In this exclusive interview, Nick Quach, VP of Solutions at Veriday and resident Liferay expert, sits down with Veriday CEO, Marc Lamoureux, to discuss Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform), the latest and greatest Liferay platform. In this discussion, we will hear about what’s new and innovative, what changes you’ll see from the previous versions, what new business challenges it can solve and when an organization might choose to migrate over.
Nick has extensive experience using and implementing the Liferay platforms, including Liferay DXP, for a wide range of solutions, clients, and industries.
Marc: It’s Marc Lamoureux and Nick Quach from Veriday. We’re here to talk about Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform). To start off this discussion, I thought I’d ask you, in your experience, what kind of customers traditionally would be using Liferay?
Nick: I think one of the strengths of Liferay, even before DXP was introduced, is the fact that they have always prided themselves on providing a platform versus providing a product. What that allows the end customer to do is to use that platform to deliver their requirements in however many ways they need.
So, whether an organization is using it for a corporate intranet (which is probably one of the most prolific use cases for the platform out there), using it to build simple web sites, or using it to engage their customers. Whether it’s a B2B or an e-commerce type engagement, Liferay has them covered.
I think for us the diversity of the Liferay client base is probably what’s most compelling and what’s most telling about the actual platform itself.
The distribution of what we actually see clients using Liferay platforms for is quite broad compared to what we would see in the more traditional web content management system like WordPress, that are only used in situations where someone is looking to build websites. You see Liferay being deployed in a much more diverse manner.
Marc: Interesting; so traditionally Liferay has described itself as a “portal platform”, but now they’ve rebranded the product to the platform “DXP” (Digital Experience Platform). Talk to us a little bit about why they made that change and what do you think is behind the positioning of a product from portal to digital experience?
Nick: Liferay itself has always been a platform, however it was called Liferay portal because the problems that we were trying to solve 10 years ago dictated what most of the organizations were using Liferay for. A lot of the organizations that were interested in portal technologies already had a dispersed set of software in-house with information separated into different subsystems. These organizations were looking for a technology that would allow them to consolidate the data into a single touch point with the benefit of providing a more seamless customer experience, which is where the term “portal” came from.
The use case was to provide a more seamless customer experience, to provide a one-stop shop for their clients, allowing them to access everything they needed in one place. The portal was typically viewed as a system engaged with a touch point in which an organization could interact and communicate with their client.
Five years ago it was really about collaboration and aggregation, it was really about getting people onto a platform that allowed them to communicate. But the world has changed and what we’re seeing today is not so much a fundamental shift in the way people are viewing technology but the way in which people want to consume technology. I think that’s what’s really driving Liferay and the platform and where we see the marketing of the platform heading.
Before, portals used to solve the problem of “I have a lot of data and I need to be able to consolidate that data in a single touch point” but now it’s more about “I have a lot of data but I want to be able to engage with my client in whatever fashion they choose to be engaged”. It’s no longer about just aggregating the data but also using it to engage the customer. Your system is now part of a greater ecosystem of engagement, providing consistency between interactions with clients.
Marc: Let’s say I’m currently using Liferay to engage with customers. When I see that Liferay released the DXP platform, what would you want to convey to me about new tools, or features that provide better opportunities for engagement and improvement in customer experience?
Nick: Well, I think it would be naive of me to of sit here and list all the new features feature-by-feature that Liferay DXP offers but I would tell them that if you’re already using Liferay, the engagement model doesn’t need to change. What I would challenge them to do is to think about how you could extend your engagement model.
My main point in an explanation to a customer would be to consider your engagement model and think about how you could increase the number and quality of touch points in which you interact with the client.
So, for example, if you’re in a B2B context, there are a lot of different channels in which an organization can interact with their business clients and so regardless of the channel, how do you take all the data provided by the channel, all the various engagement models and how can you use the platform to provide you with not only insight, but a richer engagement?
Liferay DXP allows businesses to increase engagement by having tools in place that can capture and analyze data and provide a more personalized experience depending on the situation, providing different offerings or information depending on their situation, whether the customer is using a desktop or a mobile device.
It’s all about engaging people in different ways, for example if the client was attending an event in which you were hosting a booth, could you interact with them in a way that lets them know “we’re just around the corner from you, come pay us a visit” and offers them an incentive to visit? You already have a good solid foundation to engage with your customer, but what else can you do to engage more seamlessly in other medium. How can you use DXP to deliver that engagement? Then, and only then, we can start talking about some of the new capabilities that DXP is offering.
