Tag: enterprise software

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.

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.

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Liferay Implementation

Posted by on March 08, 2016

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If you’re using Liferay 6.1 or below, then you might be aware that Liferay ended their 6.1EE support last month. With version 7.0EE set for release later this year, many businesses have an upgrade decision to make: whether to upgrade to 6.2EE or wait for the much anticipated version 7, which includes a completely new look and feel, new product and control menus, enhanced image selection experience, improved document management capabilities, and much more!

If your organization is an early adopter of the latest and greatest software, then waiting for Liferay 7.0 and upgrading then may be the right move for you. However, many other organizations prefer to wait until the initial kinks associated with any new major release have been worked out before deciding to upgrade. If you fall into that latter category, then upgrading to Liferay 6.2 now may be the better option.

For those that are considering a Liferay 6.2 upgrade, we’ve compiled a list of the top seven reasons through most noted features that we feel will help maximize your Liferay implementation…

#1: Mobile Device Preview & Responsive Design

Liferay 6.2 has done a spectacular job with its new mobile support features. And as businesses worldwide are seeking to strengthen their mobile presence, Liferay 6.2’s Mobile Device Preview and Responsive Design helps simplify the process and easily tops the list as the best reason to upgrade.

Liferay 6.2’s support of responsive themes means that sites can now automatically adapt to the appropriate screen size of the mobile device or tablet that’s accessing the portal pages. The power of this feature lies in the ability for it to address tablets and mobile devices at the same time, allowing the page structure and layout to dynamically change based on the screen size of the visiting device.

In addition, Liferay administrators and authors can preview site pages on mobile devices without the need for a physical device to test the site, allowing any changes to be easily previewed prior to going live. This enhances the ability to test and optimize for various mobile devices in a much more efficient way.

#2: New Control Panel UI

The main goal of the new control panel is user-friendliness, by addressing some of the challenges that have been growing since its introduction in Liferay 5.2, including:

  • Loss of context
  • Complexity
  • Mix of portal-wide, site, and personal account administration
  • Outdated UI
  • Empty first page
  • Non-intuitive navigation

Liferay 6.2 took steps to address these Control Panel issues by making it much more intuitive and user-friendly, through restructured navigation, more intuitive UI, and reorganized portlets.

#3: Enhanced Calendar

Liferay 6.2’s new calendar has several enhancements to benefit both internal and external users. Some of these features have even been implemented based on feedback from existing Liferay customers, which include:

  • Multiple Shareable Calendars
  • Resource Reservations
  • Custom Event Types

#4: Web Content Management Enhancements

With Liferay 6.2, users can now organize their Web content in folders and sub-folders, similar to documents and media.

#5: Drag-n-Drop Support for Document Uploads

Liferay Portal users can now drag a document from their desktop and drop it into the browser for document and media uploads.

#6: Application Display Templates

Application Display Templates (ADT) are similar to site and page templates, but at the portlet level. This allows custom templates for Liferay applications to be created and portlets to be re-skinned.

From a user perspective, this feature simplifies customization of the portlet display. And for developers, this saves them from having to modify the portlet configuration code every time a new setting is required.

#7: Improved Staging and Import/Export Features

These improvements will not only facilitate moving portlet data between environments, but also assist with development.

Liferay 6.2 Staging and Import/Export enhancements include:

  • Simplified configurations
  • Providing of status during publishing process
  • Providing of summarized information before and after publishing
  • Increased support of import/export scenarios

Well, there you have it, the top seven features of Liferay 6.2 that we think have the largest impact on your existing implementation!

If you need even more reasons, read our full white paper for 11 total reasons to upgrade! And if you’re already planning an upgrade, check out how Rivet Logic can help in our datasheet!