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Ovum: SDL outlines plans for Alterian
May 24, 2012 – Sue Clarke
Now that the dust has settled on its Alterian acquisition, SDL has started to put into action its plans for the future of the Alterian web content management (WCM) portfolio. It has committed to supporting the platform until 2017, and will release Alterian Content Manager (CM) 7.3. This will complement SDL’s brand-management and translation products and services, and its previous WCM acquisition, Tridion. SDL has already started to integrate its translation capabilities into Tridion, and this acquisition will allow it to add web analytics to the Tridion product, something that is currently lacking, and which Ovum regards to be a weakness. This is a good move for SDL, although there will be some duplication between Tridion and Alterian’s WCM products (formerly Mediasurface and Immediacy). Analytics are a particular strength for Alterian, and the combination of WCM, brand management, translation capabilities, and analytics will provide a powerful solution for organizations to develop and manage the customer experience on a global scale. This breadth of functionality will be a real differentiator for SDL.
SDL Tridion will offer a solution greater than its individual components
SDLs plans for Alterian involve retiring the product and withdrawing support for it after 2017, by which time it hopes to have migrated as many customers as possible across to SDL Tridion. Functionality such as marketing analytics, campaign management, and social media capabilities from Alterian CM will be fully integrated into SDL Tridion by then. However, SDL will retain the hosted solution that Alterian offered, which was targeted at smaller organizations and web design studios, and is hoping to build on this service.
This strategy of providing a single WCM platform makes sense because it is difficult and expensive for a vendor to maintain multiple similar products. However, it can also be difficult to kill off a product as enterprise content management (ECM) vendor OpenText discovered to its cost when it tried to kill off the Hummingbird products following its acquisition of its fellow Canadian ECM vendor. It was forced to backtrack and maintain the Hummingbird portfolio after a revolt by customers who refused to migrate to the OpenText products.
SDL has taken a sensible approach to acquisitions by adding products that complement its core brand management and translation solutions. Tridion was a natural fit with these products, providing SDL with new sales opportunities for its portfolio, with the integration of brand management and translation within WCM providing a real differentiator for the company. Although there is some overlap between SDL Tridion and Alterian CM, the marketing analytics, campaign management, and social media capabilities will add real value to SDL Tridion and will put it among the leading WCM vendors in terms of the breadth of functionality.
Alterian customers should not rush into a decision about a WCM system
SDL has developed a sensible strategy with regard to the future of Alterian. It does not make sense to retain two similar products, but at the same time killing off a product soon after an acquisition will alienate customers and result in many of them abandoning SDL and implementing a third-party WCM system. By continuing to support Alterian CM for another five years SDL is allowing customers plenty of time to decide whether they want to migrate to SDL Tridion or to implement a third-party product. Although SDL recognizes that some customers will not want to implement Tridion, it is hoping that by continuing to support Alterian for so long, many customers will be convinced by the SDL Tridion proposition and will migrate to it before 2017. It is working to make the migration process as painless as possible for customers.
Ovum urges customers to err on the side of caution and wait to see what the SDL Tridion product integrated with components of Alterian looks like before making a decision. SDL is allowing Alterian customers plenty of time to develop a WCM strategy for the future, and using this time wisely to fully investigate what products are available (third-party as well as Tridion) will ensure that organizations do not make a mistake by rushing to implement a product that may not meet their requirements. When the integration work is complete, SDL Tridion should offer a compelling proposition that will meet the requirements of organizations in a variety of vertical markets, particularly those with a global presence with multiple websites to manage.
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