June 2, 2015
Content Services: The Need for Agile Web Experience Management

Step back and think about where web experience started. Web experience management (WEM) picked up where traditional brochure-ware static web content management ended. It provided a way to create more personalized, dynamic experiences as more consumers started using the Web to find information, research and buy products. Because experience was personalized, Web Experience Platforms were built using very tightly coupled architectures that controlled content and the front-end web experience, or "presentation layer."

More simply put, the WEM platform was the website.

Fast forward to today.  We live in a very different digital world. Customer and Web Experience is multi-channel with mobile, web, and other targets; and multi-site, or multi-service, encompassing many different applications including marketing, commerce, customer service, support, training, and community.

Complex products and services, such as banking, insurance, travel, and healthcare are increasingly transacted online. Businesses need the ability to mix backend systems with modern web experience. In many cases, transactional or complex websites do not fit in the WEM box.  They require a more agile approach. 

Content as a Service

Perfect World vs. Real World IT

Let's look at this from a pure IT angle.

In a perfect world, an IT environment is one that is built from the ground up with systems designed to work together. This is the implicit promise of most big Web Experience platforms. The problem is this vision assumes that the WEM platform is the center of the IT universe. Everything is managed on a common framework and the entire customer experience is powered by the WEM software.

This is a great approach, and in some cases it works just fine - until you hit the reality of an enterprise IT environment. What happens when you need to integrate a legacy application, or change the data model, or extend the experience with additional solutions? You need to adapt your code and applications to fit the way the Web Experience platform works.

Enterprises don't live in that perfect IT world, far from it. They live in an imperfect world with a myriad of customer applications and services. Maybe you are an insurance company that delivers quotes online; an airline booking tickets, managing loyalty, promotions and reservations; a retailer with an existing ERP, catalog, CRM and payment system; a transit authority managing schedules, routes, and notifications; or a hospital delivering e-health and secure applications - In fact, if you are any kind of company doing real business on the web, chances are it's complex and cannot be delivered using a WEM platform alone.

There is huge gap between the need to deliver a consistent cross channel experience and the IT reality. Management expects a unified customer experience from marketing and commerce, all the way through to customer care and support.  And keep in mind this consistent experience is expected offline as well as online. The applications that power these businesses are not positioned to support this vision without enormous investment and risk.

The Web Experience answer to this challenge has been twofold: Business can either rebuild or retool their entire set of customer experience services to work with the WEM platform; or they can partition WEM-managed content from external application pages. Neither of these approaches is very satisfactory. The good news is that it does not need to be that way. 

Enter Content as a Service

A new breed of modern Web Experience Platforms is built using an agile approach that delivers content as a service. In an agile CMS the web presentation layer can easily support web applications and CMS content without complex integration. You can manage any and all content for your website and business systems in your CMS and deliver it on demand to whatever front-end interface requests it, whether it's to a website built on top of the Web Experience platform or a completely separate web application.

No changes are required to legacy applications or data, a specific server technology is not needed and your Web Experience platform does not dictate what your "stack" needs to look like as an IT organization. Even better, your customer facing web applications can consume managed content to deliver a consistent customer experience and content governance process. 

The Ingeniux Solution for Agile Content Services

Ingeniux is a perfect example of a web experience platform that delivers intelligent content as a service. Ingeniux CMS does not mandate changes to legacy applications or data, does not require a specific server technology for web deployment, and does not dictate what your  IT "stack" needs to look like.

What Ingeniux does do is provide agile marketing and content services that easily integrate with existing applications and websites. Ingeniux makes it easy for marketing teams to control content and engage end users, while still supporting the unique application requirements to deliver a complex website.

The following table compares the architecture for traditional web experience management and web experience management delivering content as a service. 

Agile CMS

Final Thoughts

Although we would all like to live in a perfect IT world, reality often differs. When considering a major web or customer experience project it's critical to understand the impact of a new Web Experience platform. Many Web Experience platforms are fixed boxes that require applications and content to live together. A service-oriented WEM platform, like Ingeniux CMS, provides the ability to mix content management with line of business applications and existing customer data.

 If you plan on replacing your entire set of web applications and customer facing services, then considering a tightly coupled platform approach may make sense. If you have sizable investments in your web applications and customer systems, then looking at a more agile, service-oriented, experience platform may be a better option.

If you want to be prepared for anything - and the speed with which things are constantly evolving shows no sign of slowing down - then an agile, service-oriented Web Experience platform and content delivered as a service is the only option you should consider.

While Ingeniux supports full platform web experience management deployments, it's different because of its decoupled architecture and flexible content services. Using a more flexible platform like Ingeniux can dramatically lower the cost, effort, and risk for integrating legacy and customer facing web applications, regardless of their technology requirements.  

Posted by David Hillis
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