Insights, System Integration

Martech Integrations: Video Saved the Marketing Star

Video-Integration-Kanban-Brightcove

Content and experience management systems sit at the core of any brand’s digital transformation strategy.  That core must then serve as the center point of integrations with the many peripheral systems enabling relevant, unique and engaging experiences.  Even the most advanced marketing suites must work effectively with external systems since most enterprise organizations have a mix of legacy and best-of-breed prior investments they expect to leverage.

The Connector Conundrum

For years, integrations between systems were the snake oil of yesteryear, plagued by over-promises and under-delivery.  According to Forrester’s 2015 Digital Experience Delivery Survey, ease of integration now tops the list of concerns when selecting technology vendors or products.

With integrations aplenty, smart technology buyers are looking for any advantage to ease integrations.  In response, many vendors and their implementation services partners have invested in libraries, marketplaces and other sources of pre-built connectors, sometime also referred to as modules, extensions, etc.

The vision for both buyers and sellers is that the challenge of integrations can be addressed by simply pulling an available connector off the shelf in plug-n-play fashion.  For example, salesforce.com claims to have over 2,800 such “productizations” in the AppExchange.

The trick to building these connectors is to balance flexibility with interoperability.  Meaning, the connector must not only integrate two distinct systems but should also allow for that integration to be configurable and extensible.  Let’s use a real example.

Video Saved the Marketing Star

Video is one of the hottest marketing topics today, and every brand is racing to create more effective video capabilities.  Say you use Brightcove as a cloud based video distribution platform.  You will want to access and possibly even manage those videos through your CMS.  So within your authoring interface, you would want to browse the videos stored in Brightcove, select the appropriate video or videos, add that video to your CMS component and publish that video and associated player within your web page.  You may even pass certain metadata and analytics through this connector, in both directions.

Now, let’s consider the very possible scenario where an organization may have more than one such provider.  It is likely that a brand may use a partner like Brightcove or Vimeo and say, Youtube.  So, is that one connector or two?  See where this is going?

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Insights, System Integration

No Silver Bullets in Digital Transformation, but APIs are the Silver Lining

API Management Kanban

With today’s distributed, cloud-based systems and rich applications, content and data integration is a must.  As organizations enable digitally-powered, multi-touchpoint customer experiences, APIs speed the integrations with back-end systems and decouple them from systems of engagement. In other words, they help you create immersive and engaging customer experiences that are fast, flexible and innovative.

Why Now?

Despite the continued investment by large platform vendors (ex. Oracle, IBM, Adobe) to rationalize their product portfolios, every enterprise will retain some number of legacy systems that provide content and data. And even though organizational siloes are the focus for many (myself included), we can only expect to integrate siloes, not break them down.  Not until the CEO steps in to define cross-department objectives and metrics that align teams will we see politics not undermine the vision of a single source of content and data truth.

So, best-of-breed technology ecosystems are likely to remain the reality for some time. Especially as the venture capital community continues to fund innovation in marketing technology driving early adopters to integrate dozens of distinct systems and tools, most of them cloud based.  Add Internet of Things and mobile and you have the perfect storm of integration.  APIs are then the saving grace of today’s customer experience-obsessed CMOs, ROI-focused CEOs and digital transformation-minded CIOs.

APIs are the silver lining in the world where there are no silver bullets.  APIs can enable rich customer experiences, accelerate innovation, streamline dev ops, build new revenue streams and lift product value.

But you won’t create long-term success without keeping the following points in mind:

Don’t Believe the Hype

Just because the marketing and sales team from some technology vendor tells you about their “robust” API, be suspicious and don’t assume it works as promised. One thing is certainly true, not all APIs are created equal. Some APIs expose only a portion of a systems content or data, limiting what you have access to. Make sure you ask question about uptime and performance metrics. Does their API use a CDN?

