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The Evolution of Media Company CMS Platforms: Newspaper CMS Selection

12 hours 40 min ago

Last week in this series on Media-focused CMS platforms, we discussed how proprietary CMS systems have long dominated the newspaper industry, and then touched on the more recent trend towards consolidation. Today, we’ll dive deeper into that industry, and what drives newspapers to make CMS decisions the way they do.

It’s common practice in the current market to see newspapers with two different CMS solutions, which begs the question, do newspapers actually need two separate systems? The answer: For now, yes.

Regardless of which newspaper CMS is dominant, it turns out that what we see often with newspaper clients are two CMS systems, one for digital and one for print.

While there are newspapers with two different CMS systems to manage print and digital, sometimes there’s a reason beyond the lack of CMSs that can handle both. It’s really an HR issue. Keep in mind some newspaper companies retain a separate newspaper “editorial” staff that’s for the daily print edition and a separate “digital” staff for their digital properties.

Media industry watcher Digiday released a few articles over the past year regarding integrating newsroom’s separate digital and print staff. In Digiday’s article titled “The case for, and against, integrated print-digital newsrooms,” The New York Daily News explains how they integrated their digital and print newsroom staff in 2011, primarily to increase the volume of content production. The New York Daily News uses Atex’s dm.Polopoly as a CMS, with content being rendered to the desktop web via Backbone.js javascript framework. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail maintains a newspaper distributed in the UK that is completely separate from its sister digital property that is now a global success with 47 million unique visitors. The Daily Mail tells Digiday that the site is such a success because it stands alone from the newspaper and does not compete on content development. While The Daily Mail’s digital properties are powered by a custom built CMS, the newspaper utilizes CCI Newsgate for its print CMS.

The UK newspaper The Independent used CCI Newsgate’s Escenic as a CMS to manage digital content production, while leveraging Atex’s newspaper CMS solution, DM.Print, for print newspaper content production. In 2015, The Independent UK moved to Drupal for digital production for its two titles ‘The Independent’ and the ‘London Evening Standard,’ but the publisher retains Atex’s solution for newspaper production. The Independent is an example of how a newspaper can change CMS solutions that manage its digital content, while retaining another CMS for print.

Multi-Channel Publishing and moving towards a single CMS of Record

It is possible to maintain a single CMS for content production, editing, and distribution of content for both a digital and print? As newspapers integrate their digital and print newsrooms, and print circulation continues to shrink, the desire to move to a single CMS of record to handle multi-channel publishing is growing. How newspapers address multi-channel publishing is still tricky and is causing quite a bit of technology development in the industry.

One of the more widely adopted approaches is bi-directional publishing, and we see this approach being adopted by print publishers who use Drupal. All of the content production and editing is done within the Drupal CMS. When an article and its associated images are ready to be sent to a print layout system, APIs send the content to a print design system such as K4 or Adobe InDesign; this is the first direction the content goes. These print design systems prepare the content to properly fit the layout of the newspaper, which means in many cases, the articles need to be truncated to fit alongside other print articles and display advertisements on the page. Once the new version of the article for print has been made in the design system, an API call pulls the print version back into the main CMS and stores it there alongside the digital version. This is known as “bi-directional publishing” for newspapers.

A leader in integrating Drupal with these print layout systems is the technology agency DPCI, and you can read about their work integrating Drupal with various print design systems like Adobe InDesign, K4, Digital Flywheel. The Virginia Gazette newspaper and it’s development agency successfully put Drupal at the heart of it’s bi-directional publishing plan, where all editors work in the digital CMS and then content is sent onwards to print systems. Switzerland’s Le Temps, a newspaper brand owned by European media publisher Ringier, is one of the first newspapers to replatform from a proprietary CMS to the most current version of Drupal -- Drupal 8. In fact they are using a customized version of Drupal 8 that’s specific for newspaper brands, called NP8. Since Le Temps still has the print newspaper daily, their development agency Wunderkraut made sure LeTemps’ drupal CMS NP8 would integrate with their news print system, Digital Collections, bidirectionally.

Digital First and Central CMS Solutions for Newspapers - Custom Development

Other major newspaper titles are trying to make this transformation, where the digital CMS will be the center for producing, editing, and distributing content to all channels. The two major U.S. titles leading here are The New York Times and The Washington Post with their custom solutions -- Scoop and Arc, respectively -- but with very different approaches.

The New York Times also seeks to have a single CMS of record. Moving away from Oracle’s Fatwire CMS starting around 2008, the New York Times has now built a CMS solution called Scoop. The goal of Scoop, according to the Times, is to act as “a system for managing content and publishing data so that other applications can render the content across our platforms.” I would also call such a system a decoupled CMS.

Javascript frameworks render content from Scoop CMS to the New York Times’ digital properties, like NYTimes.com. According to FastCo Labs, “Backbone.js and RequireJS are used for structure, as well as web development standbys like jQuery, Modernizr, Underscore.js, Hammer.js, and SockJS.” Content is also sent from editors using Scoop CMS to their newsprint system CCI Newsgate to deliver the daily print edition. This is a reverse of workflow in terms of how the New York Times used to leverage Scoop and CCI. Previous to 2015, all editing was done in CCI and then sent to Scoop to deliver content to the web.

The Washington Post’s approach to having a digital-first CMS is a bit different from the New York Times’ approach. The Post does not call it’s custom CMS, Arc, a CMS, but instead a “suite of tools.”

The Washington Post’s Arc suite integrates with other CMS systems that the Post uses, like Wordpress, which manages 70% of its content production. The newsprint CMS, Methode, is delivering content to the Post site as well. According to technology analysis tool Wappalyzer, The WashingtonPost.com is the fifth largest digital property using Methode today.

The main tools that Arc offers include PageBuilder, which allows editors to easily build digital front end experiences for the content they produce, or WebSked, which is a newsroom collaboration tool. These applications still don’t leverage existing open source CMS solutions, and require custom technology development using Scala programming language at the core. Regardless, it seems like with Arc, The Washington Post will still be wed to the use of other CMS solutions like Methode and Wordpress.

Sharing or Selling CMS Tools for Publishers?

The Washington Post, like other media companies who have built custom CMSs in the past, plans to offer the Arc suite to other publishers. Newspaper Willamette Week recently became the first Washington Post Arc customer.

The Washington Post was bought by Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million, and the technology team there believes it is a benefit to have the leader of technology giant Amazon behind the company. In a Washington Post corporate blog, Shailesh Prakash, VP of Technology for the company, was asked why the publisher is “looking to get into the software-as-as-service business?

“We have also built a best-in-class product, design and engineering team that is empowered and has the support of every executive in the company, including our owner, himself one of the (if not *the*) leading technologist in the world. Put those factors together, and I think we are uniquely positioned to offer technology that will help other media organizations truly embrace digital and offer their readers, journalists and advertisers state-of-the art tools and experiences.”

German publisher Hubert Burda Media is also building a suite of publishing tools, but unlike the Washington Post, the offering is centered around a CMS, and in this case, Drupal 8. The initiative is called Thunder. While the Washington Post thinks it’s technology leadership is a differentiating factor and that Arc tools should be sold to other media companies, Burda’s Thunder is a collaborative effort - from the Thunder.org page:

“We believe that publishers do not compete with each other through technology, but through content and brands. Technology is rather a limiting factor for publishers as, for example, content management systems are often expensive and launch projects take substantial time and money. The Thunder Coalition is formed to attract as many publishers worldwide as possible – as users of the Thunder distribution and as contributors to the technology. The goal is to spend less money overall by working together- and not to receive money from others.”

To date, two of Hubert Burda Media’s magazine brands, Playboy.de and InStyle.de, have launched on Thunder and Acquia. To manage its print business, Burda is using the Digital Collections asset management system along with K4.

What’s next for the Newspaper Industry?

It seems the push for a single CMS of record at newspapers and other publishers has begun, primarily with the use of Drupal 8, and through collaboration in the publishing industry on the platform. However, as I’ve detailed here, some publishing titans like the New York Times and The Washington Post have decided to create custom in-house solutions to address multi-channel publishing. The Washington Post goes a step further by becoming a provider of SaaS media production and editorial tools for other news media companies. In the next part of our series, we will explore what’s driving the explosion of custom and closed CMS development within larger media companies and conglomerates, and also expose the costly risks associated with these types of initiatives.

Categories: Drupal News

Using Technology to Overcome 3 Top Content Challenges

10 February 2016 - 1:34am

While a top priority for most enterprises today, content strategy comes with many challenges. How much content should you be producing; are you oversaturating your audience with too much content, or are you leaving them hanging with too little content? How do you create content that your audience wants to read, watch, or see? And how do you keep up with the audience demand for fresh, completely personalized content, delivered to them at the exact moment they need it?

Luckily, there is a whole world of marketing technology designed to deal with these common content strategy challenges.

Selecting, implementing, and using the right content tools can greatly help businesses face and overcome their content challenges. These solutions can streamline processes, provide information to efficiently make better content decisions, and free up time spent organizing and searching for content that could be used to actually create content. Let’s break it down by three of the most common content challenges facing businesses today.

Challenge #1: Creating Enough Content

Despite the importance of content, content teams are usually small and budgets are tight. The best writers can only crank out so many articles, blogs, and papers. Even if your organization is full of content creators, there is likely a core team, most likely within marketing or public relations, that handles the distribution and editorial oversight of all content. This team needs to be able to scale in order to continue to provide content, hit deadlines, and engage audiences.

How Technology Can Help: Enabling the Reuse of Existing Content

With content creators working fast and furiously, it’s hard to always be aware of existing content. Content creation is often siloed across different authors, teams, departments or even third-parties, which means that the widespread availability of content within your network can easily be unknown to you. Technology can help. One solution is to implement a content repository within your organization. Whether your organization uses a centralized or decentralized content model, a content repository would ultimately give everyone within your network access to the most relevant, up-to-date, available content across a diverse network of sites and channels. This solution streamlines the content creation process, makes it easier to find existing content, and reduces the time and costs associated with needlessly re-creating content.

