11 April 2014

A Digital Trend : From the eyes of developer

This is my first Linked In article, i will hope it is interesting and give some insight in digital world.
I have started my career back in 2007 and have passion for web application development since school days, 2007 was exciting time for being developer because if you are in Microsoft web practice, then just two year back Microsoft launched .NET framework 2.0 with new improved Visual Studio IDE in compare to VS 2003.
Being beginner at that time I was in my infancy stage "where a child learn how to converse and how to walk observing the world with a mindset to grasp everything". So those days are days when I learn more and follow the order from TL/PM, so at my stage we do not have right to think much. We have only duty to code and deliver on time that's what almost all developer supposed to do even today. You can think or innovate but limited to your task, platform and team boundary.
That was also an time where client site technologies started emerging strongly but Microsoft was still adamant to recognize them and harping on Microsoft Ajax so was my seniors.
Gradually i realize the challenges faced by companies and products owner from business prospective that they want something more from just informal website or a product catalog website but i don't have any solution and neither they do, probably I was looking from the prism of a normal web application developer.
But something about to change very soon and the way I saw web application development from routine SRS, feature list based website, admin panel, etc., to holistic approach whichrevolve around content and more focused towards creating experience for both business users and their respective customers.
So end of 2008 I luckily get into a project for an Australian retail giant which wanted to build an E-retail website but on CMS or to be precise Sitecore. It was their choice. It is not that first time I used CMS, earlier we delivered a nice event management website using Kentico. But Sitecore was altogether from different breed of CMS.
A way this project was executed and how client perceive its website and targeted experience is totally different from traditional website for example when they want to sell a product like refrigerator than they not only 'sell' that but they also want to engage that customer beyond sales, they want to make sure that their website is capable of getting customer feedback real and easy, able to provide the relevant expert articles and advice, quick tips, reviews and they have videos to tell customer how to use it, so overall get best out of that product. It is all about making gradually brand loyalty. In end of the day that website is still huge catalog of products but put together in such a sleek way which is remarkable like faceted search, social integration though that point of time was very limited.
This project had changed my view towards the website application development and later projects in my career replace the word of web development to "Digital Experience Development". Because in all other later ventures clients are looking for deeper reach using online interface which could mean as follows:
1) Omni Channel delivery (One Code source for Mobile, Desktop and tablet device)
2) COPE (Create Once and Publish Everywhere)
3) Globalized and Localized content out of Box
4) Minimum effort to bring content live still compliance with Corporate and legal policies.
5) Easy to use emerging client side technology and RIA(Rich Interactive Application) Frameworks
6) Ability to integrate with Enterprise applications.
7) Support of product in ability to scale from one server to CDN and Cloud Delivery model.
8) Multisite/Multi Domain/Sub Domain Support
9) Most important personalized/targeted content delivery on variety of factor.
To fulfill these kinds of ambition there are very few products which able to cover length and breadth of digital landscape like Adobe CQ-5, Sitecore and few other.
5 years back in India there are hardly 50 people which are Sitecore or Adobe CQ5 certified with experience range of 3-7 years, though using my trainer skills i trained almost 100 people in Sitecore alone from all experience group in last two years. Big services companies like Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro, TCS not even know about such products. There are few small or mid-level IT services companies which have fewer engagements with their clients.
Let's come back from flash to reality and now if we realize today out of top 20 company almost every company have some or other HR requirements in ECMS/WCMS skills. Given the surge in the requirement we can notice two exciting/emerging facts:
a) Enterprise are waking after financial crisis era and ready for big makeover and want to progress or start their true digital journey.
b) Due to surge in this digital scope lot of Indian companies are bagging big digital transformation deals, and in my prediction this surge is to stay for atleast upcoming 2-3 years.
To analyses these facts I have few question which I will answer myself.
1) Are all requirements sounds similar in terms of scope?
  1. No not at all, in digital world there is one digital maturity model put by Sitecore that tell where the organization today stands in term of digital. So there are level of digital maturity. Getting content managed website is just at first step towards getting into digital foray. Remember this maturity model implies on both parties Customer and Implementer(Technical Agency), So right matching level of both parties can compliment and wrong level and make digital experience ugly. Please view following diagram.
2) Are these requirement are product specific?
  1. Sometimes yes but sometime no. This depends upon the multiple factor like:
i. Organization inclination towards particular brand, for example is it Microsoft or Java shop.
ii. Organization budget which not only include product license cost but also include development and maintenance in coming years.
iii. Who Consulted them and what is the outcome of that consultation.
3) Which platform get adopt most by the clients?
  1. If you look only mid-tier organization (Worth of 10 Million Dollar) to large enterprises (Billions Dollar Company) then .NET and Java would be most implementation with very few exception of going with PHP based CMS.
i. In .NET leading is Sitecore and then products like Ektron, EPI etc.,
ii. In Java leading is Adobe CQ5.
  1. If you look from quantity perspective which comes from SME (Worth less than 1 Million Dollar) is going with PHP CMS like Drupal, WordPress etc., which anyway handled by Tier 3 or lower strata IT services companies.
  2. To give you current prospective of CMS positioning I will refer Gartner's Magic Quadrant digram.
4) So these deals are very product centric?
  1. No, 60% of times these deals are enterprise level implementation where bridging with CRM, ERP, Ecommerce, Social and Big Data are part of it and that's where the money is but the driver are these products.
5) What are the domains from which clients are coming?
  1. Virtually every possible domain expect a core transnational website like net banking or trading. For example retail eCommerce to airliner, insurance group to medical world, entertainment to Consumer products group and manufacturing to government organisations.
6) Does development model and typical time-frame changes by using such products?
1. Yes people and companies are adopting agile methodologies in big way apart from that these products offer many features and ways which actually reduce the total time-frame of delivery of project if compares to typical development in traditional technologies.
7) So are these deal people centric / Or what is in for developers?
  1. Yes, as these are emerging technologies and given the fact that there are few people available who have length and bread of experience in these products. Because of this fact whatever people there are get very nice career growth. Still there is lot of scope for routine developers to get into these technologies and make themselves available.
8) So this sounds like only for those people who are actual code behind developers?
  1. 60% yes but there are other sphere also like UX designing, Business Analysts, IT administration of such products, Project management etc.,
9) Are you making all this facts up?
  1. My best bet is you put Sitecore or Adobe CQ or any other WCMS/ECMS kind of product experience in your resume and update it on job portal. You should definitely get one call within day or a week from any of these big companies.
10) Is this trend you see in Indian market also?
  1. Unfortunately a big NO, I guess Indian market is a decade back where companies are still building there web presence the way organization in developed countries build back in time. For this trend I see two reasons one is awareness or maturity level of understanding digital and another is cost. For example procuring Enterprise Sitecore license cost 120K Dollar and Adobe CQ5 cost around 3 times of it.
Last important conclusion i want to made is those days are about to go where clients demand website to build from scratch for formal and informal online presence(At least gone in developed countries, from where most of IT business comes to India). This is summary of digital trend which I experience in my last 7+ years. In coming months I will write about specific experiences in this journey to share my experience and learn from feedback I receive from your guys.