Top 10 New Features of Liferay DXP

Posted by on August 24, 2017

Liferay DXP features

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.

How Focusing on Digital Can Help Create a Learning Organization

Posted by on July 31, 2017

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For many years, the idea of creating a learning organization was little more than a corporate buzzword that business majors used to encourage leaders to invest in consulting time. Creating a true learning organization requires much more than jargon and a few external classes — you need the rigor of an ongoing commitment to excellence and education at all levels of the organization. Leaders today are finding that a focus on digital may help drive culture and encourage ongoing learning and growth.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is one of the cornerstones of a successful organization, but failed programs can pull time and attention away from strategic initiatives. Why do improvement rates remain low for most organizations? Continuous improvement requires a lifelong commitment to learning, and that basic truth can be difficult for an organization’s leadership to grasp. In today’s world, change comes at the speed of light so many companies must either make adjustments or risk becoming defunct. Visionary leaders are constantly on the lookout for ways to solve problems, re-engineer processes and see the world in a new light — which requires a laser focus on creating an organization where people are continually learning together. Yet, the danger comes when leaders believe they’re creating a Utopia instead of nurturing an environment where business process improvement can occur.

Failing Fast

Perhaps the most inelegant way to describe learning is to “fail fast”, and to ensure that your organization is a safe space that allows leaders and workers alike to feel confidence in taking this step. No one wants to take chances on new ideas when there’s a long-term stigma attached to what some may consider failure. However, a healthy mindset has leaders reinforcing that failure is only a step along the journey to success — and that failing fast and learning from your mistakes is one of the first steps in creating a culture of continuous growth and improvement. Embracing innovation requires a strong and confident leadership team, and constant encouragement to reinforce support to leaders at all levels of the organization.

Fostering Innovation

Innovation is a hallmark of our digital generation, where years are defined by new iPhone and Android offerings that incorporate biometrics, advances in artificial intelligence and new methods of performing everyday tasks and interacting with each other. Keeping pace with the rapid changes in technology means you may be retraining employees on a monthly schedule instead of every few years when you have a major software or other tech upgrade. On-demand learning provides employees with an opportunity to have more control over their learning so it can be incorporated into their daily life. Technology advances can be as simple as a new way of routing telephones directly through laptops to make voice and video calls instead of requiring employees to be in the office to conduct business.

Organizational Tools

Fostering innovation starts with encouraging staff to fully utilize the tools available through the organization, such as content management systems and digital experience platforms. Whether mobile is a part of their personal life or not, the majority of consumers now access the internet through a device other than a desktop computer. Cross-team collaboration provides a great way to inspire others to work together to create a customer-centric organization that is constantly listening — and constantly learning.

Intranets: The Magic Portal

Corporate intranets offer a fantastic opportunity to share best practices with peers across business units while providing transparency to the broader organization. When you take the time to craft a business intranet, you’re connecting points across your business that might not otherwise relate to each other. You can offer learning opportunities such as video courses, shared resources, and Lunch n’ Learn schedules. Plus, the information and document management properties of a properly executed intranet gives employees easy access to the latest and greatest procedural documents and forms, which can greatly reduce the load on HR and IT departments. Want to track staff learning needs and requirements? There are few more effective options than a secure employee intranet that allows individuals to see the available opportunities at a glance.

Perhaps one of the best ways to strengthen learning within your organization is to motivate leaders at all levels to see the value of this cultural trait, so they’re constantly reinforcing the message of learning. Self-directed employees become natural leaders, which in turn often encourages them to empower others. Whether it’s utilizing new methods for asset management, defining new customer experiences through a mobile platform or taking the time to complete online training, a focus on digital supports your goal of becoming a learning organization.

Moving Your Enterprise to the Cloud. What’s the Best Approach for Your Business?

Posted by on July 20, 2017

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According to TechTarget’s IT Priorities 2017 survey, cloud remains a key priority for tech leaders this year.

