Author Archives: Roland

Are you ToFu, MoFu or LoFu?

Or where shall you place your effort when planning and rolling out your online marketing effort?

I love Tofu

thanks masmad

This started with a funny discussion with one fellow partner who works for an online marketing software company around a glass of wine after a long work day, bringing me to this new terms I didn’t know yet. Acronyms are like TV to me: most of the time they annoy me but sometimes I really like them and this was the case!

So what about this ToFu,  MoFu and LoFu thingy I started with, if you don’t know them? New indie music categories? Yoga disciplines or martial art? None of these…

In the online marketing jargon, these terms are intended to categorize online marketing activities, software, and solutions (at least after a few hours of discussing the topic). ToFu stands for “top of the funnel”, “MoFu” is middle of the funnel and LoFu the bottom of it (From what I saw, people tend to use MoFu but I like LoFu better…). Catchy acronyms, no?

The real question I look at here is about where to put your energy when you are developing an online marketing effort. It is a very common question for online marketers, as it’s impossible to do everything well and everything at once. As a direct result, it is quite legitimate to ask where to start and what to focus on. I am certainly not enough of an expert to provide THE right answers but I still have some ideas…

From a strategical point of view, it’s a no-brainer; you must cover the whole journey of the online customer acquisition!

Indeed, if you are serious about online marketing, it really makes no sense to not invest in all battles! You must have a plan to grow your traffic and broaden your funnel (ToFu).  You must have a plan to better nurture your audience and prepare them to jump to the lower level (MoFu), and finally you must have a plan to efficiently transform the ones from it that qualifies them for the customer profile!

Just like a triathlete cannot bypass one of the disciplines, an online marketer can not think about improving all steps!

I have a good example, based on my own experience, that really goes in that direction:

A year or two ago, I was looking at a collaborative Q&A solution, and I heard about a company that was making some buzz, who was coming up with an innovative solution in that respect. The company was very good at the top and mid level (ToFu and MoFu): I was into their offer, ready to be nurtured, engaged! A few smart blog posts helped me think about my needs and think about what they offer. Result: I clearly positioned them as the best candidate. I was ready for stage 3 – LoFu: look at detailed budget and operational questions and may be engage with a sales person! And here is where they were not good at all! I hope for them that they have improved, but apparently they didn’t want me as a customer… It was impossible to reach their Sales team and get details on pricing despite all my effort to buy.

 Failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience.

I still don’t understand what happened (my best bet being that the company was not ready to sell and the first stage of the demand generation marketing machine was launched too early.  It should have stayed a buzz and teasing thing). After a bit of patient waiting, I totally changed my mind and categorized this company as a not-serious and opportunistic vendor that I would in no way want to deal with!  I would not change my mind anymore!

Funny enough, a sales rep from this company called me something like 6 months later, but no need to say that my perception was not reversed at all. I guess (and hope for them) that they improved in the meantime but for me, evil was done. Also for the curious (total disclosure here,), I decided in the meantime to implement OSQA, a pure open source solution.

A classic of customer experience management: failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience. Summary:

The only viable strategy is to care for all the stages of your funnel!

But this is about strategy, and not about tactics. And, especially if you have limited resources and most of us are in that situation, it is also important to be able to focus your effort! So, what can we say when it comes to tactics? Here I wish I would know about it all and was more of an expert, as it can be very tricky. I do have some ideas to share though:

  • No case is like another.  If you look for a pre-made tactic, there are quite some chances your findings will not fit you
  • The first thing is certainly to know about yourself and your organization so you can pick the right tactic and know where to improve. Assess strengths and weakness of your organization, check out risks and opportunities in regards to this, use traditional “good sense” driven SWOT analysis
  • Always have your final goal and KPIS in mind.  It is good to have metrics for all activity but make sure they always connect to the final goal of your online business. As an example, a typical mistake would be to only look at traffic when working on ToFu, and not the final goal (for instance Online Sales)
  • All is connected.  It is certainly good, if you can, to iterate small steps and tackle the 3 levels of your online marketing in an incremental manner
  • Always make your team aware of the 3 layers and make sure they are committed to the final goal, even if some are focused on some specific area of your funnel

And finally, I would say that you should alway think “lean”. The “think big, start small” motto fits perfectly to the online marketing discipline. There is a lot of room for successful, measurable small activities that are really meaningful as long as you keep the global, “big” thought of where you want to go!

