Real Story Group Recent Real Story Group Blog Entries Copyright (c) 2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 09/29/2014 00:00:00 60 Web CMS Tasting Notes #wcm #pmot Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:55:00 +0000 We're always looking to find new ways to summarize the quite detailed findings in our research. Our Web Content & Experience Management vendor evaluations can run to 20 or 25 pages each. We do include summaries and comparison charts, some of which you can now query online.

But in the interest of summarizing still further, what if we could do simple "tasting notes" for certain WCM vendors, like wine critics do? What would we say?

Quite tongue-in-cheek, here's a sampling.


A veritable orchard on the nose: anjou pears, braeburn apple, sour cherries, and satsuma plum....Extraordinarily complex tannins but structurally somewhat imbalanced....Unusually long finish with alternating notes of wood shavings, drywall dust, and fresh paint....


Inky and opaque in the glass, showy and rather fantastic on the nose, with a boozy core....Herbs, rough gravel, PHP, and shoe leather lead to an uncomfortable mixture of content and presentation in the mouth....Varies dramatically by year.


A little sweet, even cloying, best served as a dessert offering....Higher than usual cork taint....Tends toward youthful; decant immediately....

Hippo CMS

Deep aromas of ironfruit, XML, and tulips....Forcefully structured, more of a linear march of flavors across the tongue than an integrated bouquet...Strong tobacco finish.

HP TeamSite

Initially bright, with emphatic lavender and rose....Transitions uneasily from nose to mouth, becoming shallow and gamey on the palette.....Traditional Robert Parker favorite does not age well...

Magnolia CMS

Darkly-oaked intensity laden with heavy overtones of dried fruit and JAR files....Reliably low acidity will appeal to conservative tastes....Deeply connected to traditional Swiss terroir.

OpenText WEM

Very large vintner offers different consumer-tested blends each year....Distinct identity goes missing behind boutique-looking labels....Once exclusive and upscale, now available at your corner bodega....


Long message queues of aromas: peach, C#, and black licorice....Unique blend of white and red varieties to pair with that occasional experiment in grilled lima beans or deep-fried mutton....Do not open early....

SharePoint Web Publishing

Vintner describes it as woody, complex, and round, but we experienced short, light, and faulty....2010 vintage more reliable than 2013....


Honeyed minerality and bronzed musculature soon give way to undertones of warm lime jello....Highly quaffable, best uncorked with a light lunch than a serious dinner party.


Hints of limestone, clover, and mid-February dorm room....Short but accessible finish....Will appeal to lovers of older, more reticent, and well-matured spirits....


Classic chardonnay nose (caramel and JavaScript), light-medium bodied....Must be precisely chilled or degrades quickly....Tannins can feel slippery, almost yoghurty....But finishes more spicy than creamy, with strong notes of clove, comment spam, and turmeric....

Well, Actually...

Evaluating software is quite different than sampling wine. But if there's one similarity, it's this: wherever possible, try before you buy -- especially since most enterprise technology gets sold by the case.

And as my colleague Theresa frequently explains, don't assume that one type of wine will suit all occasions.

Meanwhile, to get a more serious view into what we think about these twelve and twenty-four other WCM packages, consult our Web CMS evaluation research, or sample it here.

Yammer versus Sitrion-Newsgator #socbiz #microsoft Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:32:00 +0000 Let's say your enterprise licenses SharePoint. You know that it's social networking (and some collaboration) capabilities are limited. What do you do?

It turns out you have many choices. For larger enterprises, however, a debate often emerges about Yammer versus Sitrion (neé Newsgator). In fact, that's a common advisory discussion with our research subscribers.

The comparison is particularly timely, because SharePoint promoters increasingly wax about future Yammer-SharePoint integration, even if that journey has to date remained slow and halting. (Though the fact that Microsoft is killing off some SharePoint Online features perhaps suggests a greater seriousness around Yammer.)

Contrasting the Two Vendors

Yammer and Sitrion are actually quite different, even if functionally they overlap a bit. Consider:

  • Yammer is available for free or fairly low cost; Sitrion can become pricey
  • Sitrion provides finished applications; Yammer is just a set of features (mostly a microblogging service), much the same way SharePoint is
  • Yammer is only available in the cloud (though not the Office 365 cloud); Sitrion can be installed on-premise as well as in the cloud (with some exceptions)
  • Sitrion runs pretty much inside SharePoint; Yammer runs pretty much next to SharePoint
  • Yammer has a huge, steady, corporate parent; Sitrion does not
  • Sitrion has historically emphasized SharePoint integration; Yammer has historically emphasized being cool

Well, the list goes on. For a full comparison of these two offerings, consult our detailed evaluation research. In any case, don't default to any SharePoint add-on tool without careful testing against practical, business-oriented use cases.

Red Hat acquires FeedHenry - are the mobile and traditional middleware twain starting to meet? #EntArch #EnSW Thu, 25 Sep 2014 12:42:00 +0000 Red Hat, the vendor that popularized the “open source as a service” model -- most notably for the Linux operating system and later on, for the JBoss middleware software -- has announced that it will acquire FeedHenry.

Red Hat says FeedHenry will add mobile capabilities to JBoss and will be leveraged in OpenShift, their platform-as-a-service offering for traditional development (as opposed to “mobile development").

From an overall industry perspective, one of the trends we called out in the latest edition of our mobile research was, “Mobile Middleware – still separate from traditional middleware.” For any enterprise mobile use case that is even mildly complex, you need middleware services – user management, data management, integration with enterprise systems, security and many other services.

