This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a Researcher at Forrester Research. It originally appeared on destinationCRM.
By now, everyone knows that engaging and dynamic customer experiences are a key competitive advantage, and “business as usual” will no longer suffice to support these engaging digital experiences. Organizations that don’t embrace this customer-focused thinking will risk missing out on important opportunities and will lose strategic advantages.
From a technology standpoint, the key to success will be integrated, best-of-breed customer experience management (CXM) solutions. This includes technologies such as Web content management (WCM), CRM, eCommerce, digital asset management (DAM), site search, and Web analytics.
We recently completed an evaluation of the DAM market. DAM is a key process-based solution that focuses on managing rich media content (e.g., videos, images, graphics, and audio). Despite the well-documented importance of rich media in cross-channel customer experiences (consider the amount of video and images on the Web or in marketing content now versus just five years ago), DAM solutions have long been overshadowed by other CXM technologies. These solutions have traditionally been relegated to niche, rich-media-heavy industries such as media, publishing, and entertainment. But as more and more organizations understand the importance of a cross-channel rich-media strategy to improve customer experiences, DAM for customer experience is experiencing a revival in interest across verticals.
DAM has long been stuck in the shadow of its more mature enterprise content management (ECM) and web content management (WCM) counterparts. But if our inquiry numbers are anything to go by, it’s slowly and steadily emerging from the shadows. This renewed interested in the DAM space led us to conduct our first-ever Wave evaluation of the DAM market. In this Wave report, we evaluated twelve vendors: ADAM Software, Adobe, Autonomy, Canto, celum EMC, Extensis, MediaBeacon, North Plains, OpenText, Widen Enterprises, and Xinet. Since we completed the evaluations, North Plains acquired Xinet (see my take on that deal here). This report revealed some interesting takeaways:
North Plains, a legacy pure-play digital asset management (DAM) vendor based out of Toronto, Ontario, announced today that it has agreed to buy fellow pure-play DAM vendor Xinet. The DAM market is fragmented and, with a few exceptions (Adobe, Autonomy, EMC, and OpenText), is littered with smaller, proprietary players. We’ve long expected moves in this market, but most of the focus has been on the larger DAM players in the market or the larger content management or customer experience vendors that have no DAM solution (such as IBM).
With this acquisition of Xinet, North Plains moves to become one of the few, if not only, midmarket pure-play DAM player in between the big guns and the pure-play small vendors. What else does North Plains get out of the acquisition?
A platform solution aimed at creative professionals. Xinet has found success targeting creative professionals and supporting assets at the beginning of the content life cycle.
Increased regional reach. More than many other pure-play North American-based DAM vendors, Xinet targets European and Asian customers. North Plains gains a much more global customer base and will inherit channels partners across the globe. Watch for this to be just the first of many moves to make North Plains a global, pure-play DAM vendor.
A stronghold among advertising agencies. Xinet has penetrated the advertising vertical and counts many of these larger names among its clients. With the acquisition, North Plains gains a foothold into this coveted vertical.
As I recently celebrated my fifth anniversary as a Forrester analyst, I reflected on how my coverage area has changed. For the past five years I've covered the web content management (WCM) market. This has been a healthy market, and I still get plenty of interest from my clients on this topic.
But the context of that interest has changed markedly, particularly over the past year. When clients used to ask about WCM, they wanted to know about WCM and WCM only. But these days, they ask about WCM in the context of other technologies supporting customer experience, such as commerce, CRM, and analytics. Our clients have reached a logical conclusion: WCM isn't the end-all-be-all for digital experiences but instead is one piece of the customer experience management (CXM) puzzle.
And the market will continue to evolve in 2012. In particular:
Watch for an avalanche of acquisitions, both big and small. Though larger vendors have multiple pieces of the CXM puzzle, no one has yet put together a complete portfolio. Vendors are still missing some critical pieces, such as rich media management (IBM), commerce (Adobe), and testing and optimization (Oracle, SDL). Watch for the CXM vendors to compete to fill these gaps. High-reaching best-of-breed WCMs such as Sitecore may not remain independent for long.
Contextualization will become the byword. Forget complicated business rules and template schemes. Technology to contextually adapt customer experiences based on user segment, browsing behavior, locale, and device will be high priority. Vendors will make strides so that customers can increasingly take an "automate + optimize" approach: automating contextualization for most experiences and manually optimizing it for a few high-profile experiences, such as home pages.
There has been a great deal of talk over the past few years about what acronym will replace WCM (web content management). Web experience management? Web site management? Web engagement management? Web experience optimization? The list goes on and on.
Certainly, the evolution of the WCM term makes sense on paper, since traditional content management functionality now only makes up a portion of the products that WCM vendors now offer. WCM vendors are also in the content delivery/engagement business, and are even dipping their toes into web intelligence. However, Forrester clients still overwhelmingly ask about “WCM” and that term isn’t going away any time soon.
But even without changing the acronym, it is time to start thinking about WCM beyond just managing content or siloed websites or experiences. Instead, we need to think of how WCM will interact and integrate with other solutions – like search, recommendations, eCommerce, and analytics – in the customer experience management (CXM) ecosystem in order to enable businesses to manage experiences across customer touchpoints.
How are we handling this convergence at Forrester? Several of us who cover various CXM products – like Brian Walker (commerce), Bill Band (CRM), Joe Stanhope (web analytics), and myself (WCM) – teamed up to outline what our vision of CXM looks like, including process-based tools, delivery platforms, and customer intelligence. We've created two versions of the report: one written for Content & Collaboration professionals and one for eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.