About tactics: be lean, think big, start small!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time soon to rant on the topic more, as it is really interesting and so much of a recurring question! In the meantime, I’d take any advice or view on it! For now I’ll stick with these acronyms, and will enjoy a dose of ToFu or MoFu.  Back to my real work!

Another Way to Look at the Consumerization of IT

Image: © Scott Adams, May 28, 2008. Dilbert.

I ran through a lot of content dealing with the topic of consumerization of IT over the last months. A lot of “not that interesting noise” but also some good thoughts!  One of the latest on this good side being a conference keynote at info360, a panel run by Tony Byrne on this topic where Carin Forman, Director, Digital Photo Services, for HBO touched the topic in a way that I liked. Since then, I’ve been paying more attention to the topic, up to finally writing a small post on this blog, mostly because I thought I needed to put my ideas together in one place!

First as an intro, I should say that I have been a big supporter of the idea for a long time, from the day I have been able to use the same computer system at home and work (a Mac if you ask…) this has been a huge step forward in my digital life. Don’t get me wrong, this has little to do with the Mac itself and the same story could happen reversed: the one of a PC fanboy being finally authorized to use a PC in his all-Apple company! But it must be said that Apple has been instrumental in making all this happen on the hardware side, as much as Google has lately on the software side.

My other great moments of being part of this consumerization of IT thing have been when I have been able to easily access my company network from the outside (and still securely), when I have been able to use the same mobile device for both uses or more recently when I have been able to use the same ultra-usable and enjoyable web-based office and collaboration suite for personal and professional matters! The same story as millions of others…

It’s  not as simple as using Facebook on the other side of the firewall 

However, in my fields, our fields, Content Management, Information Management, Document Management, etc. I have been a bit annoyed by the way some are pushing the idea. I don’t think it is as simple as using Facebook on the other side of the firewall (which makes me think of this good article from Aaron Shapiroyou’ll need more than Facebook). I don’t think this as much as I was not thinking using the paradigm of blogs for all websites (from e-commerce to corporate communication) was the one solution to rule them all (I remember this being pitched at some Sixapart’s events when blogs were supposedly to take over content management and e-commerce solutions). I don’t think Digital Asset Management is always as simple as the combo iPhoto+iCloud.  I think larger organizations and even smaller businesses have totally different needs and preoccupations than consumers, and, very simply,  that they don’t need the same tools! This doesn’t mean I don’t embrace this idea of consumerization. I am a big believer in it. I think it is the way to go for enterprises if they want to meet efficiency! It is just that I look at the way we build solutions.

What do Facebook, Tweeters, Dropbox, Netflix, Amazon, eBay have in common? They are all, at their very core, Product Companies. They all designed and built a product absolutely tailor-made for their customers, that translate in remarkable experiences. A product that maximizes the user satisfaction, efficiency and productivity! None of them are using standard, off the shelf product! More than that, they are inventing what we call Digital Experience, setting the standards.

That is what enterprises have to replicate when it comes to building their customers’ and employees’ experiences: being a product organization and building wowing experiences for their employees as much as for their customers. (By the way this reminds me of  another good article from Mike Gualtierisoftware is not code, it creates experience ) whose first axiom is so true:

‘Software is not code; it creates experience’

And then it is about providing enterprises with the right tool set and solutions to enable them to be themselves: “product” organizations.   This must enable them to focus on the experiences they need to build and not on the code they need to write.  This doesn’t mean nothing comes off the shelf.  There are certainly commodity bricks (after all there are many in the consumer side as well). Focus on the product.  Focus on the experience! That, and only that, will enable users to reach the same level of satisfaction they are having in their personal digital lives.

Every enterprise should be a “Product” Organization!

This is why I like companies I work and worked for. Both Nuxeo and eZ have this strongly in their DNA. They are not boxed solutions.  They are platforms that enable their users to build on top of them, to make their own product, and in the end to create efficient and successful experiences for their users! But, of course, it takes much more than only the technology…

The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management

Next month, I’ll be in San Francisco for the AIIM conference, invited by the brilliant Laurence Hart to participate in a panel with some fellow ECM practitioners  from more traditional ECM providers as well as from emerging cloud-based services.  Visit the AIIM website if you want to know more.  Of course I hope to see you there!

