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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 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.

 

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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Posted in Mobile

Google: Reasons Why Nobody Uses Your App, Your Site, Your…

I came across the article Google: Reasons Why Nobody Uses Your App in my favorite iPhone app Zite.  The article is about a presentation given by Tomer Sharon, a user researcher at Google, at Google’s I/O Conference. I embedded the video here for you to view.

Tomer identifies reasons why nobody uses your app.  I want to extend this to your web site, your portal, or whatever because these six reasons apply beyond an app.

I’ll summarize the reasons below, but there were two reasons that really caught my attention because they are spot on with my experience consulting with many, many companies over the past 18 years.

The first reason that caught my eye was “You didn’t test your riskiest assumption.”  Many times clients look to companies like Perficient to reduce risks in their projects.  We have deep expertise in a product they want to implement or build upon.  But we don’t always have expertise in the exact problem that is the riskiest.  When we don’t have that expertise, our value can be in how we approach the problem and how we draw on experience in similar areas.  However too often, clients don’t want to test their riskiest assumptions first, but instead, want to dive headlong into a large project.  Part of the reason is because they they can only get funding one time – so lets ask for the most we can get and then start moving.  Another reason for this is that spending on these kinds of projects – experimentations, proof of concepts (POC), etc – are viewed as wasting money.  But getting a solution to the trickiest part of your project early on is absolutely critical to overall success.

The second reason that caught my attention was “You listened to users instead of watching them.”  Companies have spent boat loads of money gathering requirements by asking users what they want in a system.  Users are more than willing to talk about what they would do with a new system.  But too often what a user says they will do doesn’t match what they really will do.  In the video, Tomar talks about a UK Research Project where the researchers asked people whether they washed their hands after using the restroom.  99% said of course they did.  When the researchers put equipment into the restroom to monitor hand washing, surprise, surprise, less than 80% actually washed their hands.  So when building systems, it is important to get something built quickly – a prototype or POC – and observe how people actually use the system.

Here are the reasons why people don’t use your app, your web site, or whatever. I encourage you to watch the video to get all the details.

  1. You didn’t understand the problem your were solving
  2. You asked your friends (or co-workers) what they thought
  3. You listened to users instead of watching them
  4. You didn’t test your riskiest assumption(s)
  5. You had a “Bob the Builder” mentality

Let me know what you think or if you have other advice.

 

Upcoming Webinar: Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

Next week, on June 12 at 1 pm CDT, I will be presenting a free webinar on Going Mobile with Liferay Portal.  Below is a description of the webinar and a link to register.  If you have Liferay Portal or are considering it, you will want to see what are your options for making sure that your mobile experience is a pleasant one.

Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

Mobile technology is expanding, and many marketing and IT organizations are working to catch up with their customers’ mobile demands. Customers expect to download your app, login, submit their order, deposit a check or even schedule their yoga sessions — all while picking their kids up after school or relaxing in the evenings.

The consumer-driven nature of mobile leaves many companies struggling to develop, enhance and provide the functionality needed to compete in today’s environment. Liferay Portal is one of the most aggressive open source portals available.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Review top mobile developments
  • Demonstrate why Liferay is a good open source option for portal development
  • Identify the options available to bring your Liferay portal to life on mobile devices
  • Review best practices for creating, supporting and deploying a full-mobile strategy

Click this link to register: Going Mobile with Your Liferay Portal

 

Cool Mobile Infographic

Thanks to the Marketing Tech Blog for a reference to a cool “Future of Mobile” info graphic by Three. It’s UK focused but still a nice summary of mobile.  I especially like the internet use via mobile devices now and in 2025.  Click to get to the entire info graphic.

MobileGrowth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Mobile

What’s The Difference Between Beacons and Geofencing

Thanks for John Spyers for pointing this out to me.  I’ve heard a lot lately about the “contextual” experience.  By that I mean, an up to the minute completely personalized experience based on more than just what a company knows about you.  Now you can take into account all of the usual items like how good a customer they are, do they have a shipment on the way, and did they just call customer service.  You can add to that things like, where are they and do they have a reservation.  Where are they depends on mobile technology usually.  iOS engineer Andrew Frederick answers the question on the difference between beacons and geofencing.