Challenge #2: Maximizing Your Content Efforts / Time Spent on Content

So now that all of your organization’s content is located in one place, you need to be able to find that content. Combing through articles and blog posts and papers and product descriptions takes up too much valuable time. That time spent searching could be spent creating.

How Technology Can Help: Search Functionality

Having the capability to search for content saved in a content repository is essential to leveraging that repository to its full potential. How else can you have full visibility into what content is available? Some tools offer basic search functionality. Some tools are a bit more advanced. Some tools offer the capability to save previously searched terms, so that you can expedite your content search process. Others allow you to set up feeds and updates that automatically import the content you need. Imagine what you could do with the time you save.

Challenge #3: Creating the Right Content for Your Audience

According to Hubspot, in 2015, 54% of B2B marketers and 50% of B2C marketers cited “producing engaging content” as their top content challenge. It’s no secret content that is relevant, accurate, and provides your audience with the exact information they want is the most likely to have the highest engagement. However, no business can be everything to everyone; to try is almost certain doom. So how do you provide engaging content to a variety of different audiences? New customers want to feel welcomed, while existing customers want to feel remembered and understood. New business prospects might want case studies and information on your successful projects, whereas existing clients, who have a deeper understanding of your business, might want to see your new products or ventures. You need to be able to provide each of your audience segments with what they need. But how?

How Technology Can Help: Collecting and Analyzing Customer Data

There is no way you can provide personalized content unless you know who you’re talking to. Luckily, there are several different personalization options that collect user data from both known and anonymous users. This data can then be used to divide your audience into segments based on location, purchase history, etc. Once you know who your audience is, you can determine what content they want, and how best to deliver it.

Marketing tools and technologies vary widely in functionality, purpose, and price, but with so many options available, it’s not hard to piece together the right tech stack to fit your needs. Let technology take the burden off of the content author, and let them do what they were hired to do - create the best possible content and deliver an engaging digital experience.

Categories: Drupal News

Introducing the Drupal 8 Module of the Week Series

4 February 2016 - 4:16am

It’s been a little over two months since Drupal 8 went General Availability (GA), a milestone nearly five years in the making. The time between Drupal releases was well spent; Drupal 8 has an updated development framework, improved usability and authoring experiences, and better support for multilingual and mobile.

Since Drupal 8 was released in November, the Drupal community has been working tirelessly to not just migrate existing Drupal 7 modules over, but to write new ones that utilize Drupal 8’s new and improved features. Last week, Acquia announced it has both committed to and invested in the porting of 50 important Drupal modules from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, and has already completed 25 of those modules.

But which modules have been migrated? What are some of the new Drupal 8 modules that are being used by the community? We’ve been checking in with the maintainers of the most popular Drupal 8 modules, getting up to speed on their progress, learning about their purpose, and shedding some light on why these modules were written in the first place.

Our D8 Modules of the Week have been appearing in the Acquia Developer Center, but part of what makes Drupal 8 an improvement over previous versions is that its focus on usability and experience has led to wider appeal, beyond just the hardcore Drupal developer community. If you’re new to Drupal or have been away from it for a while, we’ve created shorter, tl:dr versions to give you some quick insight into what’s going on in the module world.

Go ahead, eat ‘em up like the fun-size bits of Drupal goodness that they are -- starting with these newly-migrated D8 modules: Services, BigPipe, and Scheduled Updates.

Services

Maintainer: Kyle Browning, Drupalist since 2006 and Technical Consultant at Acquia.

What Does Services Do?

Services module provides a standard way for Drupal site builders and engineers to enable and build an API, which allows external clients to communicate with Drupal. Based on Drupal.org data, Services is in use on more than 37,000 sites.

Why Does It Matter?

Services is an important module for developers because it provides a standard way to build APIs. This consistent implementation, in turn, allows them to collaborate faster and more easily across projects, and build more extensible APIs.

Check out the full Services Module of the Week profile.

BigPipe

Maintainer: Wim Leers, Senior Software Engineer in Acquia’s Office of the CTO and Drupalist for more than nine years.

What Does BigPipe Do?

The BigPipe module speeds up page delivery times by sending unchanging parts of a page to the browser immediately, while rendering and streaming other, dynamic parts as soon as they are ready. Facebook pioneered the streaming of content in so-called “pagelets”.

Why Does it Matter?

Using BigPipe, you get significantly faster sites without any special technical investment. There is zero configuration or coding needed: install it and let it do its thing. In Drupal 7 and just about every other CMS or framework, personalization has always made things run slower.

Check out the full BigPipe Module of the Week profile.

Scheduled Updates

Maintainer: Ted Bowman, core contributor to both Drupal 7 and 8 and Drupal training instructor.

What Does Scheduled Updates Do?

The Scheduled Updates module allows you to set updates to fields on your Drupal 8 site to happen at a later date and time. This can be used for many common tasks like picking a later publishing date for content, of course, but there are so many more things that are fields in Drupal 8. Scheduled Updates can also be used for things like scheduling promoted and sticky states, or updating user-configurable fields like tags. This applies to all fields in Drupal 8, and since content is not the only thing that can have fields in Drupal 8, Scheduled Updates can be used for many different purposes.

Why Does it Matter?

Instead of installing different modules for different delayed actions on your site, Scheduled Updates can act on virtually any entities you will want to schedule changes to. You can do things like schedule assigning roles to users, it already works with the Workbench Moderation modules for scheduling moderation state changes, and there are many more possibilities.

Check out the full Scheduled Updates Module of the Week profile.

Is there a Drupal 8 module you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Drupal News

The Evolution of Media Company CMS Platforms: The Newspaper Industry

29 January 2016 - 3:58am

Last week in our series on media CMS platforms, we looked at how the broadcast radio industry is following suit in the movement towards an open source future. Today, I’ll dig deeper into the newspaper industry, and how that landscape is changing.

Why proprietary CMS solutions have dominated in the newspaper business

Newspapers differ from their TV and Radio counterparts, because there’s an actual physical media product that needs to be designed, produced, distributed, and sold to consumers. The same CMS platforms that deliver newspaper content to digital platforms often also have technology to handle the layout, production, and circulation of that content. Until very recently, newspapers’ primary revenue source was print, so these CMS systems had to address both digital and print needs.

Newspaper Ad Revenue from Digital and Print

Advertising revenues for US Newspapers are still highly dependent on print

The existing CMS systems that are customized to address the needs of newspapers include EdiosMedia’s Methode, Atex Polopoly, NewsCycle Solutions, and eScenic / CCI Newsgate. Similar to the broadcast radio or television segments of the media industry, newspapers face an increasing complexity of technology integrations needed to deliver a strong digital experience across web and mobile platforms. For instance, one of the biggest types of technology integrations to consider are solutions to deliver paywalls to newspaper digital properties. Indeed paywall offerings are starting to boom: according to PriceWaterHouseCoopers, digital revenue from a wave of subscription offerings reached nearly US$2.5bn in 2014. Still, some industry watchers think newspapers aren’t innovating fast enough. Newsonomics poses the pointed question: “Are local newspapers the taxi cabs of the Uber age?

Other important newspaper digital media integrations include ad serving platforms, customer identity management, video players, social media aggregation tools, analytics solutions, user generated content, and commenting platforms. I recently looked at a vendor list from a newspaper company I’m working with and noted over 30 technology vendors they’re utilizing simultaneously to build and deliver their digital experiences.

Newspaper CMS Consolidation Begins

Newspaper companies are often locked into their proprietary vendors because of their reliability in terms of design, production, and print distribution. Much like we’ve seen in television and radio, however, the current crop of CMS solutions will have a hard time keeping up with the growing digital requirements of newspaper companies. The emphasis on digital has put some pressure on these vendors to maintain the right level of feature development, and as such, it’s causing consolidation in the world of newspaper oriented CMS solutions. One example of this is NewsCycle Solutions, the result of the merger of two newspaper oriented CMS platforms, SaxoTech and DTI. Another example is CCI Newsgate and Escenic. CCI Newsgate is a CMS solution better known for its ability to let editors produce for print, so the company bought Escenic CMS to augment its digital CMS offering.

Newspaper Industry Consolidates

You can also argue that industry consolidation is a driver for CMS consolidation, as the number of U.S. newspaper companies continues to shrink.

The major five U.S. newspaper publishing groups are Tribune, Hearst, Gannett, McClatchy, and GateHouse (New Media Investment Group). These companies are also buying up the assets of other major newspaper companies that have folded, like Digital First Media. It’s an unprecedented time of consolidation in the newspaper business. In 2015 for instance, Gannett acquired about 30 newspaper titles from Digital First Media and Journal Media Group.

So what proprietary CMS solutions are left in a consolidating newspaper industry? Barrett Golding, a 2015-16 fellow of the Reynolds Institute of Journalism, was curious about what CMS platforms U.S. newspapers use in 2015. His research showed that a large majority of U.S. daily newspapers using TownNews.com’s BLOX CMS. TownNews itself is owned by a newspaper publisher, Lee Enterprises. While Golding’s research shows BLOX CMS as a leader, keep in mind many platforms are not detected by tools like Builtwith and Wappalizer, which are tools used to identify the underlying structure of a website. For instance, NewsCycle Solutions is not present in his analysis, yet the company has over 8,000 media customers, primarily in the newspaper industry. And there are specific newspaper solutions for various segments of the industry, too. Our Hometown is a CMS solution built on top of Drupal that is specifically made for very small community newspapers looking to create digital properties. There are at least a dozen vendors trained on the newspaper and local media industry, so there could be further vendor consolidation ahead.

Interestingly enough, while the number of CMS solutions focused on the newspaper industry is shrinking, the amount of CMS solutions being leveraged by newspaper brands is not. I’ll examine that trend in greater detail in my next post, and we’ll also take a look at how Drupal and open source may be able to help reduce the number of disparate systems running behinds the scenes at newspapers.

Categories: Drupal News

Accelerating Drupal 8 Adoption

27 January 2016 - 10:08pm

Drupal is at a critical point in its history. To justify an upgrade to the now production-ready Drupal 8, the Drupal development community have implicitly asked the 1m+ website owners, developers and authors to trust that Drupal will continue to be their engine of innovation for the next 3–5 years. Historically Drupal has been a Lego box for site builders and developers, enabling complex use-cases via a mature and sophisticated module eco-system. The last major version of Drupal had barely any adoption until 6 months after its release when the module eco-system caught up.

