Darren Guarnaccia’s Blog

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General commentary about WCM

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!

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Posted in Sitecore, WCM Marketplace | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

A look back at 2009 and the Web Content Management Industry

Posted by dguarnaccia on January 15, 2010

It’s a new year, indeed a new decade, so it seems only appropriate to take a look back at how we got here, in the field of Web Content Management and here at Sitecore.  2009 was a tough year for a lot of companies, and I’m often asked the question “How is Sitecore doing in this economy?” and questions to that effect.  They always seem surprised then I tell them that we’re doing great financially, and while we’re not growing at the breakneck 100% yoy rates that we’ve seen in the past, it’s still healthy, sustainable growth. 

While I think a lot of companies would like to forget about 2009, or in fact the entire decade (we industry vets that survived the first .COM crash wouldn’t mind forgetting it for sure), I’m of a different opinion. To me, 2009 was the year that Web Content management because cool and fun again.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought WCM was a great industry. It consistently grows faster than the rest of the Content management industry by a ratio of 2 to 1, and it’s the technology that refused to be swallowed by the big Enterprise content management suite in the sky.  I remember listening to Gartner Analysts not so long ago predict that Web Content Management would cease to exist as a stand-alone software market. In 2009, Gartner finally reversed their opinion, and promoted Web Content management market back to Magic Quadrant status.  You can read what Gartner has to say about the market in their 2009 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management report.  To me, this was validation of two things: WCM as a category was here to stay and WCM was about to move into its next stage of evolution.  

This next evolution I’m referring to is of course the rise of Online Marketing Suites in Web Content Management platforms. Sitecore shook up the industry by being one of the first movers in the field, but we were quickly followed by a great many vendors who are all trying to catch up.  To me, it only validates our direction. But the real value to me though is that we’re finally focusing on what I’ve always thought really matters.  Instead of fixating on managing, massaging and organization content, we’re now focusing on the business benefits of websites to the organizations that deploy them. Of course you must have good content, but we’ve been stuck in that rut for over 5 years.  In 2009, the Web Content Management Industry has collectively pulled ourselves out of that rut.  In many ways, I feel like the .COM bust set us all back 10 years, and we’re finally moving forward again.

Other trends that I noticed in 2009 was the continued dominance of marketing teams in WCM acquisitions.  Not so long ago, buying a WCM was dominated by the IT group in an organization. Now, I’d wager that the Marketing group has over 60% of the decision-making power in web projects. And this is as it should be.  An organizations website is a business application no different than a CRM system, and should be owned and managed by the business users.  I’ve also noticed that more and more organizations are starting to really see their websites as customer acquisition technologies, not just passive collateral pieces. I’ll talk more about this in my next blog where I discuss future trends, but the economic meltdown has made every company reevaluate everything they do. As someone once said, “Never waste a good crisis”, it’s a great time to reinvent and renew what’s not working well.

So that’s my take on 2009, what do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?  I’d like to hear from you.

Posted in Sitecore, WCM Marketplace | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Reading the tea leaves of recent WCM Analyst reports

Posted by dguarnaccia on August 19, 2009

 

It’s been quite an exciting couple of weeks in the WCM world with 2 major analyst firms releasing  reports that rate key vendors in the market. Both Gartner and Forrester published new reports, and the reaction and debate on the Gartner report has been spirited to say the least.  Gartner released their Magic Quadrant for the Web Content Management market, an upgrade from last years Market Scope.  The reason they felt they needed a Magic Quadrant was because they felt that WCM marketplace as a whole was starting to reinvent itself, and was starting to shake loose of the commoditization that had gripped that marketplace for last few years. Gartner explains it this way “In the past year, the market has experienced dynamic, evolutionary trends that once again warrant its coverage in a Gartner Magic Quadrant” You can see the entire report here: http://sitecore.net/en/Products/Resources/whitepapers/Gartner-Magic-Quadrant-2009.aspx

