Tag: Multi-channel

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.

 

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.

5 Reasons Why Your CMS Should Move to the Cloud

Posted by on November 23, 2015

The Modern CMS and Crafter

Your website isn’t just brochure-ware or a place where people go for product updates, but instead it’s the lifeblood of your company and acts as an important sales tool for that first initial interaction with your users. It’s also an engagement tool, with the ability to segment and build personas, to deliver personalized experiences that’ll keep your users engaged. From an integration standpoint, a web CMS isn’t just a standalone effort, but needs to integrate with various other tools such as CRM, marketing automation, and analytics.

Crafter Cloud is a full featured, enterprise SaaS-based content management system with user-friendly authoring tools, easy integration, high-performance content delivery, ability for personalization and targeting, using a suite of industry-leading development tools to enable delivery of omni-channel experiences. Crafter was designed with flexibility and scale and can be integrated with a variety of digital efforts.

Why the Cloud? 5 Reasons to Move Your CMS to Crafter Cloud

From our experience implementing CMS solutions, we’ve across 5 consistent themes for why customers choose Crafter Cloud when deciding to move their CMS to the cloud.

  1. Custom development experience in the cloud – One of the biggest benefits from both an IT and marketing perspective is the availability of a custom development experience, which provides the front-end team a personalized development environment with the ability to use any front end framework of their choice. This leads to shorter release cycles, which benefits business teams and keeps them excited about the CMS as new features and functionality requests are met in a timely manner.
  2. Full Featured CMS – As a full-featured CMS, Crafter Cloud has the design, integration and security features of an enterprise CMS that’s traditionally deployed on-premise with your own resources. The cloud CMS is a great option for customers with a lot of security and integration requirements to deploy the system without a lot of IT overhead. In addition, one of the challenges businesses face during a rebranding effort or site redesign is the ability of the CMS to respond appropriately. Not only are there desktop views, we now need to accommodate multiple screens and mobile devices, and each experience needs to be unique. Design responsiveness and the ability to create custom design and not be limited by the CMS and its features is imperative.
  3. Augment IT – Deploying your CMS in the cloud allows you to augment your IT and accelerate time-to-market. This means freeing up time and resources and limiting your IT overhead so they can focus on new features and the overall user experience.
  4. Cost – Deploying your CMS in the cloud is also cost effective, with savings from resources, time and energy it would take to build and deploy the solution. Crafter Cloud employs a flexible pricing model that allows you to scale and buy as you grow, limiting any over buy.
  5. Running your business at the speed of the market – Often times your public facing website becomes an afterthought if the CMS can’t keep up (e.g. the need for IT resources to make updates, design updates limited by features, marketing needs more data / analytics, etc.). Teams often end up walking away from relying on the CMS and addressing these tasks independently. Crafter keeps in pace with not just consumers but also the technology side of the house by allowing development teams to work with tools they’re familiar with.

Design & Deployment Considerations

When it comes to Web Experience Management (WEM), it can be broken into 5 categories, each with its own subcategories to dissect and think about your business and users (IT, marketing, sales, customers, partners, etc.).

  1. Ease of use – Is it user friendly?
  2. Multi-channel – What are your multi-channel requirements? It’s no longer enough to say it needs to work on a mobile device. Mobile is a whole different experience to think through, and you need to make sure your CMS can be responsive and flexible in that sense. For example, a mobile experience for retail is very different from a services company.
  3. Personalization – Your site needs to be personalized to build engagement. A repeat consumer / site visitor doesn’t want to feel like they’re reintroducing themselves each time they visit your site, which can be very frustrating. You need a CMS that enables you to build the journey with the customer and not force a reintroduction at each touch point.
  4. Engagement – A CMS becomes a viable piece of your business when it can spark engagement, which comes in many forms. Engagement isn’t only about results in product buying, but also in comments, reviews, and feedback loops.
  5. Integration – Can it easily integrate with other third party systems – CRM, Marketing Automation, Analytics, etc.?

Who Are My Users and What Do They Need?

Users are typically divided between internal an external users. Internal users include Marketing, IT, and Sales, and all of these user categories have their own different expectations and opinions on how the site should be designed.

While IT wants security, Marketing prefers flexibility, ease of use and the ability to design and add new features, and Sales wants a site that’s captivating to bring them leads. It’s important to go through the process of defining and prioritizing expectations.