I look forward to this discussion, as the topic is interesting to me and comes right on time: Lately in our industry I have read a lot of things which tend to oppose  “cloud-based solutions” and “open source solutions” and describe them as exclusive. It first started with some business analysts.  Often these people want to put us software makers in  very limited boxes; which I understand – it’s their job. I never really understood why eZ Systems (where I worked before) and Nuxeo (where I work now) but also Acquia, Alfresco, Liferay, Hippo, whether it is about ECM or WCM, should be in an “Open Source” box, and not simply in an “Emerging vendor” box.  To me, it is for their features first that both eZ and Nuxeo should be considered (or not) for a project, not for their open source characteristic — features including those functional, technical and economical. So as much as I hardly understand the “open source” box now, I don’t really understand why we, “open source vendors”, are opposed to the folks in the very wide and undefined “cloud” box, as if both cloud and open source were mutually exclusive.

Hopefully the discussions will be about how cloud-based services and other solutions, originally more driven by individuals than organizations, might impact ECM solutions. I have my vision about it and to me, it is an interesting topic to discuss. But for now I won’t speak about this topic.  I will keep it for later and will stick to the “cloud vs. open source” topic.

I have just read John Newton’s blog post “Cloud vs Open Source? I don’t think so!” which came as a reply to Lubor Ptacek’s predictions for 2012 which I also read (Lubor will actually be part of the panel mentioned above). Will we speak less about open source in 2012? Well, maybe yes, as it’s becoming less of a buzzword, at least as a differentiator and more of an established model, but it certainly has nothing to do with cloud. Companies like Nuxeo and Alfresco are obviously (emerging) competition to big players like OpenText and they are growing, gaining marketshares, and becoming more and more important competitors.  Their solutions are, by the way, obviously more modern and thus naturally fit better in a cloud world (and no I won’t say here which one fits better in my opinion 😉 ). So no, nothing to do with cloud indeed!

I agree with John Newton on many points he raised and to me, there is no need for a deeper dive. I must also say, though, that I disagree with some other things raised by Newton.  No, the cloud doesn’t run on open source software only, as the article implies. Saying this means as much as Lubor’s generalization, actually. A good share of the cloud runs on open source technology and a good share doesn’t.  Let’s say, for instance, SFDC and, hard to ignore when talking about cloud.  Surely these solutions have little OSS pedigree even if there must be OSS components somewhere in the salesforce stack. And don’t take me to Azur…

Back to my rant… Why do we still need to explain what open source means? Please stop that, and step up the discussion!

Open source is not a business model.  Open source is a development model.  Are we still talking about that? It is known to make better software. It doesn’t guarantee it makes good software by itself, and through different open source projects, you might find good and bad solutions. Being a cloud solution has nothing to do with these development considerations. The cloud is about how to deliver software as a service at different levels, from very end users to developers and sysadmins. It is about distribution and business models. Ask a small company like Automattic with a not that small of a product and you’ll understand both are extremely compatible!

People in our industry opposing cloud and open source should stop doing so.  This makes no sense! I somehow understand Lubor’s perspective, because OpenText obviously is a bigger and more established player, and isn’t in the cloud or open source areas. But dear analysts, reporters, practitioners, and consultants: please understand we are not talking about the same thing here and even if it is tempting, please don’t fall in that trap of mixing up the two.  This is like if I would ask you “Do you prefer organic coffee or espresso?”  The first is about how the coffee is grown, the second how it is poured.

(And I didn’t say open source had anything to do with organic coffee, but both of them are certainly better for the environment…)

Back to content management.  Whether on-premise or on the cloud, open source technology will provide a range of benefits more or less interesting for you depending on the window from which you look.  In the enterprise world, I see the hybrid on-premise/cloud deployment model as probably THE scenario we will see a lot in 2012-15 for this industry. I must say I share this prediction with Lubor.  And in this case, definitely open source will help!

Introducing the A, P and I of SaaS to people interested in the Cloud

It all starts here: trying to explain the different flavors of cloud computing to some not-too-IT-immersed folks… Truth is, if you’ve ever tried to do this, you quickly realize that it’s a bit of a challenge as you first have to cover the basics of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS! And (another truth be told), I would not say these are totally clear concepts yet and they will probably never be, so in order to explain well, you have to make things simpler than they really are. If you disagree, please comment on this post!

