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IBM Acquires Marketing Automation Player Silverpop

The enterprise marketing management space has been heating up for the past couple years.  IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, and Microsoft have all made one or more acquisitions here and it hasn’t stopped.  Just a few days ago, IBM bought Silverpop, an Atlanta based cloud marketing automation player with customers in both the B2B and B2C space.  This is in addition to IBM’s Unica and Xtify acquisitions.  As IBM puts in in a Destination CRM article,

“Across the board, we’re seeing technology play more of a role in how the discipline of marketing is working. It used to be more creative; we’re seeing the need to blend the art of marketing with the science of marketing,” says IBM Smarter Commerce Strategy Director Jay Henderson.

IBM Acquires marketing Automation Player SilverpopI like the way Jay Henderson says it because the world of the marketer, especially the digital marketer has changed.  It’s not just about the creative side of things. It’s now about the technical tools that enable more personalized interactions.  For those of us that have laughed at the basic personalization we’ve seen these past 15 years, that’s a good thing.

So what will IBM do with three tools that seem to overlap each other?  As IBM describes it:

  1. Unica will provide a rich feature set for those larger and more sophisticated companies who need all the features they provide
  2. Silverpop will provide an easy to use interface for those just dipping their toes in the water
  3. Xtify will provide marketing automation geared towards the mobile market

Yes, there’s overlap between the features these three provide but the strengths IBM mentions can steer you towards the right product.  Both Silverpop and Xtify are cloud based solutions.

I’ll leave you with one example of personalization that consumers are coming to expect.

Another one of Silverpop’s capabilities that appealed to IBM is its ability to create customer profiles based on behavioral attributes, allowing for enhanced personalization. If a financial services company sees a customer look at a college savings plan calculator, for example, it can trigger an email about a 529 savings plan. A B2B company can gauge the quality of a lead and send out appropriate email offers based on behavior such as a download of a whitepaper or if a customer viewed a Webinar.”While IBM has an army of assets in play for marketing, the reality is that you need mass personalization at scale to deliver on relevancy and context. Silverpop brings this and its ability to effectively keep identities in context, regardless of how that individual is engaging inside a brand and potentially with other brands,” Wang says.

IBM Buys Cloudant Cloud Database

I’ve ranted a couple times about the gaping hole that is database in the cloud.  I say that not because I don’t like Azure’s cloud service in SQL Server or Amazon’s db service.  I say it because on premise solutions that run on a database don’t have an easy way to migrate to the cloud without putting up a machine image to be the database.  That’s a waste of resource and a waste of money. It also makes it harder and more expensive to achieve high availability in the cloud.

IBM Buys Cloudant Cloud DatabaseAnything that helps any software vendor get closer to using their portal or web content tools in the cloud is a good.  So while my take is very niche oriented, I like that IBM bought Cloudant.

Anyway, CRN has an article on the acquisition.

The deal, revealed Monday for an undisclosed sum, will allow IBM and developers to more easily create mobile and web apps, the company said. With the acquisition, IBM expands its commitment to develop the NoSQL framework and CouchDB. Previously, IBM had focused on MongoDB as a standard for next-generation web and mobile applications.

…..

Cloudant’s DBaaS runs on IBM’s recently acquired SoftLayer cloud platform, but also runs on competitors’ platforms, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace and Microsoft’s Windows Azure. Cloudant had made a name for itself developing a new generation of NoSQL databases that don’t require fixed table schemas, which challenged the dominance of traditional relational databases (including the popular MySQL). They include Cassandra, MongoDB and the Apache Software Foundation’s CouchDB.

Note that it already runs on Softlayer.  The easy to manage infrastructure in Softlayer combined with a soon to be db standard in Cloudant make it easier for products like IBM WebSphere Portal and IBM WCM to hit the cloud in a cost efficient manner.

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Posted in WebSphere Portal

Successfully Piloting Social Business Software

Rob Novak and Mac Guidera presented tips on how to make a pilot in social software successful. First why pilot?  A pilot is critical to success because it provides for an experimental trial on a small scale for the future change that you anticipate.A well run pilot reduces the risk of large scale failure and improves chances of strategic success.  You only have to look at the roll out of the Healthcare.gov website in October 2012 to see how a large scale failure can happen.

What are key components of a pilot?  Pilots should have a defined scope, examples include:

  • a specific business unit
  • a class of employees
  • a region
  • a particular business process.

A pilot should also be short term, but each pilot has to determine the length of time based on several factors:

  • How big is the scope?
  • Are there technologies hurdles that must be overcome?
  • Is there sufficient hardware to start fast?
  • Are personnel available for training? Are these people willing and wanting to participate?
  • How long will it take so determine measurable results?

