China CDN Alternatives After Verizon’s EdgeCast CDN Outage

(note: blog collaboration by Mark Grannan, Phillip Karcher and Charlie Dai)

Are you an EdgeCast (now part of Verizon) customer? Chances are good that your traffic into China over the past week has been interrupted or blocked. Verizon claims this is without “rhyme or reason” in their statement.  We can look to the past to see that content censors have previously also stopped YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and we can look to the coming days when China hosts the World Internet Conference in Zhejiang to make guesses as to why.  However, it’s not fruitful to guess at what traffic coming from EdgeCast’s servers has tripped the censors, because we may simply never know.

The alternative? Investigate a multi-CDN strategy across regions that represent unique geographic or political barriers. Not only does this provide fail-over redundancy, but it can be valuable for cost arbitrage and load balancing. Here is a quick summary of the CDNs that we currently track that have delivery capabilities in China:

  • Akamai (via a partnership)
  • CDNetworks
  • China Cache
  • China Net Center
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Sitecore v.8’s Walls Are Being Built On v.7.5’s Data Foundation

At Sitecore’s annual Symposium event last week, CEO Michael Seifert opened the show with a story about a splash of paint and small town in Tuscany -- a Jackson Pollock splash of paint and the town where he proposed to his wife to be exact.  Fast-forward a few minutes and Seifert revealed the plot: tying his knowledge of his future wife’s love of Jackson Pollock with the context of how he fumbled (and then recovered) his marriage proposal, she agreed to marry him.  He told this story to deliver his message of ‘experience marketing’: the more you know about someone and the context they’re in, the better your chances to dynamically respond to and refine the experiences that will resonate with them. 

While nay-sayers might comment that this strategy feels like a ‘me too’ to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud announcements from the past few years, the specific features were getting a healthy amount of excitement from the audience because they saw momentum.  Specifically, momentum built on v.7.5’s  MongoDB "Experience Database" foundations released in July.  These foundations will be put to good use to help v.8 deliver new features later this year or early 2015 around customer data and content testing/ optimization:

  • Unified experience profile includes visualization across the customer’s interactions over their entire relationship timeline.  All data in profile is (or will be) fully extensible and you can personalize against it.
  • Federated Experience Manager' tracks data on non-Sitecore sites via a JavaScript layer -- and can inject personalized content there too.
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Digital Experience Delivery Platforms: Oasis Or Mirage?

To answer this question, we compared 13 digital experience delivery vendors across 29 criteria in our recent Wave report, "Digital Experience Delivery Platforms, Q3 2014." Overall, we found many areas of differentiation, but client adoption and usage is a mixed. While some organizations have made strides in contextual, omnichannel delivery, many fail at customer data management. Almost all of the vendors focused on customer acquisition but many haven't begun to support the entire customer life cycle. In the end, no vendor achieved Leader status.

Despite no Leaders, these 13 vendors are definitively tracking toward the goal of an integrated platform for enterprise digital customer experiences. Specifically, Adobe and hybris outpaced the competition as an aggregator and all-in-one, respectively, but IBM and Sitecore also placed as Strong Performers. Each of the Contenders in our evaluation  -- Acquia, Demandware, Digital River, HP Autonomy, Intershop, OpenText, Oracle, salesforce.com, and SDL -- have strengths and bring an enterprise track record around their core differentiation, but most vendors' platform efforts are still building credibility among enterprise clients.

Earlier this year, Forrester asked 148 digital customer experience decision-makers from across enterprise technology, marketing, and commerce roles, "What are the biggest technical barriers to creative and effective customer-facing systems?" Systems integration and data management solidly led as today's top challenges. Our Forrester Wave analysis aims to uncover which platforms address these top technical barriers and additional priorities such as contextual delivery and bridging content and commerce-driven experiences.