To ensure less lag in D8 adoption and migration, 6 months ago we proposed that Acquia directly fund the porting of 50 important Drupal modules from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. This was heavily influenced by the community initiative kicked off by Angie Byron to track all the important un-ported modules on Drupal.org. (check it out here)

In October, after months of discussion we were able to agree on a plan and we were allocated budget to get started. On Monday we will reach a significant milestone, we will have completed acceleration of over 25 modules, if you would like to know more about the modules and contributors, check out my post on the Acquia Developer Center.

Allocating hundreds of thousands of R&D dollars to the open source community is no easy feat for any software company, but Acquia is committed to the assisting the needs of the community in any way that it can, so we came up with some guidelines for the funding:

  • $500k should be directly allocated to external maintainers and expert-level Drupal developers in the community

This would ensure that we would have a group of leaders in the project who could immediately understand the correct D8 approach, quickly turn around a D8 version of a module and un-block the patch-acceptance process by working with their connections in the Drupal community.

  • All external contributors would be paid at a community rate to magnify the benefit of the development fund

Generously, all of our contributors, freelancers, agencies and Drupal shops, took this request in their stride. They were happy to work on open source code at a significantly reduced rate toward the vision of D8 WCM feature-completeness.

  • All modules being ported should directly impact projects in motion

It is hard to tell which modules will signal maturity to the Drupal community. We wanted to make sure that what we were building was what site-builders needed today and so each module chosen was already a requirement for a current project. This also guaranteed a timely set of user-stories to the development team and real-time feedback on development.

  • Internal contributors would need to be allocated research time

Pulling resources from billable teams is a difficult decision, but to ensure Acquia’s ongoing leadership in Drupal development it was important to have contributors from around the organization who would be able to inject Drupal 8 architectural expertise back into Acquia.

In November, after a period of intense searching we were able to pull together a 15 person strong development team to kick the project into gear.

The Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Program, or D8 MAP as it has become known at Acquia, has brought together over 11 companies and freelancers working collaboratively and in their own specialties to bring the best of Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.

With 1,441,793 lines of freshly released code, Drupal 8 is a modern digital experience platform for managing web content and customer experiences with endless potential. We can’t wait to keep unlocking that potential with our additions to the growing Drupal 8 module eco-system.

Categories: Drupal News

10 Important Business Benefits of Drupal 8

26 January 2016 - 1:52am

There’s an abundance of information out there for technical folks on the benefits of Drupal 8, but less material on the business benefits of Drupal’s latest version. In addition to carrying on Drupal’s core functionality and open source roots, it offers many additions and upgrades that will help to bring your digital business boldly forwards into today’s age of the customer

According to Forrester, there is a prescriptive roadmap to where digital business is going, and Forrester describes four market imperatives that your company must consider as you continue to move into a digital future. These include:

Turn Big Data Into Business Insights. Data is important, but what makes it valuable is finding ways to interpret it that move the needle for your business.

Drupal provides a strong foundation for enabling organizations to deliver better data-driven web, mobile, and social experiences.

Embrace the Mobile Mind Shift. The idea of going mobile and being able to deliver rich mobile experiences in the right context at the right time is crucial, especially in the arena of customer loyalty.

Drupal 8 is architected to support mobile-first initiatives, enabling responsive experiences across screens as well as supporting mobile apps.

Transform the Customer Experience. At its core, transformation is the process of adapting your specific experience so that the customer gets the most out of it when they want to, where they want to, and how they want to.

Drupal 8 helps to drive the ability to make changes quickly, effectively, and efficiently in the name of engaging, effective customer experiences.

Accelerate Your Digital Business.
How fast can you move in a world that’s changing faster than anyone can anticipate? It’s amazing how many new sites, services, applications, and offerings come out on a regular basis, and having the ability to stay ahead of consumers’ needs and demands is imperative.

With this as a backdrop, consider this: Drupal 8 is an engine for innovation, not just a static tool for building sites and pages. Drupal recognizes that digital is more than just marketing; digital is your business, period. Accelerating your path to digital business -- to digitization -- is at the heart of D8’s capabilities.

Core Drupal Benefits

As the backbone for digital experiences, Drupal has historically been a strong choice, but with the introduction of Drupal 8, it really enables businesses to think ahead when developing their next generation of digital strategies. There are several fundamental elements of Drupal that support this notion.

  1. Innovation
  2. The idea of innovating in a hyper-competitive world is going to make or break the next generation of leaders in your industry. Like it or not, you’re going to be challenged every single day with new entrants into your market, new competitive models, and new demands from your customers to be better, faster, more engaged, and more helpful. If you can’t deliver, someone else will. Innovation truly lies at the heart of Drupal as a platform for delivering great experiences.

  3. Speed
  4. Hand in hand with innovation, speed helps to create more opportunities and new possibilities. When we sit down with clients to talk about where they’re going and what they’d like to achieve, they discover that with Drupal, they’re not boxed into what they’ve done in the past based on the parameters of traditional software solutions. The open source nature of Drupal opens the door for a new era of digital experiences, where companies can get faster with everything they do, execute at scale, and not be burdened by delays in bringing new ideas to market. With Drupal, you’re not beholden to a specific vendor’s roadmap. Open source lets you extend, modify and build what you want, when you want.

  5. Scalability
  6. Drupal offers the benefit of being able to join your organization wherever it is on its transformation journey. Drupal scales with you as you grow your ambitions and widen your focus. It is used by many organizations around the world, from small to large, and enables scalability as those businesses innovate, grow, and push their ambitions forward. We see this every day, both within organizations that run a single dot-com and mobile experience, and others that are literally running thousands of websites with Drupal on the Acquia Platform. Drupal can scale with you.

  7. Freedom
  8. Typical alternatives to Drupal are commercial-based systems, frequently with a specific way of doing things, and a feature roadmap that you’re locked into once you sign a contract. Freedom, in those cases, comes with limits. With Drupal, you can build whatever kind of digital experience you’d like, without any restrictions or parameters. It allows self-paced progress on projects, and invites new ideas and collaboration. What it doesn’t do is lock you into any one system or process, leaving you the freedom to pursue your most pressing business needs in a way that’s most effective for your organization.

  9. Community
  10. The Drupal community is one of the most important and compelling aspects of D8. Drupal and its community have been maturing for 15 years. More than 3,000 people contributed to Drupal 8 through code contributions, testing, and more. That same community stands with hundreds of thousands of Drupal developers who not only build their digital experience projects on Drupal, but who continually support, update, troubleshoot, and further enhance the Drupal platform.

    Key Drupal 8 Benefits

    In addition to offering the robust core of the Drupal platform, Drupal 8 has many enhancements that make it a more user-friendly, responsive, flexible, and integrable platform. Here are just a few of the main Drupal 8 updates that should matter to digital professionals, marketers, and others who need to accelerate their digital strategies.

  11. Authoring is the hallmark of Drupal 8 -- fast, fun, and beautiful. The authoring experience in D8 is far easier than ever before. In addition to a WYSIWYG editor, it provides in-line and in-context editing on the page. This is a huge advantage for people who simply need to edit content and manage content on your site.
  12. Drupal 8 is architected to be fully responsive out-of-the-box. You can use the platform to deliver experiences on a web browser, on a phone, on a tablet, or anywhere else content and data need to flow today and in the future.
  13. Flexible Content Delivery is another key tenet of D8. The notion of using Drupal as a content management platform really becomes powerful when you start to think of how Drupal enables you to create and deliver content as a service to any channel or device, or even any application. The same goes for ingesting content from other sources into Drupal. In the emerging API economy, Drupal is the engine that will enable businesses to execute on this ideal.
  14. Translation and localization are much easier with Drupal 8, as the platform was built to support any language from the authoring side, and the interface can be customized to dozens of languages. It can also support your business processes around language translation and localization, e.g. integration with external translation service providers.
  15. Integrations matter greatly in a growing ecosystem of disparate but connected digital technologies for marketing and more. Drupal is a great foundation for web content management and digital experience management, because it enables integrations with your best-of-breed technologies, and Drupal 8 has vast capabilities to integrate with your existing marketing technologies. It gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility to choose what technologies you want to use when it comes to things like marketing automation or email marketing software.

We’ve only just scratched the surface with Drupal 8’s new and improved capabilities here, and as the platform matures, it will only get better. From improved SEO friendliness, accessibility, and tighter security built right into the platform -- there is still much to discover. With the Drupal community behind it, updates and improvements are guaranteed as adoption increases and the platform becomes the backbone of more and more digital experiences.

Curious to learn more now? Check out this webinar, or our Drupal 8 resource section.

Categories: Drupal News

How to Align Personalization Objectives with Business Goals

22 January 2016 - 12:29am

This is part two of a five-part blog series on personalization.

Personalization is a top priority for businesses today, regardless of industry. To make sure that any personalization program within your organization is a glowing success, it must be aligned with the company’s larger vision and strategic goals. Without this alignment, the reason for implementing a personalization program in the first place can get lost, and personalization can do as much harm as good.

The danger lies in optimizing toward a minor objective, such as increasing clicks on your website, because that type of strategy has the potential to cannibalize more important goals, such as increasing customer satisfaction or customer lifetime value. A perfect example of this is “click-baiting.” Sensationalist headlines—“You’ll Never Guess What This Digital Marketer Posted on Her Company Blog!—entice someone to click an article, but the actual content may or may not be relevant to the end user. And even if the article is on target, chances are it’s not nearly as exciting as the headline would suggest. While this practice will most likely increase clicks, it is just as likely to mislead and frustrate the visitor. In contrast, using Affinity Audiences in Google Analytics to determine what additional article topics your audience might be interested in helps you create content that’s better received. Paired with the right metrics (for example, retention or churn), this can ensure that your personalization tactics have a positive effect on the bottom line.

