Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Virtual Presence Management vs. Web Experience Management

I have introduced Virtual Presence Management (VPM) in two previous blog posts (The VPM Turing Test and the VPM maturity scale) and we published a technology brief about virtual presence management on the Magnolia CMS site. It is even part of Magnolia's brand promise.

With our focus so strongly on Virtual Presence, you might wonder where that leaves us on Web Experience Management. We actively participate in the Web Experience Management Interoperability standardization effort,  which we co-sponsor through our OASIS membership. But this blog post is not about our involvement there, it is about the differences between Web Experience Management and Virtual Presence Management.

WEM is all about personalization – bringing the right content to the right person at the right time. Its driver is the organizations wish to optimize (usually in terms of revenue) each interaction with their customers.

LeShop allows you to buy exactly the same articles that you get in the local supermarket. A great example of Virtual Presence by the Migros retail group.
VPM on the other hand provides people the opportunity to interact with an organizations through virtual channels like the web or mobile instead of a physical interaction. It supports the drive of today's organizations to "virtualize" their presence, i.e. to reduce their dependency on physical resources like brick & mortar stores or call centers. It also helps people to do "business" on their own terms – where, when and how they want to interact with a company. This is paramount in a world that is increasingly mobile, and increasingly global.

Where WEM tries to provide an experience that is tailored to the visitor, Virtual Presence Management looks at the world from the organization's perspective.  How can an organization generate more value for their clients/members/citizens? I believe it can do so by opening up more of their services and processes to "virtual" channels, e.g. the web, mobile web, apps or any other form of "virtual" interaction. Recent Open Data and E-Government initiatives are examples of opening up and providing  access to data and processes for the good of citizens. This clearly is not about web experience. It is about adding value using existing data and processes by bringing them to the web and mobile.
Long lines could be a thing of the past if the DMV would have a Virtual Presence.
Image http://morefunthanblackboard.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/waiting-in-line-at-the-dmv/

For instance, if you are an expat, say from the UK, working in the US, you might be interested to watch the BBC news after you come home from work. If BBC only provides their news show through broadcast TV, you typically have no chance to watch them (since they are in a different time zone). A Virtual Presence activity for BBC would be to make the news available through the web or mobile on demand. This is in fact also a good example of VPM's focus on opening up an organization's data and processes. The news have already been produced, it is already available in digital form at BBC, so why not open it up to the virtual channels and in this way provide benefit to or widen your audience?

This is exactly what Magnolia's customers have been doing for a while now. When we were analyzing why our customers chose Magnolia over alternatives, we realized that they were typically working on  virtual presence. Magnolia's open attitude and our technological toolchain are the foundation for a solid virtual presence strategy.
Screenshot of Navy Reserve Drill Pay Calculator

Take navy.com, or navyreserve.com. These sites provide deep back-end integration, they go way beyond a traditional brochure ware site. For instance, you can take the Navy Life-Ops personality profile test, or use calculators to determine pay. Another example would be ticket.se, an online store that allows you to book tickets. Recently, the City of Lausanne has launched a new public administration site based on Magnolia, which offers all sorts of citizen services online. Their expectations for its use have been exceeded within 2 month by 25%.

So back to WEM. Web experience management is like thinking about the choice of drinks you wish to serve a passenger on a flight. Yes, a passenger might be happy to have her favorite drink when she gets on the plane. But she might be even happier not to have to hop on the plane in the first place.

So think about the trip, not the drink.

BTW, next week at the Magnolia Conference, Virtual Presence will be part of the keynote, where we will add a new dimension to virtual presence management (stay tuned). We'll also have an experts panel discussing VPM. So see you there!