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Successfully Marrying Open Source and Large MarTech Stacks

From workflows to personalization and the importance of Open Source for the ever changing world of Marketing to meet higher client expectations.

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The #1 most asked question is, “How Do We Move From Pushing Content to Delivering a True Omni Channel Experience?”  Then it is followed by:

  • What are the Differences in MarTech Stacks, SaaS Apps, &
    Digital Experience Platforms?
  • How Do We Look at the Actual Total Cost of Ownership?
  • What are the Factors in Reducing Wasted Cycles in Digital Workflows?
  • What First Steps Should We Think About When Looking at a
    MarTech Stack?
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Not ALL Composable MarTech Stacks are Equal

  • Black Box – Software Lock Out: Software with Customization & External Integration Limits.
  • SaaS Style Platform Lock-In: Closed Environment with Workflow Lock-in, High Cost of Customization & Slow External Integration.
  • Micro Open Source Project: Sale, Small Specialized Software Evolved from a Product or Agency’s Bespoke Solution not compatible with or supported by a larger community.
  • Disguised Vendor Lock-in Within OSS: Framework, originally built on top of Open Source, but added code and SaaS Features create Lock-in.

Why use Open Source For Your MarTech Stack?

  • No Vendor Lock-in
  • No Licensing
  • Finite Control Over Data Ownership
  • Innovate Faster
  • Vast Modular Ecosystem
  • Customize Without Massive Regression Risks
  • Massive Install Base
  • Control Over Total Cost of Ownership Savings

Marketing Editorial Workflow Level of Effort

  1. Isolated System Architecture: WordPress out of the box with Plug-Ins. Brochureware Marketing sites with no connections or data sharing.
  2. Single Pipeline Architecture: CMS with SaaS data import streams. Simple Marketing site with one direction data stream.
  3. Duplex Data Stream Architecture: Two-way data stream.
    Ability to pass information from CRM etc. back & forth to the marketing site.
  4. Digital Experience Platform: Start of Integrated Editorial Workflows and Complex Data Integrations for CX
  5. Fully Modular DXP w/Custom Workflow: Completely Integrated Workflows and Data Ownership & Edge Processing
  6. Phygital Intelligence Platform: Fully Transparent Editorial Workflow and Instantly Interactive workflow w/ AI-Based Real-Time Sync

Slides From The Talk

Photos From The Event

Video Transcription

Karim Good morning, how is everybody? Good, awesome. Thank you everybody for coming. I'm really, really, really humbled and honored to be here at WordCamp Asia. The first one, it's amazing to see the WordPress community come out for everything that's going on here and I'm just really grateful that you chose me to come up here and share some of our stories with you.
So let's talk about bringing together Open Source and the Martech stack and where the future is going with that. So why am I up here?

I have the privilege of working at Crowd Favorite. I am the Ceo and Chief Strategist. Crowd Favorite, for those of you who don't know, was started by Alex King. Alex King was one of the original contributors to the first release of WordPress. His team in Denver did some amazing things in the very early years when everybody thought WordPress was just a blog.

I love Open Source, I love everything that is Open Source and I believe it is the future of the Enterprise. I started my career in closed source Enterprise systems at the dawn of the CMS and trying to understand what the Enterprise needed. So even though I've been doing this for almost 30 years, I've been in the WordPress community since 2012 and I'm still learning and every year there's something new and exciting.

So let's talk about why some of these big major brands choose WordPress. We've had 16 years experience at Crowd Favorite scaling these brands and using Open Source software mostly WordPress to actually bring these brands to life and help them get their information, their marketing and publishing out there. Note about buzzwords in the lexicon, there's a lot of talk about CMS, Agile, CMS, DXP, Multi Channel, Omnichannel, everybody uses something different. But the bottom line is if you look back in history, we had everybody thinking about the web, everybody thinking about what we're going to publish on the web. We're going to move the brochures, we're going to move publishing to the web. Then we started talking about interacting with the web. It doesn't matter what you call it. The idea is where we're going with transmitting information and communicating with each other. So as these terms come in and out of fashion, just don't worry about it.

Now, one of the things I love about coming to these word camps is sitting down and going to the talks. Yesterday I had the luxury of sitting in on Alberto's talk and he said something when he was addressing the consumer market and what social closed platforms are doing.I thought, “that's exactly the point for the Enterprise for the big brands”. When they approach the Enterprise, they're like, tell me what features you need, tell me how to add personalization. Tell me how to add progressive profiling and it's not about that, it's about creating these use cases, creating these stories. So again, hats off, thank you Alberto, you helped me actually expand my way of thinking on this.
But I do want to talk to you from the Enterprise perspective from the client's perspective. The most asked questions that we get asked when we do strategy engagements with our clients is how do we get past the idea of pushing assets out there and talk about getting out there with Omnichannel and bidirectional and all these other buzzwords about really communicating with their clients.

