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The Rise and Demise of RSS

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kvarley
3 days ago
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Mostly avoid unit tests

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kvarley
10 days ago
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The Sitecore Paradox #cms #wcm

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I've been following Web Content & Experience Management vendor Sitecore since it emerged from the primordial soup of Nordic competitors in 2001 and eventually evolved its way to the top echelons of the global WCM market.  The company's focus on core R&D and channel-based selling proved a winning strategy, but I think Sitecore has hit a ceiling in recent years.

Impressively Complicated Platform

Natural selection made Sitecore an impressively rich if unusually complicated, developer-centric platform.  In fact, it's more of a toolkit, but that's a bonus for the vendor's integration partners.  Sitecore also hit on advanced personalization as an early focus, cleverly sensing that customers would very much like to buy this, even if almost no one had the chops to actually implement it.  In any case, all this heft led to a very complicated architecture.


Sitecore Logical Architecture, via implementation partner, Oshyn.

So, Sitecore joined the ranks of the WCM upper tier, became a "unicorn," and now competes directly with Adobe AEM, among others.  Adobe is the free sample for our WCM evaluation research, so you can read our critique yourself.  Many of the same problems customers experience with AEM also befall Sitecore licensees.  You face a greater risk of overbuying  than underbuying in the WCM market.

The Paradox of a High-End DXP

In recent years, Sitecore has also pursued a different journey, to become a "digital experience platform."  The idea is you put nearly all your digital engagement services in a single platform.  (Contrast with the likes of Adobe, IBM, and Oracle, who try to sell you a curious menagerie of acquired tools integrated mostly by sharing common brand names.)

Among other services, Sitecore wants to bundle in its Experience Platform (XP):

  • Web Content Management
  • Catalog Management
  • Customer Data Aggregation
  • Digital Analytics
  • Marketing Automation
  • Campaign Orchestration
  • Personalization
  • Social Media Management
  • And optionally Ecommerce


Sitecore XP Services Stack; Source: the vendor.

But do customers want this sort of omnibus platform?  This approach is a decent strategy for smaller enterprises that may have a digital team of one.  For a large enterprise with a sophisticated digital strategy, it's a total clusterfunk.  Such enterprises are working to separate out the pieces of their growing MarTech stacks for greater agility. 

The Sitecore model almost harkens to the era of über-webmasters, doing it all from a single control panel.  We don't live in that world anymore.  Specialized digital teams need different tools and interfaces.  Yes, integration has now become the prime MarTech challenge, but who wants to deploy an ill-fitting catalog or email marketing solution just because it's bundled with your WCM platform?

Perhaps you can't blame Sitecore entirely here, since their industry analyst advisors are promoting the myth of an "enterprise DXP."  But that's the thing about analyst advice — including any counsel you get from us at RSG — in the end we all have to be accountable for our own digital strategies.

Sitecore may point out that you can simply license a base CMS called "Experience Manager" (XM). The vendor is too clever by half here, since XM is not just the WCM bits disconnected from the rest of the platform, but rather a dumbed-down CMS product missing enhanced WCM features and some UX niceties of the larger edition. So you have to purchase the complete XP bundle to obtain the advanced WCM services that would justify Sitecore at all in the first place...

MarTech Stacks: Bigger at the Base, Smaller at the Edge

There's another big trend that's rising slowly but still rather ominous for Sitecore: large enterprises are breaking out journey orchestration, personalization, and customer data aggregation as separate horizontal tiers in their marketing stacks. They want these core enterprise marketing services to become disconnected from individual engagement silos. 

For the large customers it targets, I believe Sitecore's on the wrong side of history by bundling these services into their XP platform (though they're far from alone here).

"But We're Growing!"

Sitecore will tell you that it's growing regardless. The vendor's a private company so we can't confirm this, but I take them at their word.  Nearly all WCM vendors are expanding revenues as they roll out managed PaaS hosting as a new service line and convert to ungodly-lucrative subscription pricing.  (Flip side: you the customer is getting ripped off, but that's another story...)

