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!