IT Science: DNN Software on Multi-Channel Content Management

IT Sciences articles look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day.

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We’re introducing today a new occasional feature in eWEEK called IT Science, in which we look at what really happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles will describe industry solutions only and won’t focus on any single product. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them will be success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Short and Clean, and with ROI Information

We’ve published similar articles to these in the past, but not in this format. We’ll keep them short and clean, and we’ll add relevant links to other eWEEK articles, whitepapers, video interviews and occasionally some outside expertise as we need it in order to tell the story.

An important feature, however, is this: We will report ROI of some kind in each article, whether it’s income on the bottom line, labor hours saved, or some other valued business asset.

This article is about cloud-based content management provider DNN. DNN is based on the open source CM project known as DotNetNuke--DNN for short--which provides omnichannel publishing inside a microservices architecture. This allows text and images to be created once, then deployed wherever they need to go, with no other editing or file-modification needed. DNN's Liquid Content Cloud, in turn, runs on Microsoft Azure's public cloud.

Here is DNN’s explanation of how it approaches its multi-channel publishing use case with customers:

1. DNN’s problem to be solved:

Enabling customers of our Content Management System (CMS) to create content once, then publish it to multiple channels. People still visit websites today, but they’re more likely to consume content in a mobile app, home assistant or Internet of Things (IoT) device. We wanted to provide customers with a CMS to publish content wherever their customers happen to be.

2. Strategy that went into finding the solution:

First, we interviewed customers. We didn’t explicitly ask them: “What CMS features do you need going forward?” Instead, we sought to understand their daily routine, along with their key goals, challenges and aspirations, both with our CMS and in their jobs overall. We used the design thinking methodology to conceive and refine our product vision and roadmap.

Next, we looked at what the analysts were saying about our market. The analysts’ views validated our own. For example, in a research report on digital experience, Gartner Research reported that “digital content must make itself available to a user when and where it’s needed.”

3. Components in the solution:

4. How the deployment went:

With our move to a cloud-based microservices architecture, we now deliver “features as a service” to customers. Combined with an agile development methodology, we’re able to push software updates to all customers at once, in a manner that’s far quicker than ever before. In the past, we’d provide one major release of our CMS per year. Since Q4 2016, we’ve deployed 4-6 releases of our cloud-based features each month.

5. What was the result, what new efficiencies were gained, and what was learned from the project:

The efficiencies gained were from our customers; not only are they always up-to-date on our cloud-delivered features, Liquid Content gives them a higher ROI on the content they create. Content sits at the center of customer experience. Our customers can create content once, then publish and re-use it to any channel.

What we learned: content comes in all shapes and sizes and each customer has as different use case for their content. Whether they want the content to be delivered to their website or their mobile app, there aren’t two use cases that are exactly the same.

Liquid Content must give customers the flexibility to meet their own content needs. We’ll continue to focus on delivering a system that gives customers the flexibility they need, without requiring extensive customization.

6. Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings:

In the past, multi-channel publishing was impossible or impractical. Content was trapped inside web pages; to re-use that content, it had to be manually copied and pasted into another channel. This is error prone and time intensive. With Liquid Content, marketers benefit not only from significant time savings in managing content but yielded a higher impact and ROI from the content they create.

Editor’s note:  If you have an IT Science story you’d like to share, email the author at cpreimesberger@eweek.com.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...