Think Small to Go Big

Atomize processes and capabilities within an overall microservices architecture.  The idea of architecting your solutions as a smaller group of individual interdependent services is becoming increasingly popular and rightfully so. But what happens when some of your services are slow either because they rely on 3rd parties or receive data from a slower legacy system. One advantage to properly architected microservices is the ability to easy scale horizontally. But, that does not help when your data source is the bottleneck. The use of a REST based API for each of your services end-points allows you to fully leverage an API engine.

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Insights, System Integration

Microservices Architecture: Friend or Foe?

microservices_meme

Disclaimer: This is a lengthy post with perspectives for both developers and marketers. Click on one of the links below for a shorter read. Enjoy!

Why Developers Already Love Microservices

Why Marketers Will Love Microservices

In his now-ubiquitous explanation of microservices architecture, devops thought leader Martin Fowler seeks to explain the latest development trend to the layman. But he doesn’t do it as you might expect—by describing how microservices came to be or what it can do for your business. He starts by explaining the status quo: that large, enterprise brands have become too slow to dance on the bleeding edge of technology because they rely entirely on a small number of large, server-side applications—what he calls monoliths—to manage website features and functions.

Luckily, there is an alternative: Microservices architecture breaks these applications down into smaller, more manageable chunks, linking them together through APIs. This architectural structure helps make businesses more nimble and more prepared for the complex future of online customer experience. Continue reading

Insights, System Integration

The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: How CMS & DAM Aid Digital Strategy & Execution

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Having just attended the two-day Henry Stewart DAMNY conference, I’ve come away with a few observations that any marketer would find interesting, especially those wrestling with strategies for –   ahemomni, multi, cross, and even sans – channel customer experiences.

DAM is HOT!

The 300+ attendees to this year’s New York City event represented some of the world’s most prominent brands.  Three key forces united them:

Outgrowing 1st Gen Implementations

Many – though not all — brands have some sort of first generation DAM solution in place. These initial implementations have provided some tough lessons learned along the way. With those experiences, brands are now looking to advance the use of DAM platforms with new implementations, upgrades and enhancements.

Assets as Assets

Images, audio and video files are the quintessential building blocks of modern digital experiences.  As such, they are moving from assets as discrete digital artifacts, to assets having a measurable financial value and ROI.  Whether the business case drives revenue through engagement, is directly tied to monetization of asset consumption, or improves efficiency through reuse and collaboration, the “A” in DAM is getting increased attention from CEOs and CFOs alike.

DAM feeds all

Though many software vendors will have you thinking that it is a hub for all of your digital efforts (and perhaps through their myopic lens that tends to be true), for grounded marketers and technologists, DAMs role is to feed the “downstream” marketing technology ecosystem that is dependent on content and assets. That includes both digital and non-digital channels.  eCommerce, content management (CMS), marketing automation, social engagement, content marketing, video platforms and a host of other systems can and should be fed – directly or indirectly – by a DAM platform. Continue reading

Insights, System Integration

Unicorns, Tools & Innovation! The Marketing Technology Revolution

Marketing Technology At Kanban--Rare & Beautiful!

 

The platitudes and statistics are well-known and oft-quoted:

  • 67% of companies are increasing marketing tech spend, according to Gartner.
  • Five of the top ten CEO priorities are focused on marketing technology.
  • And according to a recent eConsultancy survey, nearly 75% of participating companies had either just completed, were planning or were in the midst of completing a commerce technology overhaul.

But out of all the statistics surrounding the increasing unification of marketing and technology, perhaps the most compelling comes from a recent research report by Laura McLellan of Gartner. Within large companies — more than $500 million in annual revenue — 81% of them now have a chief marketing technologist role, up from 71% just a year ago. Another 8% expect to add that role within the next 24 months.

In Boston just last  month, the conversation around infusing long-held principals of marketing and technology into one discipline with similar goals and challenges continued with the MarTech 2014 conference. MarTech is the first conference to focus exclusively on marketing technologies, corporate change management, org structures and even how to acquire or grow talent for the new marketing reality. Organized by Scott Brinker, a leading evangelist for today’s marketing technologist, the conference focused on tools, innovation and unicorns.

Yes, unicorns.

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