But achieving all of the milestones laid out by your organization is more complex than just providing personalized content. To reach them, you need to look at the entire process that leads up to reaching your business goals. What strategic initiatives need to be in place? What projects will best showcase those initiatives? What tactics will make those projects successful? And how will it all be measured and evaluated to ensure that the right decisions are being made? Let’s break it down:

Business Goals

At the highest level of the organization are a small number of business goals, which are established at the C-level and communicated throughout the organization. Business goals are usually instituted as part of an annual or multi-year plan. In a typical for-profit organization, increasing revenue is the most obvious business goal. More detailed goals may include:

  • Reduce costs by 20 percent
  • Increase brand awareness by 20 percent
  • Increase overall customer satisfaction rating to 95 percent

It is critical that these overarching business goals have a clear way to be measured and that the measurements are linked to the various systems used to drive personalization. As mentioned before, without proper measurement of high-level business goals, optimizations can easily go astray. Business goals should be top of mind when going through the shorter cycles listed below.

Strategic Initiatives

Business goals are not necessarily actionable as they tend to be too vague. For instance, there are many ways to reduce costs in an organization, including reducing the size of the workforce, instituting telecommuting, reducing energy use, curbing travel expenses, etc.

Strategic initiatives are more specific than broad business goals and can easily be broken down into a number of projects that can be executed upon. Examples of strategic initiatives aligned to the business goal of increasing revenue include:

  • Grow new customer acquisition by 40 percent
  • Reduce customer churn by 10 percent
  • Shorten the sales cycle by one month
  • Increase pricing by 15 percent

These too should be measurable for the purpose of reporting on results and tracking achievement. Determining what strategic initiatives are most appropriate for your business can include a complex analysis involving many teams and sometimes external consultants.

Projects

Once your strategic initiatives have been identified, it is time to establish a number of projects which support them. Each project should have clear alignment with at least one strategic initiative, though in some cases it might map to several. By aligning to an initiative, the project is also aligned to at least one business goal and is therefore justifiable work that achieves business value.

Let’s take one of the above strategic initiatives—Grow new customer acquisition by 30 percent. Examples of projects within this initiative may include:

  • Increase website conversion through personalization
  • Develop and implement a content strategy for individual buyer personas
  • Increase trade show and event presence

Every project must have a team. In some cases, a team may be responsible for more than one project, but if you can have one team per project, they will be able to focus far more effectively. The team should be constantly learning from and evaluating the success of projects to ensure that they are moving your organization towards the larger business goals.

Tactics

Once a team has been assigned to a project, it’s time to execute. What tactics will you use to accomplish this project? If you are implementing personalization on your website to increase conversion, potential tactics (or ways of personalizing) may include:

  • Personalize based on visitor stage in the buying journey
  • Personalize based on visitor location
  • Personalize based on visitor interests

Tactics may be larger than any one single task, so if they need to be broken down further, do so. Your goal should be to get to bodies of work that can be planned, prioritized, easily defined, and easily understood by the team.

Evaluation & Iteration

There is no strict definition of what defines a strategic initiative versus a project versus a tactic. The point is to break down your work and ideas into small manageable pieces and then iterate. Do meaningful work quickly, evaluate its effectiveness, and learn from it. While business goals should remain constant, strategic initiatives and associated projects should be evaluated and iterated upon regularly. Never be afraid to make anything from a small course correction to large sweeping changes.

Learning from doing is what agile personalization is all about, and sometimes your best learnings are from failures and your best move could be a significant pivot.

Alignment Above All

Regardless of how skilled and efficient your team is, strategic alignment on the correct goals is absolutely essential for any personalization program. If you are in a position to set those goals, then ensuring that they are up to date and communicated throughout the organization is a critical step. If the business goals are being handed down to you and your team, make sure you understand both the letter and the spirit of the goals so that you can optimize towards the right outcomes.

Categories: Drupal News

The Evolution of Media Company CMS Platforms: The Radio Industry

20 January 2016 - 1:50am

In previous posts in this series on media CMS platforms, I’ve looked at the current media and entertainment industry landscape, and how media companies are making CMS decisions. I’ve discussed the constant motion from one CMS to the next, and general industry consolidation across many media industries, with a specific focus on television markets. Today, we’ll look at broadcast radio and how this industries are following suit in the movement towards an open source future.

Radio Industry CMS Platforms Go Open Source Too

In the land of proprietary CMS platforms, there has been a crop of offerings that directly address the needs of broadcast radio companies. To put it plainly, proprietary CMS platforms can no longer handle the complex technology integrations required of a typical radio broadcasting company, and that means the broadcast radio industry’s CMS landscape has started to change. One example of this was when Emmis Radio built a homegrown proprietary CMS, Emmis Interactive, and then white labeled the solution and sold it to other radio companies. It was a suitable solution for a period of time, but eventually Emmis’ needs outgrew its own solution, so it moved it’s radio station properties to Drupal and Acquia Cloud Site Factory (ACSF). Meanwhile, Emmis sold off Emmis Interactive to another CMS provider, Marketron, and the company now offers the proprietary solution as “Marketron Interactive.”

Triton Digital and InterTech Media are two other CMS vendors with tailored solutions for broadcast radio, but they have moved away from proprietary technologies too. Triton Digital’s proprietary solution was switched out in favor of it’s own customized version of Wordpress, and InterTech Media is ending the continued development of its CMS product, Vortal. (One Entercom radio station producer wrote about the troubles he had with Vortal 3.0 here.) InterTech instead has since moved to offering a customized version of Wordpress for it’s radio clients that it calls “Wordpress for Broadcasters.” Entercom today has several of its Boston radio station properties using Drupal, and is moving its other stations off of both InterTech’s Vortal and Triton Digital’s solutions. This movement shows that the trend towards open source continues, and radio stations are just the next wave of media companies looking to make the move.

I believe the need to accommodate CMS integrations is the main driver behind radio industry CMS platforms moving to open source. Unlike the TV station ownership groups, there is less consolidation in this media segment since most of the merger activity happened years ago, and today the giants like CBS Radio and iHeartMedia dominate. In fact, those two companies in the Los Angeles market recently accounted for 47% of all radio listeners. iHeart Radio uses a custom built CMS for its radio properties, and CBS Radio leverages Wordpress.

Cox Media Group and Cumulus are the other two large US radio broadcasters, and they currently leverage custom built, homegrown CMS solutions for the individual radio stations. Meanwhile, there is a lot of pressure on Cumulus Media to deliver a financial turnaround, which could spell M&A activity for the company and its peers. It’s fair to say now that Marketron is the last proprietary CMS vendor serving the broadcast radio market, though it primarily counts smaller radio companies as its customers. In digging deeper, I have found other, smaller point solutions like Aiir, which bills itself as “radio station content management.” However, I have never come across Aiir at a major US broadcaster.

Right now we really see the market for broadcast radio’s digital platforms as Drupal, Wordpress (primarily through radio focused vendors like Triton and InterTech), and custom media company built CMSs. During 2016, we will be keeping a close eye out for further industry consolidation in radio, and how any potential deals could impact movement in CMS for radio.

The market for CMS solutions for broadcast radio does not seem as crowded as CMS solutions for newspaper brands. In the next installment of this series, I’ll examine why, until recently, proprietary vendors have dominated the newspaper industry. We will also detail why there is such a proliferation of solutions for newspapers but how industry consolidation and the need for better digital products is wiping away many of the players from the game.

Categories: Drupal News

Choosing the Right Content Distribution Model for Your Organization

15 January 2016 - 1:42am

Creating and syndicating quality content has become a top marketing priority for businesses large and small, regardless of industry. Marketers are constantly working toward the right content balance, one that strikes the right tone, provides the correct information, and engages the audience while meeting their expectations. With so much focus on production of content, however, the distribution of finished content can often become secondary. Content has no purpose if your audience can’t access it. Having a content distribution plan is almost as important as the creation of the content itself.

Centralized or Decentralized Content Distribution

Content distribution considerations include not just what content is available, but also where it can and needs to be syndicated. Choosing the right content distribution model depends largely on an organization’s omnichannel presence. Do you have a primary global site that houses the majority of your organization’s content? Does that content need to be distributed to secondary sites? Are external sites also receiving content from the primary site? Or are many secondary sites sending content to other secondary sites in a peer-to-peer content sharing network? Most organizations will fall into the following distribution models: Centralized or Decentralized.

Centralized Content Model

A centralized content model is also referred to as a hub and spoke model. In this scenario, one primary site sends content to a network of secondary sites. This is ideal for a large organization that is looking to share corporate marketing materials across their network of sites and channels, while maintaining consistent brands and campaigns. One site serves as the anchor, distributing content out to global sites, product sites, etc., but it can also pull content back in from those edge sites as needed.

A perfect use case for the centralized model is the United Nations. The UN has a primary website, as well as 160 country sites that each have their own marketing teams and content. If there is a new global initiative or important information that needs to be shared, new study results on malaria for example, a marketer at the UN’s global headquarters could distribute information to all of its secondary sites in addition to publishing the content on the UN’s primary site. In this centralized scenario, content is being pushed out to secondary sites from the primary site.

Sometimes, however, the most interesting, relevant, or important content exists on secondary sites. It might be the case that a primary site imports content from a secondary site, so that it can then distribute that very same content out across the broader organization to other secondary sites. The primary site in these two examples is the center of the organization’s content distribution model - a centralized content model.

Decentralized Content Model

In the absence of one main website to distribute content out to additional sites, a decentralized content model can be adopted. This means that content is shared through a peer-to-peer content sharing network, where many independently-operated sites share content with each other.

For example, a sports network may be made up of many different regional sites. If a team from Boston is playing in Seattle, the Boston affiliate may want to reuse the Seattle affiliate's coverage of the game on their own regional site. Collecting news and reporting in real-time used to be a hassle, and relied too heavily on email. If you were the Seattle affiliate, you’d have to ask if anyone in the network wants updates on the game and email your coverage to the interested parties. This process was cumbersome; you would have to check email, remember the schedule, rely on other affiliates for updated stories, make sure you were providing updates to everyone that wanted them, and then copy and paste any content shared. Today, there are ways around relying on email to distribute and reuse content in a decentralized content model.

One thing to keep in mind with a decentralized system, is that a master content repository can be extremely useful to help control the content chaos that might exist when sharing content across multiple sites and systems.

