This post was written by Stephen Powers, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, where he serves application development and delivery professionals.
Remember all the noise the big enterprise content management (ECM) vendors used to make about the ECM suite? It was the holy grail of content management, a single repository that would support all unstructured content, with a set of applications sitting on top of it (for document management, records management, imaging, etc.), and universal functionality for search, permissions, and retention policies. Sounds great, right? Well, for most organizations, it never really happened, due in part to the lack of integration among the components of ECM solutions on the market, and in part because organizations had already made significant investments in ECM and couldn’t afford to do a rip-and-replace in favor of a suite from a single vendor.
Well, we’re hearing the same old suite song again, only this time with the technologies used for online customer experience management (CXM), including Web content management, digital asset management, e-commerce, search, analytics, and others. Organizations want to be able to serve up consistent, interactive, hyper-targeted experiences across multiple channels, supported by a single set of tools. Some heavy hitters in this space—like Adobe, IBM, and Oracle—are rapidly assembling components in the CXM ecosystem to meet these needs. But at this point, all of those components from the same vendors aren’t necessarily integrated. And even when they are, clients won’t necessarily purchase all of them from the same vendor. For example, most WCM buyers I speak with already have analytics in house, and often not from the same vendor that they are considering for WCM.
So while many are enticed by the promise of this ECM suite, remember that it’s a very unlikely scenario in the short and medium term. Instead, to avoid a rerun of your ECM technology troubles when creating a CXM technology strategy, remember three key points:
- No matter how extensive your preferred CXM suite is, you still won’t rely on a single platform. Certain CXM components—like WCM, digital asset management, and testing and optimization—may come from the same vendor. But it’s doubtful that you’ll source something like customer relationship management (CRM) from the same vendor. It’s more likely that CRM is already in place, and has been for years.
- Play detective when vendors promise easy integrations. When vendors talk to you about integration between certain CXM products, do some probing. Ask if they are packaged or field integrations—with the latter, it’s not productized and you may face a higher implementation cost. Find out how frequently they have done this type of integration. Ask for examples and references from customers.
- Keep in mind that you’ll have to do some of the knitting yourself. No one vendor can possibly have integrations with all the possible complementary technologies from all the CXM vendors. Try not to tackle more difficult integrations—such as those that involve complex user interface issues – if you can use a packaged integration instead. And review application programming interfaces, documentation, and user forums to find out if the CXM products you’re considering will play nicely with others.