Tag Archives: maturity

Don’t buy licenses from your system integrator

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ContractThis week I've talked to several members in our community of practice who were all of the impression that CMS licenses can only be bought from system integrators. This is undoubtedly in the interest of your system integrator, but for the vendors I cover, you can buy the software directly from the vendor as well. In most cases this will be to your advantage.

Most recently a customer of Danish CMS vendor Sitecore told me that they had fired their system integrator and were now dealing directly with Sitecore. For a small additional sum the customer now had direct access to engineering and support. Interestingly Sitecore pride themselves on working exclusively through partners. To quote the Sitecore website:

Sitecore is completely dedicated to the Partner channel and has developed a program to maximize profitability for Partners with Sitecore solutions

In another case, Swedish CMS vendor EPiServer teamed up with their system integrator to try and convince a prospective customer that the system integrator was responsible for delivery and should therefore also be responsible for license delivery.

Apart from my usual concerns about corruption, here's why you should buy your software licenses directly from the vendor:

  • it will be easier to divorce your system integrator
  • closer relationship with the vendor, potentially with better support and direct engineering contacts
  • increased likelihood of getting a better price as you take out the intermediary

The only disadvantage is that this might take some escalation and negotiation. Also, your system integrator might be left unhappy, but remember that the customer is always right. Right?

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Is corruption an issue?

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CorruptionGlobal corruption watchdog Transparency International defines corruption as

the misuse of entrusted power for private gain

You might think corruption is mainly an issue in places like sub-Saharan Africa or Myanmar, but unfortunately I've been exposed to several cases of this inside the online industry. Below some recent examples as reported by members in our Community of Practice. Judge for yourself, whether you feel this qualifies as corruption; perhaps even a corporate crime, such as corruption, or whether you think it is morally justifiable:

  • A member signed up for a US web conference and the employer naturally paid the USD 1695 conference pass as well as flight and hotel costs. In return the member received an iPod Touch (retail value from USD 229) at the conference.
  • One of our conference speakers was invited to speak at IBM Lotusphere, a 5-day conference with almost 10,000 delegates in Orlando, Florida. IBM picked up the flight and accommodation as well as a complimentary conference pass (retail value >USD 1000). A case of IBM inviting the speaker because of qualifications – or possibly one of pleasing a decision maker and good customer?
  • As a surprise gift one of our members received a very nice star telescope (retail value >EUR 1000) from their existing system integrator. Incidentally, the member was in the process of selecting a new CMS, which could potentially have led to the appointment of a new system integrator.
  • A proclaimed vendor-neutral consultant spoke at a vendor conference, where the vendor paid the "vendor-neutral" consultant a significant fee
  • Another vendor paid a significant fee and travel costs to get a newly hired analyst from an "independent research company" to keynote their annual user conference.

Transparency International has the following to say on the costs of corruption:

The effect of corruption on the social fabric of society is the most damaging of all. It undermines people's trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. Frustration and general apathy among a disillusioned public result in a weak civil society

I've seen many examples of contracts being signed with a vendor that was not actually the best fit for the project. As my old mentor always used to say: "The best product never wins". Perhaps he was referring to the fact that many buyers are corrupt. Many countries have laws or guidelines in place that puts limits on the monetary value of gifts that government employees can receive. Regardless of whether you work in the private or the public sector, I strongly feel that the above examples are, to say the least, morally wrong.

Do you agree that corruption remains an issue in this young and immature market? Do you have some examples to share? What can we do about it?

In the interest of full disclosure - J. Boye revenue from vendors is about 21 % of our annual turnover, which primarily is sponsorship money to our conferences, vendors attending as conference delegates and report sales. We do not consult for vendors (including system integrators) and they cannot join our community of practice. We also never speak at vendor events, nor do we accept freebies from vendors such as hotels or flight tickets.

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10 years with web content management – some inconvenient truths

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Inconvenient TruthBuyers are normally fairly smart, but tend to forget quite a few things. The web content management industry has now been with us for a bit more than a decade. Today trade press and analyst firms alike like to call the market mature and consolidated. In fact, buyers are still figuring out how to obtain the value they expected.

