James H's picture

To engage or not to engage - that is the question:

Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them ...

This slight adaptation of Shakespeare's famous soliloquy seemed fitting in a week when the 'engagement' debate has raged again.

Amongst the various discussions on Twitter, I noticed reference to an article on the Marketing website describing what it called 'The great brand engagement myth'.  To set the tone of the article, it is accompanied by an image of Gone with the Wind character Rhett Butler and the phrase "Frankly marketeer I don't give a damn".

You will need to be registered to read the whole article. If you are not, it isn't the most 'engaging' registration process or 'customer experience' so I hope the publisher's don't mind if I give the article more exposure by quoting some passages from it in order to give you a flavour of the comments from pundits and marketers ...

A comment that stood out to me particularly was from Ben Hammersley, editor of Wired UK magazine:-

James H's picture

(20)11 content technology lessons learned

The more traditional 'weblog' post I did last year on lessons learned in the content technologies arena during the preceding 12 months proved popular and as 2011 has been pretty eventful, I guess it's worth giving it another shot ...

1. In times of uncertainty be very wary of over-buying software solutions...

There's a website I still visit from time to time that saddens me somewhat. In some ways it was one of the more successful web projects I have been involved in over the last 15 years or so, and in others the least successful.

The requirements gathering and evaluation process was smooth, with the preferred CMS solution and implementors ticking all the boxes and jumping through the hoops relatively easily. The design phase went very well with great buy-in from all stakeholders and a lot of positive feedback on the direction it was all going. The implementation was progressed expertly by the project manager, technical architect and development team and delivered within the agreed timescales and budgets. The content migration was fast and accurate and provided the main mastersite and complete framework for 5 additional languages within 2 weeks. So, with everything lined up and ready to roll, we waited...and we waited...and we waited.

Unfortunately, the product range this new multi-lingual, web marketing platform had been implemented for (as a pilot for a much wider deployment) never materialised and, to my knowledge, is still not launched over two years on from its original planned debut. It was/is a potentially great product but, realistically, there was always a relatively narrow window of opportunity to get the new range launched and established with resellers and consumers successfully.

Without the revenue stream this new product range was designed to generate, there was no budget available for expanding the new web platform further and so it remains like an iceberg - with a fraction of its capability visible above the waterline and a massive potential capability hidden passively beneath. What a sad waste of everyone's time and efforts for something that is now being used just as a basic (and expensive) email marketing tool but also a reflection of how tough it is to develop and market consumer electronic products efficiently and effectively :(  Based on the same requirements I'd probably stick with the original recommendation but with the benefit of hindsight I would certainly have recommended directing the money elsewhere ... 

James H's picture

How to Select a Web CMS Solution - CMS Connected Event

Back in September I attended an excellent CMS Connected webinar that essentially debated the pros and cons of proprietary software versus open source.  I wrote a running commentary on it that received some good feedback and also a suggestion I do similar fo

James H's picture

(20)12 predictions from the CMS frontline

Around this time last year, I wrote a predictions piece about how the content technologies arena might develop during 2011 from the perspective of a CMS practitioner. I called it (20)11 predictions from the CMS coal face and it received some encouraging feedback.

Back then I was writing from the relatively comfortable position as an employee and approaching the Christmas break knowing that I had a job to go back to in the New Year and that the bills for the 'present mountain' and over-consumption of food and alcohol would all be covered.

This year is different ...

James H's picture

Drupal vs Sitecore - a points win in the 10th round

Ahhh - there's nothing warms the heart of an old europhile and CMS veteran more than listening to three Americans debating the pros and cons of web solutions that were created in that other world across the pond from them ;) .  And so it was as Drupal went head to head with Sitecore during 10 rounds of bruising questions for the latest CMS-Connected event :)

[caption id="attachment_3126" align="alignleft" width="210" caption="Drupal had the much greater reach but Sitecore was able to land some low punches"][/caption]

In the blue corner we had Bryan House from Acquia representing Drupal. In the red corner Darren Guarnaccia from Sitecore. The referee was Scott Liewehr from Outsell Inc and the delightful compere was Veronica Cooper from CHEK TV.

