so that new sources of media (e.g., Google, Flickr, YouTube) can be added to any application using the selector.

In addition, the new image editor allows for simple image editing directly from within Liferay, eliminating the need for an external tool while creating content. Easily resize, crop and make color adjustments to any image uploaded to Documents and Media from within blogs or any other application that uses an item selector. The image editor is easy to customize and allows developers to create and deploy tools that modify images.

Single Page Applications

Thanks to Liferay’s own Senna.js project, all applications (even custom ones) are automatically configured as Single Page Applications (SPAs). Only the pieces of a page that are necessary are loaded, leading to reduced bandwidth usage, load times and rendering time in the browser. This means users will perceive faster loading and performance on the new Liferay platform.

Improved Collaboration Features

The changes Liferay has made to collaboration features give users more ways to communicate and share information, helping to eliminate departmental silos and foster better collaboration. Some of the improvements include:

  • Blogs experience – Improvements to the blog experience include the ability to set cover images and more convenient and reliable image uploading and sharing, along with additional features for RSS support, threaded user and guest comments, tags and labels, social bookmarking links, email notifications of blog replies and an entry rating system.
  • Social Collaboration Apps - Microblogs, contact center, announcements, ability to invite members and other social collaboration features are now available out-of-the-box through multiple dedicated apps.
  • User Mentions - Users can now @mention another user within blogs and comments. Mentioned users will receive a notification that they have been mentioned in that particular asset.

Modern, Fast Site Creation

A series of improvements for creating dynamic and visually stunning sites provides more power to administrators for faster site creation. A new set of modern themes and site templates available in Liferay Marketplace provides a foundation for quickly creating your websites with features such as application decorators, application display templates, sets of pages and more.

Simple Content Authoring With AlloyEditor

Authors now have access at any time to Liferay’s powerful authoring applications thanks to AlloyEditor, a WYSIWYG editor built on top of CKEditor. Designed using React, a JavaScript library developed by Facebook, AlloyEditor is designed to help easily create web content. Developers are able to use the OSGi framework to customize CKEditor’s con guration in two ways: modifying the configuration and adding new behavior.

Enterprise-Ready Forms

A brand new application for defining and publishing advanced dynamic forms allows for complex multicolumn layouts and the ability to span several pages. The new application offers more control over form fields, such as the ability to customize fields or hide them with visibility expressions. Forms can be published in any Liferay site simply by dropping the form into a page or providing a URL that links directly to a full page form. An additional feature is the ability to pull in data from an external source (i.e., “Data Providers”). Once the administrator configures the Data Provider, the data can be shared across any form. On the roadmap is the ability to use the Forms API to render the form engine, even for sites that use Liferay Forms alongside another technology. Liferay Forms is planned to eventually replace the Web Form app and the Dynamic Data List (DDL) Forms from previous versions.

Well, there you go, some of our favorite new features of Liferay DXP. What are your favorites?

If you’re still running on an older version of Liferay Portal and are interested in upgrading to Liferay DXP, we can help! For a limited time, we’re even offering a 50% discount off an initial assessment!

Optimizing Your Customer Experience Management

Posted by on August 15, 2017

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A customer’s experience with your organization may, in fact, be more important than the quality of either your products or your services. Customers today want to feel valued — they want to be able to have their needs both anticipated and fulfilled. Improving upon and optimizing your customer’s experiences is called customer experience management. Through new technologies, there are many ways that you can improve upon your customer experience management and, additionally, your ROI.

Integrate Your CRM, Marketing Automation, and Media Solutions Into a Single Infrastructure

Optimizing customer experience begins with consolidating and analyzing your data. To that end, integrating your CRM and marketing solutions can be an incredibly effective first step. Comprehensive CRM and marketing automation solutions — such as Salesforce, Marketo and HubSpot — almost universally come with third-party integrations out-of-the-box. For more distinct infrastructures, APIs, importing and exporting, or custom programming may be required. Regardless, this will create a single infrastructure that contains all of your customer information.

Not only does this improve analytics, but it also improves customer care overall. Both customer service representatives and sales personnel will have all of the information they need to quickly service the customers and get them the information that they need. Marketing campaigns will be able to target customers based on their prior behaviors — and will be able to prompt them towards purchasing more effectively.

Develop an Omni-Channel Approach through Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) make it easier to push content directly to a multitude of different channels. Social media, email marketing, and websites can all be consolidated under a single content system — so that a single push of the button can update customers on a variety of platforms. Omni-channel approaches make it easier to scale your organization upwards and to reach out to individuals across multiple demographics and interests. Through regular content distribution, companies can achieve better organic growth and improve upon their inbound marketing.

A CMS is particularly useful for lead procurement and demand generation. With the use of a CMS, a strong and strategic digital marketing campaign can ensure that leads come to the business rather than the business having to procure leads. Organizations are thus able to improve upon their ROI, extend their marketing reach, and refocus their budget to additional areas of advertising and support.

