SDL Innovate: Enchanted by Tridion's Future and Tridion Re-Reimagined Today

I'm grinning after attending Innovate, SDL's annual Global Customer Experience Management (CXM) conference. Keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki enchanted, SDL Product Leadership laid out a roadmap for Tridion, and Uber Tridionauts Broke everything you knew about the Broker.

An Enchanting Keynote

I read Enchanted and have seen Guy Kawasaki's presentation online before. Knowing he liked to target his opening slide to an audience, I suggested using an SDL Buddy. He enchanted me with this "yes" response to my LonelyBoy15-type request.

The salient, social media-friendly parts of his presentation you might be trying to recall include:
  • Achieve Likability with a genuine Duchenne smile that reaches your eyes ("You're not getting older. You're getting more enchanting.")
  • Achieve Trustworthiness by trusting others and baking rather than eating (life isn't a zero sum game).
  • Get Ready by getting DICEE: Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering, and Elegant.
  • Launch by telling a story, planting many seeds, and using salient points such as "number of songs" versus "GBs."
  • Overcome through social proof (e.g. white ear buds = iPod and enchant all influencers).
  • Present and sell your dream. Remember 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30 pt font (or your audience's age divided by two).
His sub-points to Endure are particularly fascinating and fits what we've seen in SDL's Web Content Management (SDL Tridion) Technical Community. To endure, be sure to:
  • Avoid using money (especially not as a primary motivation, which I've also noted in my blogging recipe)
  • Invoke reciprocation ("You're welcome, I know you'd do the same for me.")
  • Build an ecosystem 
These last two support The Seven Wins of Developing a Technical Community.

No, SDL Buddy wasn't in the original slide. But he was at the conference. Everywhere.
The Technical Community is only part of a an ecosystem, though. We wouldn't be much without the actual products to create, break, ask/answer about, and discuss.

Building the Future: SDL Tridion Roadmap with Dominique LeBlond

I work mostly with customers and peers on a daily basis. Though we get regular updates on product development it's great to see the big picture, catch up with Product Management, and see first hand what's in development and the direction we're taking.

We have the right people doing the right things, people who demonstrate Product Leadership in addition to Product Management.

SDL Tridion will challenge the "paradox of choice" by offering good defaults while still including ultimate flexibility for those that know what they're doing or what they really want. Readers of Nudge might also see the value in this approach.

For example, we've always had the option to manage configuration forms (components) in Tridion. But I'm looking forward to seeing how Widgets will make these easier to setup and use in Tridion. In Content Delivery (the website tier more-or-less, except we know it's no longer only websites), we'll have a semantic content model (e.g. objects that represents content types like articles rather than Tridion concepts like component presentations).

Rather than thinking in terms of mostly the Tridion Object Model (TOM), you will work with a delivery-side content model, which may include a mix of content and data from Tridion and other systems (like a PIM) on publish (TOM is good corporate team player).

Oh, and regions are also being worked into the Content Manager Explorer. Don't forget to join the discussion on page regions on June 27, 2013--see the community announcement on Tridion Stack Exchange meta.

I'm seeing a Tridion future that's easier for the business and development, what's not to like?

But what about today's technology? Let's look at how Julian and Nuno break Content Delivery paradigms using the current version of Tridion. Beware: the next section is Tridion geekery at its best (worst).

Breaking Tridion Today: Tech Spotlight with Julian Wraith and Nuno Linhares

Give SDL Product Manager Nuno Linhares and Global Technical Account Manager Julian a few days, some cloud instances, and a prompt from Tridionauts (like Kah Tang), and you get a 45 minute demo that's basically a Tridion MVC setup without Tridion's Content Delivery (CD) API.

There's no CD Webservice. No CD API (Tridion's jars or dlls in your Web application). But there's also no querying a Tridion CD storage database (i.e. Broker). Actually, there was no Broker database in their demo.

Julian set up the Content Management environments with Amazon cloud instances (AWS), but it could alternatively be on premise (or in your VM to test out). Cloud Formation let him script the environments and how the instances should (auto) scale.

Julian pointed out with a cloud approach, we can "create or destroy things" equally as fast. I'm sure he really meant to say "Create and Break" things instead.

Content Model in Delivery
The setup placed the typical TOM details such as title, metadata, publication, into a Mongo Database (NoSQL), which has a relatively flat structure (e.g. key-value stores) optimized for large, flexible data sets. No CD Broker and of course no CD API.

Then some MVC magic (webservice, data/model/controller, and page routing/mappings) on the front end creates a dynamic website with pretty much a near-zero Tridion CD footprint and references to fields was simple as ${} ("look ma, no strings").

My colleague and I were so excited, I embarrassingly, casually shouted, "Nuno!" to confirm the lack of CD API (in a room full of partners, customers, and colleagues). Nuno clarified that indeed, there was no Tridion software in the delivery tier.

In summary:
  • "Normal" Tridion: Content Manager -> Storage (Broker) -> Web Application
  • The Mutant Tridion in the demo: Content Manager (in the Cloud) -> Non-proprietary NoSQL -> MVC Application

Business Takeaways
This is an interesting, architecturally-unsupported approach that really focuses on the content model in both Content Management and Content Delivery.

But also:
  • As a Web-based application, cloud isn't new to Tridion (yes, Tridion can fly)
  • The Key-Value approach isn't new either, but this includes both content fields as well as custom metadata
  • It took just a few days to prototype a developer-friendly, cloud-based, Tridion-agnostic MVC Web application ready for Big Data (in the form of MongoDB).
If you're a Jim Collins reader, you might recognize the "fire-bullets-then-cannonballs" approach.
I recognize two colleagues having a great time with technology and (ab)using a well-designed, extensible Web Content Management system to prove out a few scenarios. Yes, try this at home in your secret lab. But no, do not try this at work on your enterprise environments! At least not yet--wait for the product updates or consider seeing if cloud or storage extensions to NoSQL databases might fit your scenarios. You'll have to bring your own cloud or NoSQL expertise and support though.

Get ready for Customer Experience Management. In the middle of big data, the content explosion, and Tridion meeting all this heads on, it's exciting seeing what Product Leadership is up to officially and "in the lab." Oh and a keynote presentation that promoted lots of what my colleagues and I have been doing for awhile now? Of course I'm smiling.


  1. Hi Alvin, great post on the show, I did not attend all the sessions so very nice to get your insights. Did you see the CTO's keynote?

  2. @John, the play? Brings me back to college productions where the enthusiasm is high and the comraderie evident. Good times!

    @Madhu, thanks! Where's your post? Tell us about that pic of you doing a hadoken fireball pose!

    1. @Alvin, yes its on :)

  3. Alvin, yes, the story... did it work for you?

  4. The story definitely gave me context on how the SDL suite works together, which is nice coming from mostly the WCM side. I think "orchestration" is a great way to describe Customer Experience Management.

    1. Thanks Alvin... I think orchestration is just part of the process in how you develop a customer experience strategy... Call it orchestration, operations. To me orchestration is the biggest issue in business today. How do we build a process to provide the right experience, in the right channel, and on the right device.


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