As most who have met me know, I am a gourmand in the traditional sense -- I love to indulge in great food, fine wines, and a well-crafted artisan cocktail. I spend almost as much time thinking about how great dishes, wines, and mixed drinks are assembled and made to "work" as a successful combination, as I do the technical components of digital asset management systems, and how they fit into larger enterprise architectures with other technologies Real Story Group spends its time dissecting and evaluating.
In food & drink, much like with technologies, some recipe combinations work, while others are utter failures. There are no one-size-fits-all combinations. What works for one person or company, simply doesn't work for another.
Earlier this year, I was chatting with the head bartender / mixologist at my local speakeasy in center city Philadelphia, furtively named The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company. He had crafted a beautiful, smoky, positively sexy cocktail from scratch -- completely off-menu -- based on a mood: I asked for a cocktail that made me feel like I was sitting by a warm fireplace in the English countryside, and I'd just had a dinner of roasted duck that my host had hunted for that morning. He smirked, reflected for a few moments, and then over the course of a couple minutes, assembled his creation.
After a few swoon-filled sips, I asked him how he made it. What ingredients, and how did that combination of ingredients, impart exactly the sort of taste (and mood) I was looking for? What struck me was that he knew exactly what purpose each ingredient would play in the cocktail, and how the different proportions of each ingredient would potentially influence or affect the others. He knew which ingredients would combine well, and which ones wouldn't.
How many of us can say the same of the enterprise technology cocktails we're currently shaking up? (And let's face it, we're shaking -- not stirring.) So many technology cocktails, it seems, are just leaving an overly sour and bitter taste in our mouths, or worse yet, leaving us with hangovers.
It was after that evening that I realized the craft of the cocktail is not all that different from the craft of the modern enterprise technology architect, digital marketer, or digital workplace practitioner: all of us are trying to assemble the right mix of ingredients to make our digital goals a reality.
And it's hard, especially if we don't have full knowledge of each ingredient's capabilities, weaknesses, and strengths. It seems easier to just buy a bunch of ingredients, shove our brand assets, documents, media, and customer data into them as quickly as possible, and hope for the best. Yuck. It's the same desperate behavior that causes some people to buy bad, overly sweet piña colada mixes, cheap rum, little pink frou-frou umbrellas, and call it a party.
There's a better path to success. First, you can make a better tiki drink by following a recipe, and by using high-quality ingredients (please be sure to invite me for the occasion). Second, you can also combine and integrate your technologies more effectively, using the right ingredients for you. At this point in the evolution of enterprise technology, it's absolutely necessary that you do find a technology combination that works, allowing you to deliver the right content, to the right customer, at the right time, and across multiple channels - or your competition will beat you to it.
"The enterprise technology cocktail" is my theme for 2013, and possibly beyond. I've been talking about it at conferences and hosted a recent webinar on the topic. At this year's Henry Stewart Digital Asset Management Event in Chicago, my keynote presentation will be about enterprise DAM cocktails -- where DAM systems are the base spirit -- often integrated with Digital Marketing, Product Information Management, and Web Content Management technologies. We also cover the topic of DAM intersections and integrations with related technologies in our recent in-depth advisory paper: DAM Best Practices in Large Organizations.
Your base spirit may be SharePoint, or an enterprise portal. Whatever it is, know the roles your technologies will play. Don't attempt to integrate where it doesn't make sense to do so. Be strategic about the intent of each technology ingredient, and the effect of potential mixes. In short, think like a great bartender.
If you need help crafting your enterprise technology cocktail, grab a stool at our bar. We're happy to help.