Marc: It sounds like the customer experience can change for people who are engaging with these websites or forms. A more personal experience can be provided, with real time enablement, so you can respond to all the data you have about that customer and become more engaging over time. Basically it boils down to thinking “with a digital DXP platform I’m going to get a much, much more personal experience”?
Nick: Absolutely. The idea of real-time engagement, the idea of personalized engagement and the idea of omni-channel engagement, where regardless of how you are interacting with a client, the experience is seamless and they will get the same consistent customer experience regardless of which touch point they are using to interact with your business.
I think the real key here is “what do you look for in technology and what do you look for in a platform that will allow you to engage with your client that way.”
Marc: If you’re a current Liferay customer and looking to make the move to DXP, what are some of the business or technology issues you have to be thinking through on the way to making that move?”
Nick: That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer due to the fact that Liferay is a platform with a diverse range of use cases. Not every client is going to be the same. That being said, nearly every single business is looking for ways to increase their business capacity. Whether that’s through sales, more efficient communication or by any other means, whatever their method is the Liferay DXP platform can enhance the experience of client interaction. This makes their business processes more efficient through providing a platform that allows the customer and the business to communicate and engage.
Regardless of what your use case is, what I would do is ask “what are you using the platform for?”. Whether it’s B2B, B2C or an e-commerce situation, you must ask, “how do you engage with your customer and how can you do it better?”. How do you look at that engagement model and say, “can I provide a better experience? Can I provide a more seamless experience?”
Whatever you were using Liferay for in the past you can continue to do it. You’re going to get a lot of new features so even if you choose not to look at engaging your customer differently, you’re going to get new features, new capabilities and you’re going to get a product that is going to be able to meet the standards of web technology today.
Marc: So from a business consideration the first recommendation is just to think through your engagement model, your strategy, what you want the customer experience to be and then plan those components against the new platform?
Nick: Absolutely, and then also look at how to utilize the platform in your greater ecosystem.
Typically we used to think about platforms (and Liferay in general) as an engagement system but we always typically looked at Liferay being THE engagement system, i.e. “this is where you go to engage”.
What we’re seeing in the industry today and what we’re seeing with DXP is now the platform has the capability to be part of a greater ecosystem, a component in the Internet of Things. It allows you to look at Liferay DXP as not solely just the primary engagement model but a component of the greater engagement model.
However, what you’re getting from the platform is the ability to use a consolidated capability. You’ret not losing the ability to consolidate data and the ability to have a lot of systems underneath that you need to interact with.. You still get a lot of benefit in that sense however, you can start to challenge your thinking about what engagement means. DXP doesn’t stop at DXP. It has the potential to be used in a greater ecosystem as part of the Internet of Things.
Marc: So in preparation for this conversation I was reading a little bit about Liferay DXPs technology platform and it seemed to me that there are opportunities for some technologists to make some improvement in the way they build and deploy these engagements/experiences. Talk a little bit about the opportunities that exist in the technology.
Nick: Of course, we already discussed Liferay DXP and what business challenges the platform is trying to solve and one of the things we haven’t talked about so far is the trend in the industry: that development is moving faster than we’ve ever seen before. The internet is constantly changing now, whereas before it used to change maybe once per year. What we’re seeing as a result is a greater need for modularity, platforms that will allow us to change capabilities, add, remove and update features in a safe way so that we can meet business goals quicker, cheaper and more efficiently.
I think that ability to change and evolve is fundamental to any platform that you’re looking for. So we’re not just looking at how to engage but how to select a platform that allows you to stay current with how quickly things are moving in the industry.
One of the key features of Liferay DXP is it’s move to modularity. Liferay spent a considerable effort to re-architect the platform. They’ve introduced a technology called OSGI which is very technical but put simply it’s a framework for modularity that allows Liferay (the platform) to be separated into separate components. Everything that you do and interact with on the platform is a component in itself and you can add (or remove) components into the platform without having to disturb the platform itself.
The modularity brought to Liferay DXP by OSGI means users are looking at an increased agility, allowing you to quickly and easily develop new features and capabilities to your end customer.