So the best way I’ve found to explain these 3 layers of aaS (namely Saas, PaaS, and IaaS) to the non-IT folks out there is with the help of visuals, in this case, an Image + Short definition of my own + Slogan + Examples.

A, P and I as a ServiceMy image representing Software is a pyramid, where on top, stands the end user, below him are a couple of developers developing the app that the end-user is using. Below these developers is an IT crowd made up of system admins and other operation folks making it possible for developers to develop and then deploy their apps! Ok, in the real world the pyramid should be inversed. It should have more users than developers, and more developers than ops (at least most of the time), but I like the image like this. If ops fails to keep the infrastructure solid, both devs and end-users collapse; if devs fail, end-users collapse.

A bit abstract, perhaps? Not a good drawing? And, maybe you’re wondering what this has to do with Software as a service?

Let me go straight to the explanation by jumping to definitions.

SaaS or Power to End-Users

As mentioned, standing at the top of the software pyramid is the end-user, he is the king, per definition. His experience is what makes software great (or not).

SaaS, which stands for software as a service is all about serving him, in the cloud. SaaS is about providing our end-user “king” a useful application in the cloud without having to deal with the technicalities of its development and its infrastructure.

Want a good example? Well, Salesforce initially invented it! Their CRM application, designed specifically for the sales force, freed the end-user of the burden of having to think about software installation, configuration or even updates. It enabled a consume as you go environment, giving Power to End Users! Talking about cloud content management, we can look at and see how the nice folks at Automattic have managed to deliver this as a service without having to dive into the nuts and bolts of the famous blogging software of the same name!

PaaS or Power to Developers

Let’s jump one level lower and discuss PaaS, which stands for Platform as a Service. In this realm, it’s not about end users but developers. PaaS brings Power to Developers. Here, they no longer need to think about the infrastructure, which comes to them in the Cloud, simple, straightforward, and on demand! Example? Well, here again, Salesforce did it well when releasing But other kinds of examples of this method of implementation can be found at CloudFoundry. In another flavor, what we do at Nuxeo, with Nuxeo Cloud, tackles the same concept—enabling developers in the cloud to build their apps in a simpler way.

IaaS or Power to Sysadmins

And going down one more level, to the foundation, we hit the IaaS floor. This is giving Power to Sysadmins. Developers will still develop as usual, they will use “servers”, “database”, “file systems storage”, “web servers”… all these tangible pieces of the system stack will not be hidden & abstracted from them. This also means we still need sysadmins to care for these systems, as we all know developers should focus on the application layer (ok, I know this is old school and I know there is some overlap between developers and sysadmins with disciplines like Devops, but let’s not get too far into that, otherwise my explanation will be hard to digest…) IaaS is simply this: it’s all about giving more power to ops!

This one is the easiest to provide an example for! Amazon with its AWS business is the obvious example, as well as a pioneer and by far the leader in this sector!

Cloud is all about Apps, Platforms and Infrastructure as a Service NO SOFTWARE branding

But isn’t PaaS and IaaS as much about software as SaaS? Definitely. Hence, if you ask me, the need to rename the top layer to AaaS (Application as a Service). After all,, probably the inventor of this layer itself has this strong and purposeful slogan: “No Software”…its about applications here, not about software, wherein A/P/IaaS all fall into the bigger SaaS basket. And now I’ll just wait for the evil techie who introduces API as a Service… but I should probably stop here!

I hope you enjoyed this short read. Honestly, I am not an expert of cloud computing terminology (I will leave this to the analysts) and I am neither a huge addict of boxes and categorizations, but obviously there are very grey areas between these layers. But as this subject keeps coming up in conversations with colleagues, friends (and soon…my parents? um, thank you Apple for introducing iCloud…), I thought it was high time to devote some space to it on this blog. I’m happy, as ever, if anyone likes it and, of course, if you want to comment and discuss, feel free to type below…

More predictions: Time for Transparent Content Management

Oh, I should start by saying I’m already a bit tired of reading predictions for 2012, and looking at the next year is so short term! So this one might be for 2013. If you ask me about 2012, I would tell you it will just be a smooth transition to the next year…

So here we go, what’s next for Content Management? I believe 2013 will be the year of Transparent Content Management, that’s my prediction—my only one. I won’t say it is “The year of Mobile Content Management”, “The year when the Web 3.0 reinvent Content Management”  or “The year the Cloud made it to ECM”, but simply the rise of what I would call “transparent content management” (some might have already use the term…).