When conducting a pilot, you must have clear goals.  Goals will vary by company and what you want to pilot.  Little academic and real-life work has been focused on pilot goals, however Rob has identified some Goal Driven Software Development Processes that may be helpful in setting goals for a pilot.

Collaborative Goal Identification is one process.  This starts with a top-level goal and then drives down to sub-goals.

Goal, Question, Metric (GQM) is another approach developed by NASA and others.  Here you have a conceptual, operational and quantitative levels for goals.  Each of these goals have specific metrics.

IBM has a set of collaboration solutions patterns that focus on ROI and strategic process.  These Customer Experience Patternpatterns show how social can be used in the processes and provide a starting point for a pilot program.  Patterns are available for:

  • Customer Engagement (shown here)
  • Innovation
  • Recruiting & Onboarding
  • Supply Chain
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Workplace & Public Safetfy
  • Expertise & Knowledge.

Gaining executive support is always mentioned as critical for success, but nobody explains how to pursue executive support.  Here are some tips for help find the right executive:

  • Open Door Policy
  • Active involvement
  • Must be identified at the beginning
  • Must have same level of decision making influence as the individuals controlling the budget
  • Project should be linked to the executive sponsor’s area of expertise.

Here are some guiding principles for a pilot:

  • Select fertile ground since a pilot is an experiment, not proving what you already know
  • Pilot team is critical, both participants and sponsors
  • Design around business applications or benefits NOT tools
  • Define scope but encourage experimentation
  • Design pilot to learn lessons
  • Provide training and guidance
  • Create visibility
  • Monitor progress and cut or expand

Of course, you need to measure outcomes based on your goals.  During the pilot you want to have interim assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of particular aspects of the pilot.

Infusing Social into Digital Experiences

Adding social capabilities to your digital experience site can bring some nice benefits. One benefit that is often overlooked is the multiplier effect of social sharing.  If you can can get people to promote your brand or product, you can reach larger audiences and save advertising costs as well.  A single “Like” on your product page can translate into millions of people seeing that someone they know endorses you.

Infusing Social Into Digital ExperiencesIBM spoke about combining WebSphere Portal and IBM Connections into a Social Digital Experience.  Traditionally, IBM Connections has been seen as an internal social tool that works on the intranet.  But, in fact, Connections can be useful on your external site as well.

  • Support communities are often a way to engage with customers and then direct them to your other sites.
  • Blogs on your external site can attract visitors
  • Innovation or ideation capabilities let people give you input and can cause those people who engage to reach out on other social platforms.  On twitter:  “Hey Perficient is looking for ideas about enhancing X, go to their site and weigh in…”

WebSphere Portal now exposes and seamlessly integrates all IBM Connections features making it easy to infuse social capabilities in your Digital Experience site.  Portal also has the ability to publish content directly to social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and internal Connections.  You see a video of these capabilities here:www-10.lotus.com/ldd/portalwiki.nsf/dx/TECH-D06_Social_Renderingcol_Combine_IBM_Web_Content_Manager_with_IBM_Connections_to_Render_Social_Data_on_Your_Portal_Pages

Be a Successful Social Business in a Highly Regulated Industry

Just because you are in a highly regulated industry doesn’t mean you can’t also be highly social.  You just have to be more careful about how you do it.

At IBM Connect, TD Ameritrade and IBM shared how they made became a social business despite all the regulations and compliance issues.  TD Ameritrade used IBM Connections as the basis of their social business platform, but they also integrated back end systems, gamification, and micro applications.Be a Successful Social business in a Highly Regulated Industry

The first major decision was to figure out their Mobile access strategy.  TDA heavily used mobile devices and needed to address security and authentication strategies for the new social platform.

A second big decision was to figure out how to implement metrics.  Compliance tracking was a big question and has to be addressed early on.  TDA also wanted to measure the success of the program, so figuring out which metrics were most important was a critical task.

Setting up user profiles was another major decision.  Where is profile data stored, what data should appear in the profile, which should be editable and how to sync profile data are all key questions.

Some results that TDA shared:

  • Launched in May 2013
  • Now (January 2014) over 50% of employees engage in social on a daily basis, even though the social platform is not part of the intranet
  • 1000 communities have been built and 85-90% of those are business based communities. 65% are hard business use, 25% are soft business use and 10% are non-work related.
  • About to release a mobile version

TDA had to overcome lots of perceived risks to start with a social platform:

  • Why disrupt our business?
  • Cultural shift?
  • Creating more channels?  Its not about creating more channels, but creating the right channel.
  • Non-business use?
  • Increased managerial duties?
  • More governance and compliance issues?
  • Productivity Drain?

