Tag: CMS

DXP Series, Part I: Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Right For My Business?

Posted by on November 03, 2017

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What is a Digital Experience Platform?

You may have heard the term “digital experience platform,” or DXP, thrown around before — either by a vendor, tech consulting company, or just by discussing how to effectively manage the customer’s online experience. There are a lot of convoluted explanations of what a DXP actually is, but we would like offer our own definition up and change that. This article will seek to define and provide examples of DXPs, as well as discuss how to know if investing in a DXP is the right move for your business.

Note: DXP is also sometimes referred to as a UXP, or user experience platform, but they’re the same thing. 

Simply put, a digital experience platform is a set of tools that allows a business to manage not only the customer’s experience, but the experience of partners, vendors, employees, suppliers, and more. It can be a software bundle, such as a suite, or a single piece of software, depending on the DXP itself. That being said, the platforms typically include software for the following:

  • Content management
  • Social media
  • Mobile website integration
  • Portal or gateway
  • Search functionality
  • Rich Internet Application tools (RIA)
  • Collaboration and meetings
  • Analytics
  • Backend management

DXPs aren’t limited to the items listed above, though. Many DXPs will include tools unique to that particular platform. Some include customizable forms, video editing, product management, and more.

It’s important to understand that a DXP is not a prepackaged platform — it’s actually the opposite. It’s a platform that allows the building and customization of meaningful applications for managing and enriching your customer’s online experience. Think of it like a massive customizable collaboration suite: it gives you the tools to customize and build it to fit your company and brand. From there, it allows management of the user experience through the company’s website and the mobile rendition of it, as well as through other channels, like email, social media, and so forth. Building a new rendition of any of those channels for the company’s employees or vendor is tied into the functionality, and each channel is managed in various backend systems as well.

The portal portion of the DXP is a “self-service” portal that allows users to sign in and manage their own set of tools and software. For example, employees could sign into their portal and find their email, CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool), documents and files, analytics, and more — all in one spot. They can also customize their portal to their heart’s desire, building it out to suit their particular needs and preferences. Each user can also be assigned a role (administrator, manager, sales, etc.), within the portal system, which tightens security and control.

Many DXPs also have the functionality to link multiple pieces of data from within the DXP together to pull analytics, increasing its capability and usefulness tenfold.

Is a DXP the Right Fit For My Business?

Now that you have a good idea of what a DXP is and what it can do, we’ll discuss deciding if investing in one is the right move for your company.

Ask the following questions at your next meeting:

  • Is your company the right size for such an extensive platform?DXPs are typically associated with larger businesses (enterprise level), but can be the right fit for medium-sized businesses under certain circumstances.
  • Does your company need a way to tie the full user experience together, giving users a way to create and customize their own portals?If you have multiple channels within your company, both from the front end and the back end (i.e., vendors, partners, customers, and multiple employee roles), a DXP might be the right fit for your company.
  • Does your company have a need to tighten analytics and span them across platforms?The analytics component of DXPs often span CRMs, social media, the company’s website, and more.

Furthermore, there are three key components to deciding if a DXP is the right move for your company. We discuss them below.

Technology Environment

The right technology fit is all about deciding what platform is the best in terms of the language the platform was programmed in. If your in-house developers are not trained in the specific language or languages the platform was developed in, they will struggle managing it. It’s wise to check and double-check this component when deciding on the right technological fit. Many DXPs are based on Java, PHP or Microsoft stacks. The language will most likely be different on the front-end, or website end, though. Many DXPs are compatible with JavaScript, CSS and HTML on the front-end, which reduces that portion of the developmental impact.

Functionality 

Even though we’ve discussed the different functionalities of DXPs, we haven’t yet touched upon how they’re typically grouped. There are three different types of DXPs, including:

  • CMS-heritage DXPs
  • Portal-heritage DXPs
  • Commerce-heritage DXPs

The best fit for the company will ultimately fall under one of these categories.

CMS-heritage DXPs are based upon just that: customizing all of the company’s online content. These platforms focus on marketing and analytics, social media, and the website across all devices. Generating interest in the company’s offerings, targeting the right audiences, and creating campaigns are the highlights of CMS-heritage DXPs. They are best suited for B2C companies with short transactions. Some offer user portals, some do not; this component can typically be an add-on cost or can be excluded.

Portal-heritage DXPs are based upon creating that unique experience for each and every user (front-end, back-end), and giving them each a log-in portal. These platforms fulfill the need for bringing the customer back after the sale and giving the salespeople what they need to keep making the sale. It allows employees to see what they need to do to maximize customer retention. It can also help with issue resolution and helpdesk scenarios.

Commerce-heritage DXPs are based almost solely upon shopping needs in an online retail environment. It is based primarily on inventory management, payment systems, and the full user shopping experience.

Budget & Cost

It goes without saying that this will be a category that the company will have to analyze forwards and backwards before jumping on board with a DXP. When talking with DXP providers, discuss costs associated with both one-time integration and set-up fees as well as ongoing licensing and operational costs. Also analyze the costs associated with possibly expanding your IT and development team, or outsourcing this component. Keep in mind that some DXPs are more affordable than others, namely open source vs. non-open source. Liferay is an example of an open source DXP, but several DXPs should be analyzed at length before choosing the right financial fit for the company.