Explore Big Data, Such as Emotional Analytics and Predictive Intelligence

Emotional analytics and big data can work together to develop new strategies for customer acquisition and retention. Algorithms are now available that are substantially advanced that they can look at patterns of customer behavior and determine the best way to service that customer. At its most complex, emotional analytics can involve motion capture and facial analysis, in order to detect micro-expressions that may aid in detecting the customer’s emotional state. But this isn’t the type of analytics that would most commonly be used by a business. Businesses, instead, would most likely use text-based analysis or verbal analysis, to detect the best leads based on their word usage and the amount of emotive statements they have made.

Not all big data is so complex. Predictive intelligence can also be much simpler, such as looking at a customer’s past purchases and predicting when they will need to make further purchases. Predictive intelligence is used to fantastic effect on many e-commerce marketplaces, to suggest items that may be relevant to the consumer based on the items that they have either purchased or browsed. Predictive intelligence can also be used to detect and identify certain patterns, such as whether a customer may have abandoned a shopping cart due to high shipping charges.

Create Knowledge Management Systems for Superior Customer Service

Customers today often prefer to self-service. A solid customer service experience is, thus, often one in which the customer does not need to contact the organization at all. New help desk and support solutions can be nearly entirely automated, so that customers can get the answers they need out of a knowledge management system. This management system may take the form of a helper website or even a live chat with a bot. When self-service fails, customers prefer a variety of ways to communicate: through email, phone, instant messaging, or even text message.

By providing these additional resources for customers, organizations not only assist the customer in getting what they want, but also reduce their own administrative overhead. The more customer service can be automated, the less time and money the organization has to sink into technical support and customer service personnel.

It’s an exciting time for organizations looking to improve upon their customer experience. Through better customer experience management, companies can fine-tune their operations and ensure that their customers keep coming back.

Moving from Legacy Systems With Digital Transformation

Posted by on August 08, 2017

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Digital transformation. It may sound intimidating, but it’s vital to the operations of every organization. From small, single proprietorship businesses to large, sprawling enterprises, there comes a time when the organization is no longer being served by its technology. Digital transformation is a process through which organizations are able to upgrade and improve upon their technology, moving away from the legacy systems that may be holding them back.

The Danger and Inefficiency of Legacy Systems

  • Legacy systems are often unsupported. Businesses may find themselves continually using outdated legacy solutions because they simply don’t want to upgrade — but eventually the company producing these systems halts their support. It can become increasingly more difficult (and more expensive) to find technicians able to repair these systems.
  • Legacy systems aren’t compatible with new solutions. Though the temptation may be to upgrade a system piecemeal, this often does not work out because legacy systems are old enough that they cannot be easily integrated with newer systems. This holds the entirety of the infrastructure back.
  • Legacy systems are inherently less secure. Legacy systems were developed before new cyber security threats and are often not maintained in the wake of new ones. Because of this, legacy systems may be vulnerable to many types of attack.
  • Legacy systems are clunky and cumbersome. But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to switch from a legacy system is that they tend to have a very negative user experience. Legacy systems may make all business processes take longer to complete.

The Benefits of Modern Software Solutions

Modern software solutions are efficient and scalable, both in terms of cloud-based solutions and new on-premise infrastructures. Organizations can invest in private clouds, public clouds, and entirely on-premise systems, which will adhere to modern security standards and be accessible and reliable. Compared to legacy software solutions, these modern systems are more focused on user experience and efficiency. They are able to take advantage of the resources offered by modern hardware, and consequently they are better able to handle the needs of a growing business. Modern software solutions are also better supported than their legacy counterparts, and finding individuals skilled in their use is far easier.

Transitioning from Licensed Solutions to Open Source Software

Licensed solutions need to be renewed every year — and they often go up in price based on the size of your business or the number of seats that you require. Open source software, on the other hand, is freely available for use without any fees… maintenance or otherwise. For businesses that want additional functionality and features, affordable enterprise editions are available, often for a low subscription based cost. When completing a digital transformation, there is often an emphasis on switching costly, proprietary licensed solutions over to open source platforms. Though there may be a cost associated with enterprise editions, it’s far less than proprietary software.

In addition to the cost, there are a number of benefits that open source software provides:

  • An extensive and well-supported code base. Open source software is often associated with large communities and dedicated developers, all working together to improve upon the system. Not only will the system be robust and well-designed, but it will also have continual support. Comparatively, many licensed solutions will drop support for their older products in just a few years.
  • Easily customized solutions. Open source software will often have modules and extensions designed to customize their suites to your needs — and even those that do not have modules and extensions can be easily customized by a talented programmer, as the code is available. Proprietary solutions may have APIs or nothing at all, which means that a business cannot acquire a customized solution unless they purchase it directly from the company at a high cost.
  • Better security. Open source software is frequently updated by a large number of contributors, which means that security issues are caught and patched very quickly. Many security flaws within a system are introduced through third-party solutions. For organizations that rely upon their technology, security, and privacy, open source software can be a more reliable method of reducing risk.

And, of course, cost is a major factor. By reducing the cost of your system, you can create a system that is more scalable — and you can devote the budget that would otherwise be allocated towards licensing to other areas of your IT budget.

Digital transformation is a way to improve all of your organizational processes with a single structured transition. Through digital transformation, your organization will be able to leverage vastly superior technologies, while also reducing costs and administrative overhead.