I can say it another way: 2013 will be the death of Enterprise Content Management as a standalone entity! Enterprise Content Management will really become one of many horizontal pieces of the multidimensional puzzle that make up Enterprise Information Systems, just one piece of technology and processes that will be reused by all enterprise applications, in a transparent way to their users. Enterprise Content Management will expand out of its original silo to all area of enterprise architecture, to a point where it almost even doesn’t exist by itself beside the technology layer, a one that talks only to architects and developers building apps.

Actually I’ve been expecting and even waiting for this to happen for a while. It all started during a conversation with one of my uncles who was managing a large department at INSEE, a respectable institution specializing in data analysis and statistics in France. He was running some of the organization’s operations and purchase processes. A man of numbers immersed in a house of numbers, where science and metrics dominate business decisions. I remember talking to him at that time, it was in my early years of dealing with content management, I was passionate about it and I was bidding for a large project at his organization, markets for which he would be the final signature. So, discussing the  topic, he told me plainly about his take on “content management”, challenging my passion with a very scientific scepticism: “What does this Content Management thing mean? Couldn’t you find something more unclear? We manage people, business, departments, processes…we certainly don’t manage content.” The man was and is certainly right; the more entrenched I become in this field, the more I think that words, thoughts, pictures, numbers, ideas and overall what we call content, manage you more than you manage them… Anyhow, it was ironic to see this man of data so skeptical about the concept of content management! I often think back to this discussion as it still challenges many of my thoughts…

More recently, I remember the words of Dries Buytaert, the young guy behind Drupal, giving a talk entitled  “R.I.P Content Management System”  at SXSW 2010 (see a cmswire note about it). At the time, now almost 2 years ago, I was working for eZ Systems, a WCM Open Source company, and Drupal was of course starting to be one of our serious competitors even if we kept saying “we are Enterprise and they are not…”. I was (and still am) disagreeing with the headline of this talk and think it was buzzy and opportunistic, implying Drupal killed the WCM market, which was certainly not true (no one did) and the content of the talk itself was actually quite different than what was implied.

But somehow now I must acknowledge Buytaert was a visionary at least in the headline. Beyond the “surfing the acronyms” wave, I truly believe the shift from WCM to WXM is a real one. Yes, you can manage the experience of your visitors, customers, collaborators online. No, I don’t think you really manage content—you use it, you leverage it, you benefit from it—but you don’t manage it; and WCM really became about that: managing and controlling user interactions on web channels! Of course this requires interactions on content, but also many other things as well (many of which ECM is not about, see my post about it).

And now, after 13 months at my new job with Nuxeo, focused on building an Enterprise Content Management Platform, I can only assess that ECM is going through a similar shift  as well, and give credit to my uncle and Dries. ECM is evolving to something else, something that doesn’t exist by itself, something that is more deeply linked to real business processes, more scattered into enterprise applications and information systems. What our technology helps manage is not content and documents but real business and organizational processes. Name some? HR processes, specific business asset management, invoicing processes, customer relationship management, e-librarians, contract management, customer support… you want more? I could certainly go on… but I won’t as this post is already way too long!

So, while I love to contradict people who tell me ECM is a technology and answer them by saying, “you’re wrong, it’s a process,” I might rewind… Content Management is not anymore a process by itself, it’s an integral part of almost all business processes. That is part of our vision at Nuxeo, to move from traditional ECM to ECM platforms enabling the development of business apps that are content-centric. It is like “Communication” and almost as important. If Communication is king, Content Management is Queen, and together they can enable any business and organizational process. And this way, content management will be everywhere, but transparent, users won’t have to know about it!

On this note, I wish you all a happy new year from new york and would love to hear about your retrospectives and predictions for 2013 or 2012!

Happy New York

We released Nuxeo Platform 5.5!


Earlier last week, Nuxeo released Nuxeo Platform 5.5. It was good to be part of this trip.
A bunch of new great features, plenty of core improvements, and a new official name “Nuxeo Platform” that comes with the fact that all the functional modules of Nuxeo, Document Management, Case Management, Digital Asset Management as well as the new Social Collaboration features are now packaged into one single product.

I wont say too much about it here, I would recommend to jump on the release note if you are technical, to have a sneak peek of the features if you’re not, or to simply get the “big-picture” looking at the following infographic.