Conclusion

Selecting and implementing the right content distribution model is critical for success; your content model will play a role in determining what content and when content gets distributed to your sites, and more importantly, to your customers. Content production shows no signs of slowing down. The only way to streamline the process and work as effectively as possible is to make content distribution a priority.

Learn how Acquia Content Hub can work with your centralized or decentralized content model.

Categories: Drupal News

What the geeks got right - #HROS - Ambrosia Vertesi part 2 of 2

14 January 2016 - 1:47am
Language Undefined

Part 2 of 2 - Sharing is good for business. Ambrosia Vertesti, Global VP Human Resources at Hootsuite, and I sat down to talk about how open source models are spreading to human resources and other, non-code parts of business today. In part one, I strove to understand HR's needs, terminology, and perspective and what drew Ambrosia and her peers to open source. In part two, our conversation moves on to how open source values like sharing and contribution are helping human resources and a lot more about #HROS.

Categories: Drupal News

Cloud, Open-Source et CMS: tendance forte pour les expériences digitales

13 January 2016 - 3:45am

Bonjour,

Je profite de ce début d’année pour vous souhaiter à tous une excellente année 2016, et faire un rapide retour en arrière sur les grandes tendances du marché de l’année 2015, ainsi qu'une rétrospective des annonces que nous avons faites chez Acquia.

Expériences Digitales:

Plus que jamais le digital va continuer son essor en 2016 car il devient clé pour fidéliser les clients, gagner des parts de marché, posséder un avantage compétitif et réduire les coûts au travers notamment de l’automatisation des processus. A ce titre et pour illustrer ces quatre axes, Cisco déclare économiser 400 M$ par le biais de leur plate-forme de support communautaire où clients et partenaires apprennent, échangent, partagent et trouvent des solutions à leur problématiques quotidiennes.

Cloud et Open Source, une adoption qui s’accélère:

L’Open Source est devenu une option plus que concrète pour les entreprises. Et cette adoption ne cesse de s’accélérer. Dans les 12 derniers mois, les plus grandes sociétés technologiques, comme Apple, Google, Microsoft, et Facebook ont “open sourcé” des composantes clés de leurs activités.

Sans oublier l’avènement du modèle Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) qui constitue une très bonne nouvelle pour l’Acquia Cloud. La migration massive vers le Cloud est maintenant enclenchée. L’activité Cloud d’Amazon est en croissance forte d’une année sur l’autre, après avoir atteint déjà 7 milliards de $ en 2015.

La croissance d’Acquia illustre cette adoption pour l’Open Source, le Cloud, la personnalisation, la gestion multisites...

Quelques faits marquants pour Acquia en 2015:

Reconnaissance du marché:

Les analystes phares continuent de reconnaitre Acquia comme un Leader pour les solutions et services dédiés à la création d’expériences digitales. En 2015, nous avons été nommés "Strong Performer" dans The Forrester Wave:Digital Experience Platforms Q4 2015, et "Leader" dans le Gartner 2015 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.

Reconnaissance des clients:

Acquia Cloud continue de permettre aux organisations d’opérer leurs sites Web de manière fiable et sécurisée, tout en leur offrant les outils pour simplifier les développements Web et accélérer le Time-to-Market. Nous gérons désormais plus de 13 000 instances AWS (Virtual Servers), et opérons près de 197 000 sites Web dans le monde pour plus de 4000 clients.

Quelques nouveautés Produits:

Drupal 8: avec une gestion intelligente et native du multilinguisme, une approche “mobile first” et une interface de contribution améliorée via l’édition en ligne, “D8” a tout pour séduire les lignes métiers de nos clients.

Côté développeurs et architectes, le support de Symfony, une gestion optimale du cache et bien d’autres fonctionnalités sont également disponibles. Avec plusieurs milliers de sites déjà en ligne, nous constatons un véritable engouement pour D8 de la part de la communauté et presque 80% du Top 100 des modules “Contrib” sont disponibles ou en cours de portage.

Acquia Lift est une solution de personnalisation intuitive. Elle offre des capacités de testing (AB, multivariable), de ciblage et d’analyse pour simplifier la mise en oeuvre d’expériences digitales hyper-personnalisées. En 2015, des améliorations ont été apportées sur le Workflow et l'UX, ainsi qu’au niveau des capacités de segmentation et de reporting.

Lift inclut désormais Lift Inspector, un outil de debugging qui permet d’examiner comment votre site fonctionne avec Lift, et identifier et corriger les problèmes éventuels.

Acquia Content Hub aide les contributeurs à découvrir, identifier et réutiliser du contenu au sein d’un réseau important de plates-formes digitales très souvent hétérogènes. Cette solution offre par conséquent aux organisations une agilité et une flexibilité leur permettant d’agir mieux et plus vite et ainsi contribue à réduire les coûts induits par la duplication des contenus.

Acquia Cloud Edge existe en deux versions - Edge Protect et Edge CDN - La solution permet d’étendre les avantages de sécurité et de performance de l’Acquia Platform. Edge Protect offre une protection avancée pour contrer les attaques DDoS.

Edge CDN optimise de manière automatique la diffusion des pages Web, ainsi les visiteurs ont un temps de chargement des pages plus rapide où qu’ils soient dans le monde.

Partenariats:

Nous avons annoncé en 2015 notre partenariat “WPP Global Alliance” avec WPP. 18 des 40 plus importants clients de WPP sont des utilisateurs de Drupal, parmi lesquels Pfizer, J&J, PepsiCo, Colgate, Nestle, United Airlines, et American Express. Le partenariat offre aux organisations une solution complète alliant technologies et solutions de marketing digital étendu.

Nous avons également annoncé un partenariat important avec Hybris pour construire des expériences eCommerce plus attractives et plus engageantes, en complément de la stratégie “Content for Commerce” que nous avons avec Magento, Demandware, Oracle ATG Commerce, IBM, Drupal Commerce.....

Restant à votre entière disposition pour toute interrogation, nous vous souhaitons à nouveau une très belle année 2016.

Cordialement,

Categories: Drupal News

How To Build a Successful Personalization Team

7 January 2016 - 6:33am


This is part one of a five-part blog series on personalization.

Building great digital experiences, as with everything else, begins with the builders. While an individual may produce a masterpiece alone, most great achievements are the result of skilled individuals working together as a team. Successfully building and delivering personalized experiences on the web or anywhere else is no exception to this rule, and it is rare to find one person who can achieve this independently. For this reason, organizations who wish to create relevant personalized experiences for their customers must first establish the right team.

Since personalization involves multiple departments within an organization, key people from different areas of the business with various skill sets are needed to make up the personalization team. The exact makeup of this team will vary from organization to organization, and even from project to project, but many similarities and best practices already exist.

The best way to start building your personalization team is to break down personalization efforts by skill set: creative, data analysis, and technical.

Creative

Before personalized experiences became the standard, content was created to be as generalized as possible. It was an accepted practice to have every single person experience a website in the exact same way. However, this no longer meets customer expectations. With the availability of personalization tools that serve up unique content based on segmentation, there is a continuous need for targeted content. Depending on how ambitious your personalization goals are, you may find a need for a lot of new content.

To meet this immense demand for tailored content, you will need to consider putting individuals on the personalization team who are in tune with messaging and positioning and can produce copy, creative assets, and other forms of multimedia (photos, video, etc.). These team members will create variations of a piece of content for a given segment. These variations will be used in A/B tests to find the best variation and to learn more about a particular segment. The ability to experiment with new content allows for creativity within the team to flow more freely and experiences to improve over time.

Data Analysis

While creating content for personalized experiences is important, collecting, analyzing and utilizing data can make or break your personalization efforts. Personalization teams are inundated with data through not only traditional analytics tools, but also personalization-specific tools. These personalization tools generate data around customer segments, content engagement and audience trends. The responsibilities of the analytical part of the team include discovering new or underserved segments as well as analyzing the results of personalization efforts to accurately determine their effectiveness. Having an analyst or data scientist as part of the team can provide invaluable insights into optimal journey paths and content, which can help the team prioritize activity.

Technical

Once the content has been created and a determination has been made about what to show and who to show it to, the next step is the technical implementation. Depending on what personalization tools are in place and what experiences are being created, technical team members may vary from someone who has a solid understanding of the personalization software to a developer who builds custom functionality.

The Personalization Owner

Once you have a team and technology in place, you will find no end to the flow of ideas. Every touch point within a customer journey can be optimized and personalized. Your customer base can be segmented across hundreds of dimensions and the team’s time can be spent in a near infinite number of ways. All of this requires that the team’s priorities are well managed so that their energy is focused in the right areas. We call the individual responsible for this organization the personalization owner.

The personalization owner may come from any number of backgrounds including management, marketing or IT. The key element to this role is not management per se, but rather ownership of success in personalization. If all other work within personalization gets outsourced, this is the one person who should be sitting within the organization and ideally dedicated to personalization full time. Harvard Business Review, in a play on the role of Product Manager within software development, similarly refers to the “"Journey Manager” as the central figure in a customer journey-focused “scrum team.” The personalization owner works to understand the priorities of the team and help to decide what should be done first, second and perhaps last or never. Extending the analogy within the software world, the personalization owner can be compared to the product owner on agile teams who is “responsible for defining and prioritizing” the work that needs to be done (referred to as a “backlog” in the agile methodology).

Cross-Functional Teams

As much as possible, the personalization team should be cross-functional and autonomous. This means that they have both the technical and creative abilities as well as the authority to improve personalized experiences without getting blocked by competing priorities within other departments.

Departments that may be part of the personalization team include IT, demand generation, marketing operations, content marketing, and creative. In the November 2015 Harvard Business Review article “Competing on Customer Journeys,” this team is “execution-oriented, fast, and agile, constantly testing and iterating improvements. Collectively, the team members work to understand customers’ wants and needs at each step of the journey and make taking the next step worthwhile.”