The longer story is that customers don't actually deploy all of Sitecore's extraneous services.  I've heard running jokes among Sitecore integrators that licensees simply use the platform to build big fancy websites, and that's all.  The integrated analytics and email marketing?  "Demo candy."

The scope for WCM is getting skinnier.  That's a good thing. But it's a poor omen for Sitecore, Adobe, SDL-Tridion, Acquia, and others whose central value proposition seems to be, "we're expensive, so we must be good." You can still make a case for a higher-end WCM platform — and at times we make that case for enterprise subscribers who have fairly unique needs — but it's increasingly rare.

If you're an RSG subscriber and wish to discuss this further, feel free to schedule an advisory session with one of our analysts.

 

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kvarley
17 days ago
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Vinod Khosla, Beach Villain

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Billionaire investor Vinod Khosla has spent years trying to block public access to a public beach in California adjacent to property he owns. He's not only tarnished his reputation, but become a focal point for Americans' growing fear that the ultra-rich are buying the country from under our feet. A New York Times profile conducted at his invitation, then, threatens to be its least appealing article since the lavish fluffing it gave Ohio Nazi Tony Hovater. But Nellie Bowles' low-key lighting of the path to the sand is perfect. They shiv him with the headline of the year—"Every Generation Gets the Beach Villain it Deserves"—and she lets his monumental narcissism bleed out underneath it.
“I’ve never claimed people can’t come in from the ocean,” he says, seeming to suggest they swim around a rocky promontory. (“No, not death,” he says, when I call later to clarify. “Boats.”) ... “I mean, look, to be honest, I do wish I’d never bought the property,” Mr. Khosla says. “In the end, I’m going to end up selling it.” “If this hadn’t ever started, I’d be so happy,” he adds. “But once you’re there in principle, you can’t give up principle.” He frames the struggle in the Silicon Valley patois of contrarianism. “I’d rather do the right hard things now that I’m in,” he says, “than the wrong easy things.”
Khosla's complaining at Bowles after the article went up is a good example of the Musk Coefficient: the gap between the carefully-cultivated Silicon Valley entrepreneur monopersona and its bathetic "Trump with another 10 IQ points" failure state on Twitter.
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kvarley
20 days ago
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A supermarket pork producer is trolling one of fashion’s coolest brands

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A pig, nearing market weight, stands in a pen at Duncan Farms in Polo, Illinois, U.S. April 9, 2018. Picture taken April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Acker TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1927A6CBE0

It all started with a hat.

In its latest collection, the fashion-and-skate label Supreme released a ball cap with its name over a pleasant-looking graphic of blue sky over green pasture. Most of Supreme’s fanatical base, who will line up for hours when the brand drops new products, probably had no idea where the design inspiration came from. But one company definitely did.

Farmland Foods, a pork producer, pointed out on Twitter that the logo looked very familiar. It’s basically Farmland’s logo, with a different brand name.

Supreme has a history of pulling references into its collections from any source it finds interesting—art, film, music, whatever—without regard for the consequences. Its own logo, if you haven’t heard the story, is an unsanctioned play on the artist Barbara Kruger’s work, which prompted Kruger to reply by calling Supreme a “ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers.” Farmland, though, took a different route in its response.

The pork company then staged a photo shoot for Instagram with, it claims in a caption, real farmers on a real farm, decked out in some Supreme pieces.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Farmland clearly has some knowledge too. “The Fall/Winter collection: for looks as crispy as our bacon,” one caption reads. “Crispy” was a term meaning something like “fresh” that came about with the brief rise of #menswear on Tumblr and menswear blogs years back. The company even incorporated some of Supreme’s cross-body bags—basically a rebranded fanny pack, and a hot item in fashion these days.

Instagram Photo

The gentle reproach made for a clever publicity stunt, getting coverage from sites such as AdWeek, Highsnobiety, and of course the site you’re reading right now. Supreme hasn’t publicly responded, but it’s probably not too upset about the attention. After all, Supreme has been known to cast some unexpected models itself.

Instagram Photo

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kvarley
20 days ago
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Tony Hawk: 50 tricks at 50

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Tony Hawk, amazingly nice guy and skateboard legend, discusses aging and kicks some ass.

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kvarley
28 days ago
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