How do we get there? Get out there and really use the web, open web applications, social media, all these things.How do we do that? Well, they think about it in the term for those of you who already work in the Enterprise. I'm boring you as the 3 60 experience for the customer. What ends up happening is they're all talking about personalization, they're all talking about reaching out to those different data channels you see out there and it's a very pretty picture. You see the customer at the center, you see there's two or three things that you have to hook up. It's all going to be very simple. Right?

Well in the WordPress space we've had the rise of the API. And that's allowed us to bring data in from different sources and as we brought data about communicating better. This is really exciting. And in 2015, that's when it went from taking literally an isolated moment of a WordPress installation in the box. It was a very low level of effort for marketing teams. Marketing teams said, I'm going to just log in and try and get this published. And everybody fell in love with WordPress on the marketing side.

The Walt Disney Company in 2011 made a ten-year commitment to WordPress and Open Source. They moved off a closed source system called Go publish. It was written in visual basic for those who remember what that is. They've renewed that commitment to WordPress, they're going at least another 10 years with WordPress.

Why? Because they could sit down and they can teach somebody how to use WordPress in five minutes. Posts, pages and the concepts of adjusting your theme. So all of a sudden with the API we started seeing, wow, we can do more with WordPress. Let's do that. Let's plug all these things. And it's amazing.
So what ended up happening, we started making the websites more complex. We started adding all these little features, right?

So we're looking at it like this, right? We're looking at it like the opportunities are endless. But what ends up happening is we have a limitation in what we can do when it comes to creating that admin experience. Marketing teams started having to do more and more work to get the information out there. So while we in the WordPress space and the Open Source space are looking at it like this.

What's happened? I'm going to skip to the end and just show you a preview. Clients are looking at it like this. This is one of the largest telecom communication companies in the us. They don't think about it as I'm just going to hook up a couple of things, they actually are thinking about it as a complete 360 experience and the smallest icons on the screen are actually the technology that they're using. They're actually thinking about how they connect these things.

So getting back to our story, we were very excited about the promise of multi-channels, and that we're actually going to be able to do this. Then we started adding all these channels, we started adding the way that we're going to administer the website and the amount of content we're going to bring in and out of there. What ended up happening is those channels grew, those channels grew exponentially and marketing teams started going, this is insane, it's a lot of work. So as we moved over here to duplex data, going back and forth, the level of work, the level of configuration, the level of bringing things together got more and more difficult.

So the rush to create this multichannel, this omnichannel ended up with marketing teams just pulling their hair out saying we have too many interfaces and workflows are un perceivable so what do we do? What are the choices available as a marketing team? Well when we look at WordPress, what ended up happening, the feedback that started coming back was if you already work in Enterprise WordPress this is like a bingo game.

These are all the reasons why your clients say we don't want to base things on WordPress. This is way too complicated right? All of us who already have been there know how to answer each one of these questions but this is the perception when the marketing team brings in their own stack and their own IT Team and says “we're thinking about using WordPress for something more complex”.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, as we say, this is how they were selling adobe experience manager in psycho. Now those of us who are experienced in WordPress in any form you know that that last column is not true. We can absolutely do those things and WordPress but this is the sales proposition out there and what that's created is that's created the perceived choices around you can either have what they call an all in one DXP or you can go to the MarTech stack. And they've said we have all these features on the DXP side. We can give you all these things and again if we had time on stage, I could literally break down each one of these and explain to you, we can deliver those things, but we'll get there in a second.

Meanwhile, the MarTech stack from 2011 to 2020 went from 150 SAS platforms to over 10,000. It's amazing the things you can do out there with SAS platforms today, but do you want to make choices like this for your marketing team? Each one of those tiny little dots is a company, a platform, an idea and they're saying we want to sell you our features just like Alberto said, we want to sell you features, not our use cases.

So how are we going to sell against that? Right, Well let's talk about what's wrong with them. If anybody says I can't do it with WordPress because I want to use one of these all in one system or one of these closed source systems or SAS, here's a list of things that you can deal with. Here are the things that you can talk to your clients about and talk to people in the community about. Not only is there black box and software lockout, but when you talk about the SAS lock in with the data, which we're going to get to a little bit later when you talk about the way things are disguised in the selling process.

It's a completely different experience of using data than if you've ever used Open Source before. The major points we use to be able to say, let's look at the Open Source in the Enterprise. We actually talk about the fact that there is no vendor lock-in. If you don't like the vendor you're using for Open Source, you can move from one to the next. We're always joking about it in the Enterprise space. There are a few firms that sometimes just keep rotating clients depending on who they bring on board or have leave.