Marc: So are the implications of the modularity that if I’m using DXP as a technologist, that I have a chance to make it extremely light (for a technology platform) and able to run really fast, really only using a small number of features?. On the other side, I am also able to turn on lots of robust features and drive a different kind of model. Would I have that kind of flexibility?
Nick: Absolutely! The ability to customize the platform is unparalleled to what was in Liferay 6. Having said that, Liferay has always been the strongest vendor in terms of providing “hooks” or “extension points” into their platform that allow you to customize the platform to your desires.
Liferay DXP has taken that flexibility and has increased it a hundred-fold so that now with modularity you can run a much slimmer, or heavier version of the platform, whatever you choose.
You can add new capabilities and alter what is provided out of the box much easier than you ever could before and in a very safe manner where it protects your code, your intellectual property which you are deploying or creating on the platform. It also allows Liferay to be able to update its system more readily so that it can provide new features and capabilities to the market in ways that it never could before.
While there is a steeper learning curve than previous versions of Liferay, the technology only shifted, not changed completely. Having said that the product is relatively new and is only now starting to be fully understood. I think the learning curve will solve itself over time.
Marc: Let’s talk a little bit about the reputation of Liferay. Traditionally, Liferay has been viewed as a really strong technology platform that is extremely cost-effective because of their business model and how they deliver a combination of open-source fundamentals but for an annual subscription model. How does the DXP release preserve that value?
Nick: I think if anything the DXP release increases that value proposition for customers. The cost hasn’t changed between DXP and Liferay 6. Materially you’re still looking at a platform that delivers a much lower cost of ownership than any of its competitors.
Compared to Transfer Portal by IBM, compared to WebLogic, compared to Adobe Experience Manager, Liferay DXP is still a fraction of the cost of onboarding when compared to other competitive products. The ROI doesn’t stop there. Outside of the cost of acquisition I think what you’re going to see is the cost of ownership further reduced due to modularity. The ability to provide new capabilities, develop, extend and test the platform, with modularity, in a very safe manner is going to increase your ROI. Outside of the original cost of acquisition of the product, you’re going to see that the ROI benefits of DXP are going to be greater than what we’ve traditionally seen in the past.
Marc: Interesting, so if we wanted to recommend to the audience how to learn more about DXP, what would you suggest they do? With the technical community? With the business community?
Nick: From a technical perspective, Liferay provides resources online. Dev.liferay.com is a great resource if you enjoy reading code. Liferay is still a proponent of open source so there is a Liferay 7.0 which is the open-source version of the DXP offering. For the most part the two are very close. The code base is 99% the same so Liferay doesn’t hide anything. You can look at the source code, you can read the documentation and forms online. The community is still strong and so there are a number of ways to get information and tangible experience; play with the product if you so choose. You can also get trial versions of DXP as well.
From a technology perspective, I think being open source and the vibrant community that Liferay offers really maximizes your ability to learn and engage with Liferay, which is largely unchanged from previous generations.
From a business perspective I think there are a lot of ways to engage with Liferay. You can reach out to partners like ourselves, here at Veriday, to walk you through the thinking in terms of where we may be able to help you view your current offerings differently, how you can potentially engage your clients better, and how you can leverage what Liferay DXP offers in a way that is going to provide you with a greater ROI.
You can also always engage Liferay and their sales channel, or look at the plethora of literature available online (blog posts, podcasts, ebooks etc). There are a lot of different ways that you could get information from a business perspective
I believe that one of the things you’ve got to look at before you even think about a platform is: how do you want to engage with your clients today? How do you want to engage with your clients tomorrow? How do you look for a platform that gives you all the tools you need to engage with your customers in a way that provides you with all the benefits we previously mentioned?
Marc: Good stuff. I think that’s enough for one day. As Nick mentioned, you can reach us at Veriday.com if you’d like more information. You can also drop us a line on Twitter (@VeridayHQ). We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding Liferay itself or Liferay DXP. We look forward to talking to you again on our next podcast. Thank you very much!
That wraps up our interview with Nick Quach. Stay tuned for more interviews, with our Liferay experts, about Liferay DXP, the newest digital experience platform.
In the next part of our series, we will be sitting down with Sam Hyland, Service Delivery Lead here at Veriday, to discuss the new technological features that you can expect to see in Liferay DXP. As always, if you want to continue the discussion, you can reach out to us on Twitter @VeridayHQ.