Nuxeo Platform 5.5

Mixing Content Management and Comics for the best of Content Geeks

It’s been a while since I had a chance to take some time to post here!

One of the reason is that I started to write and post on a new blog, Content Geeks, with a few other Nuxeo fellow. Note that this is not a Nuxeo blog, so we would be glad to welcome anyone with good insights on content management technology to post there! Direct results: less post here, and I think they will be also shorter and lighter…

Anyhow, I just wanted to post a quick note here tonight to share my pleasure of our experience on Content Geeks. We had a chance to write and have Soulcie, a young talented french cartoonist, as a Cartoonist for our articles. I always have been a big fan of Cartoons in newspaper, being an avid consumers of them from “Le Monde” to “The NewYorker” via many many other publications. The result: a real pleasure to have the chance to combine Content Management with Cartoons 😉

If you want to have a look, you can check this portfolio of his work on Content Geeks, or simply browse on all the articles of Content Geeks, to have the context!

A sample:
Hokusai + Soulcié
I hope you like it as much as I do!



Why does a connector between ECM and WCM make sense?

A straightforward view on the question for people confused by too many CM based acronyms out there.

Last week we announced at Nuxeo, jointly with our friends from Hippo, that we teamed to offer integration software enabling a connection between Nuxeo Open Source Document Management system and the Hippo Web Content Management and portal solution. I won’t comment too much on the technology side and the standards behind this connector, but rather would like to give a quick insight on why that makes sense in my opinion.

One could indeed question this, and we do talk to many people as they explore and evaluate technologies, who are not really clear on what is usually meant by the Enterprise Content Management and Web Content Management terms.

To add to the potential confusion, the promise of many ECM and WCM vendors is often to offer some sort of 360° approach so that all stakeholders in the organization involved in the process of delivering or managing information can use the same tool — theirs — from the very early phases of working on the core of the content to the final ones of making it available to your audience on your online channels. Newcomers to the fantastic world of Content Management might be very interested in this vision! And this can only be more attractive when large vendors are offering both ECM and WCM in their portfolio, often branded as part of a unified suite, (but sometimes coming from totally different products that may not necessarily be communicating well with one another…)

So why do we make connectors between ECM and WCM, and why do we keep having vendors specialized in one or the other? To me, if we had one explanation to give, it would certainly be a very pragmatic one, simply looking at how people use content management solutions on the ground.

So let’s forget about the promises of marketing collateral and let’s look at how things are out there in the real world! Things are indeed slightly different, WCM is very much focused on building an online presence, and requires a pretty good understanding of what is a website, how we engage with visitors on that website, and what are the goals, rules and best practices to follow to make the best of this web channel (branding, information, lead generation, sales …). In short, it is very close to online marketing. This means that WCM solutions are used most often by Communication and Marketing departments, or departments dedicated to Online Content if we are talking of a pure Media or Content company. That is where they find users who adopt them!

In the same real world, document management and ECM solutions are not as strong in the areas mentioned above, simply because it is not in their DNA! They were not born and raised in a world where we speak online conversion, engagement, interactivity, A/B testing, zoning and SEO … but in a world where we speak collaboration, documents, capture, records, workflow, storage, information retrieval, document versioning. This makes them solutions used more widely in the organization, usually by all sort of users, more or less the same ones that are using Office suites; but never touching the specifics of “how” you will place and direct this content on the online stage!

Take a very simple organization, let’s say a small business with around 80 employees. Even in such a small business, in most cases, the WCM solution will be used only by a few people in the Communication or Marketing department, plus may be a few others from the management team. On the other hand, there is a high chance that the company has a unified document repository, managed through an Intranet application or directly from Office, and used by all to keep a repository of documents and information alive and available to the whole company. Do we really need to look at how this looks like in larger enterprises?

Users and usage are not the same, and if you want a pragmatic way to bring content from the company internal repository to the company online presence, without creating revolutions, you have very few options: let your Communication and Marketing team do the work manually (with a risk of losing control of versions, duplicating content… and have a very unhappy webmaster) OR you can bridge the WCM and ECM applications, changing as little as possible the way users interact with them!

In summary, different usage, different users, very little in common beside the C & the M; a connector between your favorite WCM and your favorite ECM solutions will enable you to keep your users in charge of the Websites, while working in a tool that is good for that (and keeping them happy!), and will let anyone in your organization prepare content that could potentially be taken on the big stage of the Web with no effort and simple control!

