Vignette Village 2008

Vignette, the Austin-based Web content management company,  has an annual show called Vignette Village.  A whole crew went from our company; Mark and I represented the Web Admins.

I got a lot out of Village though I wasn’t expecting to.  There was excitement in the air and clear commitment to continued development of their core Vignette Content Management (VCM V7) product and other products which had been lacking for the last couple years.  To be honest, I had begun to expect that it was a matter of time unti the Plone/Drupal/Joomla crowd outstripped VCM, but they seem to be making the changes required to keep the product as the true enterprise choice.  We already moved off Vignette Dialog, which was a very good email marketing package, because of the lackof support and new development.  I don’t know the details, but basically Vignette went all meathead and turned away from their core products to chase medical/legal document management money a couple years ago, combined with financial problems and layoffs, and so the products started to suck.  They seem to have turned that around, though, and everyone I spoke to inside Vignette is excited about their new leadership, especially Bertrand de Coatpont, the new VCM product manager.

The new Vignette Recommendations (OEMed from Baynote Systems) looks really good, and will expose some new data to us that I think can be used in a lot of different and innovative ways.  From previous descriptions I had thought “Yeah, whatever, BazaarVoice but from Vignette, which doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence in me” (frankly, we Web Admins have learned to be suspicious about additional offerings from Oracle, Vignette, HP, etc. as they will try to sell you crap on the strength of their brand name and alleged integration).  But the reality, which is an extremely elegant way of collecting and immediately reusing usage info, is brilliant and especially with their social search aspect to it, I feel like they have an actual vision they’re working towards.  So two thumbs up there!

Also two thumbs up on the Transfer Tool, which allows you to easily clone VCM installs to other servers – it’ll allow for frequent and efficient refreshes.  We had to have that working, so we Web Admins had devised a complicated two-day process to clone an environment; this should be much better.

VCM 7.6 is planned to be complete this year, and it has a lot of compelling features – you can migrate Content Type Definitions (change a CTD and the content changes inside the VCM to fit), lots of performance, availability, and console GUI fixes…  Then “Ace,” which everyone knows is VCM V8 but they don’t want to own up to that yet, has a total GUI overhaul.  Most of the issues we have with VCM are content contributor usability, so that’s great.

All in all, two days well spent.  It definitely exceeded my expectations (and I’ve been to Village in years previous).

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Vignette Village 2008

  1. RC

    Hey Ernest,

    I’m glad to hear the VCM is getting some much needed love. Having seen and briefly used their product, I have to say it is a powerful tool, but you’re right there has been a lot of money flowing into the lighter wait “mini-CMS” tools of late. My thought was that there will always be a place for the large Enterprise scale CMS, but I’m now feeling that the size of that market could vary greatly depending on the next few years investments in the VCM, Joomla, Drupal, et al.

    Also, I wanted to make certain there wasn’t any confusion between Baynote and Bazaarvoice.

    Just to be clear, the Baynote products deliver on-demand recommendations and social search for web sites, which is quite different than what we’re building here at Bazaarvoice. We’re creating products that allow customer facing pages to drive word of mouth marketing, allowing our customers to collect content such as product ratings, reviews, stories, questions, answers, and more. While we do have a search component, it’s more around improving SEO of the customers existing product pages than it is to provide any sort of social search capabilities directly.

    Thanks!

  2. Oh, totally. Just from the initial Vignette Recc description I thought it was BZ-ey, turned out not to be at all.

    And for those of you not familiar with social search – it’s logical, and you may have thought search engines do it already (they don’t!) – basically it’s watching user behavior and changing search ranking based on what search results people have clicked on and found useful. You put a page tag on your site so you can see the user behavior – just like Omniture/Unica/WebTrends – so it can take more than the clickthrough into account, it can see further activity, bounce rates, etc.

    We’re very into search here and it’s definitely the next step in making enterprise search awesome. There’s only so much you can do with content ranking and not usage ranking. On the Internet, Google uses PageRank (incoming links) but that’s not useful on a smaller-than-Internet scale (and that’s why the Google search appliance sucks, and people who know what they’re doing use FAST/Autonomy/etc).

  3. Ernest,
    Thanks for the nice comments and clarification on what Baynote (and therefor also Vignette Recommendations does). Many of our customers and prospects are planning on implementing both Baynote and BazaarVoice as they are highly complementary technologies. — both driving increased sales leveraging the power of peers. (BTW – a pretty big theme at this week’s Forrester Consumer Forum).

    Specifically for anyone interested primarily in the Social Search aspect of Baynote, we have a webcast next week called Mob Search featuring out CTO Scott Brave and our customer Juniper Networks. You can register here. We also did a webcast with Forrester Analyst Suresh Vittal more focused on marketing called Mob Marketing, you can watch a trailer complete with Soprano’s theme here.

    Cheers,
    Kathleen, Baynote Marketing

  4. Ernest,
    I was thrilled to read your post and learn that you found Vignette Village well worth your time. Once Vignette Transfer Tool comes out, I’d like to sync up with you and learn how well our productized solution solves your problems. Hearing your feedback firsthand is the best way for us to continue bringing you the enhancements you need.
    In case there were any sessions you missed at Vignette Village, all the presentations have been posted to our customer forum on Connect (connect.vignette.com/VV2008) . Thanks for coming to Village and look forward to reading your future posts!
    Kirsten, Vignette Product Marketing (WCM Solutions)

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