Nevertheless, in the long term as mobile app development matures, we can expect the boundaries between traditional middleware and mobile middleware to blur.

Another driver of this trend is that software (infrastructure) vendors like IBM, Oracle, and SAP have strong “traditional” middleware capabilities that they want to leverage for mobile apps too.

The Red Hat-Feed Henry acquisition should therefore be seen an example of a long-standing middleware vendor trying to add mobile capabilities.

Guidance for Enterprise Buyers

As our Enterprise Mobile Technology subscribers know, FeedHenry is one of the vendors we evaluate in that research report. FeedHenry's name stems from its early focus on RSS software, and after a popular hurler Henry from their native Ireland, where they are mostly based. In fact, it’s my research on FeedHenry for the first edition of our Enterprise Mobile Technology report that made me aware of the sport of Hurling – somewhat like field hockey but faster – 3,000 years old, and still wildly popular in Ireland.

FeedHenry soon pivoted to enterprise mobility software and currently sells what it calls the Mobile Application Platform, combining hybrid app development with a cloud-based middleware. This category of software is sometimes referred to as "MBaaS" or mobile back-end as a service. We prefer mobile middleware.

Some of you may remember that FeedHenry created a small kerfuffle recently when they questioned Gartner’s wisdom about the mobile app dev platforms Gartner evaluated -- a feisty response to their exclusion in the the analyst firm's 2 x 2 grid.

What puzzled me more was FeedHenry’s recent foray into developing pre-packaged applications (e.g., field workforce management application) - it made me wonder if they were shifting away from their core platform strategy. In hindsight now, their approach may have been with an eye on Red Hat’s services-oriented business model.

Red Hat releases software as open source and makes money from services and support. So, we can expect them to open source FeedHenry (which under the hood already uses many open source components like Node.js, the server-side JavaScript engine). As we note in our review, FeedHenry struggled to expand beyond its European home and did not have a lot of success in cracking the North American market.

Under new owners Red Hat -- who are much bigger and have greater mindshare in the developer community -- that could potentially change. But as with all M&A, benefits to customers will take a while to materialize.

Meanwhile, you should continue to evaluate FeedHenry and it’s fit for different use cases, relative strengths and weaknesses against other mobile middleware vendors. Consult our research for all this and more.

Enterprise Mobile Technology - A Changing Marketplace #mobile #EntArch Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:43:00 +0000 Last week, RSG released a major update to our Enterprise Mobile Technology platform evaluations.  The changes reflect a fast-evolving marketplace. Here are some key themes.

Evolving Tiers

As the mobile experience management marketplace has expanded, it's beginning to resemble most other advanced enterprise technology marketplaces in its 3-tier structure:

  • Infrastructure Vendors: Large IT vendors that have mobile offerings. We review IBM, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe in this category.

  • Mobility Specialists: These are vendors who focus on provide mobility solutions. We evaluate Antenna, Kony, Appcelerator, appMobi, FeedHenry, RhoMobile, Xamarin, and Verivo here.
  • Niche Offerings: These are highly specialized application environments or supplementary layers. We evaluate Corona Labs, July Systems, Kinvey, Service2Media, and Spring Mobile in this caregory

Customers who have already made broad investments in infrastructure from larger vendors always face the dilemma of whether to use mobile capabilities from those incumbent platforms, or to go with specialized mobility vendors. Our research helps clarify your choices.

Evolving Capabilities

The lines are increasingly blurring among Mobile Experience Management platforms, Mobile Application Management (MAM), and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools. These still remain somewhat separate problem domains. But some vendors are beginning to promote (nominally) integrated offerings -- in particular incorporating MAM into other business services.

In our evaluation research, we've added a new parameter called "Application and Device Management," where we specifically call out these services on a vendor-by-vendor basis.

Emerging Players

In any newish marketplace, vendors rise and fall quickly. Three key players have arisen in the past few quarters: Salesforce, Xamarin, and Kinvey. We now cover each of them.

You can download a sample here or subscribe here.

Should you use built-in application services from your enterprise portal platform? #EntArch #portals Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:26:00 +0000 Enterprise portal vendors routinely market their toolsets by pointing to pre-built functionality.  In a previous post, I looked at the issue of out-of-the-box portlets available from vendors' portlet catalogs.

Now let's look at a related issue of bundled application services, nominally full-blown subsystems for which you would otherwise license a separate platform.

Bundled Application Services Bring Advantages

These application services can include things like built-in Document Management, Identity Management, Reporting, Web Publishing, Search, Workflow & Business Process Management, Mobile delivery, and so forth. In fact, many would argue these services are what differentiate a portal platform from an application server.

A key decision point here is whether to use these built-in services or license specialized tools instead. As with most other decisions of this nature, there is no universal answer.

To be sure, built-in services have obvious advantages. Integration (usually) becomes simpler.  And you don't need to worry about licensing other distinct packages, which in turn have their own hardware, software, and customization requirements.

What About the Trade-offs?

With specialized tools you almost always obtain a more sophisticated feature-set than what comes with built-in services.

Let's take the example of search, a common feature in most enterprise portal tools. A portal's built-in search service works out-of-the-box and is usually sufficient to search content stored within the portal platform itself. However, if you want to index information stored beyond your portal system (e.g., from your CRM or Digital Marketing platforms), the search functionality built into your portal may not be able to index those external systems.  In that case, you will have to consider external or specialized search engines.

In short...

You will almost always have to decide between using built-in but lightweight portal services versus licensing more sophisticated, external tools for key applications.  Microsoft SharePoint has seen substantial success specifically because it offers relatively simpler tools for departments or organizations who cannot deal with the complexity implementing heavier-weight document management and collaboration tools from another vendor.