Digital Experience Platforms: Consulting and Integration

Need more help deciding which DXP is right for your company? Give us a call. We can not only help you decide which DXP is the right fit for your company, but help you build, integrate and optimize your DXP after you decide. We have experience with industry-leading open source DXP and CMS software such as Liferay and Crafter CMS.

How Digital Experience Management Differs from Content Management

Posted by on October 12, 2017

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When considering Digital Experience Management and Content Management, it’s best to have a concrete definition of both terms to fully understand how they differ.

What is digital experience?

Digital experience includes a number of things, including communications, processes and products from every digital aspect that engages an audience. This includes wearables, use of the web and mobile devices, beacons and recognition. The information gathered is analyzed to provide insight into customer relationships, identity, and intentions as they interact with businesses and organizations. This helps determine how companies deliver these digital experiences for their customers for future success.

What is content management?

Content management is also known as CM or CMS. It involves the collection, acquisition, editing, tracking, access and delivery of both structured and unstructured digital information. This content includes business records, financial data, customer service data, images, video, marketing information and other digital information.

With content management, you create and manage content, finding ways to generate awareness across multiple channels to reach more people. While having content is good, it’s more about offering the entire “experience” to the user that will give them more enhanced, enriched engagement. Content Management Systems have continuously evolved, integrating contextual digital experiences. This requires a comprehensive and effective strategy, the right tools, the right approach, and most of all, the right technology. An optimal digital experience embraces all these elements to provide personalized, responsive, and consistent experiences for every user you engage.

How is this done?

Digital experience (DX) management works in conjunction with content management, but is more comprehensive and fulfilling to the user. Think about the different outlets that engage customers – websites, social media, microsites, text messages, mobile apps and more. All these elements offer a complete digital experience. The processes and technology that provide these customized, consistent experiences is the management of it all.

One of the best ways they differ is that in digital experience management, the distribution channels all have objectives to follow and limitations. These help drive specific requirements for content and how to manage it. For instance, your tone and CTA will be different based on the digital platform you use. Additionally, when interacting with content, users want personalized experiences based on analytics you have determined appropriate for that channel. This allows them to seamlessly interact within that experience.

Web publishing used to be the first line of engagement, but not anymore There are too many channels users interact with that require ways in which publishers can gather feedback to quickly adjust their content. Without this management model in place, the system will not work.

Tools of the trade

There are a number of tools and systems to manage the digital experience. There are options for advanced analytics, to enhanced marketing tools that manage content based on channel. There’s also an emerging breed of Digital Experience Platforms (DXP), which provide businesses with an architecture for delivering consistent and connected customer experiences across channels, while gathering valuable insight and digitizing business operations.

When you have systems that work well together, being able to track successes becomes easier. When determining which tools will work best, you may want to start with product mapping. As a basis, the digital experience tool should include a combination of inbound marketing automation, analytics, and content management. Getting a system developed to meet all your needs is key.

As different avenues of engagement now drive the customer experience rather than the web, delivering a comprehensive and holistic experience is key. The digital experience is more complete, diverse and authentic – future thinking, while integrating content is how it should be done.

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.

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!

Creating a Successful Multi-channel Customer Experience

Posted by on February 11, 2016

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Forrester has coined the term Age of the Customer to describe today’s customer-centric era. To succeed, businesses must not only undergo a digital transformation, but to also do so with their customers’ needs in mind.

The modern consumer’s demands are ever increasing, they want the convenience of researching and comparing products online, and they want that information to be delivered on their terms. They also want options, with the ability to choose when, where, and how they interact with your brand.

Meanwhile, the digital landscape is ever changing, with the number of touchpoints on the rise, and each interaction with your brand is a piece of the overall experience. The key to a successful multi-channel approach is to put users at the center of your digital strategy and offer them a consistent experience throughout the entire journey that may span across multiple channels in a single transaction.

However, that consistent multi-channel experience also needs to be contextual, to serve up relevant content that enable users to more effectively perform tasks based on different scenarios they may be in. For example, a banking desktop site might show the user’s account summary after they log in, whereas its mobile app might want to show nearby branch locations.

Your technology needs to simplify this otherwise complex process, through a flexible solution that’s able to serve up that seamless experience for your users – they need to be able to switch from a desktop site to mobile app, and be able to pick up exactly where they left off.

To accomplish this, businesses need a flexible Multi-channel Content Management solution that can effectively engage a variety of audience groups across all applications, devices, and channels.

Rivet Logic’s Multi-channel Content Management solution is a seamless integration of Crafter CMS and Alfresco, enabling businesses to create and manage all content types through a user-friendly authoring tool, then publish to any or all channels and formats in a single step!

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The solution leverages Alfresco for its powerful content management capabilities and Crafter CMS for its modern platform for building and managing rich online experiences across all digital channels. The result is a solution that allows you to create engaging, two-way conversations with your users to enable that personalized interaction with your brand!

Learn more about how you can benefit from a Multi-channel Content Management solution in our datasheet.