 

Here’s the really short version:

Geofencing – use of GPS to determine where you are. It’s useful and can pinpoint you pretty well but can be really tough on battery life

Beacons – use of low power bluetooth and a small “beacon” at a particular location. When you come within 50 feet of that beacon signal, your phone can react to it.

 

What’s coming in WebSphere Portal and WCM

Rob Will, Chief Architect at IBM, presented the future vision for Portal and WCM today.   He started out talking about how the concept of customer experience has been evolving over the past few years.  A core shift has been to enable non-technical users to do more and more with less reliance on IT.

What's Coming in WebSphere Portal and WCMA slight change with profound implications has been the change from a Web experience to a Digital experience, which implies support many more devices and output streams.   Portal and WCM has always been about web sites, not mobile applications.  Portal is now in the mobile web site business to enable multi-channel web site business.  Portal is still the integrating platform for content, applications, etc.  Everything done in Portal and WCM is now done with mobile in mind.

IBM Worklight is the hybrid application platform that integrates with Portal and WCM.   Worklight enables access to all the mobile device features through portlets.  Its easy to create a Worklight adapter to grab content from WCM to display in a native application.  WCM’s personalization engine can also be leveraged from Worklight so you see the same promotions on the web as you see in the mobile app.

Mobile Directions

  • Improving integration to support device classes
  • Fine tuning seamlessness of the theme integration
  • Co-deploy Worklight on Portal

Content and Rich Media

  • More and more convergence between portal and content management
  • Projects and Templates (in Portal 8) are heavily relied on in future releases
  • Content Template Catalog 4.1.2 came out last week – uses latest CKEditor for inline editing
  • Vanity URLs- in beta now.  You can completely control the URL.  URLs are stored in WCM to support Syndication.  This feature will deprecate URL Mappings in Portal.
  • WCM Content Security is more seamless with Portal.
  • Attribute based security means you can control access to content based on Attributes.
  • Project templates make it easier to set up projects, including predefined workflow
  • Now everyone is entitled to EditLive! Enterprise version
  • Customers on 8.0.0.1 have entitlement to WebRadar which is content reporting and analytics
  • Cross Version syndication is supported to ease content migration.  You can syndicate from WCM 7.0.0.2 CF26 or higher to WCM 8.0.0.1 CF09 or higher
  • Syndication – improvements in error messaging, error handling, more retry capabilities.  Also in the Authoring UI, you can see a status of each object’s syndication.
  • Rich Media Edition seamlessly integrates with MediaBeacon.
  • Deliver and Stream HD Videos – this includes integration with BrightCove

Personalization and Targeting

  • In 8.0 IBM added in-context rules editing.  New minor enhancements are coming here.
  • Marketing Management is more of a focus for a richer experience, including Unica Marketing Center and IBM Interact.
  • New Portlet allows user to enter a few details about the spot and the portlets does all the work to bring in offers from Interact.  This reduces the rules that you have to write in portal.

WCM and Commerce

  • This is available now.
  • You can link content from WCM directly into a commerce site.  This also includes preview capability

Social

  • Social rendering in 8.0.0.1 takes content from connections and delivers them inside portal mixed with other content and applications. WCM presentation templates are used to make the social content look like other content on the page.
  • In the next version, IBM provides a bunch of enhancements.  Discussion threads hosted on IBM Connections, but linked to WCM content.   Here the visual experience of the discussion is controlled by WCM.
  • Now you can Like, create posts, comment, etc right in line.
  • Dynamic filters for social lists – these lists cooperate with other page components to filter content and drilling down in lists.
  • This is all available in mobile web too.

For a sample of how well Portal, WCM and Connections are integrated together, take a look at the Connect 2014 Site:

  • News and updates are blogs in Connections
  • Events are in WCM.
  • Session info is in WCM,
  • Speaker profile is in Connections.
  • Downloads are in Connections Files.
  • Session add is a DB2 application

Digital Data Connector (DDC) – this is a new concept and we’ll more information on this shortly.

  • Extends social rendering and WCM to any type of data source.
  • Can take most data source and bring into Portal through social rendering

I had to leave this session early, so I will follow up with another post on the rest of the new features coming in the future.

A beta version of Portal is now available if you want to try out some of these features.