The benefits of cloud computing today are too compelling to overlook. Increased collaboration, cost efficiency, flexibility, scalability, heightened security, and decreased capital expense, are just a few reasons why migrating to the cloud has become more of a necessity than a consideration. It used to be that companies were hesitant to move data to the cloud because of concerns about security. Today, they are more likely to move it to be more secure. Cloud security is a major priority for cloud providers, and now a convincing argument for moving to the cloud.

The question for those organizations considering migration becomes which type of cloud is the best match for your technology, business objectives, and environment?

Reports from a recent study by McAfee, show that 93% of businesses use some type of cloud service. To determine which is the ideal approach for your business, it’s best to understand the options.

Public Cloud

There are many benefits to using infrastructure and services that are publicly available. Use of the public cloud can be optimal for small to mid-size businesses as it is relatively simple to deploy. Resources can also be offered on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, making it very scalable. Because the infrastructure is shared among different users and businesses and there are very few upfront costs, organizations can significantly reduce their IT budget. Due to the broad network of servers, the public cloud also delivers significant reliability.

Top concerns of use with the public cloud are performance and security. Though most IT professionals believe that the cloud is safer than traditional IT systems, there remains some hesitancy with the public cloud. There are fewer geographical regulations on public cloud servers, meaning your server could be in a different country and under different restrictions. Additionally, surges in internet use can impact data transmissions. For this reason, some experts recommend private cloud use if performance is absolutely critical.

Private Cloud

A private cloud delivers all the advantages of the public cloud, but is dedicated to a specific organization. Because of the proprietary infrastructure, private clouds are easily customized.

Private clouds can deliver an increased level of security for businesses that are highly regulated or require complete control over applications and data. Depending on a company’s existing technology, infrastructure, and budget, the private cloud can either be implemented in-house or it can be outsourced. Though the cost to transition to a private cloud is higher than the public cloud option, in the long term there are still significant cost savings over purchasing dedicated servers or hosting your own servers.

Some of the key downsides to the use of a private cloud are the costs involved (as compared to public cloud) and due to heightened security, it can be more difficult for employees to gain access to information remotely.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud deployment has become attractive to many businesses due to the complexity of their existing architecture. This approach is a blend of private and public cloud use and can be an excellent choice for larger businesses that are required to keep critical data behind their firewall, but also want to leverage the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud for applications that may be less sensitive.

In reference to upcoming initiatives, 55% of the 2017 IT priorities study respondents stated hybrid cloud deployment when asked which deployment model they would use.

Many IT experts argue that advances in private cloud technology haven’t been able to keep up with public cloud platforms, and if private cloud innovation isn’t evolving at the same rate, it may not make sense for businesses to take the private cloud approach exclusively.

For example, the world’s largest public cloud provider is Amazon Web Services (AWS), and based on reports from Synergy Research Group, AWS is “vastly overpowering its competition. AWS has launched more than 1,000 new features in the last nine years and dropped prices more than 50 times since it launched. Many experts agree that it’s difficult for private cloud technology to keep up with growth like this and it doesn’t make sense for businesses to miss out on this level of advancement.

For most organizations, the benefits of cloud computing are no longer in question and the move is inevitable. Migrating your business to the cloud should be approached in a practical way that allows you to take advantage of the full array of benefits while minimizing disruption to your operations. A trusted Managed Services Provider (MSP) in the cloud space can be a tremendous advantage to ensuring a successful migration. Cloud MSPs also have the deep expertise necessary for the ongoing management and optimization of your cloud environment, allowing your team to focus on core business objectives.

Find Meaning in Your Data With Elasticsearch

Posted by on March 28, 2017

We’re surrounded by data everywhere we go, and the amount is growing with each action we take. We rely on it regularly, probably a lot more than we even realize or would like to admit. From searching for nearby restaurants while traveling, to reading online product reviews prior to making a purchase, and finding the best route home based on real-time traffic patterns, data helps us make informed decisions every day.

