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?
To be intuitive and useful, the connector should be configurable so that it can integrate with several online video management platforms. In our scenario, our marketing user could open the video “picker” component when building a page, perform a keyword search across several video repositories (including the native database of the CMS), select and append the video with additional metadata and publish. You can imagine the use case expanding to include authentication and authorization, perhaps limiting the available videos for the user to select from.
So rather than a specific system to system integration, you have a system to function/service integration with built-in extensibility should that function or service rest with several end points. Therein lies the tradeoff / payoff balance, connectors must at least do the basics right (in this case connect your CMS with a video platform), but they can be so much more. Therefore, not all connectors are created equal and technology buyers should do their homework.
Go West with that CMS
More and more, we are seeing organizations seek efficiencies and economies in the content and customer experience management platforms. And nowhere is this more apparent than in large multi-brand, multi-region enterprises. Often a centralized team will drive core functionality and then offer that up via a library of components to brand or region-specific teams. The CMS and the components must be architected appropriately to enable reuse and some level of customization, since each brand and region within the organization will have their own preferred ways of doing things, unique page layout, specific requirements, and so on.
To enable this vision, the core platform, components and any connectors must be flexible, scalable and extensible. The platform should be component based, so that a web page can be assembled modularly. It should have a modern integration architecture, preferable REST-based. It should allow for synchronization between regions, brands and the core system and provide centralized administration. With sometimes hundreds or thousands of internal users supporting global site traffic, these systems must also be performant and scale with minimal incremental investment.
Roll the Clip
With these considerations in mind, Kanban has a dedicated team of technology experts focused on helping organization leverage content and experience management investments globally. We have built dozens of scalable, extensible connectors to leading content and experience management platforms. We’ve integrated those systems with CRM, mobile apps, eCommerce, DAM, social, document management, video platforms and more.
Here are some details and a short demonstration of an integration between Hippo CMS and Brightcove.