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Integrating IBM Digital Experience and Microsoft SharePoint

Jason Cornell spoke at the IBM Digital Experience Conference about how well IBM Digital Experience software integrates with SharePoint. When IBM talks about integration with SharePoint, its usually how to display SharePoint content or apps within WebSphere Portal.

There are a bunch of ways that IBM has enabled out-of-the-box integration with SharePoint:

  • IBM has Web Application Bridge to pull in SharePoint sites, libraries, lists, wikis, blogs, announcements and so on.  The Bridge displays content from SharePoint as-is or you can intercept the HTML produced by SharePoint and do some manipulation on it.
  • Another technique is to use RSS Feed portlets to display SharePoint RSS Feeds.
  • IBM has Exchange portlets that allow you to bring in mail and calendaring into Portal.
  • When you have SharePoint Web, REST services or SQL services, IBM can use its new Digital Data Connector to grab feeds from those services and allow you to manage the display of the data in Digital Experience.
  • When you use SharePoint for document management, you can use CMIS capabilities to provide access to those documents from your WebSphere Portal. IBM provides a sample portlet on the Digital Experience wiki that access a SharePoint library, displays content and allows writing content to SharePoint.
  • Sometimes you want to migrate content from SharePoint. For this you can use the IBM’s Web Content Integrator to feed that SharePoint content directly into IBM Web Content Manager.  In this case, the content will live inside IBM WCM.
  • IBM’s Search technology will provide search services against SharePoint sites.  Search results can be combined with content from other sites to have a unified search experience.

Jason demonstrated all these techniques in IBM Digital Experience software.  Some of the pre-built applications are available on IBM’s Solution Catalog and some are available on the Digital Experience wiki site. All of these pre-built integrations are free to use, though you will have to configure most them appropriately to connect to the SharePoint system.

IBM Digital Experience Conf: Developing Portlets Using JQuery

jQuery is one of the most pervasive scripting libraries in use today. The session “Developing Portlets Using Javascript and JQuery for Engaging Digital Experiences” by Stephan Hesmer, Web 2.0 Architect, IBM and  Jaspreet Singh, Rational Tools Architect, IBM provided good insight as to how to leverage jQuery in IBM WebSphere Portal.

First, a couple of key statistics to indicate why this is important and cannot be ignored:

  • 57.5% of websites use jQuery.
  • jQuery has a 93% marketshare.

WebSphere Portal still includes Dojo but it isn’t required for view mode.  It is required in edit mode however, especially for in place editing.    One key change in portal 8.5 however is when edit mode, the edit panel is now isolated from pages so it will not conflict with the page. Read the rest of this post »

IBM Digital Experience Conf: Marketing Integration

Rob Enright, a Digital Experience Strategist with IBM spoke about integrating Marketing Management with IBM Digital Experiences.  Customer expectations are soaring, yet it takes time to build your digital experience to keep up or even get ahead of those expectations.

Here are several themes IBM is focusing on:

  • “Insight to Action” with a few clicks – this will require more and more automation of the
  • Manage omni-channel campaigns that are coordinated across the channel.  This requires orchestration across departments and systems.
  • Self learning digital recommendations will require complex software that can take in basic input and learn new rules as they become apparent.

Rob talked about how technology can help these areas.  Interactive optimization is like having a good conversation.  The result is the customer having a feeling that you are talking directly with them.  Marketers need to listen and understand, then decide what to say next.  After that the marketer can then respond in the conversation.  

Within IBM Digital Experience we can combine content personalization with marketing messages.  Content is managed and personalized by WCM, while marketing messages may come from other places.

IBM Interact connects to IBM Digital experience using IBM Interact Spot portlets.  These portlets display content identified by the Interact campaign system.  Interact ties in to Digital Experience through offer codes set up on IBM Interact and then entered into Digital Experience.

IBM also has a Marketing Center Spot portlet that will integrate IBM Marketing Center in with Digital Experience.  Messages injected my Marketing center are not Web Content managed by IBM WCM.  Rather, the messages are managed in Marketing Center and injected at runtime.

Marketing integration has been a hot topic and IBM is doing a good job of making sure it’s marketing products are integrating with Digital Experience.

 

IBM XDX – What’s New in WebSphere Portal and IBM WCM 8.5

Rob Will, chief architect for WebSphere Portal, once again gave a great presentation at IBM’s Digital Experience Conference 2014.  The focus was on the new capabilities delivered in the last year.

The focus of the digital experience suite has been to provide a framework with tools and services to be able to deliver a great digital experience.  The focus has shifted from IT building the solutions to the line of business being able to own and deliver content and services themselves.  The innovative capabilities below are some of the highlights that direction.

IBM XGX - What's New in WebSphere Portal and IBM WCM 8.5 Mobile

  • Portal and WCM is in the framework business, not application business.  this translates to mobile as well.  Mobile web site business, not web application business.
  • The direction is to deliver mufti-channel digital experiences.
  • IBM Worklight continues to evolve.  It is an application development environment that includes a thin layer of native client code that simplifies building multi-channel web applications.  There are many new capabilities that plug right into portal such as a content adapter to WCM.
  • A new mobile simulator is built in to be able to preview portal content using device emulators prior to publishing.
  • Mobile is part of everything IBM does.