However, all that data on its own is just data. The real value comes when you can find the right, relevant data when it’s needed. Better yet, take it a step further and find meaning in your data, and that’s where the real goldmine is.

Businesses are increasingly turning to search and analytics solutions to derive more value from their data, helping to provide the deep insights necessary to make better business decisions. Some popular use cases include:

  • Intelligent Search Experiences to discover and deliver relevant content
  • Security Analytics to better understand your infrastructure’s security
  • Data Visualization to present your data in a meaningful way
  • Log Analytics to gain deeper operational insight

At Rivet Logic, we realize the importance of data, and see the challenges businesses are facing in trying to make sense of their growing data pools. We’re excited to have partnered with Elastic – the company behind a suite of popular open source projects including ElasticsearchKibanaBeats, and Logstash – to deliver intelligent search and analytics solutions to help our customers get the most value out of their data, allowing them to make actionable improvements to websites for enhanced customer experiences!

A Real-world Use Case

How might this apply in a real-world scenario, you ask?

An example is a global hospitality customer of ours, who has partnered with Rivet Logic to implement three internal facing web properties that enable the company to perform its day to day business operations. With a reach spanning across 110+ countries, these sites are deployed in the cloud on Amazon AWS throughout the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, consisting of many data sources and used across multiple devices.

This customer needed a way to gain deeper insight into these systems — how the sites are being used along with the types of issues encountered to help improve operational efficiencies. Using Elasticsearch and Kibana, this customer is able to gain much better visibility into each site’s utility. Through detailed metrics, combined with the ability to perform aggregations and more intelligent queries, this customer can now gain much deeper insight into their data set through in depth reports and dashboards. In addition, the Elastic Stack solution aggregates all system logs into one place, making it possible to perform complex analysis to provide insightful data to better address operational concerns.

 

Alfresco is the Answer to Documentum’s Future Uncertainty

Posted by on December 13, 2016

Managing enterprise content is something that many organizations struggle with. Digital content is around us everywhere we go; enabling secure, enterprise-wide access to that content is critical for any business to remain competitive. Organizations often find themselves turning to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions to help address these business challenges.

However, not all ECM systems are created equal. As the ECM and digital landscape have evolved, modern ECM solutions are offering many benefits that their legacy counterparts lack, including more out-of-the-box functionality, platform flexibility, ease of integration, open standards, and cost savings. If your existing ECM has become too costly to maintain or no longer aligns with your IT strategy, then it’s a good idea to start looking at alternative options.

In particular, if you’re a current Documentum customer, then you’re probably also aware of OpenText’s recent acquisition of Dell EMC’s Enterprise Content Division (ECD), which may have you wondering how the acquisition will impact you and your business. Will investment and innovation stall as Documentum products gets absorbed into a crowded portfolio of products? Will the people behind the products stay involved and remain there to help?

One alternative to consider is Alfresco, which provides a modern platform that can really help you to accelerate Digital Transformation initiatives and move from older technologies in a way that makes sense to your business.

Did you know that Documentum co-founder John Newton also co-founded Alfresco? While the two products have similar roots and both offer robust content management, collaboration, Records Management (RM), and Business Process Management (BPM) capabilities, there are also many differences that make Alfresco a more attractive option for better long-term ROI.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the two platforms differ:

Alfresco Documentum
Technology
  • Modern infrastructure supporting open standards
  • Proprietary infrastructure relying on aging technology
Pricing
  • Software subscription model with no software purchase cost
  • No vendor lock-in: Flexibility in choosing system integration partners for solutions
  • Traditional software purchase fee with maintenance costs
  • Vendor lock-in: Solutions & add-ons can only be implemented through pricey Documentum consulting
Out-of-the-box Features
  • More robust set of features available out-of-the-box leveraging best-of-breed open source components
  • Integrated enterprise search through Solr and Collaboration through Share
  • Additional features available as add-ons for extra cost
  • Enterprise search requires additional installation & configuration; Collaboration available through third party integration offerings
Integration
  • Easy integration with third party systems through a variety of industry standard protocols (CMIS, REST, CIFS, FTP, WebDAV, etc.)
  • Difficult integration through a proprietary web services layer with limited functionality and lack of industry standards

Your ECM needs will continue to evolve, and the technologies you implement should be flexible enough to adapt to those changes. If your existing ECM no longer meets your business needs, then it’s time to consider switching to a solution that can help maximize the value of your content.