While moving all of the right people into a new department or business unit for these purposes might be ideal, it is certainly not necessary. Think of this team as a task-force for this project. Some of the individuals will be full-time while others are part-time. The important part is that they meet together regularly and function as one unit, ensuring that everyone has what they need when they need it in order to deliver real value at regular intervals to your customers. The technology and process do not matter if you don’t have the right people in place or if you don’t have resources dedicated to doing personalization.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia Retrospective 2015

6 January 2016 - 1:21am

As many of my loyal blog readers know, I sit down to write a retrospective at the end of each year. It's helpful from the perspective of seeing how far Acquia has come in a single year, but it should also give you a glimpse of what is in store for Acquia in 2016 and beyond. If you find it interesting to take a look back at previous retrospectives, here they are: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. These posts provide a pretty detailed overview of Acquia's trajectory as a company.

Market trends

Since Acquia started eight years ago, we've believed that open source offers significant advantages over proprietary software because of its faster innovation, higher quality, freedom from vendor lock-in, greater security, and lower total cost of ownership. Early in our life as a company, we made a big bet that open source combined with the cloud, offered through a subscription model rather than perpetual license, would be a very compelling solution for the market. Few people believed us at the time, but now it is clear that our early vision is starting to pay off; perpetual software licenses are on the decline and Deutsche Bank analyst Karl Keirstead recently called cloud and open source the two leading themes in Silicon Valley.

The market demand for Acquia's digital business platform continues to grow; three of the top analyst firms, IDC, Gartner and Forrester have all named digital business transformation a top strategic imperative for the C-suite in 2016 and beyond. Open source, cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence are all catalysts for the expansion of digital transformation into all corners of the organization.

Organizations are rapidly expanding the range of digital interactions with their customers and partners, moving Drupal and Acquia to the core of their business. There is a growing focus on personalization and data-driven automation, which bodes well for products like Acquia Lift. In general, I believe that the growing reliance on digital provides Drupal and Acquia with a multi-decade opportunity.

Open source

Within the last 12 months, some of the largest technology companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook have open-sourced key components of their business. There are many motivations for this shift. According to Apple, the company open-sourced its Swift programming language to extend it to new platforms. Google open-sourced TensorFlow, its artificial intelligence platform to make an even bigger impact outside Google, even though the company employs 2,000 engineers working on artificial intelligence alone. Microsoft open-sourced .NET to increase its relevance with developers and play nicely with other operating systems. In Deutsche Bank's 2016 predictions, Keirstead says "open source keeps eating the world", causing major price deflation for the traditional enterprise software industry. Whether the motive is faster innovation or increased adoption, companies are relying less and less on proprietary software and embracing open source.

Cloud adoption

Amazon SVP of Web Services, Andy Jassy, explained in his 2015 AWS re:Invent presentation that websites have been a "critical gateway" to AWS' wider cloud adoption in the enterprise. His rationale: nearly every organization has one or more websites, and many aren't considered "mission-critical applications". Therefore, most organizations feel comfortable moving some or all of their websites to the cloud. Websites are an important stepping stone for organizations to build up the knowledge and confidence to migrate their entire businesses to the cloud.

As cloud adoption grows, we're seeing our customers use a mixture of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. In particular the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model continues to grow fast, which is great news for Acquia Cloud. A growing number of enterprises are choosing PaaS ahead of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to save time and money on building, scaling and maintaining infrastructure so they can focus on building websites. Gartner sizes the PaaS market at $4.1B in 2015, attaining a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 65%+ through 2018. We are a few years ahead of our competitors (Adobe, Sitecore, IBM, Oracle) when it comes to PaaS, and I don't see that changing in 2016.

The migration to the cloud is only getting started. When I met with Eric Schmidt this year, he told me that he believes Google's cloud business could outpace its advertising business in five years. To put that in context, Google made more than $65 billion in advertising in 2015, roughly 90% of its total revenue. I don't think Google Cloud can possibly grow that fast, but directionally it's an eye-opening goal. Amazon's cloud business, bigger than its four closest competitors combined (including Google's cloud business), generated roughly $7 billion in revenues in 2015 and is expected to grow 80% year-over-year. Needless to say, it is exciting for Acquia be a "critical gateway" in such a massive movement to the cloud.

A photo of Andy Jassy's keynote at AWS re:Invent 2015.

Digital experiences

As the web evolves, the idea of a "digital business" takes on an entirely new meaning. I've said this before but digital is not just about building websites anymore; many of our customers are using digital to change the way their business operates, automate manual processes, and save millions of dollars in the process. Digital strategies are no longer confined to the marketing department; they're quickly becoming a boardroom priority.

Digital experiences are also getting more sophisticated. What used to be as simple as building a website now involves getting the right information, to the right user, at the right time, in the right context -- an idea I call B2One and talked about as part of my Big Reverse of the Web thesis. It's all about understanding the user's context and preferences to deliver the best next experience. We started investing in this area in late 2013, acquired a personalization company in 2014, and expect this trend to grow really big, especially as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence mature.

Beyond personalization and contextualization, companies have a greater need for flexibility and freedom to integrate a variety of external services, ranging from commerce to marketing automation solutions. While there are plenty of point solutions on the market that achieve pieces of this puzzle, Acquia and Drupal uniquely provide a platform to do it all.

Acquia continues its growth

Acquia's growth is an indicator that businesses are already betting big on open source, cloud, personalization, and digital transformation. Looking at our numbers for 2015, it is hard to believe that last year was only our seventh full year as a revenue-generating business. Our new logo subscriptions -- the business that we get from companies new to Acquia -- continued its fast growth, while our renewal rates are among the best around.

To support our growth, we added $55 million in new venture capital funding in 2015, bringing Acquia's total raised to $188.6 million.

We dramatically increased headcount last year. In May, we moved into a beautiful new corporate headquarters in Boston, where we hosted a launch party with mayor Martin J. Walsh that established us as an anchor growth company for the city. Globally, we added 150 more employees in 2015, bringing us to 720 people. The executive team changed substantially in 2015, with the addition of Al Nugent as CISO, Preston Bradford as COO, Heather Hartford as Chief People Officer, and most recently Loren Jarrett as CMO. We also announced the appointment of Christine Komola, CFO of Staples, to Acquia's board of directors. We expanded European operations with the opening of a new office in Munich. Acquia now operates out of 10 global offices on three continents!

A photo of Acquia's headquarters in downtown Boston.

We made key investments in talent for our partner team, grew the number of Drupal certifications achieved globally, and strengthened our relationship with agency partners. We were proud to announce our WPP Global Alliance partnership this year, which brings Acquia closer to the organizations building the world's most amazing digital experiences.

Top industry analysts continued to recognize Acquia as a leading provider of digital experience software and services. In October 2015, we were named a "Strong Performer" in The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms Q4 2015. In August, Gartner named us a "Leader" in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. This type of external validation supports Acquia as a viable alternative to proprietary solutions provided by companies like Adobe, IBM, Sitecore or Oracle.

Acquia Cloud continues to enable organizations to run their websites securely and reliably, while providing them with the tools to accelerate web development and shorten time to market. We manage over 13,000 AWS instances (virtual servers) powering approximately 197,000 websites. In December 2015, Acquia Cloud served 10.8 billion Apache hits and 6.2 billion Drupal bootstraps (requests handled by Drupal instead of one of different caching layers or the web server directly), with billions more served from our caching layers and Acquia Cloud Edge.

Last year, we launched Acquia Cloud support for the São Paulo, Brazil and Frankfurt, Germany regions. With our German expansion we became the first Drupal PaaS to offer pan-European high availability to accommodate EU data sovereignty requirements.

Drupal 8

With the launch of Drupal 8 in late 2015, the Drupal community achieved our most significant release in the history of the platform. We implemented a more modern development framework, reimagined the usability and authoring experience, and made improvements that will help everyone build the multilingual, mobile and highly personalized digital experiences of the future. From how we model content and get content in and out the system, to how we assemble experiences on various devices, to how we scale that to millions of pageviews — it all got much better with Drupal 8.

Now that Drupal 8 is released, I'm convinced that it will attract new developers and site-builders to the platform. Nonetheless, the wait for Drupal 8 has been long and painful, temporarily slowing down much of the commercial Drupal ecosystem. Despite some turbulence, I'm proud that the Acquia team was a force in helping to push Drupal 8 over the finish line.

Acquia employs more than 150 Drupal experts, and has fixed upwards of 1,200 issues in Drupal 8. I reassigned our Drupal team from feature development (i.e. Spark) to working on criticals. This team was a major force in bringing the total number of criticals down from a high of 90 at the beginning of the year to zero in early October, through development, performance work, patch reviews, sprint coordination, and in helping to manage the Drupal 8 Accelerate program. To help jumpstart faster Drupal 8 adoption, Acquia is investing significantly in porting the top 50+ contributed modules. We have always believed in giving back more as a core part of our company's DNA. Our entire team is ready to enable and support companies working with Drupal 8.

Acquia products

Last year was an exciting one when it came to new products. We announced Content Hub, a cloud-based content distribution and discovery service. As more of our customers scale with Acquia across hundreds of sites, Content Hub lets authors and site owners reuse content from internal and external sites. And we added a critical commerce integration through a partnership with Hybris, which provides even more options for enterprises to drive commerce experiences.

We announced a variety of important security and compliance milestones that will be crucial to protecting our customers. First, we introduced Acquia Cloud Edge, a new DDoS security product developed in partnership with CloudFlare to keep our customers safer from external threats. Soon after, Acquia achieved HIPAA compliance upon passing an independent audit of Acquia Cloud Site Factory and Acquia Cloud. HIPAA compliance is significant because of Acquia's roster of healthcare customers, who require certain safeguards for data security and look to scale Acquia Cloud across their portfolio of sites.

In addition to this compliance milestone, our spam-blocking software, Mollom, has blocked over 10 billion spam comments.

Acquia Lift customers challenged some of our original assumptions about personalization. We worked to improve our Acquia Lift personalization product with the help of our customers, creating a new workflow and UX that supported more flexibility and freedom depending on the individual organization. In 2015, we learned a lot about the challenges organizations face when starting out with personalization and doubled down to help our customers become successful. Personalization will continue to be a huge focus of ours in 2016.

