Darren Guarnaccia’s Blog

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

A look ahead at 2010 for Sitecore and the WCM industry

Posted by dguarnaccia on February 1, 2010

Now that I’ve looked back at 2009, lets turn towards the future and forecast what I think is in store for us for 2010. I mentioned in my review post that Web Content Management as an industry has gotten cool and fun again, and we’re seeing lots of bursty innovation. The geek in me loves that, but the business guy demands to know the value all this arm waving will bring. What I’ve pointed out several times in the past is that WCM technologies are starting to incorporate key business functionality into their products that help improve business impacting results a website has on an organization. On other words, WCM isn’t about publishing content anymore. WCM has now become an application turn websites into high performance marketing and services applications.  And like other applications in the enterprise, these websites should generate measurable, tangible business value and results.

So with that in mind, I see 2010 as the year that Sitecore and others in the WCM industry start to deliver technology that makes this easier and easier to build, deploy, manage and measure marketing centric web initiatives.  My colleague Paul Markun mentioned in his 2010 predictions blog that 2010 is a lot like 2000, only now the stuff is reality. That’s so true.  I can remember pitching all these wonderful concepts to customers in 2000, and it was really really expensive, and would take a long time, but it sure was amazing stuff. The concepts in many ways are still the same, the only difference now is that more of the “vision” we painted in 2000 is now packaged functionality and out of the box today.  What we’re going to see this year is that what Rogers and Peppers and Patricial Seybold’s vision for one to one marketing and customer centric experiences will start to also be incorporated into WCM products.

So what’s different this time?  Well, for starters, the hardware has come a long way. What used to require millions of dollars in hardware can now be purchased from Dell for less than $10,000.  Database technology has also improved dramatically, and the software vendor technology has finally caught up with our vision.  The other thing that is really different this time is the emergence of what I call “operational analytics”.   When Sitecore decided to develop our own analytics technology in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, people thought we were nuts.  Why build it when there are so many good web analytics packages out there.  But we realized back then that we needed to own that data from an operational point of view. We needed to be able to collect, analyze and operate on the customer behavior data in real-time, and that just wasn’t viable with hosted analytics solutions. They also didn’t capture the level of detail we wanted, nor were they as accurate as we thought they needed to be, so we developed our own. I go into more detail on the problems with tools like Google Analytics on my guest commentary spot on ZDNET.  So the idea of having an operational set of analytics that you can execute on locally was born.  We realized we still needed to be able to integrate upstream with more enterprise analytics packages for multichannel integration, and other needs, but we felt that we could achieve so much more if we could store and operate on the data locally.  Back to my prediction, I think you see more and more software vendors embrace this operational analytics concept.  In a lot of ways, this is exactly what Andrew Bartels of Forrester predicted with his Smart Computing Drives the new era of IT Growth paper.  Andrew talks about the fact that the next generation application will have it’s own onboard analytics capability, and that they smart computing applications will be highly adaptive based on its analytics data.  I think we’ll see far more of this trend in the WCM space.  Now, before you get concerned that we’ll see more fragmentation in the analytics space, I think we’ll also see some strong interoperability standards on how to exchange this analytics data. Webrend’s Open Exchange is a great example of this today, and I think we’ll see vendors start to even upload their operational analytics data into these types of aggregator solutions.  (shameless plug alert: Webtrends Open Exchange runs on Sitecore) 

Now that WCM vendors have embraced analytics directly, I think this opens up a whole set of opportunities for us all.  As Scott Liewer bloged so eloquently in his 2010 predictions blog post, websites can’t possibly persaude anyone until they can learn to perceive or understand their visitors.  This concept of operational analytics will allow WCM vendors to build perception engines or customer intelligence engines that are tied right into the web authoring environment.  While the web analytics vendors have a nice lead in terms of capability, I predict that the WCM vendors will quickly outstrip their capabilities. Maybe not 2010, but I think 2011 we could see some upsets. Why?  Because analytics vendors have to build a one size fits all technology, and the WCM vendors can build stuff that works really well for their platform.  What this means is that Analytics vendors will start to become aggregator and multichannel integration points, and will be able to deliver the macro trends, whereas the WCM vendor technology will give you highly actionable data embedded in tools designed to implement those analyses.

Lastly, I think coming out of this recession, we’re going to see a land grab for customers in every industry on the planet.  This is going to lead to a lot of customer centric business transformations.  Social media started this, and it’s only going to continue. Companies and organizations will need to aggressively implement customer centric strategies on the web, and will start to use their websites as their primary interaction channels to their customers.  Ok, perhaps this is a bit more of a hope than a prediction, but all the signs are there, we’ll see if we finally will turn the corner and embrace what Patricia Seybold so brilliantly wrote in her book Customers.com many years ago.

