Gilbane 2015: Brinker, Marks and Intimacy


The Gilbane Conference was held in Boston December 1-3.  As with prior years, some of the world’s foremost experts in content, technology and the customer experience gathered to share experiences and perspectives.

Some of the more notable keynotes included Scott Brinker of and Jon Marks of Kaldor, the company behind the Pugpig publishing platform.

Scott Brinker covered a few topics that he details in his new book, Hacking Marketing.  He made a case for the convergence of marketing and software development functions, which when aligned, allows organizations to be more agile, shedding the classic waterfall SDLC.  He cited the use of Kanban swim lanes and boards to move development work through the process.  Scott also took some time to define customer experience as the intersection of media (how and where content appears), messages (what the content says) and mechanism (what the content does and how it behaves), suggesting that customer experience from a marketing perspective is the same as user experience from a product perspective. Finally, Brinker applied the concept of pace layering introduced by Stewart Brand in his book The Clock of the Long Now to digital transformation governance and architecture.  The systems and processes we utilize should be designed to facilitate layers changing at their own pace, Brinker concluded.

Jon Marks, co-founder of the PugPig publishing platform, delivered a rather entertaining look at the classic “apps vs mobile web” debate.  Set against the context of the 007 Bond movie series timeline dating back to the 60’s, Jon revisited his expectations for the death of the mobile app, which he jokingly predicted to be right around 2017.  He then went on to suggest exactly why that prediction was so far off, citing the power of mobile devices, the evolution of the mobile OS into a platform, and the blurring lines between apps and web.  Marks concluded that consumers will see less and less of a difference, so the merits of either approach will be tied to any organizations requirements around the user interface (ex. touch controls) and the ecosystem (ex. mobile pay). In the end, Jon noted, you’ll want a mobile web site AND quite possibly a native app.  How’s that for settling the debate?

Despite two days of strong speakers and an engaged audience that travelled from all over the US and beyond, Gilbane 2015 was a disappointment in one area, attendance.  By my own head count, this year’s event had less than 150 attendees. As probably the smallest event in the history of the Gilbane conference, we look towards 2016 optimistically in hopes of exchanging intimacy for vibrancy.

Insights, System Integration

Martech Integrations: Video Saved the Marketing Star


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, 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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Content Engineering, Insights

Forrester Publishes Latest Wave for Digital Experience Platforms

digital experience kanban 2Just a couple weeks ago, Forrester released its much anticipated Wave for Digital Experience Platforms*.  The annual, detailed review of content and customer experience technologies draws both praise and criticism.  Those vendors that qualify to participate leave their fate in the hands of a scoring paradigm focused on both current offerings and strategy boiled down to two numbers plotted on an X and Y axis.

Critics claim that no important technology decision can be quantified without applying the lens of organizational context and maturity; and therefore the Wave is misleading.  Forrester agrees, to an extent, and suggests that the Wave be used by organizations to get a feel for the marketplace, that they utilize the detailed research data to customize rankings based on their unique needs and acknowledges that viable firms may exist that do not qualify for participation.

With this in mind, we took a moment to review any notable trends since the last Digital Experience Wave conducted in Q3, 2014**.  They are…

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Kanban to Cover Content & Commerce Integration at Gilbane 2015


The Gilbane Conference (December 1-3, 2015, Boston) on Content, Technology, and Customer Experience helps marketers, IT, and business managers integrate content strategies and computing technologies to produce superior customer experiences for all stakeholders.

As one of the premier and longest running content and experience management focused conferences in North America, it is chaired by founder Frank Gilbane, who is often cited as the godfather of content management.

This year’s event is focused on how to integrate content, data and software to support a superior multichannel digital customer experience.  Whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started, join us to learn what your peers are doing and what the experts are recommending.

Kanban’s session, presented by Philip Wisniewski (see speaker spotlight), is scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd.  The presentation will review the best practices around the integration of content management and commerce systems to create a differentiated customer experience.  We’ll be covering this topic in coordination with Jill Finger Gibson, Principal Analyst of Digital Clarity Group.

Contact us if you would like to discuss your plans for content and commerce unification, or if you just want to chat over a cocktail.

We hope to see you there!