Looking ahead

This year, we will be rolling out many new products and enhancing existing ones. Acquia Cloud will get a brand-new, responsive, card-based UX in early 2016, and we'll give development teams the ability to create on-demand environments. We will continue to focus on security enhancements from audits like SOC and ISO, as well as key control planes including FedRAMP, Single Sign-On, and much more. Our team was challenged to get the first cloud service running on our new grid architecture by the end of 2015. With a few hours to spare on the 31st, the "Uptime" service is now running on our grid architecture, a major milestone. A continued focus on developer tools, more microservices, personalization and a "jumpstart" Drupal 8 distribution are just some of the technology we will be rolling out in 2016. Overall, you'll see us getting faster, more secure and more efficient, and providing even more options for our customers to create highly personalized digital experiences.

Longer term, I'm very excited about Acquia's opportunity. I believe we've steered the company to be positioned at the right place at the right time. Time will tell, but 2016 promises to be another big year for Acquia.

Categories: Drupal News

Open Source Beyond Code: #HROS with Ambrosia Vertesi - 1 of 2

5 January 2016 - 9:51pm
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Part 1 of 2 - Getting beyond the talent war. I was thrilled to have the chance to sit down and have a conversation with Ambrosia Vertesti, Global VP Human Resources at Hootsuite. It's part of my exploration of how open source thinking and practices are spreading beyond the world of code to influence and improve the businesses and cultures around them; in this case, to HR practice and what has become #HROS.

Categories: Drupal News

Mitigate Risks with Drupal 8: Proven Strategies

16 December 2015 - 11:26pm

At Phase2, we help organizations assess the suitability of Drupal 8 in the context of their unique digital strategies. We’ve implemented enterprise platforms on early versions of Drupal 6, 7, and 8, refining our insight into the risks and rewards of early adoption.

The following is excerpted from our white paper, “Drupal 8 for Enterprise: Drupal 8 in a Changing Digital Landscape.” Download the full white paper from here.

The Strategic Value of Drupal 8

Drupal has consistently evolved over the past 2 major releases to more directly address enterprise use cases. The major initiatives of Drupal 8 - configuration management, authoring experience, multi-lingual capabilities, and built in API services - improve Drupal’s ability to support major multi-site platforms. What’s more, major changes in Drupal’s architecture make it better suited to handle the omni-channel requirements demanded in today’s digital ecosystem.

The overall result is a more powerful platform for designers and developers, better processes and greater stability for site builders, and better tools and user experience for your audience.

Drupal 8 Gotchas to Watch Out For

Nevertheless, it would be disingenuous to claim that any new technology is completely risk-free - but there are proven strategies for mitigating these risks. Forging a relationship with a capable technology partner is an excellent way to ensure you are able to surmount any challenges in achieving your digital strategy initiatives.

Here are some potential risks to watch out for, as well as proven and effective strategies to mitigate them.

Account for the Learning Curve in your Timeline

Be aware of the steep learning curve for first-time Drupal 8 projects. Object-oriented programming does result in long-term developer agility, but could take some investment in skills at the onset. Drupal 8 does a number of things differently than previous versions of Drupal, as it has integrated practices and approaches from the broader PHP community. Developers, designers, site builders, and project managers must adjust their practices while they are incorporating this new platform into their repertoire. Account for this learning delay in your timeline, trusting that development will accelerate once the learning period has passed.

Consider the contrib space

As with any major Drupal release, the contributed module space tends to lag behind the main release. Trying to coordinate a re-platforming with the release of key contributed modules could be risky, and the timetable on porting modules is difficult to predict. Identify modules that are critical for your requirements, and reach out to the contrib team to find out their plan for upgrade. Use this information to design your own code in a way that is compatible with future planned releases and determine if there may be a way to assist in the upgrade effort.

Remember that the ability to extend Drupal 8 core means you may need less modules than in the past. When we built Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s new Drupal 8 site earlier this year, we reduced the number of modules from 114 in the Drupal 6 version, to less than 10 on the new site. This did require an extensive amount of custom coding, so be prepared for that possibility as well.

Account for hosting flexibility

Accounting for changes in your hosting environment is an important step in launching a successful Drupal 8 initiative. The stack and hosting architecture you use today to host a Drupal 6 or 7 site may not work well for Drupal 8. Reach out to your hosting provider and find out their plans for hosting Drupal 8 platforms successfully.

Mitigate Risks by Prototyping

Ensure your developers get the hang of the new architecture of Drupal 8 by creating prototypes early and often. Don’t worry about theming in this stage, just focus on creating minimal viable products to connect key features and functionality. Using prototypes is a low-risk way to test the feasibility of concepts without investing in a full implementation. When it comes to new technology, these trial runs are crucial to gaining knowledge and mitigating risk.

Get Started with Drupal 8

If you believe Drupal 8 is the right fit for your organization, there are a few simple steps to begin the process of upgrading your CMS.

  1. Assemble an internal team. Determine which stakeholders need a seat at the table as you discuss the pros and cons of technology decisions, remembering that this group is probably larger than is at first obvious. Include anyone who regularly comes into contact with your current CMS, including developers, content editors, site managers, infrastructure teams, etc. The more diverse the supporting group, the more ammunition you have to convince executives of the value of this investment.
  2. Determine your financial, technical, calendar, and personnel constraints. CMS development still requires custom development. Is this something your developers are prepared to handle on their own, or will you need external support? How will you prioritize your needs given these constraints?
  3. Find a trusted, experienced technology partner. A dedicated ally is an invaluable asset as you navigate the waters of a new platform on Drupal 8.

Find more Drupal 8 resources at www.phase2technology.com/drupal8.

Categories: Drupal News

Getting Started with Digital Content Strategy

16 December 2015 - 5:21am

“I hate the word “content,” which has infiltrated our profession. You have people who are called chief content officers and things like that. I don’t like the word content. To me, it’s like saying the word “stuff.” It has no meaning, whereas journalism actually does have meaning.” Marty Baron, editor in chief of the Washington Post in Newsonomics

“Content” is all the rage in digital marketing and has been ever since brands realized their first websites gave them the power and means of production to publish their own messages and information without depending on the press or advertising to distribute it. Looking at content as a marketing communications tactic, without a unifying strategy to build and deliver it as demand for it grows, is a recipe for missed opportunities, mixed messages, high costs and big risks to your brand. How a digital marketer plans to design and deliver content will ultimately determine how it is distributed and measured for success and further optimization.

If you don’t have a comprehensive content strategy in place, you’re not alone. According to Altimeter, 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. This is a quick guide to how to lay the foundations for a sensible content strategy with the technology and structure we’ve seen succeed with our customers and users of the Acquia Platform.

Know your audience

Understanding the customer and their role comes first. Without a solid understanding of that reader and the issues and language that they are most familiar with, then any content -- no matter how well intentioned -- will lack the empathy and genuine tone essential for establishing some level of credibility. Planning and developing content without your customer personas in mind means you aren’t planning content for your audience but for your marketing department. Understanding the audience -- the tone, their level of knowledge, and their issues -- is the key to rising above the ever-exploding abundance of information competing for their attention.

Marketing content is -- and let’s be honest -- biased “advertorial” with far less objectivity and value than a customer’s honest review, the unfiltered words of the press, or the published opinions of an industry analyst. The burden is on the content team to design and develop honest content informed by insights gained through careful research. Determining what matters to the reader can only be uncovered using data pulled from CRM records, historical web logs, social media trends, etc.; yet crunching numbers is only one step towards gaining a better understanding of the audience. There is no substitute for talking directly to customers or to those people in your organization who do on a regular basis. Sales teams, field reps, and customer support are all excellent sources of insight and gut-checks.

It’s more than websites: tame the chaos

In a 2015 Demand Gen report, 67% of B2B buyers said that this year they will rely more on content for research purposes and to make B2B purchasing decisions. As a result of content’s growing importance to an organization -- for hitting sales targets to telling the corporate story -- brands and enterprises are generating massive amounts of content, leading to what many call "content chaos." Chaos occurs when content is created independently by multiple departments and multiple teams, in multiple languages and geographies, all with different agendas and audiences in mind. With content popping up in so many different locations, it becomes difficult to effectively manage it, let alone find it.

There is virtually no major brand or company that maintains a single website. Mid- to large-sized companies often have multiple sites under their control. In fact, according to a 2015 study by Forrester Research, the typical enterprise organization has more than 250 sites associated with its brands and products. Content is needed for each and every site, channel, and touchpoint, ranging from the main brand homepage, across social media, mobile apps, and individual brand or product sites. Content is also needed for distribution outside of the organization’s own sites as well, making it even more important for enterprises to have a strong strategy and technical tools in place.

The true pain comes not from populating content across multiple sites, but instead it comes from updating and maintaining the most mundane content such as terms and conditions, boiler plates, disclaimers, copyright information, etc. Without a content strategy in place for maintaining all content across all sites and channels, updating each of these becomes a time-consuming, manual task with a high risk for human error. A decimal point in the wrong place or outdated legal copy can lead to a costly headache for you and your organization. If a mandate from legal comes down that a piece of content needs to be removed from all global sites by the end of the day, how can you possibly meet that deadline without a structure and tool in place to do so? The most boring piece of content is the one that could cost you your job.

Getting started

Content strategy should have the underlying goal of achieving harmony across your organization. All content authors and managers should be aligned through a well-defined process. The first step in creating this process is to determine what you want your content to do; setting realistic goals is the first step. Are you looking to drive engagement? Do you want to generate revenue? Are you teaching an existing user something about the use of your product? Are you showcasing a customer? Are you citing news related to your customer’s interests? Knowing what purpose your content serves helps you create the right content to achieve those goals.

Who does what?: Identifying roles and workflow is key to successful content production and governance, especially if you need to scale. Who are your authors? Where is the information coming from? Who has the final say on what goes live, and when? What is the process for creating a new piece of content or updating an existing one? Knowing who is responsible for what throughout the content production and distribution journey helps to streamline the process.

Set standards and best practices: Defining processes and establishing guidelines for review and approvals across the entire organization will help keep the various content creators on the same page and keep content production moving at a steady pace. Governance is critical to effective content management.

Figure out what content you already have: Before you dedicate your time and resources to creating content, consider what might already be available. Performing a content audit can help you find existing content that can be reused or repurposed instead of spending time creating/recreating it.