As you narrow down the list, you need to determine if the CMS is able to respond to these expectations, as keeping the internal team happy is the first step to launching a successful CMS. When it comes to features, determine what the current CMS supports, features you wish you had but previously had limitations, whether it’s lack of IT resources for customization or lack of familiarity with the CMS’s integration points. You need an extendable platform that can successfully address these feature requests.

In addition, your CMS manages a variety of content, from blog posts to news articles, to products and press. Your CMS needs to be flexible from a content editing standpoint, where non-technical business users have the ability to edit, preview and publish without any additional IT support. Depending on the organization, IT may or may not be involved in the CMS, so it needs to be self-sufficient, with Marketing owning the solution.

Your external users include customers, partners, and other stakeholders, and you need to start thinking about perception and how users view your brand during their site visit.

To manage user expectation, you need consistency across each digital touch point. The experience from desktop to mobile to kiosk should be consistent so that users don’t need to learn a new UI at each touch point. In addition, if you publish a lot of content, users are going to have certain expectations around the frequency of your updates, and the context in which they’re consuming the content from. All of these points warrant discussions when it comes to your CMS process – it needs to be flexible enough to address most of these challenges.

Customer Win Patterns & Success Stories

Customers select their CMS based on a few consistent win patterns – full-featured with the ability to respond, ability to integrate, provides developers with development tools, limited IT overhead so IT resources can be reallocated to other strategic initiatives, fast time-to-market, and ability to consolidate various sites into one platform.

Our customers are leveraging Crafter Cloud to address a variety of business needs, including:

  • Rebranding a 30 Year Old Company – This health & fitness customer had many inconsistent brands, designs and technologies across their sites that needed to be consolidated into one platform. With a strict timeline and lack of IT resources, they started by deploying their core public facing website onto Crafter Cloud, with other web properties to follow, all accomplished within a two month timeframe.
  • Creating an identity in Ad Tech – This advertising technology company went through a rebranding to create a new identity. Design was extremely important and they needed a CMS to support pixel perfect design. With Crafter Cloud, their solution was up and running in under 1.5 months.
  • Enhancing a Global Platform – This customer already had an existing technology platform in place with high user adoption. They wanted to enhance their site with social capability without disruption. Crafter Cloud provided the necessary social features that were implemented with limited platform disruption.

These are just three examples that all come back to the consistent theme of full featured CMS in the cloud, low IT overhead, cost effectiveness, and speed of market.

Creating a Memorable Web Experience

The larger goal is to have your web presence create a memorable experience so that it reinforces your brand. Best practices to accomplish this include the three C’s:

  1. Consistent – Both internally (equipping marketing with necessary tools in one area to create these experiences and providing IT with the right development tools) and externally (across multiple devices)
  2. Contextual – Providing the right content in the right context
  3. Conversational – The ability to create conversations and enable engagement, and ultimately build a community around your web experience

To learn more about Crafter Cloud, visit crafter cloud.io.

Crafter Studio Enables Effective WEM Through Multi-Channel Publishing

Posted by on February 13, 2012

Over the past year, organizations of all sizes and have shifted their focus from basic Web content management towards Web experience management. As the amount of Web usage continues to grow for both consumers and enterprises, creating an engaging Web experience is now a top priority. I’m sure that many people have experienced incidents where a website’s lackluster UI or ineffective search that didn’t produce the right results have deterred them from spending more time on the site or even from ever returning. Losing out on these valuable customers is a costly mistake that organizations can’t afford to make. Thus, providing relevant content thru an engaging user experience is paramount to a successful online digital strategy.

And now, with new mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets being constantly introduced to the market, organizations need to make sure those same Web experiences are applied across all delivery channels.

When it comes to managing these Web experiences, it’s important to use the right WEM system to produce a consistent experience across the different channels, and doing so in an user friendly manner.

At Rivet Logic, we’ve been busy developing and enhancing Crafter Studio, our complete authoring and publishing environment for managing Web and enterprise content. Developed as a major extension to Alfresco, Crafter Studio is a user-friendly and extensible platform for managing multi-channel publishing for mobile, Web, social channels, etc.

One new feature we’ve recently released is the availability of different templates for the different publishing channels, allowing the system to serve the same content through the appropriate template for each publishing channel – iPhone, iPad, desktop, etc.

The demo below showcases this features along with Crafter Studio’s in-context editing and multi-channel in-context preview capabilities.

For more information on Crafter Studio, please visit our wiki.