This year marks my 10th year in the amazing web content management industry and I've witnessed numerous things and also learned a few lessons. Many of those apply to other industries as well. Despite being valid lessons, they are often forgotten in the web content management arena. I recently poked my network, including the members in our J. Boye groups about their most significant lessons learned and received some good and often forgotten points such as:

  • Expectations, expectations, expectations
  • Never underestimate the content migration phase
  • Keep usability for the editors in mind when building and configuring the system
  • Content should never be managed by committee
  • Do not treat content as code or code as content. They are different beasts with different life cycles
  • A contract is only as good as your ability to enforce it
  • If you don't consider accessibility from the beginning of your project you won’t create an accessible website

This is all very good advice. However, I am increasingly being reminded of some inconvenient truths in this young and rapidly changing marketplace, e.g.:

I did a joint presentation with Tony Byrne from CMS Watch on this back in 2006 and still many -if not most- buyers have a hard time accepting these truths.You certainly can't expect vendors to suddenly begin promoting the fact that you'll need another system every 3 years. I'm optimistic about the market but a few things need to change.

Which inconvenient truths can you share?

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Jyllands-Posten: Blogs are not dead

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Jyllands-Posten logoJyllands-Posten, Denmark's largest newspaper and world famous for the infamous Mohammad cartoons, launched a new Danish blog-universe last month. A rather late launch compared to both other Danish and most international newspapers (e.g. New York Times started blogging back in 2004). Another indicator that the timing could have been better here comes from Wired journalist Paul Boutin, who has argued that "Writing a weblog today isn't the bright idea it was four years ago."

Another way to interpret Boutin's article, is that the timing is perfect. Boutin's argument is, that as an individual it no longer makes sense to have a blog, as you cannot compete with the professional media publishers when it comes to visibility on Google's index (meaning that nobody will ever find your postings). Jyllands-Posten is a professional publisher with a significant audience in Denmark, so following Boutin's logic it makes perfect sense that they finally started to blog.

Jyllands-Posten's strategy from an editorial point of view has been expressed clearly by the Cultural-Editor, Flemming Rose (the editor who was also responsible for the cartoons - my translation): "Freedom of speech is worthless if nobody is practising it. [...] Why remain silent when you can speak up?"

Jyllands-Posten blogs

Blogs give those with something to say a platform on which to voice their opinion while enabling dialogue and debate with the readers. Jyllands-Posten has invited well-known people to contribute and readers have already engaged in dialogue with the authors. This is best illustrated in the blog "Seen from the Right" (my translation), which is written by the self proclaimed 'national-conservative', Morten Uhrskov Jensen. Several of his posts have received over 50 comments in very few days and the debate has been rather intense.

I would argue that blogs are not dead. Instead, they are maturing and finding their place in the crowded market of content publishing. They still give everyone a way to express themselves and unlike Twitter and Facebook, blogs have a more permanent presence. It may very well be that you cannot write as well as David Pogue from the New York Times, but if you have a relevant topic you may need more than a 140 characters. While Twitter is great for shorter updates, try to imagine what Twitter would be like if there were nothing to link to? So what might be changing is that established media is fighting hard to win back mind-share.

As an organisation you can definitely use blogs to become more approachable for your customers. In Denmark we have seen the Danish dairy giant Arla being very successful in the blogosphere and on an international scale US computer firm Sun Microsystems ' Jonathan Schwartz has shown how a CEO-blog can spark dialogue and show openness. In the UK the London 2012 Blog is a good example of a relevant and popular organisational blog. They all show, that if you get it right, blogs can be a great way to engage with your customers and give them an informal way of communicating with the organisation.

Unfortunately, most organisations never get a blog because they worry too much about harsh comments and the time it will take maintaining the blog. In most cases, these concerns are overrated, and with some guidelines and a relaxed editorial schedule it's not that difficult to manage. You'll also get far with some public guidelines for comments, where you explain how you handle comments (see. e.g. our commenting guidelines).

What do you think - are blogs dead? If not, what are the challenges for making a corporate blog in your opinion?

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