Build your content marketing technology stack: When it comes to content distribution, automation, discovery and aggregation, it’s not all on your/your team. There are a wide variety of tools and technologies available to help further streamline your process, personalize your digital experiences and extend your reach.

Having a solid content strategy in place isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have. Having the right content tools and technologies in place to support your overall strategy helps to not just distribute content and keep websites fresh, but it also mitigates the risk associated with outdated, inaccurate or non-compliant content. Consumers are tech savvy and even a minor error in a product description can come back to haunt you. A successful content strategy should keep everyone producing and managing content within your organization on the same page. The right content plan with the right technology stack is the key.

Categories: Drupal News

Art, PHP, Sculpin & more at SymfonyLive Berlin 2015

15 December 2015 - 4:28am
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Categories: Drupal News

The Evolution of Media Company CMS Platforms: TV Market Consolidation

11 December 2015 - 1:12am

So far in this series, I’ve given an overview of the media and entertainment industry and why companies have selected different CMS platforms, as well as taken a deep dive into the world of third-party integrations that many media businesses utilize.

What has become clear is that there is an established group of CMS platforms designed to address the specific content production and distribution needs of media industry segments, including newspaper and magazine brands, broadcast TV and radio stations, sports leagues, entertainment venues, and so forth.

In the next couple posts, I will look at the business and technology trends in the media industry that are making these CMS platforms obsolete, and later determine where the opportunities lie for Acquia and Drupal to be the solution for companies looking to replace their burning platforms.

Let’s start with the business trends that are driving these media specific CMS platforms towards extinction. The biggest nail in the coffin of these CMS players is media industry consolidation. On September 8th, 2015 a new record for mergers & acquisitions (M&A) activity for major U.S. corporations was hit when Media General’s acquisition of Meredith Corp was announced. That media merger announcement took US M&A activity to $1.503 trillion in announced transactions, according to data firm Dealogic. Fortune points out “1999 had been the previous record for U.S. M&A, when activity totaled $1.497 trillion, and that tally was for the full year.”

From my experience, the average mid-sized media company has about 20 or so radio, TV, or magazine brands, and likely has about three different CMS systems in use across their various properties. So when media company X merges with media company Y - all of a sudden the complexity grows significantly, and you could end up with a newly combined company that has as many as six different CMSs. A media company merger can trigger the technology teams to evaluate vendor complexity, and work towards a path of consolidating onto a single platform. This media industry consolidation trend is putting pressure on the providers of media CMS platforms. In fact, the media oriented CMS platforms themselves are consolidating. Here are a few examples.

CMS Platforms for Local Television Consolidate

Worldnow CMS is a service primarily suited for local TV stations. During the summer of 2015, the company was acquired by a relatively unknown digital messaging app, Frankly. This acquisition left many wondering, how can a CMS platform and a messaging app align? Frankly CEO Steve Chung told TVNewscheck.com that Frankly’s messaging platform and Worldnow’s CMS platform are synergistic, because the duo enables TV audiences to be directly in contact with their local media outlet’s newsroom. This could lead to a more social media oriented newsgathering workflow and social audience interaction. It would also enable the ability to direct message the millions of users on the app with news items.

Regardless, the core area of focus for Worldnow’s new owner is not to operate as a CMS, and that may be a negative in the eyes of remaining Worldnow customers who are relying on its CMS platform. Previously, Worldnow counted TV station owner Raycom as a 37 percent owner of its platform, which meant that they had considerable input into the focus of feature development at Worldnow. Today, Raycom is only a 20 percent owner after the sale of Worldnow to Frankly, which likely means that they have less of a say in what features are priority in the product roadmap.

The merger resulted in other changes besides the change in direction for the company. Fox’s Owned and Operated TV stations defected from Worldnow after Frankly bought the platform and they moved on to another local TV focused CMS platform, Lakana.

Lakana is a company that was formed in the spring of 2015. Its establishment brought together three different CMS solutions each focused on serving local TV stations: the former Internet Broadcasting CMS, End Play CMS, and Inergize Digital.

What’s interesting here is that Lakana is in fact owned by a different media company - Television station owner Nexstar Broadcasting - that has about 100+ TV stations across the U.S. and is making bids to own more.

As I mentioned in the last post, media companies sometimes undertake custom technology development and build their own CMS platforms. Once they have made that investment, it makes sense to try and sell it to their peers in the industry to monetize the platform. This idea is very much like how tech news network CNET sold its CMS to Vignette (now Open Text). Interestingly, parts of Lakana’s technology come from other media companies outside of its owner Nexstar, too. If you trace the lineage of the End Play CMS part of Lakana, you find it was a platform that was one part of the (now defunct) Fox Interactive group at 21st Century Fox. There is even a deeper layer of knowledge here -- End Play was a customized version of Liferay CMS and Internet Broadcasting was a customized version of Core Media CMS. The many levels of complexity here are staggering.

While this CMS consolidation can streamline efforts for many organizations, there is a definite downside to it as well. Take Lakana, for example, who has merged their customer pool right along with merging their three independent businesses. Where the customers of each individual company used to be tied to one roadmap with one CMS, they’re now tied to a roadmap with inputs from three separate arms of the business, which means that each individual customer has a lot less say in what roadmap features come about. Individual customer priority is no longer a company priority.

As a solution, I would argue the adoption of an open source CMS like Drupal, to save media companies from getting caught up in the many issues that arise from being locked into a proprietary roadmap, and having to pivot any time a business objective changes, or a CMS consolidation like we’ve discussed occurs. I’ll discuss this more later on. For now, let’s look at another market that is experiencing similar consolidation pains: Local Television.

Meanwhile, Local Television Companies Consolidate

Sinclair Broadcasting is the U.S.’s largest owner of local TV stations, and it has grown rapidly via a series of acquisitions totalling almost $4 billion over just a few years. By 2014, the company was managing more than 163 TV stations, each with corresponding digital properties that were on six different CMS platforms. Instead of attempting to consolidate down to any one of the existing CMS systems or merge them, Sinclair decided instead to build a custom CMS with the goal of gaining independence from a proprietary roadmap (like they would have with Lakana or Worldnow). The idea to move away from a proprietary platform is a good one, but if Sinclair acquires any more digital properties, they will have to migrate those on to their custom platform too. If they chose instead to replatform with an open source CMS like Drupal, they would likely have a much easier time migrating new brands into the network.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. public media arena, almost all local, publicly funded TV and radio stations use an open source CMS. By our analysis, the split is 80 percent Drupal and 20 percent Wordpress. You can infer that the main reason for this is the appeal of a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as the platforms are license-free.


Top 30 TV Station Ownership Groups. Expect this chart to change quite a bit as Media General (#8) and Meredith (#16) merge, and NexStar Broadcasting (#13) makes a bid for that combined company

Today, Entravision, Tribune Television, and CBS Owned and Operated are the only three US TV station groups out of the top 20 that use an open source CMS, specifically Wordpress. As the number of television station ownership groups shrinks, and the size of these companies grows, expect to see more movement in the customer bases of proprietary CMS platforms.

Consolidation isn’t just happening across the television space, however -- we see significant changes happening in other media industries as well, including radio and newspaper. I’ll dive into those markets in my next post.

Read thefirst post and second post in this series.

Categories: Drupal News

Drupalsnack from Internetdagarna, Stockholm 2015

7 December 2015 - 11:39pm
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Something a little different this week: In cooperation with the Swedish "Drupalsnack" ("Talking Drupal") podcast, Leander Lindhal, Robert Douglass, & Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire get together at the 2015 Internetdagarna in Stockholm.

Categories: Drupal News

Wearables Becoming a Step in Consumer’s Purchase Path

27 November 2015 - 12:29am

Despite a marketer’s best efforts to create a great digital experience, if the device a consumer is using has issues, the consumer may associate their frustration with the brand. And today, customers expect nothing less than a fantastic digital experience.

Recently, Acquia conducted some research in conjunction with technology research specialist, Vanson Bourne. With wearables now established in the ecommerce space, we wanted to identify the steps they constitute in a consumer’s purchase journey, as well as pinpoint the niggles consumers might experience using them.

Here are my top findings from the research, although there’s a lot more to see – be sure to download the research report:

  • Wearable tech is now firmly establishing itself as a crucial buying platform, with owners using them for the pre-purchase (66 percent), purchase (58 percent) and post-purchase (58 percent) stages
  • PCs and laptops are the most trusted devices for purchases, with 97 percent using them for at least parts of the buying journey
  • Devices in general are most likely to be used in the evening and at home, while smartphones and wearable technology are most likely to be used in the morning.

I find these statistics fascinating, but not surprising. We always urge our customers to think carefully about the cross device experience and this research shows that it’s vital. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with mobile. “Mobile first” is still a strong principle; the PC / laptop, however, is still the most popular device (97 percent) for making a purchase. I’ve always suspected this devotion to desktops – it’s a platform not to be underestimated!

Brands need to understand that wearables are already staking their role in online commerce; users are now using them for half of their online purchases. The challenge for marketers, however, is how to leverage this devotion to wearables, when the platform itself is often causing technical frustrations? The research showed that 44 percent of consumers become irritated with wearable devices nearly three times a week. This is an issue not to be ignored.

Brands also should be aware of wearables as a growing platform for community access. Post-purchase, recommending a product or service to others was nearly as popular via wearable devices as it was with the PC.

We are all familiar with technical frustrations and these are often out of a brand’s control. Irritation with poor battery life was reported across all devices, including half of smartphone users. The second biggest hindrance was the loss of internet connectivity. Device crashing is another factor and one that wearable owners reported the most as a frustration.

Our research found that consumers most like the convenience of buying online any time as well as the ability to discover the cheapest prices. A focus on mastering these elements well across the customer journey will enhance the positive sentiment brands can bring to their customers’ digital experience.

With the growth in the use of new platforms like wearables, it’s clear that a brand’s digital marketing platform must be flexible enough to respond to the evolution of the consumer purchase journey. And making that journey friction-free is important. Sometimes the simplest things can really help build that great digital experience.

Categories: Drupal News