I would of course love to hear other opinions or stories about the marriage between ECM and WCM, but one thing is sure, at Nuxeo we know where our focus is, and while we make a strong platform (Nuxeo Enterprise Platform) that can be use to develop many types of content-driven applications, we are happy to connect our Document Management solution with Hippo WCM, as well as with other solutions, whether they be WCM, WEM, CRM, ERP, PLM or some other acronym!

A zest for agility (and agile tools) in our Marketing

Upon joining Nuxeo, I had to not only start work on the Product side, but also lead our Marketing team. Our team is a bit complex to manage, it is splited across several locations, Paris, Boston, San Francisco (and sometimes more…). It has grown with different people, on different roles, some usually not considered as Marketing related, like documentation and UI designer.

I must say I am tempted at times to rename us from “Marketing” to “Product Perception” because in the end we are a product company and the most important thing that matters!

I wanted to write this post to share some of our experiences as I, and I should say WE as a team could see that we had a couple of issues in the way our team was running. So, we tried a couple of things to improve. To sum it up, our main issues centered around difficulties in:

  • Connecting with the rest of our company, and sometimes understanding it
  • Maintaining control on the flow of tasks, and making sure they continued moving at a good pace, with an emphasis on getting many a lot of things done and having as little as possible in standby
  • Understanding, even within the same team, to know someone who does what

As I come from an engineering background,I could see the value of some of the agile development methodologies and, more specifically, the SCRUM methodology. We decided to give it a try with a couple of concepts taken from them! After all, even though Marketing is not development, they are very similar on many levels: you have to manage complex tasks (often involving several players, most of which are dependant on others), you have deliverables like in software development, you have to manage quality like in software development, and as a manager you have to be able to have predictability and to take your velocity at the max! So why not?

On top of this, I have the conviction that trying to share the same methodology and also tools with other teams in the organization will help us improve the company.

Of course, the mistake would have been to apply Scrum “by the letter”. We would more try to make our own methodology and organization taking some good practices of SCRUM or other Agile methodologies. For instance, the simple fact of being geographically dispersed, and in different time zones, some almost not overlapping, is not necessarily scrum friendly, which  is an issue that has often been raised. So, no Scrum “by the letter”, more slight adaptation and inspirations. We’re still experimenting, but here is what we’ve done so far:

  • Cohesion, understanding, and collaboration — We try to have some sort of Scrum Meeting everyday. We don’t have a fixed name, I used to call it the Daily Scrum but the name isn’t important. What is important is that we take a few minutes to quickly exchange notes on what we are working on that day, what we just achieved, and also raise any topic where collaboration might be needed but not anticipated. Due to different cities and different time zones we can’t make this as a stand up face-to-face meeting, like the book (or the rugby rules) define it. What we do instead is, depending of the days, carve out 15mins in a jabber chat room using instant messaging or do it asynchronously as an email chain. I think it’s good to not be too strict about it and have some flexibility, but it is also important to have the discipline to not forget and keep doing it. In two months it’s definitely brought value and allowed us to have a better understanding of who we are as a team, giving us more visibility on what we do, and enabling us to identify issues related to time such as schedules, bottlenecks or overlaps.
  • Focus and iterations — We also try to have sprints, like in the scrum book. It’s not as clearly defined, but we hold a “sprint” meeting every two weeks (initially we decided on a 2 week iteration cycle, but might extend it — I don’t think shortening it would be good for us). Some might think this is just a usual team meeting, but we really treat this as a sprint meeting, where we do both do a retrospective of the last 2 weeks: what did we achieve? And more importantly, did we achieve what we wanted to? Then we go through the major items, the focus points for the next 2 weeks. We certainly don’t make a very strict planning of the next two weeks, but we try to identify the items that matter the most at the time and decide to focus more on these and try to agree on a reasonable list of things to get done. This helps  to control the pace, and also helps in minimizing the list of tasks sleeping, in standby, half-done, “ni fait ni à faire” as we would say in French. This may actually be closer to Kanban than to Scrum, but I consider it an essential factor in helping us become efficient and productive, all the while maintaining a good mood, which in the end, is what a company like ours is all about!
  • Tools — We, like so many people today, were really tired of how we collaborate. Of course we have an excellent Collaborative Open Source Document Management solution at Nuxeo, that we use ourselves 😉 but this does not address all the different types of project collaboration that we engage in. We were still living with a lot of email, IM, and others communication vehicles in which information can get lost or buried in an inbox. What we decided is to give the same tool our tech colleagues use for development a try, specifically Jira. Jira is known as a ticketing system for software development projects but to me it’s really more than that, it’s a global project and task management tool. The start was slow, for some (including me), because the user interface of Jira is not the most appealing (a lot of clicks, often a lot of useless fields) but we quickly found it very very helpful, and on its way to becoming our best friend! Even though it’s designed or project management or software development, it really works for our activities as well! And, the icing on the cake, we just did the migration to Jira 4, which incorporates many enhancements to the UI addressing some of the previous issues we had with usability, making it much more pleasant to work with! For us, using Jira really improved some of the tasks that we do all the time, like launching a marketing campaign or releasing a product.
So what’s next? For us a lot more of exploration of Jira’s capabilities, as it demonstrated high value! I am jumping now in customization of Jira and I am sure we can optimize many things… Also trying to gain in being able to do good estimate on “user stories”, so we will jump in the game of the estimation process. I would love to hear and read about other Marketing team following the same kind of approach for collaboration and project management!

