Smart companies master complexity with multiple integration strategies
- Knud Kegel Senior Vice President, Business Development
- Feb 11, 2013
Not all that long ago, a website was simply a combination of static HTML pages that supported the most common web browsers. Web Content Management Systems stored these pages in a dedicated repository and served up static, one-size-fits-all experiences to all visitors.
While this was sufficient for the challenges of that time, the new era demands a new generation of products with the ability to manage any type of digital asset – whether it resides within the built-in repository or comes from an external source.
With a multitude of possible online channels (mobile, tablet and all the major distributions), it is no longer clear from the beginning where the content will ultimately be delivered to engage your audience.
In order to master this challenge, WCM vendors and their customers must shift from a page-based paradigm to an information-based approach that enables business users to optimize the way content is accessed, interpreted, and represented on any channel or device.
But companies cannot afford content silos, and need to combine all relevant information to provide a best possible experience to their Web visitors and the business users that design those experiences.
In most enterprises, mission-critical content is spread across various specialized systems and repositories such as product catalogues, digital asset or document management systems. Each system comes with its own unique user interface, forcing business users to learn and work with a zoo of different UI paradigms in parallel.
In order to solve the dilemma, a solution has to play well with existing software systems by offering a range of sophisticated integration mechanisms. In order to facilitate integrations at any level, WCM vendors need to provide integration practices that specifically address the following integration and management requirements: content aggregation, content syndication, and polyglot persistence.
- Content Aggregation
Most WCM systems will support an integration scenario where external content is first imported into the Web repository so it can be treated with the same mechanisms as native content. While this is a critical requirement, it is insufficient. It must be paired with an “importless” approach that allows content to reside outside of the importing system and store only a reference to the external data, along with additional metadata as needed.
- Content Syndication
Content syndication is the provision of content managed in the Web repositories to other, external services. WCM vendors must provide a set of proactive components that can be plugged into the any web property’s syndication logic components. These components send notification events of changed content in the repositories. Custom syndication logic can then react to these events and push updates and notifications to content repositories on the receiving end.
- Polyglot Persistence
Polyglot persistence is a fancy way of saying that your WCM system needs to support multiple specialized data storage architectures rather than a single general-purpose database. Powerful integrations in diverse landscapes ask for the right data store for the right use case. Smart WCM vendors will provides at least two different repositories for content storage to specifically address stable and volatile content strategies. Stable repositories – typically build on traditional RDBM technology – provide support for more static, long lifecycle content. It is typically versioned and managed by dedicated editorial staff. Volatile repositories (often build on more scalable NoSQL technology) are designed for use cases where there are high peaks in the content stream and a short content lifecycle. These kinds of repositories are typically used for social media or transient 3rd party data such as stock quotes and weather data.
Organizations have realized that the current business reality demands a new generation of WCM systems to satisfy the needs of their audiences in terms of a unified, personalized experience across all digital channels. For a WCM system to be effective, content should be personalized, compelling and relevant. Strong and flexible integration tools in the WCMS allow for cross-platform usage of information and thus make this essential task easy and straightforward.
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