However, portal tools have their limitations and so the decision to work with an out-of-the-box solution or choose a third-party tool becomes a balance between function, requirements, and cost.

We evaluate these application services in greater detail on a vendor-by-vendor basis in our Portals and Content Integration evaluations.

Mobile Technology Updates to IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Antenna, Kony, Verivo, and others #mobile #EntArch Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:42:00 +0000 This week, RSG released a major update to our Enterprise Mobile Technology vendor evaluations. It's version 2.0 of this report.

I'll highlight some thematic trends some subsequent posts, but to give you an idea of what's in the new version, you'll find:

  • Updates to almost all the vendor evaluations in this fast-moving space
  • Several new platform evaluations (e.g., Salesforce) as players emerge, and some decline...
  • Changes to how we categorize vendors as the marketplace evolves
  • Additional evaluation criteria, as mobile technologies expand their scope

As always, you can review the vendor list and other research details.

Subscribers should go straight to your dashboard to download a copy.

If you're not yet a subscriber, you can check out a complimentary excerpt.

What are the top digital marketers doing in 2014? #digitalmarketing #trends Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:29:00 +0000 Marketing and media magazine Advertising Age has compiled a list of the top digital marketers in the US. As is to be expected, there are more B2C brands (like Samsung, Coca-Cola, British Airways, Durex, Dove) in this list but a few B2B marketers (like GE, IBM, SAP) are also included.

What does the digital marketing portfolio look like for these pioneers?

Their marketing mix is quite varied and diverse:

  • Shift away from TV to digital video and social media
  • Online fan communities
  • Real-time social media newsrooms for popular live events
  • Social-media driven reality TV series
  • Mobile Apps for content, commerce and loyalty
  • Product personalization (e.g. your name on a coke bottle) driven by social media and analytics  
  • Predictive Analytics for content / offer targeting
  • Viral Content (Of course, the holy grail; remember the Oscar Selfies?) and partnerships for exclusive content
  • Not just sticking to Facebook and Twitter but experimenting (and tasting success) with other social channels like Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr ,and even SnapChat and WeChat
  • Integrating online and offline campaigns (with online / social feeding into TV campaigns for instance)
  • Interactive Panels and Displays (linked to online content)

What's driving success?

While these seem very disparate methods, there are a few common threads – like the effective use of social media. It also seems content is still king. Of course, you still need the right underlying technology platforms and tools to effectively run and scale these sorts of marketing efforts. You’ll find that the tools are constantly evolving, and so are best practices for exploiting them.

To stay on top of these platforms, consult our Marketing Automation and Social Technology evaluation research.

Number of Portlets in WebSphere, Liferay, and Oracle -- Does Size Matter? #EnSW Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:55:00 +0000 Most enterprise portal vendors -- including IBM, Liferay, and Oracle -- brag about the number of pre-built portlets and applications that come bundled with their platforms. Then a question arises for you the customer: How much of a differentiator are these portlet catalogs when evaluating portal technologies?

The Case for Portlet Catalogs

One of the putative advantages of using enterprise portal technology is faster time to market by reusing existing components -- usually portlets, but also full-blown applications -- out of the box. Most portal packages come with many pre-built portlets. The portlets range from simple functionality like an RSS feed reader, to functionality that is more complex — such as productized connectors to back-end systems.

There are multiple ways to adopt these portals. Some get packaged as part of the core portal bundle. For example, Liferay ships with portlets for blogs, calendars, navigation, breadcrumbs, a document library, an image gallery, email, message boards, polls, RSS feeds, wikis, and so-on.

Vendors also host online catalogs where you can download many utility applications, usually driven by their communities and partners. As an example, IBM's Portal Catalog has many such applications (both free and commercial), offered by third-party suppliers.

That all sounds great.

The Industry Secret About Portlets

But let me share a dirty little secret within the portal industry. The vast majority of these portlets will not match your business requirements.

Here's a short list why:

  • Quality will vary from portlet to portlet
  • Design patterns (data access, logical, experience) will vary
  • They may not be performant
  • They may not prove extensible
  • They may have hazy provenance, which means support and security concerns
  • You may have to customize them so heavily that you'd have been better off building from scratch (and many integrators do)
  • The vendor likely won't support 3rd-party portlets
  • Community portlets may not prove upgradeable
  • You may face separate or additional licensing and fee considerations for each one

So make sure you test them well, especially if you download them from a community-contributed catalog.

To be sure, if your team builds portlets themselves, you may run into similar issues, but let's not pretend that an expansive portlet catalog is a great time-saver, especially if you are a larger enterprise with more sophisticated needs.  

What You Should Do

So to answer the question I asked earlier, when evaluating portal tools for your requirements, don't give too much importance to the number of portlets available.

Instead carefully evaluate vendors' claims and test how many portlets and pre-packaged portal applications can get reused in your scenario.

In RSG's portal platform evaluations, we include a separate section for each vendor offering called "Utility Applications" to assess this specific aspect.

You can download a sample here and see for yourself. 


SharePoint for your public website, again? #microsoft #cms Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:45:00 +0000 Ever since Microsoft added web content and experience management (WCM) capabilities to SharePoint in 2007, we've been answering inquiries about its suitability for public-facing web publishing and digital marketing scenarios.

In lieu of pat answers, over the years we've always evaluated SharePoint by the same criteria that we assess its best-of-breed competitors. (You can download a sample of that methodology here.) And in most dimensions it has come up short.

