Picking the Right Content Management System
This is part 2 of our marketing department’s journey to creating a scalable content management and delivery system.
Before MarkLogic I was with a semantic enrichment company that helped media companies “unlock value” by producing rich metadata to describe the content. We called it automatic tagging.
Now, tags are only as good as the database they are stored in and my prior company understood an XML database would help leverage those tags. We showed publishers of all sizes the one-two punch of automatic tagging and XML storage – but ran into problems when that database just couldn’t scale. That was when I moved to MarkLogic.
I believe MarkLogic is the perfect database for unifying, indexing, storing and delivering all types of data. Thing is, you need to build applications on top of it, which can be a barrier for smaller companies (and marketing departments) who do not have development teams on staff. And while we have a tremendous software development team at MarkLogic – ours is busy perfecting the database – and so we cobbler’s marketers would only yearn for and not use, MarkLogic.
Oh, the Pain
The MarkLogic marketing team – like every marketing team – is pounded with requests for content – by customers, sales, engineers, analysts, reporters – everyone. We can’t find assets because we squirrel them everywhere – free stuff, corporate stuff, personal stuff. I had a rep contact me from Europe for a specific asset. I actually “Googled” to find it. And so we struggle to find – or recreate instead of repurpose.
Oh there had been plenty of attempts to try other things – Salesforce Library for instance (blech) or the wiki – (seriously??). A former VP suggested some “great” tool – that resides on a relational database. Really? For “unstructured” content?? With every new asset type we introduced a new storage system. I had passwords for passwords. With a growing choir of “we can’t find anything,” my CMO, Michaline Todd, and I agreed: we needed to use MarkLogic. And we needed a partner to build the application. And we needed something yesterday.
My buddy and colleague Chris Hill and I had worked together at that other company – and even there we often rued the fact that we couldn’t find necessary documents … if only we could use …
Chris went on to head up Product Management for RSI, MarkLogic’s long-time partner that extensively served the media market. The company had been building content management systems on top of MarkLogic for years with its flagship product RSuite, which was more a framework that would be customized to workflow versus an actual product. That changed this fall when RSuite Team Edition was released. Chris promised me that this was what we were looking for – a turnkey product that would allow us to store, find, repurpose – and even track workflow.
At Chris’ urging I took a peek at the progress last January – and was frankly a bit meh. Our marketing team needed a content/asset management system that would let us find at the most granular level. The user interface was confusing and frankly I didn’t even know where to start. The team reviewing with me was skeptical.
(The “team” was a strategic assemblage of those who could socialize the benefits within our company as well as those who would use it regularly. The “sniper” was brought into the internal circle — he would either shoot it down or give cover.)
Something this difficult was never going to fly. Chris assured us that the new screens were only being created – and this was not the final user interface. How long I asked? Soon he said.
Context is Everything
When you have a systems need – there is the risk that something else will get there before you can get what you want. I urged Chris, who was moving as fast as he could, to move faster. Finally, in July he said it was ready for another review. My sister is an interior designer – and she finds that most people just can’t imagine what a teeny swatch will look like on a full couch. I think content management systems are the same. There are so many features – but people can only relate to them if they solve problems. So this time I packaged up a bunch of different types of assets – and created a little script for Chris to demo. The strength of MarkLogic is that it is the world’s most flexible database that enables search – of any type of asset. So let’s get everyone’s attention by solving our number one problem: WE CAN’T FIND ANYTHING.
As Chris promised the UI/UX were 100-fold better. Dashboards could be customized to suit the needs of the user. As I asked questions – could we have role-based security? — he demoed the answer. Not only could we have role based – but we could set it up so that folks who didn’t have permissions wouldn’t even know folders and content existed. Could we associate content elements with the “finished good?” He showed how we could link the word doc, the jpgs, the AI file and PDF. Could I track tasks I routed for approvals? Affirmative.
The system Chris was demoing was the one he and I craved over four years ago. I held my breath for our team’s feedback: They wanted to know when it could be installed. Exhale.