Read the rest of this post »

IBM Digital Experience Conf: IBM Web Content Manager Patterns

Eric Morentin and Nick Baldwin spoke about WCM Patterns that should be used in content management development in IBM Digital Experience.  Patterns of course are a “canned” way or even best practice for implementing solutions.  There are four themes of patterns they talked about:

  1. Better content / component model
    • There are different types of content and Content Manager build a content page by pulling various types of content.  Types can include things like slide shows, lists, blocks, highlights, teasers, etc.
    • A good first pattern is the List Content Component. Use a WCM Component to build the list.  The end user only has to select what list to display and perhaps customize the query to define the list.  Within content manager, lists are composed of Navigators and Presentations.  The navigator component is the query tool to select items for the list and the presentation component is how you display the results.
    • In general, then a good content/component model will let you create special purpose components  and then combine them into business level tools that the content authors can easily incorporate onto a page. Special purpose components such as lists, blocks, carousel are higher-level components than what come out of the box with WCM, but are built-up using those out of the box components.
    • A slideshow content component would consist of the same List Content Component pattern, but adds a Javascript plugin component to control the display of the slide show.
  2. More reuse
    • Build a library of standard components that can be reused.  In IBM’s Content Template Catalog, they have many reusable components built on component elements like field design, fragments, inline editing controls, etc.
    • You could have reusable component headers, designs and footers that get referenced by the higher-level components like the Slideshow mentioned above.
    • As an example, in the header, you could have common tools like the inline edit code.  This same header can then be used on all your components so you can manage or change the inline edit code in one place.
    • There are also good patterns and tools available like SASS – Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets to help you with creating reusable CSS.
  3. Better site model
    • Sites connect pages and content.  Pages provide the navigation model in portal.
    • The Page Content Structure pattern shows how you structure a site.  The content site contains just content.  There is a content item created for each “component”.  Teasers live in their site.  All these sites can roll into a common site based on the page.
    • This results in a lot of site areas.
  4. Split content, design, navigation, configuration and code or separation of concerns.
    • The component model pattern helps with this concept.
    • You should split design libraries from content libraries.
    • They suggest a Design library, a Content Library and a Process Library.  The process library and design libraries can be referenced from the various sites.

Other best practices/patterns:

  • Workflows can also benefit from good patterns.  One pattern is to use custom workflow actions to perform dynamic tasks such as picking the appropriate approvers based on an author’s business unit.
  • For Access Control, don’t explicitly define all access rights; instead use inheritance whenever possible. In 8.5, reviewer and draft creator (replacing Approver) can be inherited. Explicit access control also impacts performance.
  • Don’t have content items with 40+ fields.  Look for the ability to use custom fields to merge

Common Pitfalls

  • In place edits in non-projects – consider using a plugin to hide in line editing if no project is selected.
  • Multi Language – enable this upfront rather than wait.  Even with just two languages, use the MLS plug-in

Eric and Nick used the IBM Content Template Catalog as examples of patterns that you can implement.  They made the point over and over again that CTC is set of examples, so there are probably more components in there than you may actually every need.  You should take the ideas in CTC and make your own components based on the patterns. You should not really expect to install and use CTC right out of the box.

 

IBM Digital Experience Conf 2014: Stephen Power’s View

Forrester’s Stephen Power spoke about transforming digital strategy. Stephen is Vice President at Forrester and covers the Digital Experience market.  He started by talking about the age of the customer and how we got to this point (customer centricity per Gary Dolsen).  Preceding the age of the customer was Age of Manufacturing, Age of Distribution and the Age of iInformation.  Starting in 2010, he suggests that the Age of Customer started.

IBM Digital Experience Conf 2014: Stephen Power's ViewComplexity is increasing in the Age of the Customer because of the multi-channel requirements increasing and shifting rapidly.

Business Technology is the term he uses instead of Information Technology because the focus is on business results rather than just information.  He predicts that budgets for business technology will surpass information technology in 2016.

With this shift to BT, digital experiences must adapt.  Here are three points he talked about with regards to digital experience transformation:

  1. Focus on the customer lifecycle, not just customer acquisition.  Switching costs for customers are lower in the digital world so they are more willing to move if they are not taken care of during their lifecycle with you. Ree
  2. Reexamine the technologies and investments for the new digital experiences.  You may end up with overlapping technologies and have to rationalize which ones to keep and which to retire.
  3. Don’t just manage your data – leverage it. Use demographics, historical and situational data to contextualize your experience. Predictive analytics is a key future capability.

Transforming your digital strategy is not about perfection, its about progression.  As you build out new strategies, keep in mind the need to be flexible because the Age of Customer is just beginning.  There will be a lot of changes as the market responds, adapts and changes to customers.