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Ready Or Not, Metrics Will Decide Your RWD Success

Earlier this spring I was determined to tell the responsive web site management/operation story as a linkage between RWD’s business metrics and operational/site performance metrics and improvement tactics. Instead, I found a fragmented story: The business teams have different processes, tools, and goals from technical teams, whereby ‘management’ happens in isolation from ‘operation.’ Business teams that need to prove the ROI of RWD simply did not have a direct linkage to site performance, operations, and monitoring efforts. Compounding the problem, many front-end development agencies that build responsive sites don’t focus on metrics because they aren’t contracted for managed services after the site goes live. As a result, responsive site owners/committees must find their own fix, and our recent research is designed to address both RWD’s performance operations (i.e., speed) issues and business-value analysis for responsive sites:

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Digital Experience Delivery Sourcing: How Many Vendors Do You Buy From?

Today, we ran a short poll: "How many different vendors do you source digital experience solutions from?"  After seeing the results -- which matched our expectations -- the only word that comes to mind is 'fragmentation.'  

My colleague David Aponovich and I ran this poll during a webinar today for Forrester clients on the rise of digital experience platforms. Initially, you might think "doesn't this prove David and Mark wrong?"  But when you view this fragmentation against the need to deliver coherent digital experiences across touchpoints, we believe the journey many organizations face demands greater integration across these solutions.  As integration improves -- whether it comes prepackaged from the same vendor or not -- customer experiences should benefit from improved contextualization, and internal benefits will include unified interfaces, streamlined workflows, role-relevant data views, coherent commercial relationships, and much more.

We want to know: What are your organization's digital experience platform initiatives? Please take 15 minutes to let us know via our survey.

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Getting To Responsive. My Letter To Mobile Hype Peddlers.

A colleague of mine here at Forrester lives out in San Francisco now. And given his new proximity to the "wellhead of innovation" that is silicon valley, he took advantage and attended a talk by Luke Wroblewski.  Luke wrote "Mobile First" back in 2011, and he's continued on to be a prominent figure in the mobile design speaking circuit. And Luke is not the only leading RWD and mobile UX author to keep their momentum going and become a talking head.  Ethan Marcotte, author of the orginal "Responsive Web Design" article back in 2010, and Brad Frost have become prominent figures prosletyzing mobile and the next new, bleeding edge aspect of mobile UX design.  While I appreciate their thought leadership, I find it increasingly frustrating to hear about how the mobile technology capabilities and market are moving so fast, and yet the bulk of organizations aren't investing to keep up.  So I want to write an open letter:
 
"Dear Mobile Hype Leaders,
We get it. Mobile is here to stay. Please slow the hype train down.
 
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Hindsight Is 20/20: Understanding The Rise Of Digital Customer Experience Platform

Smell that? That’s the smell of digital customer experience delivery technologies converging. Just kidding . . . but closer to the truth, you might be going deaf from the sheer volume of M&A and branding announcements over the past few years. Along with normal versioning announcements, 2013 held two key branding changes. Q1 witnessed Adobe’s shedding of the CQ moniker to adopt “Adobe Experience Manager” and cement its place among the expanding Adobe Marketing Cloud, and Q4 just witnessed salesforce.com’s debut of its “Salesforce1” customer platform.

If you somehow tuned out all of the marketing/sensory overload, I’ll prove this to you another way. No peeking yet . . . OK, open your eyes! (see graphic).


 

Represented visually, it’s clear that M&A activity in the marketing automation space never even paused after Oracle purchased eloqua last holiday season: Salesforce bought ExactTarget in June, Adobe bought Neolane in July, and Oracle came back for seconds with its Compendium Software grab in October. Commerce continues its three-year hot streak: SAP grabbed hybris in June and Sitecore bought Commerce Server in November. Mobile and social haven’t completely lost their mojo either, as SDL picked up bemoko to further it’s mobile/omnichannel street cred and IBM hoovered up Xtify, a mobile messaging platform, in October.

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The Death Of Adaptive Mobile Websites . . . At The Hands Of Hybrid Apps?