BIRT Integration with Nuxeo EP: Welcome to ECM Business Intelligence

At Nuxeo, we released last week on our Marketplace an integration between BIRT and Nuxeo Enterprise Platform (EP). For those who don’t know about it, here is, in short, what BIRT is and can do for your business.

BIRT is a reporting tool provided by Actuate, a US based software company dedicated to this sector of Business Intelligence. It enables report designers to prepare reports on the data sources of their choice with all the advanced features a report designer might need … BIRT also comes (of course) with a rendering engine — the software that takes care of report generation and enables BIRT to not only to design reports but to make them available in different formats (HTML, PDF, image, etc.) to end users.

Of course, this is a very short summary, and I am not a specialist, so if you want to know more, you should check out this introduction or Google it a little — you will find a lot of resources.

So, the way we integrated BIRT with the Nuxeo platform is very straightforward for the end user and I think it can provide a lot of value. BIRT report designers, as power users, will use BIRT to define report models in the usual BIRT way: in BIRT itself as a standalone desktop application. What the integration brings to them is the capability to query the Nuxeo system directly when making reports. This was not as simple as it might seem to achieve technically, and represent a good share of the work that has been provided in developping this integration. In a typical use case, this will however be very useful as the report designer will be able to work on a test environment and not on a production environment.

From that point, when report models are designed, Nuxeo administrators can upload them (a specific document type has been developed for that) into the Nuxeo platform and make them available so that other users might generate reports from them (another document type has been developed for that). This solution is very flexible as it relies on the permissions and rights managed by Nuxeo EP. A typical use case is to give access to a Report Models to a workspace administrator, who will create reports and made them available in the workspace(s) he is administering. Reports are then rendered directly on the Nuxeo platform at the right location, where the BIRT engine has been integrated on the server side.

So that is one aspect which is cool about the BIRT integration, but I only touched the functional part of it.

The other thing which is cool is about being Open, and we are fond of this at Nuxeo.

Like Nuxeo EP, BIRT is open source software, developed under the umbrella of the Eclipse Foundation, an organization where Nuxeo is also active (you might have heard about our project proposal Enterprise Content Repository). So this integration provides a totally Open Source approach to ECM analytics!

Of course, organizations can also explore a bit further and consider Actuate commercial products and services that can be used on top of BIRT, but having a software stack for serious ECM Analytics that is fully Open Source offers great value in my opinion!

Nuxeo Connect users can get this integration ready to roll after a couple of clicks on the Nuxeo Marketplace.

Others, you might want to get the source code from the source code repository or simply sign up for a 30-day free trial of Nuxeo Connect to give it a test drive. It is as simple as download Nuxeo DM, our Open Source Document Management system, signing-up for the trial in the configuration Wizard and and downloading and installing the BIRT Integration package from the Update Center of your installation of Nuxeo Document Management. And if you want a deep dive into the way this has been done, you can also just jump in the source code, available as ever at Nuxeo!

If you want to see this integration “live” with no effort, just follow the screencast published for that purpose, a nice introduction to it:

More resources:

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