An Open Secret

SharePoint's WCM deficiencies have been well-known among industry insiders. Systems integration firms in particular have tended to stay away from SharePoint for public websites, even as they racked up huge revenues developing SharePoint-based intranet and collaboration applications for clients. Even some Microsoft employees (especially outside the USA) will secretly recommend other .NET-based WCM tools to their favored customers.

In the past few years, the chorus has gotten louder, even as Microsoft rolled out a major upgrade. We did a thorough scrub of web content and experience management services in SharePoint 2013 and found little to change directionally about our previous advice.

And Yet...

And yet, at RSG we continue to get inquiries, by phone, by email, in person, and on our webinars. "Should we use SharePoint for our public website?" Or the classic existential question: "Why don't we use what we've already licensed?"

When I share this with WCM industry veterans, they often respond in disbelief. They say things like, "You mean people are still considering SharePoint for WCM?"

Well yes they are. You can understand why. Many enterprises have made significant investments in SharePoint. It's lying around, and Redmond says it can do web experience management, so why not explore? Also, a truncated version now comes bundled with most SharePoint Online subscriptions.

Making Good Decisions

In the end, we recognize that you can't just blurt out to your colleagues that SharePoint is not the right fit. You want to make good decisions, and your peers expect thoughtful rationales.

Moreover, there are always nuances: if your "public websites" are primarily collaborative extranets, SharePoint might offer a good fit (though you should still test it head-to-head against collaboration technology competitors).

Our WCM product evaluation research compares SharePoint to 35 other vendors across 12 scenarios. And I can tell you that seven years after the advent of "MOSS 2007 Publishing Sites," SharePoint still comes up short for public-facing scenarios. But there's never any harm in in asking...

iPhone 6 and Your Mobile Strategy #digitalmarketing #mobile Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:09:00 +0000 I'm jealous of my son's Samsung phone. Not because it runs Android (I prefer iOS), but because it has a humongous screen.

iPhone 6 changes the equation. No doubt digital workplace and marketing technology leaders are considering the possibilities of new HD video capabilities and of course the Apple Watch. I think bigger screens may prove even more significant in the near term.

Let's review the details. The basic iPhone 6 has a 1334 x 750 screen resolution (horizontal, which to be sure is an issue for some app-embedded browsers, like Facebook's), slightly better than an iPad Mini at 1024-by-768. An iPhone 6 Plus comes in at a very generous 1920 x 1080, or close to the iPad's 2048-by-1536, better than a standard Macbook Pro, and approaching Macbook retina resolution.

In short, iPhone 6 is a phablet.

To be sure, adoption of new generations of devices takes time. In the mid-term, the new phones may have a bigger impact in business-to-employee (B2E) mobile development, as the iPhone 6 finds its way more rapidly into enterprise setting than consumer environments. The possibilities for a second screen in horizontal mode are particularly intriguing in an enterprise environment where apps and web experiences tend to be very one-dimensional, requiring a lot of screen-switching while on the go.

Image source: Apple

On the business-to-customer (B2C) side globally, the mobile world has been dominated by the divide between smart phones and feature phones. As my colleague Apoorv noted, feature phones are likely to get supplanted by very low cost, Firefox-enabled quasi-smart phones. So the new bifurcation will become phablets versus smart (or "smartish") phones.

This means the floor is getting raised for richer mobile web experiences. Are you ready?

We can help: our mobile experience management research evaluates the key players and architectures for future-leaning enterprises.

P.S., you can sample that research here.

Will Firefox OS be a game changer for digital marketers? #digitalmarketing #mobile Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:58:00 +0000 Handset manufacturers have started launching phones based on Firefox OS, targeting customers in developing countries. The devices have modest hardware requirements (e.g., 128 MB RAM) and provide touchscreen-based, smartphone-type capabilities at fraction of the smartphone price.

Huge New Customer Base?

Okay, not quite a smartphone-killer, but still very good for $35. You get a camera, there's wifi, and you can access the web and most common services such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Most importantly, these phones target the large swath of humanity that remains offline today.

If you are a digital marketer -- particularly in the B2C realm -- you can potentially reach untold millions of new online customers.

That said, you need to keep some limitations in mind.  For example, most of these customers will be new to touchscreen phones. For most of them, this will be their first brush with the web and their only online device (i.e., no access to a desktop). Also, English may not be the best language to reach them.

Tweak Your Mobile Strategy

To deliver your content and services to these new customers, you may want to reconsider or at least tweak your mobile strategy.

Fortunately, unlike Android and iOS, you don't have to worry about learning a new API and development tooling. Firefox OS-based phones run HTML5 apps. So while customers can download apps from Firefox Marketplace (just as they would for iOS and Android apps) the apps themselves are nothing but HTML5 pages running inside a headless browser.

Web and Apps, Again

Mobile web versus native apps is one of the most hotly debated issues in B2C mobile marketing today. However, the emergence of newer operating systems such as Firefox makes this debate increasingly moot. It's not about one versus the other, but rather about using multiple approaches.

For many customers, especially in content-rich scenarios, what works is a mobile web app along with device-specific apps for certain use cases. If you have invested in a standards-based mobile development approach using HTML5 and web technologies, you will be able to address any new operating systems comparatively faster.

We cover different mobile development alternatives as well as how different tools support those approaches in our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluation research.

Congratulations, you don't need a complex WCM Platform #cms #pmot Wed, 03 Sep 2014 15:30:00 +0000 In RSG's evaluation research and vendor categorizations, we often make a distinction between "products" and "platforms."