What do you think?  Agree? Disagree?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

7 Responses to “A look ahead at 2010 for Sitecore and the WCM industry”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sitecore: RT @dguarnaccia: My predictions for #Sitecore and the #wcm industry in 2010 http://budurl.com/gldh

  2. Erik said

    Quote: “2010 is a lot like 2000, only now the stuff is reality”. I could not agree more! I can’t wait to see it all take shape.

  3. kenvenon said

    Darren,
    This post hits home with me on multiple levels.

    Yes, I too was there in 2000 singing the praises of online customer engagement and the value of robust content management, only to have seen the client’s jaw drop when we discussed what the full implementation would take. And the next question would be, can you prove the ROI to me?

    I applaud Sitecore’s focus on utilizing the customer data at the operational level to create both true, customer-centric user experiences on the front end and mission-critical analytics in the back end.

    It is amazing how often decisions on customer facing communication channels are driven by what the company wants and not based on a true understanding of the customer, what they want and how they want to get it.

    Since 1996, I have described online marketing as “a true one-to-one interactive marketing channel in which you have to give the customer what they want as quickly as possible, then and only then, can you achieve what you want from the customer.”

    Pretty simple statement based on the core tenet of marketing, Know Your Customer.

    Fortunately, Sitecore gets it and enables its customers to do the same. Keep up the good work.

    Ken

    • Thanks for the comment Ken. Know your customer is a matra I repeat over and over again. I also like Steven Covey’s “Value for Value” habit. You have to give value to get value. I also really like the thinking Scott Liewer at Gilbane put for in his post about the fact that you have to Perceive before you Pursuade. Sorta like Covey’s “Seek first to understand, then be understood”. All in all, I’m excited to see the market start to shift back into customer centric mode, and move above the simple tactics of just publishing content. I think we’re going to see some tremendous business value start to come from corporate websites that embrace these concepts. I was just sitting on a Forrester Webcast this morning with Laura Ramos and it’s clear to me that the corporate website has become the number one vehicle for lead gen and brand awareness and companies are starting to realize they must invest here like they do all the other channels. Oddly enough, the website is massively outperforming all the other channels, but still doesnt’ get the attention it deserves. I’m hopeful that will start to change in 2010.

      Best,

      Darren

  4. kmccabe said

    The quest for better analytics is indeed exciting! I’ve loved reading your thoughts on Google Analytics. I think more people that are using a CMS analytics system and also using Google Analytics are realizing that there are issues in capturing accurate data. I use one CMS where the analytics that are not captured are mind-boggling. There are moments when there are massive spikes in our website traffic and yet our analytics do not allow me to see exactly what is driving that change? Of course then, I can’t really capitalize on that traffic can I? Inbound marketing and social media have allowed me to make major improvements to website traffic – but so-so analytics make it like driving with your good arm tied behind your back. And as more and more marketing is done online, being able to understand and adapt to your traffic (existing clients, prospects) should become better and analytics is definitely key. And its not just key to increasing traffic or conversions – but from a “PR” standpoint is very useful to building relationships with those who are pointing traffic to your website. A few months ago one of our blog posts was featured on ASP.net – luckily this was ONE thing our analytics did allow me to drill down and see. The traffic continued for many weeks. Having this info allowed us to acknowledge the link and offer thanks. I think one of the major changes we’ll see this year is that the website becomes king of the organization. Even companies that couldn’t imagine “selling” via their websites will realize that their website is their new front door. Just about every time I call a lead, while we are talking, they go to our website. Fantastic. But wouldn’t it be great if after I hang up the phone I could go into the analytics and see what pages they viewed, where they fell off the website and if they came back or if other people from their organization checked us out? Hell ya!

  5. Darren,

    As usual, I enjoyed reading this post.

  6. Darren,

    As usual, I enjoyed reading this post. I especially agree with your thoughts on the operational analytics engines. The WCM vendors who either build their own robust analytics capabilities into their products, or *tightly* integrate the capabilities of a 3rd party offering will win this battle in the long run. As you mention, the key to the level of personalization to which you refer is the ability of the analytics engine not only to perceive the needs of the audience, but then to advise the relevant pieces of content in the CMS in *real-time*. An external or loosely integrated analytics engine won’t be as content-aware, thus it will be helpful in providing retrospective information about patterns and even specific visitor sessions, but the individual will likely be long-gone by that point. Inevitably, this can only lead to ‘generic personalization’, which is quite the paradox, no?

    I also agree with your prediction that businesses are generally becoming more customer-centric. At Gilbane, we refer differentiation via customer experience as a macro-trend in 2010 which is driving businesses in all industries to find innovative ways to strengthen brand loyalty. To me, this is another reason why these engagement frameworks will succeed this time around: consumers now *expect* it. Personalization is everywhere nowadays, and anything less not be tolerated for much longer, especially on the web.

    @sliewehr

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