 Overall, I think a lot of the confusion stems from what the 2 Axes mean. You can read of official definition in the MQ report, but in my experience, the two different measures come down to this: Ability to execute means company size and financial backing and Completeness of vision is more tied to product strategy and current offering. When taken with that perspective, then the MQ chart starts to make a lot more sense.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM Aug 2009

Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM Aug 2009

In a nutshell, you have Opentext, Autonomy and Oracle positioned vertically higher than the rest of the pack due to their size and weight in the marketplace and a relatively decent track record, while some of the more capable offerings like Sitecore and Tridion (Tridion being ranked higher vertically than Sitecore due to being owned by SDL, a publicly traded company) are postioned furthest to the right as leaders in terms of product capabilities and strategy.  In the challenger quadrant, we have IBM, EMC and Microsoft all postioned moderately vertically high, but very low on the product capability front, which aligns to what most of us know about the WCM capabilities of MOSS, IBM’s LWCM, and the Documentum WCM components.   Companies in the niche quadrant are just that, emerging new vendors that are small, and have a very tight focus instead of broad appeal.  As a marketer for Sitecore, I’m very happy with this positioning. It validates our direction, particularly with our Online Marketing Suite and I see this as confirmation from Gartner that Sitecore is delivering what they feel is the future of our marketplace.

I also mentioned that Forrester recently published a report. This week, Forrester released their new report entitled “Five Additional Options To Consider For Web Content Management” that can be found on the Sitecore site here:  http://www.sitecore.net/en/Products/Resources/whitepapers/Forrester-5-Additional-Options-for-WCM.aspx  As you might know, Forrester has a strict rule about how many vendors they’ll cover in their evaluation reports, called “waves”. They limit those reports to a maximum of 10 vendors.  In June, Forrester released the Wave report titled “The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management For External Sites, Q2 2009” and Sitecore wasn’t included in that Wave due to missing the revenue requirements by the smallest of margins.  The 5 Additional Options report was created largely to cover a few key vendors that Forrester wanted to include in the Wave, but couldn’t due to Wave Methodology restrictions.  What is interesting about this report is that it talks about the new emerging vendors (Sitecore and 4 others) that are starting to challenge the larger, more established vendors.  While I would argue that we are a large, established player already, and are easily larger than Tridion and Day (who are covered in the Wave) in terms of WCM Sofware sales, it’s still think the report is a good one.  Sitecore again does very well, being highly ranked in all categories, and outscores all the other vendors in the report. 

So what does this all mean? I think the bigest complaint that everyone has about these reports is that they aren’t really helping you select a short list at first glance, and they are mixing apples and oranges in some ways.  I think there are a few things you can take away from these two reports in general.  First, that vendors on the right side of the MQ are in most cases are a better bet than ones on the left side.  My arguement here is that the further to the right the vendor is, the more in touch that vendor is with the marketplace and future direction. Remember, WCM investments are 3-5 year investments. Its’ important to find a vendor that will keep investing and growing the platform you purchase.  Vertically speaking, you can get a feel for the organizations abilty to deliver what they said they will. What kind of war chest they have at their disposal.  Is it fool proof?  Of course not. Some people call the challenger quadrant the “quadrant of death” because those vendors have the resources to execute but choose not to execute strongly in the given space.   Should you use these charts and reports to pick a WCM vendor?  No, you shouldn’t. These reports are conversation starters. They help you figure out who to talk to, and help you build a list that gets you to a short list, but not necessarily to provide you one ready made. 

My suggestion is this: If you have access to analysts firms such as Gartner or Forrester, setup an inquiry and tell them what your goals and requirements are, and let them guide you.  Both organization do 1000’s of inquiries on WCM selection and can give you some excellent advice. There are also a lot of excellent selection consultants that can guide you through the process (for a fee of course 🙂 ). 

Good luck reading your own personal tea leaves.

Posted in Sitecore, WCM Marketplace | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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…

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 »