A little more than a week ago at Forrester’s Application Development and Delivery Forum, an executive from a digital agency raised the notion that hybrid apps should kill two birds with one stone, eliminating the need for one-off, adaptive, mobile website development. In short, your hybrid app development efforts will create the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which will then double as your adaptive mobile website code base (sans native wrapping via PhoneGap).

This got me thinking: Should efficient code management be the primary rationale when developing for the mobile Web or mobile apps?  

IMHO, no. Judging from my conversations with vendors, agencies, and end users, manageable code bases are a solid goal when developing mobile strategy for digital customer experiences, but by no means the top priority (AKA “strategy first, execution second”). On the flip side, customer experience, customer intelligence, and digital marketing professionals are unlikely to put code considerations up front — or anywhere in the top 10, for that matter — and thus AD&D needs a voice when mobile strategy is discussed (AKA “iterative strategy should be based on execution feedback loops”).

I spoke with the “two birds with one stone” exec after the presentation and he clarified: If the use cases for the adaptive mobile site and a mobile app are largely the same, then it makes sense to leverage the hybrid app code base as your mobile website. OK, that makes sense now: The content and audience will be the same, and therefore repurposing the code base is a worthy effort.

My takeaway: A great deal of confusion persists around mobile — even when experts present to informed audiences. Forrester has been thinking about this question re: mobile development at length to help reduce the confusion:

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Ratcheting DX Platform Heat Up To 11: salesforce.com Acquires ExactTarget; SAP Acquires hybris

Two days, two major acquisitions.

On June 5, salesforce.com announced its intent to acquire ExactTarget for approximately $2.5 billion. On June 6, SAP announced its intent to buy hybris for an undisclosed sum.

Salesforce.com is pushing its way into the CMO’s office (and budget) with its buy of ExactTarget, one of the largest providers of marketing automation solutions. This move helps salesforce.com keep pace with the likes of Oracle (with its purchase of Eloqua late last year) and add significant momentum to its smaller purchases of Radian6 and Buddy Media in the past two years. However, we remain dubious that this will produce the fabled “CRM 2.0” that has been promising a 360-degree view of the customer for many years. Could salesforce.com have built its own ExactTarget solution? Maybe. But this move places Marc Benioff in many CMOs’ offices and wallets today. And that speed-to-credibility is valuable enough to downgrade earnings expectations and pay a 53% share-value premium.

Clearly, SAP is looking to buy its way into the commerce leader category, potentially leveling the playing field in the B2C commerce space against fellow heavyweights IBM and Oracle. At the corporate level, IBM has a head start against SAP, given that it beat SAP to the punch with Sterling Commerce in 2010 (SAP following with hybris this week) and Emptoris in 2011 (SAP following with Ariba in 2012). Interestingly enough, even though hybris has broadened its offerings with increased content management capabilities, the term “digital experience” wasn’t mentioned during SAP’s investor/analyst conference call on June 6.

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New Year’s Resolution: Sharpen Your Skills To Keep SVM Relevant

 I needed to order a tool from Amazon.com recently, and I was greeted with a “New Year, New You” panel linking me to whole host of exercise equipment targeted to my lifestyle. Same old New Year’s resolution song-n-dance, right? Well, the idea of self-improvement in 2013 got me thinking:  We keep telling the SVM world that they need to stay relevant in a Business Technology world, so we’re now showcasing specific self-improvement tools to help you feel empowered stepping into 2013. In our recent “SVM Activities, Roles, And Skills Are Evolving” report, we have outlined the root rationale for SVM’s evolution and our prescription on how to move forward: 

  • Roles are becoming more complex. As technology spending habits change, and spending  ripples outward from IT to the business, classic SVM roles (e.g., sourcing; contracts; vendor management) are broadening and deepening to include skills related to strategy, governance, and business value (see top column labels). 
  • These roles require new skill sets and certifications. In order to fill out these new roles, SVM managers should encourage staff to grow their skill set with training and certifications in emerging categories including innovation, diversity, eco-friendly/green, globalization, and strategy (see left-hand row labels). There are a host of organizations and authoring bodies that can help you demonstrate credibility in SVM emerging impact areas.
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