Interwoven identifies the complexity of brand management

Interwoven, a software company based in Sunnyvale, CA, is trying to establish a new term: Customer Experience Management. It refers to the challenge that global organisations face in presenting a consistent look and feel to their customers.

Interwoven, a software company based in Sunnyvale, CA, is trying to establish a new term: Customer Experience Management. It refers to the challenge that global organisations face in presenting a consistent look and feel to their customers.

For example, a clothing retailer wants to present the same brand image and customer experience in all of its stores around the world. This means that packaging, signs, store layout, advertising, other promotional literature and media, have to be all consistent across geographies.

Interwoven offers a suite of enterprise software products that help large multinational companies manage their content across all their operations. I recently met with Bill Seawick, chief marketing officer at Interwoven.

"Managing the customer experience is a number one concern for CIOs. When you touch a company you want to have the same experience. Consistency is very important yet the way customer experience is managed today is a mess. If you look at the process in most companies, it looks like an octopus. There is a lot of duplication of work, many processes, and it takes a long time to make any changes or introduce new products or services."

In some cases it can take 16 months for a company to roll out new products and services because of all the content creation that has to take place. Also, Mr Seawick points out that a company's brand represents on average about 33 per cent of its market value. For some companies such as Nike or IBM, brand value can represent more than 70 per cent of the company's value.

"Brand management is a mission critical process. And more and more companies now recognize how important it is," says Mr Seawick. Interwoven's software allows companies to create content and make sure that it presents a consistent message across all of its operations, in different countries, and in different languages.

The technology has features such as using tags to modularize content so that once a piece of content has been created, checked, translated, checked again, etc, there is no need to do it again, it can be reused. And micro-format technology applies a consistent style; plus parts of the tagging process can be automatically generated. 

In using Interwoven's software, companies are essentially applying a much more efficient work process onto their content creation and management. This can result in impressive savings compared with the "octopus" process that has grown within organisations.

For example, Avaya is a $5bn revenue company with over 19,000 employees, 25,000 products. It had 800 different web sites and 500 content producers. It took Avaya about a year to reorganize its content creation and management process.

While Avaya won't say how much it has saved, the amount must be very significant if you consider: it now has just 30 content producers, it reduced content time-to-market by 75 per cent, it reduced internal publishing costs by 90 per cent, and it reduced external publishing costs by 75 per cent. And on top of all that, it has far better brand control and messaging consistency across all of its operations.

Interwoven's approach is interesting and it could be at a strategic advantage. I look at the world from the point of view that everything is about media, I have a media hammer and nearly everything is a media "nail."  

I look at every company as a media company to a greater or lesser degree.   Because every company publishes content, it tells stories to itself, to its customers, to its new hires. Those messages have to be consistent and compelling and truthful.

And these days, every company has to be a technology-enabled media company, using the technologies of creation and publishing. The technology platform that Interwoven offers fits perfectly into that view of the world.

The holistic approach taken by Interwoven moves beyond collections of point products. More importantly, it identifies a core mission critical process that has not previously been well defined, or even recognized within many organisations.

Interwoven's term: Customer Experience Management might one day become as well known as the enterprise IT terms ERP and CRM if others recognise the same opportunities. And the business opportunities could be very significant because content creation and management is such a core activity.

And in today's world, with many new forms of media/content that need to be produced, in various formats, and with many different media/content distribution networks, companies will increasingly be looking for help in managing that complexity. And there are bound to be opportunties for hosted content management services.