Products are simpler to install and offer workaday features in a straightforward way, but are usually much less extensible. Platforms require greater funding and developer support, but usually offer richer capabilities, higher functional potential, and greater extensibility.

This short diagram explains more.

(Subscribers can access a detailed advisory paper on the topic and why it matters so much today.)

WCM Platforms - Pro and Con

In the Web Content & Experience Management (WCM) marketplace, platforms are sexy and typically demo better -- especially to business stakeholders who may not fully appreciate the technical overhead required to make them work in the real world.

The main problem with platforms is that many customers simply don't have the human, organizational, and financial resources to exploit them properly. Small changes start to take a long time to execute, and people get frustrated. What was supposed to become an empowering platform becomes a lodestone instead. Sound familiar?

So when we counsel an enterprise whose needs or circumstances fall more in the range of a WCM product, my first instinct is to congratulate them. Rather than spending time futzing with technology, they can focus on what really matters: creating effective content and customer experiences.

But Wait...

Digital managers aren't always comfortable with simplicity. It's natural to think, "But wait, in X years we're going to need all this cool stuff!" And so platforms seem more apt. My advice: don't keep trying to skate ahead of the puck. WCM products are much more powerful and capable than they were five years ago, and they continue to improve. If you have simpler needs, just grow with them.

Some customer segments lend themselves more to products than platforms. We've seen great success here in Higher Education, Public Sector, Non-Profits, and of course, small-to-mid-sized businesses. That doesn't mean that every university, government ministry, or charity should use a product -- for example, some universities can avail themselves of ample developer resources -- but for most of those organizations, most of the time, simpler WCM tools will work better.

Sometimes Platforms Are Better

Of course, if you have in-house developers, and specific plans around highly customized, content-driven applications -- or you work in a multinational or multilingual environment -- then you will want to lean more towards the platform end of the WCM spectrum. Fortunately, you'll encounter many plausible choices there. Just prepare your team accordingly.

But remember this: most organizations face greater risks overbuying than underbuying WCM technology. For more details, consult our comprehensive vendor evaluation research. If you're already an RSG subscriber and want to discuss this further, just contact us to schedule an advisory call.

New vendor in our DAM research: Evolphin #DAM #Adobe Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:12:00 +0000 Silicon-Valley-based Evolphin planted the seed for its DAM system, called Zoom, in 2007. Zoom is geared towards creative workflow management, and the creation of compound assets for branding and publishing scenarios. Offering a mainly on-premise system, Evolphin juxtaposes the trend of most new mid-market vendors opting for SaaS and cloud-based offerings. We evaluate the latest iteration of Zoom, and Evolphin as a player in the mid-market DAM space, in the latest version of our DAM research.

What the Dropbox price drop means for you #Cloud #ecm Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:44:00 +0000 Cloud-based file sharing and sync service Dropbox received significant media attention in the past few days after reducing the price of its paid offering, Dropbox Pro, from $9.99 per month for 100 GB to $9.99 per month for 1 TB. This drop in price -- or rather, increase in storage (more about that in a minute) -- brings Dropbox in line with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and others.

I suspect most vendors will gradually lower their prices to remain competitive, and I wouldn't be surprised to see unlimited (or very high) storage quotas becoming a norm in the near future.

What is more important for you the customer, however, is the actually capabilities you obtain. Or in other words, what you can do with the technology.

Of course, Dropbox does have a lot going for it, especially for consumer-focused use cases. For example, its sync apps work reasonably well on most platforms (barring Windows Mobile) and you also get nice photo sharing features. You have access to some additional security features with Dropbox Pro; you can now attach a password to shared links, set expiry dates, and remotely wipe content if your phone gets stolen or lost.

However, there are many similar services out there, each with its own advantages. Consider:

  • Microsoft offers Office 365 along with 1 TB at a lesser price
  • Google has better integration with other Google services and offers more options in terms of pricing
  • Apple's forthcoming iCloud drive will presumably be better integrated with Apple's ecosystem
  • SugarSync gives you the freedom to select any folder on your desktop as a sync folder

That's just for starters. You have many more options, including more enterprise-focused vendors, many of who have individual user editions as well. (We evaluate them in our ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations.)

So before you rush to move all your files to Dropbox, remember it's not about the price of storage any more. Storage is a commodity, but enterprise-grade services are not. So test these well before you commit to one (or couple of them).

And hey Dropbox, if you are reading this, many users don't need 1 TB and so would have preferred a more tiered plan instead of a 1 TB threshold to get the extra capabilities that come with the Pro edition. But then 200 GB for $2 wouldn't sound as cool as 1 TB for $9.99...

New DAM vendor evaluation: FotoWare #DAM #publishing Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:30:00 +0000 With the imminent release of Fotoweb and Fotostation 8.0, we see a marked change in strategy from Norwegian DAM vendor Fotoware, moving beyond a traditional image management focus to expand their publishing workflows. A new user interface, video transcoding engine, and more fully-featured APIs are now part of the package. We weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of FotoWare’s new approach as they eye a larger DAM market share. 

The challenges ahead for current and potential FotoWare customers are many, not least of which is running a thick client and web portal simultaneously (similar challenges are reported to us by the customers of WAVE and NetXposure). With a large reseller network (similar to Woodwing’s model), FotoWare’s success will largely depend on how quickly they can communicate and scale with you, the once-removed potential buyer.  We invite you to have a look at how FotoWare stacks up against other image management and publishing-oriented vendors

Call for participation - RSG Survey on Digital Asset Management #DAM #MediaAssetManagement Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:40:00 +0000 We at RSG have been passionately involved in explaining the promise and pitfalls of Digital Asset Management technology for many years now. Starting this year, we are adding one more dimension to our DAM research – a formal industry-wide survey to take stock of the current state as well as shine a light on potential future focus areas for DAM practitioners.