You can innovate faster. Why? Because we're using these Open Source libraries and because we can play with sandboxes. You can customize without these massive aggression tests because at the very beginning when we're using these automated end to end and human systems to make sure that things are going well, you have a massive install base.

That's the second most important thing that we have here, we have this massive install base. So if you install Adobe Experience Manager in the Enterprise, you have a few 1000 developers out there who are really experienced in Adobe experience Manager. How many tens of thousands of WordPress developers are in this community? It's amazing. And every day all of you are getting to the next level of what you can do in the WordPress space.

But what really ends up being the winner in the Enterprise conversation is Tco total cost of ownership. I can't tell you the amount of times we have been able to actually get into a bidding process, that was only for closed source, because we said “not only are you going to save on licensing costs but if done right, your running total cost of ownership will lower and lower and lower. There's a lot of case studies around what IBM did with Red Hat, starting in the 90s, that really proved that for the Enterprise and we're just using those same models today. This is not a new business theory.
So let's quickly discuss the technology range that's available. In the perception this is the way the IT Department, with the technology of MarComm folks, thinks of things. They think of things from let's do something completely bespoke, and I left it with Open Source PHP right now, to let's do a complete turnkey product. And you can see WordPress and Drupal people and now a little bit more advanced Acquia with some of the things they're doing and hosting that aren't part of the group project are being perceived as the next step.

But there's this giant gap, the Enterprise gap. What can we do to fill that? Well, we can use Open Source as a hub to not completely compete with the SaaS market, to not completely compete with the MarTech stack but to actually use it as a hub to connect to the market. If you think of WordPress and Open Source as an actual hub, with the spokes coming out functionally, you start getting this idea that actually you don't have to write everything within your application, within WordPress. If you do it in a performant way, you can bring data back and forth.

So looking back at these massive features that these DXP platforms say they have and if we break that down, what we end up with is three basic parts. We end up with trying to push content or manage a channel, we end up trying to do integrations and we end up with a lot of legacy stuff that the Enterprise still deals with. If you break it down into those three sections, let's talk about it from the WordPress way for a second. I'm going to switch streams and come back to the way we think about things here in this community.

We think about things with a core like WordPress and then we put plug-ins around it and then we put more extensive Open Source libraries around it if it's really complex. And then on top of that we're starting to connect two things well by doing that already today, we can start creating the same feature stack that they're selling within MarTech in closed source, we can actually do that. But instead of trying to really figure out how to sell against the feature set we do need to keep in mind the story, the user story, the customer story.

So let's take a look at it to get back from the perspective of the client, because this is sort of the crux of this talk and then we'll get to how it gets taken away. If you start from an Open Source core it's important to have embedded around it, the right platform at Crowd Favorite. We call it sort of the platform as a service. This is going to be your managed hosting, this is going to be your extension into the physical world server list as it's coming up, all those wonderful things. Then around that you have these core services that can be expressed as plug-ins, they can be expressed as different ways of getting the story accomplished for the Enterprise. And then finally, you're actually looking outside your main stack, how are you connecting to these things?

So as we do that, I'll quickly, instead of giving you all theory, I'll give you some actual live examples on the internet today. And some of this is interesting if you've never seen it before. For the Walt Disney Company in 2014, we started building a site that started getting away from the core concept of just the content because they came to us and they said we need to build a website that on day one is going to have 14 million assets. We're going to need a website that, instead of going through the typical process of workflow that you do in WordPress, we're going to have to turn pages and posts into shows and episodes and we're going to have to figure out how to completely change the workflow because we have eight people to manage 25,000 shows and over a quarter of a million episodes.

Eight people oh and by the way, this has to do with Sunset and Sunrise of different content in different countries because of licensing rights. It was amazing and that system is still live today. It's still being developed. They're having changes, in fact, they're now bringing Hulu and the Disney plus into the system.
Academic partnerships. Academic partnerships is a great example of how an agency and a managed hosting company like WP engine were able to look at an RFP that went out for an Enterprise client and that RFP didn't say we're looking for a website that RFP said, we're looking for AEM, Adobe Experience Manager, or Sitecor or a competitor. So it is written with questions as a product. We went to WP and generally said, we want to answer this as a product, we're not going hide WordPress, we're not going hide WP engine, but we want to answer the questions without making the distinction. Not only did we win the project, but the real life example saved them a ton of money and it's now a case study that's winning over closed source into the Open Source space.

The US Olympic and Paralympic museum in Colorado Springs colorado. They came to us and said we have an in real life museum that is digitally set up. You are walking through physical spaces, you are interacting with the space. And we need to have an interesting experience before you get your tickets and when you're getting ready to come into the museum and then we want to keep that relationship going after you leave. The only way we could do that, because they looked at closed source systems, was by extending the APIs. And it turned out that a lot of the physical hardware in the museum, those vendors were using Open Source to run the hardware. So it's actually easier to hook up our APIs than it would have been if they had used closed source systems.

