Darren Guarnaccia’s Blog

My thoughts on Sitecore, WCM and doing business on the web

Archive for March, 2009

Whither goes WCM?

Posted by dguarnaccia on March 22, 2009

Where are we all going?  I ask myself that a lot.   And the “we” I’m referring to is the WCM industry in general.  I’ve been saying for years now that it’s not about editing content anymore.  It’s pretty clear to me that everyone has figured out how to build a pretty usable interface. Heck, even the oldest of vendors have finally gotten on that bandwagon.  Nope, that’s just blocking and tackling. So what’s next?  Where do we go as a market?  If you ask me, as a category, we’re in jeopordy of following the word processor marketplace if we’re not careful. I mean really, how many more features can Microsoft put into Word?  And still, that application does not really help me be more effective in my work.  It doesn’t make it easier to get buisness done.

It’s still pretty much a tool.  A screwdriver, a hammer, a wrench.

So what’s next for us?  Some would say personalization, or put a fancy name on it like “experience management”.  I’ve been there before, when that wave started to take off, and even helped launch one of the first products that drove that message into the WCM market.  But again, that’s just another tool at best, or perhaps just a fancy attachment for my screwdriver.  No, that is not the answer either.

So lets take a page out of Home Depot’s playbook.  Home Depot wanted to sell more tools, building supplies, etc. What did they do?  They started teaching people how to acheive their goals. Helped them demystify home improvement projects.  In essense, they helped people understand how the  tools Home Depot sold can achieve the goals they had for themselves. And an interesting thing happened, the sold more stuff of course, but on top of that, they spawned demand for things even they didn’t realized they needed to sell.  Due to this new approach, they drove demand for all sorts of products that enhanced home living.  And they sold a lot more stuff.

So what can we learn from all of this?  Most of the Enterprise WCM companies already solution sell. But the real question is, are our products really as far along that solution path as they should be.  Sure, many of my competitors our there have huge armies of Professional services that can make their products do anything. The proverbial ball of clay. But is that good enough?  

I say it is not good enough.  Our products need to evolve to the place where they are built to enable companies to execute their web strategies faster.  In fact, I think over time, WCM technology should be configurable to embrace those web strategies…Out Of the Box.  Pretty words, I know, but I think that is where we all need to go.  That is the course we are charting for ourselves as a WCM vendor.  Enough of the toolset mentality. We will not become a glorified word processor for the web.  We all need to evolve to allow our customers to start treating their websites as the business applications that they are.

So, like any good business applications, our websites should have ROI’s associated with them.  I was chatting with one of my colleagues the other day and the concept of a “Taxonomy of ROI” for websites came up. It was one of those things that just came out while I was on a roll. Maybe I was playing buzzword bingo, who knows..but it’s a great idea none-the-less.  The concept is simple. I’d like to build up a taxonomy or hierarchy of the types of ROI you can get from your website.  These are the measurement points where you can demonstrate business impact as a direct result of an organizations website. I’m going to give this a shot so here goes:

Public Facing

Revenue generation

Increase lead flow

Increase conversion rate / increase look to book ratio

Lower cost of sales via shorter sales cycle time

Increase lead quality (improved opportunity conversion)

Increase in average transation value

Increases Customer Lifetime Value via increase customer satisfaction and incremental sales

Increases sales due to improvement in competitive advantage as a result of superior web user experiece

Cost Reduction

Reduce call center traffic

Reduce customer service requests

Reduced operations cost due to customer self service (e-statements, e-billpay, etc)

Lower operations costs through lower servicing /statup costs  from reduced customer turnover

 

Reduce Risk

Comply with regulatory statutes reduces fines and penalties

 

Employee Facing

Revenue generation

Faster product development / launch cycle time

Improved products via collaboration and online customer interaction (community)

Cost Reduction

Reduction in redundant work due to better information management and collaboration

Faster response times due to better information access allows employees to service more customers

Reduce employee attrition and turnover

Shorten new employee startup time and time to productivity (TTP)

Reduce new employee drag on coworkers by improving self service and better information access

Reduce Risk

Hower risk from legal discovery via better retention management and disposition

Lower risk of mistakes employees using out of date or incorrect information or policies

 This is a work in progess, and I’d love your feedback, so post your comments and let me know where you think I’m wrong, missing something, or areas we should expound.  As the saying goes, the journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step…

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Posted in WCM Marketplace | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

CMS Vendor Meme — The Sitecore response

Posted by dguarnaccia on March 20, 2009

 I’m not sure if Sitecore’s been tagged yet but never to one to left out, we’re entering the fray. Overall, some very thoughtful questions, nicely done @kasthomas

 “WE GET IT” CHECKLIST FOR VENDORS
1. Our software comes with an installer program.
Of course! We provide a simple, wizard driven installer.

 
Sitecore Installation Wizard

Sitecore Installation Wizard

 

Rating: 3 Stars

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.
Yes, Sitecore is a traditional .NET web application, and can be installed and installed to your heart’s content with nary a reboot.  

Rating: 3 Stars

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that.
Most certainly. Administrators can set default language/locale settings, while users have the ability to choose their language preferences. 