If you are involved in your organization’s digital asset management projects, please take fifteen minutes to participate in RSG’s survey. This survey assesses different issues like common use cases, tools, vendors and challenges faced. We are also seeking your feedback on the DAM maturity model as part of this survey.

We take privacy and discretion very seriously. All responses will be kept strictly confidential and RSG will never publicly identify either you or your organization.

In return for your participation, you’ll receive a summary of the report findings when published, to contrast your current state with that of your industry peers.

Here is the link to the survey. Please participate and invite your colleagues too.

WCM Turns Twenty #cms Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:32:00 +0000 In 2015, the Web Content Management marketplace will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Over the course of two decades implementing and studying these systems, I’ve seen a lot of change, but also a fair bit of continuity. Many of the nascent tools in 1995 – like Vignette's StoryServer and (then) Interwoven TeamSite – still exist in the marketplace today, albeit under different owners.

Indeed, the central question facing WCM technology from the very beginning still matters today: What is the scope of this technology?

Many Choices

Today, Real Story Group and other analyst firms refer to Web Content & Experience Management, but the “experience” bit actually isn’t new.  Most early WCM tools were very portal-like, and with some exceptions, wanted to take over and deliver your entire website.

Other WCM systems focused just on the content – on the grounds that content should live outside of any specific context so that it can be delivered in multiple channels.  Of course with the rise of the mobile channel, this argument is making a big comeback, most prominently under the auspices of effective content marketing strategies that go well beyond simple web publishing.

As a customer, then, you have many technology choices on different spectrums:

  • Complexity: from the simplest tools like WordPress to highly (some would say excessively) complex platforms like those from Adobe
  • Breadth: We see the return of the suite-vs.-best-of-breed debate: some WCM offerings will try to perform broader forms of digital marketing and social engagement as well, while other WCM tools will more prudently leave those capabilities to third-party suppliers
  • Mobility: Some WCM tools will build in advanced mobile management services, while others will assume that you are investing in separate mobile middleware

What's the Proper Role?

We find among our larger subscribers that successful firms are carefully circumscribing the role of WCM tools in their broader digital marketing efforts. The savvy marketer will see WCM as just one piece in a broader toolkit, that could include key technologies like Digital Asset Management and Marketing Automation, among others.

Nevertheless, WCM remains a central piece – maybe the central piece -- since now more than ever you need good content to drive engagement. So take enough time to perform proper due diligence, so that you can get best-fit WCM technology for your needs.

We’ve designed our research to help you succeed on that journey. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

New vendor to our DAM research: Bynder #DAM #saas Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:59:00 +0000 Bynder, one of the newer kids on the DAM block, is an Amsterdam-based, born-digital marketing and brand asset management platform, a purely cloud offering geared towards marketing technology workflows. As recently as a few years ago, Widen was easily the prominent SaaS-oriented DAM offering; today, Widen’s competitors in this space are vast: Bynder, Canto, Woodwing's Elvis, Picturepark, Shutterstock’s WebDAM, North Plains’ OnBrand all have similarly affordable and in some cases, more modern SaaS DAM offerings. 

With a rapidly growing young team, Bynder has a web-centric start-up mentality and big ambitions, now competing with the industry stalwarts and winning new enterprise clients. Bynder is VC-backed, with rapid growth and a burn rate to match - we assess the opportunities and the risks in the latest DAM research release.

CatDV - New entrant to our MAM evaluations line-up #MediaAssetManagement #DAM Wed, 27 Aug 2014 06:47:00 +0000 We recently released a major update to our Digital and Media Asset Management software research. This report includes evaluations of the leading vendors in the marketplace and places them into several tiers or categories, namely:

  • Enterprise Brand & Digital Asset Management
  • SMB & Workgroup DAM Platforms
  • SMB & Workgroup DAM Products
  • Niche & Regional Players
  • Broadcast Media Management

The Broadcast Media Management category consists of evaluations of MAM software from Avid, Cinegy, Dalet, GlobeCAST NETIA, Harris Broadcast, TMD, Vizrt. The latest version of our report also evaluates CatDV from UK vendor Square Box Systems.

CatDV is available in several editions and targets both "prosumers" and enterprises. When it comes to MAM systems (particularly at the enterprise level), there is a lot of complexity involved in implementing the software, integrating it with your existing technology infrastructure, and of course training the end-users. Unlike many other MAM products, CatDV is easy to deploy. But you trade-off some functionality found in larger MAM products for this simplicity.

In this evaluation of CatDV, we assess its suitability for enterprise use, the use cases it supports (and doesn't support), as well as intangibles like the smallish company's ability to provide customer support across different geographic regions. Our DMAM research subscribers can download the latest version of the report here.

Oracle SRM gets an update - but integrated marketing cloud still a work-in-progress #Oracle #digitalmarketing Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:26:00 +0000 One of the vendors evaluated in our Digital Marketing Technology research stream, Oracle, recently announced a product update for what it calls "Oracle Social Cloud."

These updates focus on Oracle’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) suite, and include a redesign of certain parts of the UI, some drag-and-drop functionality and additional metrics for social media analysis. These updates are not ground breaking enhancements and many competing products we evaluate already offer such functionality.