For Janis Henderson, we were able to quite literally hook up big data into WordPress and also run everything through federal filters for investments, all sorts of legal fund stuff and compliance stuff in a way that again, only the closed source systems have been able to do.

LKQ Corporation has a 95% monopoly on used car parts in the world, including here in Asia. They have hundreds of brands throughout the world that they need to manage and they manage it all through WordPress. Even those sub sites and sub countries are on every single other platform you can think of.
Finally, before we get back to our story, Insperity, a large HR firm in the US. They were on Sitecore for years and one of the major reasons they were on Sitecore is because they used a feature called Progressive Profiling and it was a core part of their sales team in their business. Just to give you an example, they were able to save between 35 and 40% year over year for four years in a row by switching from Sirecore or to Open Source. You can't see those savings if you're stuck on a road map of a closed source system.

I'm going to mention The Emmys real quick because it's an ongoing project that is based on WordPress. And it's starting to push the limits of what we can do in WordPress. It's starting to push the limits of how we extend the features without having to say, “we're going to have to use WordPress only for a piece of it.” There's a lot of the pieces here that technically if somebody wants to talk about it later that we have to do with large oval and other ways we're still keeping an Open Source, but we're trying to figure out how to do that and what does that look like that looks like this as we've gotten to this point now of what we call these digital experience platforms.

The level of effort is so high for the marketing teams that they're saying we can't deal with one more interface, we can't deal with what we're going to do. So as we've started to say, how do we do that? How do we deal with these things? What's come up is that we think about things as if we're just going to connect all these applications in. We're going to use smart data, connectors and it's just going to be easy, you're just going to throw it into a database.

The reality is it starts looking like this, you started having these data links and data warehouses. Again, this is conceptual, all the engineers can come ask me about it later. All this allows us to start doing things like this, which is really exciting. The Enterprise thesis was on stage saying that when you're starting out, data isn't important, it's absolutely true. Run your business to get to that next stage. A lot of the Enterprise clients make their decisions only based on the data they can do because they've reached sort of that spot in the experience and being able to do that is absolutely incredible. So what ends up happening is we get back to this instead of having just a few things to integrate by the time you're done with the conversation. Who wants to manage that? None of us do.

It's up to us to convince the SaaS world that they have to be compatible with Open Source. For them to expand their market, this is important for them to expand their market. They have to come to us in the Open Source world because we will have the rest of the customer experience besides the very vertical slice that they have.

So this is leading to a new opportunity. Some of the things that we're actively right now talking with our clients about are these data lakes. How do you take, symbolized by the colors, separate SaaS sources, bring it into a data lake where you own all your data, all your information. You can imagine some of these clients who they are from my slides earlier and then parse it back out for use outside of that system. They want to own their own data, just like the consumer does. They have the luxury of being able to spend the money to start having these conversations. And it's amazing.
So back to this, we are looking at these moments and these times where we're seeing that covered that middle area in the and the hub there. How do we make that intelligent data warehouse? How do we bring that there and then pass that? How do we start sharing that data within the Enterprise?

Open Source can do that better than anything else. Again done right. All sorts of caveats. We are the only community of technology that can actually bring this stuff together. That will allow us to be sort of the center of the conversation when it comes to bringing these applications together if we do this right? But we have to band together as an Open Source community, like we have in the past, to say we can be the future of technology in the Enterprise.

We can be the answer for big brands, why? Because then we can truly create this omni channel experience. We can truly manage the data for our clients. We can truly bring these things together. And what does that end up doing? Well that brings us to the point where we're going to hit the other end of the bell curve.
It's getting easier and easier as we unify these experiences. As we say, we want APIs. To other systems so that we can bring a unified workflow to the experience of the marketing team. It starts to go down today, we are solidly right here in the digital experience platform and we are solidly moving towards a fully modular DXP, the truly composable solution, because we are bringing down the level of difficulty for marketing teams to manage more.

But to do that as a community, we're going to have to work together to actually bring down the overhead of making unified work flows. Everybody here, who is in design, knows about atomic design? In graphical design? We have to apply that to UI and UX at a technical level.

So imagine if we had a technical standard around atomic UX design so that we had a common set of, I'm going to use the word hooks, filters that did this? Well that gets us solidly on the road of possibilities in the future. Now I grew up with the term brick and mortar. I'm just finding out the newest thing is Phygital. I think it's awesome. So where do we get to the future? How do we do this?

The answer, my friends is this community. The answer is pushing Open Source into the Enterprise because it benefits everybody, including medium business, small business and the individual contributors to the individual projects. Even down to the blog level.
I hope this has been something of an eye opener. I hope you've seen something new and interesting. Thank you so much for your time and anything I can do to answer some questions.

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