How to get beyond compliance:

  • Partner with Compliance/Legal/Risk Management early on and make them an ally in the effort
  • Leverage monitoring and archiving tools which helps compliance
  • Create simple, practical governance that is based on your organization and includes cross departmental representatives
  • Create rules of the road – don’t post illegal activity, no posts about trades, no client info, no personally identifiable information (PII) etc.

Everyone wants to know about moderation.  At TDA, they do not moderate posts before they get put out.  Everything is moderated by the communities after posts are available.  In one year, they have only had 3 posts that had to be removed.

TDA used several tools to manage compliance and eDiscovery which helped ensure they were meeting state and federal regulations.

  • Everything is using SSL to ensure messages are encrypted
  • Real Time keyword flagging and notification (Actiance Vantage)
  • Uses Global Relay worm device to grab all messages going through the cloud, which aids with eDiscovery
  • Passive moderation is done by employees (crowd sourcing) when they see something inappropriate

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

IBM WebSphere Portal adds enhanced marketing features

Almost one year ago at IBM Connect 2013, IBM showed some advanced marketing integration with IBM WebSphere Portal.  The demos showed marketers easily customizing portal pages with targeted content based on market segmentation.  Some of the features demo’d last year have slowly crept into the product.

Today, though, IBM announced a much better integration between WebSphere Portal and IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) products.  Through EMM products, marketers can create and manage campaigns, segments, etc.  Now these new EMM Portlets will allow marketers to select a location on a portal page where marketing content will appear and then pick the rules to apply to this content.

IBM Marketing Center Image

Image Source: IBM

The new EMM portlets are available in IBM’s Solutions Catalog here: http://ibm.co/1hVPfcD.  Documentation can be found here: http://ibm.co/1e99f8p.

I’m sure that IBM will be showing this new integration off at IBM Connect 2014 in Orlando this month.  If you get a chance to go and see a demo, let me know what you think.  I’ll be there and hope to see it live.

HootSuite connecting to IBM Connections

One of the challenges with managing social media is getting your message out to the many, many social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.  I wrote recently how I use IFTTT to send blog post announcements to various sites from our WordPress blog.   Companies like HootSuite have created platforms that solve this particular problem.  So using HootSuite and others, we can easily publish and manage content across lots of social platforms.

However, none of these platforms that I know of let you cross over from external social sites to internal social sites. If you want to publish to Facebook and your internal social platform, you had to do it twice.  Not any more.  HootSuite has announced a new integration with IBM Connections.  This program is in a beta stage right now, but the potential synergies look good. hootsuite

According to HootSuite, here are the things you will be able to do with this new integration:

  • Access IBM Connections communities and content in HootSuite streams, alongside social network streams for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.
  • Share social content and messages from Twitter and Facebook with colleagues and communities in IBM Connections.
  • View and interact with IBM Connections community updates, including viewing and leaving comments, viewing and downloading file attachments, liking posts and more.

I didn’t see an anticipated date for a non-beta release.  You can request access to the beta version here: HootSuite IBM Connections Beta.

IBM Content Template Catalog 4.1

IBM has been hard at work updating their Content Template Catalog (CTC) for WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager.  CTC is a collection of content templates, pages templates, content, site builder and editing tools that greatly improves the usability of IBM’s Web Content Manager.

In the video shown here, IBM demonstrates the new features available in CTC 4.1  Some of the new features described in the video include:

  • Site content has been added so as you create a site, you can fill it with sample content.
  • Site Builder has been enhanced to create a site in the background, so you can go on to do other things while the site is built and populated
  • Events calendar template that includes a real calendar view of events
  • Landing page navigation template that automatically builds a landing page and includes a summary of each sub-landing page in the site
  • Landing feature page template that uses a much more modern looking page to display featured content and landing page content
  • A Contact Us template that you can use to set up a Contact Us form
  • Section Template is a new concept that allows you to build a section of a site instead of having to create a whole new site or create pages individually

These new additions are making the Content Template Catalog a must have for all WebSphere Portal 8 installations.

Consumers are more open to sharing some data about themselves

Here in the U.S. we take privacy seriously and often go to great lengths to avoid asking customers for personal information. It appears that global consumers are more open to sharing personal information about themselves than maybe what everyone assumes. Sandy Carter recently posted on her blog Social Media to Social Business about an interesting study  IBM recently conducted on this topic.  Global sharing trends

According to the study, 75% of consumers are willing to share data about their media usage and demographics.  60% are even willing to share lifestyle and location data.    In the image shown here, it is important to note that these numbers hold true when consumers perceive there is a benefit to sharing that information.

Its not clear what benefit a consumer would want in exchange for sharing personal information, but having a personalized experience may be something worthwhile.

As we look to personalize content more and more, this is good news. You can use this survey data to justify asking your web customers for additional personal data.

But you better make it clear how they will benefit.  If you fail to complete this two-way implicit transaction, customers will stop providing you with their data and business.