More interesting is that this news represents one of the few digital marketing product enhancement announcements from Oracle in a long while. Usually, you only hear about Oracle acquiring other digital marketing technology companies rather than organically building or updating them. If you’ve been watching this space, you know that in recent years Oracle has been gobbling up digital and social media marketing vendors at a frenetic pace.

As we note in our evaluation of Oracle SRM, that suite actually consists of several acquired products under the hood: Vitrue, Involver and Collective Intellect. For instance, Social Marketing functionality is offered through the Vitrue toolkit while Social Engagement and Monitoring services are based on Involver and Collective Intellect. Yet some services (e.g., “Listen and Analyze”) employ components drawn from all these three products. On top of that, if you're looking for marketing automation services, then you'd turn to Eloqua (another Oracle acquisition, of course).

Integrating these disparate products -- each with it's own approach to architectures, workflows, technical guts, UX philosophy -- is a complex endeavor, even for the likes of behemoths like Oracle. You could of course, access these products with a single login and use a single umbrella UI, but deeper integration remains a work in progress. Recent enhancements are a small step in that direction but there are many miles to go before customers see full integration -- if ever.

Let me also note that this situation is not unique to Oracle. As digital marketing technology budgets have been increasing in recent years, almost all the vendors have scrambled to try to assemble broad (i.e., end-to-end) marketing clouds. Be it Adobe,, or IBM – all of them have acquired multiple marketing tech companies. So, as an enterprise customer you’re likely to see a fully integrated offering only in the sales pitches; under the hood you'll find several acquired components of varying provenances and maturities, with differing degrees of integration.

Don’t make expensive investments in marketing technology before getting the full picture.

New and Updated DAM and MAM Product Evaluations: Bynder, Evolphin, FotoWare, CatDV, and more.... #DAM #MediaAssetManagement Sun, 24 Aug 2014 16:24:00 +0000 Today we release a major update to our Digital & Media Asset Management product evaluation research, which has reached a rather significant milestone: we now have in-depth evaluations of over 40 vendors across the DAM & MAM marketplaces.

My colleagues Kashyap and Mark have weighed in with several new evaluations:

  • Bynder: A young and hip Dutch vendor that's making waves with a SaaS product, giving Widen, WebDAM and other brand-management oriented products another competitor
  • Square Box Systems CatDV: A lower-cost, UK-based vendor focused on video & media management
  • FotoWare: A Norwegian photo-management vendor with a long history in publishing
  • Evolphin: one of the few DAM vendors based in Silicon Valley, Evolphin's product, Zoom, focuses on creative collaboration

We've also updated our reviews of North Plains Telescope, North Plains On Brand, HP MediaBin, and celum in this most recent update. Subscribers can access the new research immediately.

If you're not yet a subscriber, you can still obtain a complimentary sample vendor evaluation.

In Defense of the Bake-off #DAM #pmot Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:35:00 +0000 I have never been accused of being a chef, cook, or baker. So, I am probably the least likely to write a food-related blog post.  (I usually leave that to my colleague, Theresa.)  However, more and more I have found myself defending the practice of the "bake-off."

In the context of a technology selection project, a "bake-off" is really a competitive proof of concept where the 2 vendor finalists are asked to mimic a real implementation project and actually implement some parts of their proposed solution.  The idea is to use your ingredients (content), your bakers (digital asset managers), and your kitchen (your servers and your worker's real environments.)

The argument that other consultants, analysts, and many vendors make is that bake-offs can be too time and resource intensive - and ultimately they are a waste of time.  Well they are right. They CAN be a waste of time for the vendors that don't get selected or the consultants and analysts that get paid only when a final choice has been made by their client.  However, bake-offs are almost never a waste of time for the enterprise that is actually buying the technology.

Consider this experience we had while helping one of the largest hospitals in the United States select a new Digital Asset Management system for their marketing assets.  After the vendor demo phase, the selection team identified two finalists, but Vendor A was the clear leader in the clubhouse.

It was tempting to just abandon the plan to do a bake-off and just start the implementation with Vendor A. However, in the interest of doing their full due diligence, they went ahead with a bake-off in which they asked Vendor A and Vendor B to do a 3 week project to implement 3 of their key use case scenarios.  During the 3 weeks, the hospital's marketing and IT team worked side-by-side with the vendor's implementation team.  At the end of the bake-off, the team summarized their findings.

Some of the key lessons learned during the bake-off were:

  • While Vendor A's user interface had dazzled in the vendor demos, when it came to building out the hospital's most common use case, it was Vendor B's workflow and interface that resonated most with the hospital's marketing team
  • When it came to using the hospital's real content (high-res photos from numerous photo shoots), Vendor B was able to demonstrate much faster ingestion times
  • When it came to using each of the DAM systems via the marketing team's mobile devices (a common use case), certain key functionality was not available using Vendor A's solution (This never came up in the vendor demos)
  • When the hospital's marketers reached out to each of the vendor's help-desk, Vendor A's help-desk never responded!  But, Vendor B's help-desk responded immediately
  • And, something that should never be underestimated: the hospital's team liked working with Vendor B's team more than Vendor A's team

The bake-off should be just one step of intense testing of a vendor's fit for your unique needs.  The best selection projects test the solution at multiple points via custom scenarios in an RFP, custom (not canned) demos, and finally the competitive proof-of-concept or bake-off.

As you hear often hear RSG analysts say, there is no perfect vendor or perfect product. And I don't mean to cast Vendor B as a perfect fit in this case.  But, they were a really good fit for this client and they would not have discovered how good a fit unless they had engaged in the bake-off.  Vendor A was paid for their time and Vendor B used the bake-off work as a head-start on the actual implementation project.  The hospital has since implemented their new DAM system and are extremely happy with Vendor B's solution and services.