Recap of Liferay Symposium North America 2016

Posted by on October 03, 2016

The annual Liferay Symposium North America was held in Chicago recently, where the trending topic was getting to the heart of the customer experience. In two session-packed days, Liferay Symposium brought together the brightest thought leaders to share why they’re succeeding at deeply personalized customer experiences, where digital transformation is going next and how Liferay is taking them there.

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, Liferay’s Live Blog provides a great recap of both Monday and Tuesday.

Here are some of our highlights from the event…

Our booth is set up and ready to go!

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We sponsored this year’s After-Party and decided to do something different by taking it off site. It turned out to be a huge hit, as attendees got to enjoy a relaxing cruise along the historic Chicago River.

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We’re honored to receive a Community Excellence Award that recognizes our commitment and ongoing contributions to the Liferay community. Congrats to all the Pulse Award winners!

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And last, but not least, one lucky raffle winner got to walk away with this autographed Jim McMahon jersey!

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Creating Better Employee and Customer Experiences with Liferay and Crafter

Posted by on June 21, 2016

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The modern customer’s needs are ever increasing as they want information combined with the convenience of interacting with your brand whenever and wherever from various digital touchpoints and devices. Meanwhile, employees are demanding digital experiences that facilitate rapid information access, communication and enterprise collaboration.

To meet these demands, organizations are leveraging Web Content Management (WCM) solutions such as Crafter CMS to help deliver consistent and personalized experiences throughout the customer journey. And internally, portal solutions such as Liferay Portal are being used to address a variety of social business and collaboration needs.

But what happens when you want to share the same content across both internal and external sites? Is integration the key? While many organizations are realizing the business benefits of an integrated solution, it’s important to keep in mind that integration isn’t always the answer, and when it is, the approach taken can determine your implementation’s success.

Understanding Platform Differences

Gaining a clear understanding of how each technology can be used for addressing various business needs means recognizing what each technology is under the hood.

At a high level, Liferay Portal is a multi-tenant, site-based platform, allowing the creation of multiple sites — including websites, portals, social collaboration environments, e-commerce, big data solutions, and mobile apps. The sites are built with Liferay’s portlets, all of which sit under the Liferay umbrella, meaning these sites are being published to the web by Liferay.

Crafter CMS, on the other hand, is an enterprise WCM tool with robust content management features — including user-friendly content authoring, in-context preview, workflow, multi-channel publishing, versioning, and content delivery.

Architecturally, Crafter is very different from Liferay in the way content is delivered. Crafter employs a decoupled architecture, where content authoring and delivery occur separately. Crafter’s authoring component, Crafter Studio, is where all the authoring takes place, along with content being managed in an Alfresco repository.

Unlike Liferay, where publishing occurs within itself, Crafter publishes to a completely different environment through Crafter Engine, the delivery component. Crafter Engine is able to serve content to virtually any channel, whether it’s a website using any front-end framework (PHP, .NET, Java, etc.), mobile app, or other third party system. This is the fundamental difference between Crafter and Liferay, and understanding this is a vital part of knowing when to integrate or not.

Perspective Differences

Liferay and Crafter are both powerful platforms that can be used to address a variety of business needs, including many similar, overlapping use cases. This overlap creates confusion around when to use each of these tools and if they should be used together. We’ve seen organizations integrate these products for the wrong reasons, which result in a lot of wasted effort to correct those mistakes.

