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Today's applications are saying to content: "Don't just sit there, do something!"

This article appears in the issue October 2013, [Vol 22 Issue 9]
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Enterprise content management (ECM) has become far more than a way to store documents. Content is now being put to work in more proactive ways, to support marketing initiatives, foster customer engagement or ensure compliance. Partly as a result of that expanding use of content, the global ECM market is expected to grow more than 16 percent per year from 2013 to 2019, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Siemens Enterprise Communications, a joint venture of The Gores Group and Siemens AG, provides integrated communication systems for voice, video, collaboration, mobility, contact centers and network infrastructure. With a large range of products and a global network of partners that market them to users, the company places a high priority on keeping the partners up to date on all aspects of its offerings. However, because that information was being maintained by each partner separately, it was not always consistent or current.

To ensure accurate and timely content on the websites, Siemens Enterprise Communications opted to coordinate the content distribution centrally. "Many of our resellers are small organizations," says Robin Pilcher, head of global channel marketing for Siemens Enterprise Communications, "and they simply did not have the resources to maintain the content relating to our solutions." To support that approach, the company deployed Content Syndication, a solution from TIE Kinetix. TIE Kinetix also provides e-commerce, business integration, business intelligence and supply chain solutions.

The first step that Siemens Enterprise Communications took was to syndicate the delivery of various types of content to the resellers' websites, including product data, reports from analysts and white papers. In addition, Siemens provided tools such as savings estimators that let prospective customers see how much the solutions could save their businesses. "Providing comprehensive information about our solutions in the reseller's website meant that Web visitors were less likely to have to leave the site for additional information," says Pilcher. "They were much more likely to stay on the site and ultimately, more likely to buy from that same reseller."

Realizing the value

Deploying the syndication solution involved specifying the data source from Siemens Enterprise Communications, and having each partner embed a small HTML script in their website. "They were up and running in about 15 minutes," recalls Pilcher. "Now, whenever a piece of content such as a brochure is updated, the system automatically pulls it from our content management system and pushes it out to the websites of our partners. It performs complex tasks and yet is simple to use."

Siemens Enterprise Communications has expanded its use of TIE Kinetix Content Syndication since the initial deployment. "We quickly realized the potential of other capabilities offered by the platform, which could help our partners to grow their businesses," Pilcher explains. "For example, we are now deriving considerable value from the extensive analytics. We can see which pages are getting the hits, and offer suggestions about changes the partners can make to further enhance the Web experience for their customers and prospects."

In addition, the company is also employing the ability of TIE Kinetix Content Syndication to support e-mail campaigns. "Our partners can select from 40 different e-mail campaigns, and send the messages to their prospects," Pilcher says. "The e-mails contain links that send the recipient back to the relevant page on the partner's website." Analytics in TIE Kinetix tell the partner whether the recipient has opened the message and clicked on the link and what materials have been downloaded. "TIE Kinetix is not just helping our partners improve their websites but also is driving people to them, and alerting the partner as to what the prospect is looking for," he adds.

Siemens Enterprise Communications is extending its support to the partners by using syndication to "push" important sales, marketing and technical information directly to the partners' intranet. "Normally, the partners would have to come to our portal to find this information," Pilcher explains. "We look at the top 20 percent of content they are seeking out and designate it for distribution. Once it's identified, the TIE Kinetix system will push it out automatically."

Boosting engagement

Recognizing the importance of social media in marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications has found a way to use TIE Kinetix to further augment its partners' resources. "Our company frequently uses Twitter to update and inform our followers," says Pilcher. "We provide the option for our partners to receive a relevant selection of these tweets that will be sent directly through to their followers on Twitter. If our partners do not have tweets of their own, they can benefit from ours to help them increase engagement with their own followers. TIE Kinetix manages the process of delivering this content."

Making the best use of existing assets is a driver for content syndication. "There is a new desire to author once and have reusability throughout multiple sites or channels," says Alan Weintraub, principal analyst at Forrester. "From a marketing perspective, it makes sense to streamline the process because that enhances productivity as well as effectiveness."

The next generation of ECM products needs to focus on effective distribution channels, according to Brian Tervo, president and CEO of TIE Kinetix North America. "Our products are designed for collaborative content distribution," says Tervo. "We help customers place their assets out on multichannel environments, usually for lead conversion or the purchase process in e-commerce engagement. Content cannot be static, waiting for the user to find it. Content needs to move."

The content distribution carried out by TIE Kinetix's products is collaborative in that it is blended with the content of partners or VARs. "For many high-end purchases, people don't just go to a website and make a purchase," Tervo observes. "Customers need a nurturing process that can orient them to the brand, and one that is merged with local and regional vendor information as well as from the brand being marketed." TIE Kinetix provides a framework through which the local partner can contribute its own dynamic content, which is mixed on the fly with the corporate assets to produce a unique yet consistent Web experience for each site.

Content for compliance

Few industries are as heavily regulated as those involving clinical trials on pharmaceutical products and medical devices. Companies that test those products conduct studies ranging from Phase I trials in which safety is tested on small groups of people, through Phase IV post-marketing trials on large populations. "The strongest cases for ECM are in compliance and productivity," says Forrester's Weintraub. "In the life sciences, the emphasis is on compliance."

Because of the impact on human lives, every aspect of the trial process is monitored, including training, operational procedures and record keeping. Companies engaged in this work must be prepared for audits from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, fda.gov) on short notice. Providing the necessary documentation requires tight control and ready access to content, as well as an audit trail that reflects the appropriate approvals and processes.

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