DX Rx: Updating Your Content Infrastructure to Deliver Better Digital Experiences

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Beefing Up the Blueprint

Many organizations put a high priority on refreshing infrastructure without giving adequate thought to the state of their content architecture, which serves as the means for organizing content so that it's easy to find and use, interconnected, comprehensible, intuitive, and relevant to your users. Additionally, architecture aids in sorting and stamping content components to make them helpful, valuable, and reusable.

It stands to reason, then, that CMS architecture should be updated occasionally to complement the infrastructure of an organization. To underscore this point, consider a hypothetical digital content provider. By modernizing its websites or newsletters with more engaging and personalized content, it can improve customer relationships.

"However, in order to do so, an organization would have to update its architecture to ensure appropriate data is being collected and used in a way that aligns with the organization's priorities and values," adds Cochrane. "This would, in turn, create better digital experiences by providing customers with experiences tailored to their interests and preferences based on previous interactions with the various touchpoints, cultivating a holistic brand experience that customers will favorably remember."

Over the years, Brandon Elliott, CTO of the digital practice at Rackspace in San Antonio, has observed many companies "tear down" their content management house and start over with new content architecture and infrastructure. "A brand that executes this remodel carefully, ensuring the location remains open for business- as-usual, is rewarded with continued trust," notes Elliott. "But remodels are risky. I recommend starting with small, but redundant, scalable, and secure architecture to ensure the house can be added onto gracefully as more and more consumers interact."

Tools of the Trade

Delivering dynamic digital experiences requires choosing competent digital resources. Unfortunately, tools being used by companies today often lack the flexibility necessary to integrate with existing infrastructure. "Many of the tools today fail at providing quality customer experiences and often abandon you before you can get to operationalizing the key customer data needed for better experiences," says McCaig. "This can be caused by many factors, such as old-fashioned, slow batch-processed data infrastructure, to systems that create analysis paralysis, to systems that leave you on the doorstep of action, but don't let you deliver the experiences you desire."

Thibeault says, in general, organizations need at least three critical tools to create preferred digital experiences. "First is a CMS, which is not just for managing content-it also provides a personalized experience. Second is a content delivery network (CDN). Organizations can't assure fast delivery of digital experiences globally without using a cache distributed near user concentrations," says Thibeault, who notes that, without a reliable CDN, it takes longer for digital experiences to load, leading to consumer frustration. "Finally, they need real-user measurement tools to understand what's really happening with the user experience."

Michael Yoon, CTO for MiMedia in New York, says user experience improvements can occur faster with tools that provide feedback quickly and support rapid experimentation and deployments. "Discovery and organization, meanwhile, can be supported by tools that extract and analyze patterns in data," he adds.

Thankfully, during the last few years, there's been a rise in niche-oriented technology companies that simplify management of the content journey and enable measuring of different outlets with one do-it-all dashboard. Choosing a single vendor/tool suite-such as a comprehensive cloud-based platform that offers a user-?friendly dashboard-can decrease workflow complexity considerably. However, some say going with one-stop shops such as Adobe, IBM, Oracle, or Sitecore may not necessarily be the best choice for your organization.

"These legacy systems have been built from the acquisition of many-point solutions, so multiple code bases and broken workflows are rife in them," says McCaig. "Your technology platform should be agile enough to take advantage of the recent advances in data processing technologies."

Tony Byrne, founder of Real Story Group in Boston, agrees. "Cloud-based solutions-in all their various flavors-do not automatically guarantee you relief here. Each year, WCM and tool vendors say they have performance figured out, and each year, without fail, customers chronically complain about performance, reliability, speed, and related issues," says Byrne.

Individual best-of-breed tools could be a better choice. Case in point: While MiMedia relies on the Google Apps suite of tools for office productivity, its operational systems monitoring tools include solutions from New Relic, VividCortex, and ELK, "which each have a specific purpose that fits the requirements of our business," Yoon says.

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The dynamics of the web content management (WCM) software market changed in 2016. Experts say that customers are increasingly seeking best-of-breed solutions that play well with the rest of their infrastructure. Additionally, many feel as if they overbought WCM packages that can do a lot, but are complicated to learn and use.