December 11, 2017
Year in Review: The Digital Experience Evolution Continues

A year has come and gone, and still, the evolution of digital experience continues. Consumer expectations are growing, and organizations across all industries are working hard to keep up. So, what big changes have we seen this past year?

In order to look forward to 2018, let's take a look back at what we were saying at the end of last year.

When we started to write this Year in Review, we took a minute and re-read the 2016 Year in Review. The big topics of 2016 are still important this year, and it's worth a check-in just to see how far we have come:

The Third Wave of Content Management is Happening Now 

Last year, we described the third wave of content management as: 

"...the focus is on managing and delivering smarter content - content that adapts to the audience and channel it serves. Smarter, intelligent content requires a new kind of Web CMS, one that supports structured content, decouples content from its presentation, provides a content delivery framework that supports all types of channels and devices, and works well in the Cloud."

We are definitely still experiencing this third wave of content management, and it's exciting for us at Ingeniux. This is what we built our content management platform to support - the ability to create content that you can deliver to any channel, in any format, in a personalized and targeted way. 

The number of channels organizations are working with is still growing, the website itself is evolving, unified portals are gaining popularity, web applications are the go-to application model. All of these delivery channels require content, and the idea of creating the same content over and over doesn't work. We need to create consistent, seamless experiences across channels.

The idea of intelligent content is something Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group (often referred to as the mother of content strategy) talks about regularly. Her perspective:

"Intelligent content is not about the words or the images, intelligent content is about how you create, manage, and deliver your content. You can have the best content in the world, but if you can't get it out to your customers or prospects at the right time, in the right format, and on the device of their choosing; it doesn't matter how good your content is. Communicators spend too much time hand-crafting content for a channel, then hand-crafting that content over and over again for each additional channel. This isn't sustainable. We don't have the resources or the time and we can't afford the cost of this error prone process."

Hear more from Ann Rockley on structured content in our webinar, which we aired this year: Structured Content: Today's Best Practice.

Content-as-a-Service (AKA Headless CMS)

Here's what we were saying last year about content-as-a-service:

"Content-as-a-Service enables you to create and manage all your organization's content within the Web CMS in a way that makes it available for any website, mobile device or business application that needs it. It's a separation of content from presentation while ensuring consistency across engagement channels."

For content-as-a-service to work, you need intelligent structured content; the ability to separate content creation and management from presentation. Ingeniux has done this for years, but this past year we saw more CMS solutions come out with some flavor of headless CMS that demonstrates the demand for this capability.

A headless CMS works not just for delivering content to channels other than the website, but also, for the website. Many organizations are looking to advanced technologies like Angular to build their web experiences that require a headless, or content-as-a-service, model.

For Ingeniux, we've evolved our approach to a decoupled architecture and improved the foundation greatly with the release of Ingeniux CMS Version 9, but that was only the start of our improvements. Version 10, planned for release very soon, addresses key capabilities for digital content management:

  • Content-first approach to web experience management
  • Structured content distribution model
  • Search and content optimization 
  • Unified user experience
  • Content-as-a-Service 

The one thing I can tell you for sure is that you need a CMS that will give you both content-as-a-service and a delivery tier within the CMS itself - as long as it's decoupled from the management of your content. Stay tuned for more details on V10!

Customer Support Portals are Only the Beginning

Last year, it was all about customer support portals:

"Customer self-service is in high demand. Customers don't want to wait on hold to talk to the Contact Center. They don't want to repeat their problem over and over as they get moved from one support person in the company to another. Self-empowerment is a driver of loyalty and retention, and it helps with your costs as well."

That need hasn't changed, it's only grown. But you can do much more with a modern unified portal, especially one that has a content management system at its foundation. Today there is a wide range of portals you could implement - student portals, training portals, knowledge or learning portals, support portals, employee portals (sometimes also called an Intranet), and partner portals.

These portals have something in common - they are all content-driven. Legacy portal solutions don't work - you need the ability to serve content within the portal directly, in addition to connecting seamlessly to other systems. By bringing content into the portal, you can support a wider range of services in one place, making it easier for your customers (or students, employees, partners, and so on) to find the information they need quickly.

CMS-based unified portals also provide collaboration and community capabilities that are critical if you want to work together and support each other. 

Don't understand the difference between a CMS-based portal and a legacy portal? This post will help explain it: Five Differences Between a Digital Experience & Legacy Portal.

And this resource will tell you a bit more about how Ingeniux provides a CMS-based unified portal: Solution Guide for Digital Experience Portals

Technical Content Publishing

At Ingeniux, we know that many organizations want to leverage their technical content across the organization. In 2017, it became clear that in certain industries marketers need to provide technical content in their marketing campaigns and communications.

Last year we looked at it this way:

"You want it to have a clear taxonomy and be searchable alongside all your other web content. You want to personalize it based on how it's used and the customer accessing it. And you want to deliver it to multiple publishing targets - the Support Portal, the website, a mobile app or something else."

And this hasn't changed, it's only grown bigger and wider, reaching other digital channels as well as print and other offline channels.

One example we see regularly is the need for structured content (and technical content publishing) for organizations using Salesforce Communities (read the blog: How to Manage Structured Content When You Use Salesforce Communities). There are many other examples, including organizations who don't need something as robust as DITA, and organizations looking to pull technical content into their support or learning portals.

This is a topic we'll hear more about in 2018 - most likely under the unified portal discussion. And we are ready to talk about it.

One Final Thing

There is no perfect world of web content management. It doesn't exist. We talked about this with Robert Rose, founder and chief strategy officer for The Content Advisory, and chief strategy advisor for the Content Marketing Institute not too long ago. He agreed, saying it's okay to have separate systems for content marketing - there are different tools for different jobs. 

"Every CMS doesn't have to be a customer experience solution. It doesn't need to provide all the capabilities for creating and managing the end to end customer experience, but it needs to provide content management and delivery capabilities very well. It needs to support a single view of the customer across the company, and it needs to integrate with other systems to bring in data and features required to create personalized, contextual experiences.

"There is no perfect web content management solution, but if you work hard to understand your customer needs and translate those needs into the best customer experience strategy and technology framework, then you will find the best web content management system for your needs." 

Read more from Rose in this two-part blog series:

  1. Q&A with Robert Rose: Intelligent Content Delivery 
  2. Q&A with Robert Rose: CMS and Intelligent Content 

At some point, you will want to break down silos and bring all of your content together to get a single view for the customer. This will help you provide a consistent, seamless user experience. The right technology can help, and Ingeniux is prepared to provide the best solutions to help you succeed.

We look forward to working with you in 2018. For now, Happy Holidays!

Posted by David Hillis
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