 
Language and locale selection screen in Sitecore

Language and locale selection screen in Sitecore

 

Rating: 3 Stars
4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.
Sort of.  We provide evaluation software upon request, but we do like to understand who is working with our software from an evaluation standpoint.  We also encourage developers who want to build up their skills in Sitecore to download our Sitecore Xpress Personal Developer Edition. This is a reduced feature version of our product but is a great way to skill up on Sitecore, and allows to run your own personal website on Sitecore.  Since it doesn’t contain the full Sitecore feature set, it’s not used for product evaluations, but it’s free to download, experiment , and build personal projects. Xpress.sitecore.net
Rating: 2 Stars

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated “sample web site” and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box.
Yes. Sitecore offers the Sitecore Starterkit. This is a sample website with 3 facets.  A fully flashed out website, and empty shell site from which to experiment and a instructional tutorial site to learn how to work in Sitecore.

starterkit-sample-site

 
Rating: 3 Stars

6. We ship a tutorial.
We do, our Starter kit includes a tutorial.

starterkit-tutorial

 

Rating: 3 Stars

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface.
Excellent idea, but currently that product doesn’t ship with this feature. Sitecore’s help system is really design to allow developer to build incontext help for end users and authors while editing content in context. Sure, you can easily add it, but to be perfectly honest it’s not out of the box, so we’ll score ourselves with a 1.

Rating: 1 Star

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install.
No, Sitecore provides all of our documentation on the Sitecore Developer Network.  Since we are constantly evolving our documentation, and provide a rich developer community, we think it more important to bring developers back to the community on an ongoing basis. And, we think it’s a little crazy to try to lay down 15,000 documents, code snipets, shared source modules for each and every install. This strikes me as  little old school thinking, expecting vendors to phyically install files, when they should be centrally maintained. All of our documentation can be downloaded of course, but since we’re constantly improving existing documentation, and adding more documentation, it just doesn’t make sense to lay them down at install time. We’d rather keep them updated centrally and drive traffic to the developer community.  
 

sdndocs
Rating: 1 Star

9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCM products.
Yes, even one better, we run the next generation releases on our site.  We’ve been running our next edition of our product on www.sitecore.net for over 3 months now. We’ve learned many great things, and the product has gotten better because of this. We definitely believe in drinking our own Champagne.

Rating: 3 Stars

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work.
Absolutely.  Everyone of our sales people can demo our product and use our product.   We don’t believe in tethering a sales engineer to a sales person to do all their demonstrations. That’s just dangerous. If your product is so complex that the sales guy can’t handle the first hour or two of a demo, you have a problem. Sure we have pre-sales engineers for the more complex topics, and developer deep dives, but everyone of our sales people know our product well, and can show customers how they can be successful using the software. That’s critical for us.

Rating: 3 Stars

11. Our software does what we say it does.
Of course.  This is even more important when you don’t do your own professional services. We leverage our partner channel to deliver most, if not all of our professional services work.  We think this is a key differentiator.  When WCM companies do their own professional services work, they often are tempted to “cheat” and claim functionality that they just don’t have, but since they are doing the services work, they can work some “PS Magic” and deliver what the customer requested.   When you are delivering through a partner network, you don’t have that option, since someone else is doing the delivery.  While Sitecore is a very extensible application, we have to be very clear what is out of the box, versus what can be implemented.  

Rating: 3 Stars

12. We don’t charge extra for our SDK.
Of course not.  Our API has over 1200 classes and over 6000 methods, and not one bit of it costs a dime. This is true of the smallest footprint we install in, to the largest enterprise class license we sell.  

Rating: 3 Stars

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.
Yes, much to the confusion of our customers.  Our licensing is so simple, it often throws our customers.  It’s simply the number of Servers you need, and how many concurrent editors you require. That’s it.  No extra modules to buy, we don’t nickel and dime you with a million extra things.   When we present our pricing to customers, we get the response “That’s it?” We’ve made it a goal to make our licensing dead simple, and once they get over their initial shock of how simple it is, it becomes a real positive in their experience with Sitecore.

Rating: 3 Stars

14. We have one price sheet for all customers.
Certainly. Many currencies of course, but 1 price list.  

Rating: 3 Stars

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time.
Yes, we’re out there listening, blogging and commenting.  I’m personally out on Twitter @dguarnaccia and skype with dguarnaccia. Many of our executives maintain blogs, such as our VP of Technical Marketing, Lars Neilson whose blog can be found at http://larsnielsen.blogspirit.com/  as well as our VP of Product Development, Kerry Bellerose at http://kerrybellerose.blogspot.com/.

Rating: 3 Stars

 So how does Sitecore Stack up? Let’s have a look.

 sitecore-wcm-meme-rating

Now for the fun part, let’s tag some folks too shy to step up.  Come on Interwoven,  and Tridion, both of you get off  the sidelines.  We’d also love to see our friends at Fatwire, Alterian and Ektron answer the call.

Posted in Sitecore, WCM Marketplace | Tagged: , | 13 Comments »

Hello world!

Posted by dguarnaccia on March 20, 2009

Greetings! This is long overdue. I know, I know, I work in the WCM field and I don’t have a blog…like I said…long overdue.

I’ve spend much time elsewhere, reading all the great thoughts, commenting and contributing where I could, but now it’s time to give back.  This blog will largely be related to my experiences, thoughts, muttering and ideas around the Sitecore CMS and the WCM marketplace with the occasion tangent off on other things of interest.

So saddle up, it’s time to ride…

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