Determining if your business will benefit from using these two products together requires you to think about perspective. Based on your business needs, if you see a lot of overlap between the two products, then one platform should suffice and it’s probably not a good idea to integrate. However, if there isn’t much overlap, then integration makes much more sense as it allows you to leverage each solution’s strengths.

The amount of overlap really depends on your unique requirements and what you’re trying to accomplish with your website(s). Keep in mind that much of this is attributed to how websites and content management has evolved over the years and its affect on marketing’s needs. Today’s organizational websites have grown to become much more complex, often involving multiple sites that are then integrated with other enterprise systems, such as marketing automation, CRM’s, e-commerce, and analytics to provide a richer end user experience.

The key consideration here is the total number of web assets your organization has. Are you a small organization with just one website, or a large enterprise with a global presence with hundreds of web properties to maintain?

For smaller organizations with only one website, then either Liferay or Crafter on its own is fully capable of addressing most, if not all, content management needs. However, it becomes more complicated when it comes to larger organizations with more sophisticated digital experience needs that typically involve many different sites and touch points.

In the latter case, an example of an integration pattern that doesn’t work is when Crafter is being used solely for managing all web content, where the entire site is then published through Liferay as the front end. This pattern fails because Liferay controls its own look and feel, so trying to control it outside of Liferay breaks its architecture.

When there are multiple sites involved, it only makes sense to use both Liferay and Crafter when Liferay is just one of many delivery channels. An example would be an organization using Liferay for its employee intranet and Crafter to manage its global and regional websites. When the organization wants to publish content that needs to be delivered across all websites along with the intranet, that’s when it makes the most sense to integrate.

In this use case, Liferay manages its own intranet page. Within the page is an area that’s managed by Crafter that enables access to enterprise content while still adapting to the look and feel of the intranet.

 integration-patterns

This decoupled architecture, where content is separate from delivery, also makes it easy to expand and add additional delivery channels (mobile, social, etc.) for true multi-channel publishing. We’ve found this to be a great integration pattern for organizations that desire the flexibility to scale.

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To summarize, Liferay and Crafter are both very powerful at the platform level. If you’re thinking about integrating the two, it’s counter productive to perform a feature by feature comparison. Instead, design your solution based on your use case and not by focusing on features, as many different technologies will have the same features, but address each use case differently. And remember that integration isn’t always the answer, so do your research to understand the pros and cons. When done right, integrations can yield tremendous long-term benefits.

 

Customer Highlight: LifeCare – Delivering Dynamic Customer Experiences With Liferay Portal

Posted by on April 15, 2016

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Every customer project comes with its own set of challenges, but at the end of it, when everything’s running smoothly in production, it’s always exciting and rewarding to look at the finished product and see the positive impact it’s making for each customer.

Our latest case study tells the story of how we helped LifeCare, an industry leader in providing employer-sponsored work-life benefits to over 61,000 enterprise customers, improve overall customer experiences using a solution built on Liferay Portal.

As an industry recognized leader and innovator in Work-Life, LifeCare was the first in the industry to launch a work-life balance website. However, the existing Work-Life site was running on a 10+ year old homegrown legacy system that presented a slew of challenges, including a cumbersome site updating process and outdated design.

To maintain itself as an industry leader, LifeCare performed a complete overhaul of their Work-Life site, and chose to build the new site on the Liferay Portal platform. Liferay not only supports a modern responsive design on the front end, but also content management capabilities, effective delivery of LifeCare’s content and services, along with easy integration on the back end.

Working closely with LifeCare, Rivet Logic helped architect an innovative solution that supports sophisticated white labeling capabilities for LifeCare’s customers, allowing delivery of heavily personalized content without compromising on site performance requirements.

The new Work-Life site now offers a customized experience for LifeCare’s enterprise clients with improved functionality. And for LifeCare, giving control of the content publishing process to the business users meant more frequent updates and fresher content, while freeing up valuable time for IT to focus on other strategic initiatives.

Read the full case study to learn more!