Oracle announced yesterday that it has agreed to buy web content management (WCM) vendor FatWire. The prominent vendors in the WCM market have been flying off the shelves – relatively speaking – over the past few years as larger vendors recognize the value of content management and delivery platforms as part of an overall digital customer experience management (CXM) portfolio. After all, you can’t really manage experiences without a content foundation, can you? To this end, Adobe acquired Day, Autonomy acquired Interwoven, and now this latest deal. Oracle didn’t reveal how much they paid for FatWire (too bad, because there’s nothing we analysts love more than debating whether or not someone overpaid/underpaid for a company).
FatWire’s acquisition has been a foregone conclusion in WCM circles for some time now, since it was one of the last independent vendors with a proven enterprise track record. Many have speculated on possible FatWire suitors over the past few years, a list that has included at times IBM, and fellow WCM vendor Interwoven, prior to its own acquisition by Autonomy. FatWire has had a dalliance with enterprise content management vendor EMC over the past year or so; the two began a strategic partnership, with EMC acquiring a minority stake in FatWire and promoting it as its solution in the CXM space. However, EMC later struck another partnership with SDL Tridion, so it appeared that the bloom was off the rose in the EMC/FatWire romance, and prospects for EMC’s full acquisition of FatWire grew dim.
I love reading newspapers, and I have a 45-minute train ride to work and that’s perfect for newspaper reading. But the newspaper box at the train station has eaten more than its fair share of my pocket change even when I do have quarters (which is almost never) . And I’m too lazy to get out of my nice warm car on cold mornings and pick up a paper at a convenience store. So these days, I’ve been reading newspaper content on my mobile device of choice (a painfully slow Blackberry).
I’ve noticed a few things about mobile newspaper web sites. First of all, they’re not that great, at least not the ones for the two major Boston papers. They don’t seem to be optimized for the Blackberry. Unnecessary photos slow things down. Navigation is difficult. And the section landing pages don’t always match the print version; for example, sometimes the top story in the sports section is a stale one from two days ago. However, the content’s free – for now - so I guess I can’t kick.
But it made me realize how challenging manage multiple online experiences has become. My colleagues Josh Bernoff and Shar VanBoskirk wrote a great piece about the “splinternet”, which discusses how our online experiences are splintering across multiple devices and touch points. Content and collaboration pros supporting Web content management (WCM) implementations are in for a battle to support mobile Web sites. After speaking with a number of clients about this, the biggest concerns are around:
I still get a lot of client inquiries on “Web content management.” In fact, the past few months have been the busiest I’ve had since I joined Forrester almost four years ago. Many clients are investing in technology for their online, public-facing initiatives, and we’ve been having some great conversations about what technologies will best fit their needs.
But those technologies include a lot more than just “Web content management.”
In fact, I was recently working with a client on what was purportedly a “WCM” selection project and what struck me was how relatively few requirements actually had to do with traditional content management. Instead, the client wanted to talk about things like content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing, social media, and mobile. That goes way beyond just managing content, doesn’t it?
The best-of-breed WCM vendors have understood this for several years, focusing a good chunk of their development efforts on the actual delivery of content, and how to engage customers, partners, and prospects in the online channel. And the big boys — notably Microsoft and IBM — are getting into the act as well, repositioning and repackaging products and enhancing them with additional modules and adjacent technologies to support engagement.
Adobe has gotten into the content management business, with its announcement earlier today of its intent to acquire Day software for $240 million. Day —with its WCM, DAM, and collaboration offerings — has had a good deal of buzz over the last year or so. Why? Mostly due to a renewed marketing push, demo-friendly products, and occasional uncertainty around competitors due to acquisitions (Interwoven, Vignette) . Day was one of the few remaining independent WCM vendors with enterprise credentials and was ripe for the picking, particularly given the strength of its WCM product. Adobe, of course, brings its document, creative authoring, and rich Internet application development tools to the table.
With the Day deal and last year’s Omniture acquisition, Adobe continues to assemble components of the online customer engagement ecosystem that we wrote about earlier this year. What’s interesting is which vendors are approaching this ecosystem — from the standpoint of ECM (IBM, Oracle/Stellent, Open Text/Vignette), marketing software (Alterian/MediaSurface), enterprise search (Autonomy/Interwoven), and now creativity software/interactive Web applications (Adobe).
So, what does this deal mean for content and collaboration pros?
Short term, there shouldn’t be a whole lot to worry about for either set of customers. Adobe and Day’s offerings generally don’t have much overlap , but rather are complementary. So there should be no worries about certain products being discontinued in favor of others.
Day and Adobe customers will have the opportunity to source more components of the online customer engagement ecosystem from a single vendor and potentially take advantage of possible integrations to come down the road.
Recently on a cross-country flight, I was just waking up when the flight attendant asked me what I wanted for lunch. She was a little annoyed because I kept her waiting while I looked through the magazine for food choices, and gummed up the whole works. And who could blame her for being annoyed? She had a whole bunch of people to get serve. I made a hasty selection and mistakenly picked the healthy snack box (organic pumpkinflas granola and apple slices instead of pepperoni and a chocolate chip cookie).
About an hour later, I had some serious hunger pains and would have killed for one of those old-school gummy chicken casserole airline dinners.
What would have solved this? A proper online engagement architecture, naturally. I usually print my boarding passes out ahead of time. So why doesn’t an airline print out the food choices under the boarding pass, or distribute via mobile devices as people increasingly use them for check-in? The airlines could provide other information, too, like how full the flight is, and whether NBC in the Sky will show something good like “The Office” or something not-so-good like “The Marriage Ref”.
So, what’s the problem? Content management and delivery systems aren’t unified. There are all kinds of opportunities to present rich, consistent, engaging multichannel experiences by integrating technologies such as content management, customer relationship management, document output management, email campaign management, and others. But these are still siloed, due to legacy issues as well as market dynamics (there is no unified solution on the market).