In this case a 3-week head-to-head bake-off was a sufficient amount of time to get the information they needed to make a decision.  In some cases, you'll want a longer time and in others, a shorter time will suffice.  But, if you are in the market for new technology, please do not skip the phase where your people test the new system with your content in your real environments.  As we've seen with dozens of successful selections, devoting the proper resources to conducting a proper bake-off before you commit to a solution will ultimately leave a much better taste in your mouth.

Are DAM vendors really innovating by selling Product Content Management? #DAM #digitalmarketing Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:24:00 +0000 The short answer is, no.

Technology vendors like to use the words “innovative” and “unique value proposition” when in reality, what they are offering is a generic product with very little differentiation vs. their competitors.

The Holy Grail Challenge

Lately it’s struck me that all the new features I see from DAM vendors aren’t really innovations at all. They’re more opportunistic, exploiting immediate needs and circumstances without reference to a broader, more strategic plan. Even when you see reference to a broader plan, it typically just entails a laundry list of related marketing services that the vendor doesn't offer.

That broader world beyond DAM is the “holy grail” challenge of strategic and personalized digital marketing: where customer data, digital assets, product data, and environmental factors come together to magically deliver the right marketing package at the right time, resulting in action on the part of the customer (ideally, a purchase).

We’re currently working with several of our subscribers to strategically plan how these disparate systems and data might optimally interoperate. To be sure, this is one of the biggest challenges we all face as content and marketing technologists in the decade to come.

PCM As An Add-On

The most recent opportunistic feature from DAM vendors is PCM, or Product Content Management. As the line between asset data and product data has increasingly blurred, vendors such as ADAM, celum, WAVE, and Bynder have all come to offer their own flavor of PCM. Other vendors, such as Chuckwalla, sell a PIM connector, which pulls content from a commercial PIM into the DAM. In the Web Content Management world, CoreMedia has a similar component.

Because it’s inevitable that companies will want to manage product data and digital assets in tandem, or manage asset workflows based on product data, these components have been introduced to allow for the scheduled delivery of assets and consumer-facing product data to users and systems that need to consume that information.

Note however that PCM components offered by DAM vendors are mostly just pulling and pushing data. Unlike PIM (product information management) and PLM (product lifecycle management), these modules will not manage your regulatory approvals or product development lifecycle. PCM is just a logical extension of the DAM metadata schema, something necessary for DAM to remain relevant and useful in the much grander digital marketing lifecycle.

Of course for you, the DAM manager or marketer trying to solve everyday creative and marketing workflow challenges, such “I need them now” features are often quite welcome. The complication is when they’re priced as separate components, touted as “innovative,” and then you are expected to shell out another $50k for such “future proofing.” Be cautious here, as often these components are high in price, but low in functionality.

Innovation Lite

In the bigger industry picture, what this really means is that DAM “innovation” (such as it is) is being driven by incremental improvements on existing use-cases, rather than offering major new solutions for digital marketers.

I find this a bit dismaying for the industry, but by the same token, it serves as a reminder that you should be pushing your vendors on their roadmaps, or they will continue to think small...

How to be a smart consumer of analyst research Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:39:00 +0000 Well, it's not exactly "a specter haunting the analyst world," but the pay-to-play issue in our industry has risen to the fore once more because of a vendor dragging Gartner Group to court over their business practices.

What’s the pay-to-play problem?

Broadly speaking, pay-to-play refers to a (usually unspoken) quid pro quo between industry analysts and the vendors they track. This can take the form of vendors purchasing consulting or other services from the analyst firm that evaluates them. The issue then becomes whether the research produced is (or ever could be) truly objective and neutral.

Before I come to that, note that analyst firms fall on a spectrum when it comes to the pay-to-play model.

  • On the one end are the “purely play” analyst firms; vendors engage these firms to produce reports for them and as long as the vendor/analyst firm are upfront and disclose who paid for the report, it’s all par for the course
  • On the other end of the spectrum, are the no-play firms that don't advise vendors; these are few and far between (RSG is one such firm -- please let me know of others you are aware of); here also, there is no doubt as to who the analyst firm is serving: the enterprise tech customer
  • Things become a bit trickier in the broad middle, where a major analyst firm seeks business both from the buy-side (technology buyers) and the sell-side (technology vendors). 

In the third scenario, the interests of these two masters clearly tug in opposite directions.

Another hazard also arises within the sell-side camp: when one vendor is a customer of the analyst firm, while the other is not, will the analyst firms offer “equal opportunity” coverage to all vendors, irrespective of whether they cut them a check or not? That's the core issue of the current dispute.

Of course, the credibility of an analyst firm is its biggest calling card and many leading analyst firms try to guard against the explicit conflicts of interest – but not always with success. 

 What’s your mitigation strategy? 

As a technology-buyer, you can guard against potential biases (explicit or implicit) that may have crept into analyst research.

  1. Use the standard 2-by-2 industry matrices (whichever name they may go by, in the end they are all 2 x 2 grids) as only a starting point for research, and don’t rely on them  for final selection or decision validation
  2. By extension, do not be unduly swayed by the positions of vendors in these 2 x 2 charts; the differences between the vendors could be marginal, and in any case, the rankings are generic and not in situational context
  3. You should seek a variety of sources of advice; this may bump up your workload a bit, but smart customers diversify and synthesize external input

When it comes to making decisions about technology suppliers, you always want to perform due diligence commensurate to the size of your investment. Take the same approach with your analyst firm as well.