 

 

 

Dreamforce: Building Custom Mobile Self-Service Apps

As you can see from the Salesforce keynote, Mobile is extremely important to them and to customers.

Why Mobile Self-Service

Mobile devices are ubiquitous.  Q4 was the inflection point where more phones and tablets exist than pc’s and laptops.

Study: Frost and Sullivan analysis show that users already use mobile devices for a wide ranges of activities.

Three examples of great mobile self-service apps:

  1. Geico
    1. Take picture of the accident
    2. take down license and insurance info
  2. Home Depot
    1. Natural language search
    2. store layout
    3. bar code search
  3. Fixya

Salesforce 1 lets you surface the data and interactions within the app. it’s not the only option though, you can build your own custom mobile apps or an ISV partner can build them.  The mobile app exchange also has a large number of purpose built mobile apps. In other words, you have lots of options.

Salesforce wants to give you a range of options:

  1. Native applications
  2. Hybrid apps
  3. html5 web apps

mobilesdk

Hybrid Application

These apps run on a native container but then add functionality. It leverages the browser engine to render the html while accessing the native phone capabilities.

Two options for Hybrid include:

  1. Hybrid Remote: easy access to visual force, Possible to avoid API calls. Doesn’t support offline very easily
  2. Hybrid Local: Most of the html lives on the device, it’s a pure javascript deployment, can take offline easily, and makes fewer seder side calls for assets

Using Javascript, you can access native apps like the camera and contacts.

Salesforce Mobile SDK 2.1

Available for Android and iOS.  Support native, hybrid, and html5 apps.  Geared towards all levels of developers.

 

SmartSync and SmartStore are Key

Smartsync: lets you sync up your app when you come back online

SmartStore: Securely stored encrypted data on your phone

Key URL’s

http://developer.force.com/join

http://developr.force.com/mobile

http://boards.deeloperforce.com

Demo

Patient Portal

  • Starts with a dashboard
  • Shows health scores, gamifiation rewards activity, reminders, and trends
  • Built on communities and Force.com
  • Has a goal of increasing interaction with patient and physician
  • A lot of the data are individual data like exercise, sleep, and weight. (less Meaningful Use patient portal and more consumer oriented)
  • Shows the care team / My Doctors
  • includes appointment scheduling
  • Integrates financial information and even looks at claims coverage
  • Shows patient records like test results. (This is obviously a demo given the mockup of everything without thinking about the fact that all the doctor use different systems and hospitals)
  • Gamification uses Total Rewards system based on your exercise levels, weight, etc.
  • Integrates chatter for better interaction. (no mention of PHI at all)

Field Service Professional

  • This is a field service application developed on Native iOS
  • Includes Sync with SmartSync
  • Work orders sync and show in a list and a map
  • The app sorts by priority or time (for when you have SLA’s)
  • Can do smart routing and/or integrate with Google Maps
  • Drill down into the work order and see the data
    • All of this pulls data from the backend
  • It allows digital wet signatures and takes payment with PayPal (first payment gateway, others aren’t hard.)
  • You can also give the customer a survey
  • and finally commit the completed work order

I love the thought process and the thought put into creating something like this.  I think the patient portal especially show a little bit of naivety in thinking you can bring all that together without a lot of back end work.  That said, the use of SmartSync and SmartStore in the apps is a great showcase to say you can work within regulations and security needs.

PwC starts with native applications because of the better performance, etc.  User experience, and data persistence also come into play.  For example, if you want a completely branded app then maybe a custom native app makes sense.

What solutions exist that are more out of the box

The goal is to allow you to build and customize more declaratively.

PKB3: Public Knowledge Base 3 lets you stand up a knowledge base and configure from there. It’s delivered as a web app.  It’s an app exchange package available for free.

Mobile Self-Service: Enhance PKB3 with a much nicer interface. includes authentication, and forums.

Mobile self service just went live on the app exchange. It’s free. You can deploy as web app. You can also build a wrapper around a hybrid application.  In many ways, it’s just a bunch of templates or VisualForce pages to give you a start.  It’s also fairly configurable with logo, colors, contact phone, turn on and off key functionality.  Again, it’s a good start for similar apps you may want to build.

The Future

Will build self-service using Site.com.  This will make it even easier to customize and will support responsive templates out of the box.  The  roadmap session today and Thursday will demo this.