Early in round one it became clear that this wasn't a straightforward product bout but more a philosophical battle between open source and proprietary web platforms in which the names could be swapped out across different levels of  competition by any number of commercial and GPL offerings.

However, taking the Real Story Group's recent re-classification of Sitecore as an upper-tier solution and the growing reputation of Drupal as an enterprise capable platform then I would pitch this as a heavyweight title match.

Before entering the ring, a quick review of the competitor's stats had Sitecore talking thousands of implementations and Drupal talking millions so the relative sizes giving open source an immediate advantage in terms of reach but perhaps the smaller fighter being more nimble, agile and packing a stronger punch? On stats alone this looked a little like a David and Goliath scenario...  

James H's picture

Software vendor landscape is looking softer...

This is a literal and metaphorical observation based on some vibes that are filtering through.

In the literal sense it comes from a half year review of the landscape as seen by the Real Story Group and their excellent 'subway' map. I've always found this to be an insightful and interesting way to show the different strands of content technologies and how they interconnect and I have 'borrowed' this in the past for presentations about content management (like the one copied below for reference). So, comparing the 2011 map versus the 2010 map the most striking difference is that where once there were sharp angles and corners, the paths between vendors look much softer :) Whether that is a subconcious statement that implementors may not need to make so many 'sharp turns' these days when negotiating the vendor map or the designer's illustration skills have improved remains to be seen...

In a metaphorical sense, I am hearing about tougher times as multiple factors combine to 'soften' sales. This quote from an article I've read recently tends to reinforce those vibes...

James H's picture

Drupal 7 - a true 'multi-scenario' best fit?

[caption id="attachment_2789" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Drupal Commerce in action (click for larger view)"][/caption]

Before I go offline for the summer months to enjoy the UK sun (yeah right ;) ), here is a summary of my findings from spending the last 9 months immersed in Drupal - and particularly the new Drupal 7 offering.

Since becoming involved with web development in the mid 90's and spending most of the last decade working on CMS orientated projects, I have become a great supporter of the Real Story Group and their excellent approach to CMS evaluation.

The terms 'scenario' and 'best fit' are synonymous with its analysis and I have always found its commentary insightful and bang on the money.

For my latest wave of professional and personal web projects, I have become drawn increasingly to the Drupal community and with the excellent support of a former colleague Simon at Holistic Drupal now have a range of commercial and social sites running on the platform - each of which has provided some different learning experiences.

James H's picture

(20)11 predictions from the CMS coal face

I was described recently as a "self-proclaimed crusader on behalf of buyers". Despite the rather condescending tone and context of the comment, I have heard from others that alternative views of web marketing and information management from those who spend each and every day as practitioners is welcome. Those practitioners who do post comment tend to get their voices drowned out of social media by the vendors, analysts and commentators who shout a lot louder and a lot more frequently.  So in the interests of living up to that label, here are some predictions for the coming year from the CMS coal face...

James H's picture

(20)10 lessons learned

The growth and evolution of social media often puts a different emphasis on the approaches to 'blogging' but I still like to use this site as a 'weblog' in its more traditional sense - as defined well over a decade ago...

A weblog often has the quality of being a kind of "log of our times" from a particular point-of-view. Generally, weblogs are devoted to one or several subjects or themes, usually of topical interest, and, in general, can be thought of as developing commentaries, individual or collective on their particular themes. A weblog may consist of the recorded ideas of an individual (a sort of diary) or be a complex collaboration open to anyone. Most of the latter are moderated discussions.

So, the following post is a mixture of business and personal lessons learned from the last 12 months - if it proves useful to others reading, that is a bonus in this instance as its primary purpose is to log some thoughts to review at a later date...

James H's picture

No Likey, No Lighty

Sadly, my kids really like 'Take Me Out' a UK TV programme where a hapless bloke is judged worthy of a date by a jury of women - 'Paddy's flirty thirty'. It's the contemporary version of a long running favourite from my youth, Blind Date - only a lot more brutal and, in keeping with societal evolution, makes 'men' the main figures of fun.



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