 

IBM Digital Experience 2014: Opening Session with Doug Geiger

Doug Geiger is IBM’s VP for Development for Digital Experience.  He talks about the new features available in IBM Digital Experience 8.5:

  • New Authoring toolbar to make content creation easier
  • BrightCove integration to publish steaming video to the BrightCove distribution network
  • Multi-channel delivery with IBM Worklight – everything is multi-channel out of the box
  • Portlet development now is easier by allowing non-java developers to create rich portlets using:
    • Digital Data Connector – allowing data feeds to be displayed in HTML and  Javascript using Web Content Managemnet
    • Script Portlets are available through Web Content Management too
    • There is a Digital Experience Developer site for downloads, samples, etc at developer.ibm.com/digexp
  • Flexible options for deployment on cloud – IBM PureApplication System is available for on premise clouds and IBM PureApplication Service is available on IBM Softlayer for public clouds. You can also move your application from Softlayer to on-premise or the other way around.

Doug also talked about how IBM is moving to a continuous delivery model for Digital Experience.  They are planning to distribute updates and new features in individual components.  Doug said that v8.5 might be the last full upgrade you have to do.  I doubt that will be the case, but the idea drew applause from the attendees.

IBM is offering a Customer Upgrade Accelerator using a private cloud on Softlayer to help customers move to v8.5 as quickly as possible.

 

IBM Digital Experience Conference 2014: Opening with Gary Dolsen

IBM’s Digital Experience Conference got underway today in Anaheim.  For those that have followed IBM WebSphere Portal in the past, Digital Experience is a really set of individual point products that include WebSphere Portal, Web Content Manager, Forms, etc.

If you have really, really followed IBM’s portal you will probably know Larry Bowden as the long-time leader and builder of the IBM WebSphere Portal brand.  Larry has recently retired from IBM and Gary Dolsen has taken over the reigns for Digital Experience.  Gary has also been a long-time leader at IBM, so the transition from Larry to Gary should be seamless.

Gary started off by talking about “Reach” and “Engage” as two themes for where we are now with digital experiences.  You have to reach out to your consumers, employees and partners.  Once you reach those people, you have to engage with them through multiple channels and rich experiences.

He continued by talking imperatives over the next three years: Customer Centricity and Flexibility.  For Customer Centricity we need to understand customers and make them the center of your decision making.  People make emotional decisions, so our digital experiences have to evoke emotions.  Mobile is now a key component of centricity because 90% of consumers are using mulitple mobile devices.

For Flexibility, Gary mentioned that the half life of the Fortune 500 list is now 12 years.  So in 12 years, 50% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be on that list.  You can only imagine the flexibility required to stay on target in the fast paced environment.

 

Option to Migrate Web Content Sites

It’s a never-ending request for anyone who does web content management project……. how do you get the content from your old site to your new site.  At first, we did it all by hand. Then we tried a couple vendors who wrote connectors to pull content from source CMS’.  Neither worked all that well for anything over 7,000 artifacts.  Lately we’ve had some luck with Kapow.  Candace Hoeksema has a nice series going on over in our Microsoft Blog about how you make it work for Sitecore.  Of course, given Kapow’s unique approach, we use it for migrations to Adobe, IBM, and other CMS’.  I only quote a small part of her explanation so be sure to hit both if it’s of interest.

Option to Migrate Web Content SitesKapow to Sitecore Migration: Part 1

Kapow to Sitecore Migration: Part 2

When should I consider using Kapow?

As a rule of thumb, you should consider using Kapow when you have more than 10,000 pages to migrate. However, this decision is ultimately up to the client. Costs of the software and the setup of the migration process have to be weighed against the time involved in a manual migration and the extended migration period and content freeze involved in a manual process. I should also note that Kapow isn’t necessarily just for one-time migrations. It can also be used on an ongoing basis whenever there are multiple disparate data sources. A good example of this is a monthly report with data that must be gathered from several different sources.

How is Kapow installed?

An msi is downloaded from Kapow’s site and installed.   Although Kapow comes with a development database (an Apache Derby based database), we were using SQL Server, so that had to be configured. At this point, the Management Console service is started. This checks your license and allows access to Kapow’s suite of tools. Overall, a very easy install.

How do I use Kapow?

The answer to this question is that it depends what your needs are. Kapow has an extensive suite of tools. My needs on this project were limited, so I used only the Design Studio tool, and occasionally the Management Console. Design Studio is used to develop, debug, and run robots, which extract and transform content. It has a powerful interface, a little reminiscent of Visual Studio.

Now You Can Buy Bus Tickets With An App

You can file this under slightly self-serving.  Android Police has a short article on the Bolt Bus app (also available on iOS). It’s highly rated and fairly useful.  Why self-serving you ask?  Well, Perficient developed it for the client.  My twin brother Tim Porter was the manager of that project.

Customers can now get their confirmation number and board a bus without having to get their hands on a computer beforehand. The app contains the features found on the website, including searching, booking, and managing rewards.

BoltBus offers riders leather seats, power outlets, Wi-Fi, and other amenities. It currently only services areas in the Northeast and along the West Coast, including Canada. Those of you living in such places can check out the app via the widget below.

boltbus

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