The Content Management System as a Central Hub
A couple of weeks ago, our reporter Laura Myers interviewed Jon Voigt, Co-founder of Agility Inc, on the story of Agility and its platform. Since his insight brought forward very informative content to our audience, Laura reached out to him again to pick his brain about one of the most common challenges that digital businesses are grappling with: Content Management System as a Central Hub.
With more and more varying systems getting involved in the digital ecosystem, many organizations are struggling with managing all of their digital properties. According to Jon, it is extremely critical to serve personalized content and in order to thrive, organizations need to make decisions based on the analytics and insights that they gather from their various systems such as CRM, Marketing Automation, Google Analytics, and so on. However, the challenge begins as organizations need to integrate all those different systems and make them work together seamlessly. Based on his experience, these types of projects often don’t go as planned and in the end, a poor system integration results in:
Slowing down the website which neglects user experience
Drain on resources to enter information multiple times
Prone to human error
As far as integration goes, another challenge according to Jon is “finding a system that emerges with organizations as they add more integration points and systems”. So its important to choose an extendable system that can not only integrate with your current technology stack but also support ever-changing market trends as well as all the other systems that you might consider adding to your ecosystem down the road.
The management of your digital properties concerns the system integration as much as getting your content out on many digital channels such as a website, display boards, mobile app, kiosk, and so on. Producing fresh content already takes time, energy, and resources thus it is a huge waste to produce content for every single channel separately. Economies of scale happen when you give your content multiple lives by reusing and repurposing what you create.
The Importance of Architecture
A couple of months ago, here at CMS-Connected, we asked our readers what the barriers are to upgrading their current platform to the latest release, and the results from the poll demonstrated that cost and complexity are often the two biggest concerns. However, in our interview with Forrester’s Senior Analyst Mark Grannan we actually heard that the answer to the question goes far beyond the common pain point of monetary cost. Therefore, we wanted to get Jon’s insight based on his 14-year experience, and asked if there is another factor he feels is often overshadowed by those two and unfortunately overlooked. He brought up an excellent point: “The importance of architecture is very overlooked especially when it comes to back-end experience. However, you need to consider existing business processes and workflows as well as all use cases when developing a site.”
He also believes that back-end is often forgotten because, during the step where you build out the site, the focus is more on the customer-facing side. However, he strongly recommends his clients keeping back-end user experience in line with front-end as whatever happens to the back-end will impact the front-end experience. The best way to avoid that is to consider the content manager experience as just as important as the user experience while developing the website. As Jon puts it, “make sure both experiences mirror each other.”
Don’t Leave Out Your Stakeholders
He also suggests for those organizations that are choosing a new CMS, or even upgrading should “involve stakeholders to the project at an early stage.” From there, he recommends listing the top 10 tasks that you have to do. “Look how complex those tasks are and get the people who are relevant to those tasks into the system early on so you can try it out, test the experience, and get feedback in order to optimize and make changes before the site goes live.”
I couldn’t agree more with Jon as it’s the internal practitioners, content authors, and developers that will be living in the system day in and day out, so their skill sets need to be smoothly transformed into this new environment so when the site goes live, the customer-facing side could work like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, many organizations leave it to the end of their development cycle but the risk of doing so is that the project may get really costly and time-consuming in the end. To me, even bringing in a good strategic partner that meshes well with your team and can bootstrap your team’s skillset would be the wise thing to do.
Quick Wins from This Approach
In the end of the interview, Jon summarized the potential business outcomes for organizations that apply these digital strategy tips to their projects. He claims that the success rate would be phenomenal if the viewers took his advice mentioned during the interview. He also emphasized cut downs as a primary benefit that organizations can get from his strategy of focusing on content and back end architecture. “If you can optimize how quick it is to do things and manage things at the back end, you can reduce the amount of time that resources take to do jobs,” said Jon. “This doesn’t mean cutting away the resources because it gives you the ability to do more and create better experiences.” Here are the quick wins he went over:
Cut down / re-allocate resources to get more done with less
Cut down costs
Improve website user experience
Increase conversions and online sales (by delivering personalized content)
Improve content manager experience
End up with a platform that is expandable over time
These all are proven benefits according to Jon as he explained their impacts on Agility’s clients: “We have customers that have been working with us for over 10 years, rebuilt their sites three different times. Because the content architecture at the back-end was done so well, all they have done was reskinning the front-end or enhancing a new integration with a new platform.”
It is no secret that personalization provides lucrative results. There is a tremendous amount of statistics out there on how personalized content has an impact on purchasing decisions and how companies make delivering personalization their top priority. However, to have a proper personalization in place you need actionable insight from analytics gathered from all the systems you accommodate in your digital ecosystem. However, again having all the data separately doesn’t do much either. Therefore, organizations need a CMS as the central hub so data can be translated into something meaningful for their businesses. The key to a thriving CMS as the central hub is having all other systems tightly integrated into your CMS so you would have one unified solution with them all connected together.
On the other hand, personalization and integration are sophisticated and complex areas so you have to make sure you have a solid grasp on what your goals are and what to expect. Therefore, as Jon explained during the interview, these all need to be planned out from the early stage of the development cycle. It is surprisingly easy to lose sight of key objectives throughout the process but having a strategy like Jon suggested can go a long way to keeping all the stakeholders and the tasks in line.