FatWire: Managing More than Just Web Content
Date: Monday , February 02, 2009
FatWire helps organizations the world over to deliver a rich online experience to users and simplify the management of their Web presence. Founded in 1996, the New York headquartered company has over 500 global customers from a variety of industries (finance, manufacturing, retail, media and publishing, entertainment, travel, telecommunications, healthcare, government, and more). And, over the last few years, the company has been re-energized with a new management team, a new vision and strategy, and new product introductions. As a result of these efforts, FatWire has given some of the more established players in the Web Content Management (WCM) industry a run for their money. And with some recent industry consolidation, it is well positioned to change the WCM landscape and revolutionize the billion-dollar content management market.
Delivering a superior web experience
The Internet has opened a channel through which organizations worldwide can instantly take their messages to new regions and audiences across the globe. But many businesses still have not been able to fully grasp the ability to manage their global content. And many line-of-business managers and marketing departments are looking for ways to create and get campaigns online quickly and cost-effectively without relying on the expertise of the IT department.
So, how can one create new web content and easily edit, post and manage existing content? How can one deliver new dynamic and personalized content? How can one engage Web users beyond simply consuming content, and involve them in rich communities? These are the questions that many organizations are faced with when developing their sites today.
Today, organizations need to build on top of best-in-class WCM capabilities to address the challenge of delivering a web experience to customers that promotes loyalty and enhances the brand. Organizations need Web Experience Management (WEM) – a simplified, integrated process for managing the web experience from collaboration and authoring, through publishing, deployment, content targeting, analysis and optimization, and participation. FatWire offers a comprehensive set of WEM capabilities to help organizations build an engaging and effective web presence, including best-in-class WCM plus enterprise 2.0 collaboration capabilities.
Barclays, one of the world’s leading banks, has been trying to expand its credit card consumer base. In order to reach new customers all over the world, it plans to launch a newer version of its website that will be more personalized, with content offered in multiple languages, new services, and timely promotional offers targeted to the visitor’s geographic region. Though a great concept, the bank has been cautious about executing on this strategy, as managing the multiple Web pages and updating the content in them would eventually pose a big problem.
Fortunately, Barclays has found a way to achieve its ambitious goals with FatWire, a leading WEM solutions provider that offers best-in-class WCM and targeted marketing technologies, plus enterprise 2.0 collaboration and content integration capabilities. Currently Barclays has about half a billion Web pages running on FatWire’s platform, which enables personalized delivery of target content to website visitors, reaching over a million of the bank’s daily website visitors.
Electronics manufacturer Linksys also manages its global website with FatWire’s flagship WCM product, FatWire Content Server. The Linksys.com site is multilingual with interfaces in multiple European and Eastern languages, and features a variety of products based on the geographic location of the viewer. Linksys wanted to focus on maximizing the web experience online customer had when logging onto the site. They needed to better engage customers online to help reduce customer support issues and consequently, drive down IT costs. In order to do this, Linksys needed to deliver web content that was relevant to the customer – information about their products and answers to basic support issues that they could resolve without having to further engage the company for additional support.
Using FatWire Content Server, Linksys created dynamic Web pages that offered relevant (location-sensitive) information. So visitors can visit the website and download product information, product images, or documentation. Visitors get in-depth information about products and services, and can access a list of Frequently Asked Questions that addresses the most common issues customers face. Additionally, visitors can log onto online communities and post a query, or share an answer to an existing one. In this way, Linksys was able to better engage its customers in a more sophisticated way with dynamically targeted and personalized content that drives customer loyalty and satisfaction. Similarly, Ford Motor Company, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, manages its websites (FordUK and FordAmerica) on the FatWire platform. In late 2007, Ford wanted to launch a new website targeted exclusively to soccer fans using FatWire technology. Their goal was to build an online fan base that shared many of the same demographics and characteristics of its existing automotive customers. Working with FatWire, Ford launched the FeelFootball (www.feelfootball.com) website which features profiles on renowned star athletes and players like Pele. Using FatWire Content Server, Ford manages web content and promotions targeted to this online community. Today the site delivers rich images, video, and multilingual content to fans (and Ford customers) across the globe. Fans can log on to read about the latest developments of their favorite stars from the world of soccer, learn about referee decisions, and engage in active discussions with other fans in the online soccer community.
Simply put, FatWire enables organizations to build, deploy, and manage sophisticated websites and online communications solutions with ease. The company makes it easy for users across the organization to access, contribute, and manage content from simple, yet powerful user interfaces. It architects its solutions for enterprise-class scalability and performance to enable the dynamic delivery of tailored and personalized content. It also offers industry-leading tools to facilitate enterprise collaboration, encourage building communities around brands, and to leverage enterprise content as well as user generated content. Organizations can harness the power of FatWire solutions to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy large numbers of websites and deliver a compelling Web experience to customers and partners.
Achieving recognition - and results
Over the past few years, FatWire’s solutions have emerged as the best products on the market for dynamic content delivery. FatWire has received positive ratings from customers, as well as from leading research and analyst firms like Gartner, which has positioned FatWire in the upper right corner of its prestigious ‘Magic Quadrant’. Gartner Magic Quadrants are a culmination of research in a specific market, giving customers and prospects a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors. The key factor in FatWire’s placement in the Gartner Quadrant is how its WCM products support its customers’ strategies and business goals. “Customers look at managing their web content as a solution to help them solve their problems around customer support, marketing, branding, and analytics. With our solutions, organizations can optimize the web experience they offer, thereby increasing customer loyalty and sales,” says Gupta. For example, by monitoring page views with FatWire, users can get full scale reports on the effectiveness of their online campaigns. They can determine what is working and what is not, which pages are more frequently visited, and which parts of the site are more effective than others.
While creating a website has its own set of challenges, agility is a requisite for companies looking to gain a competitive edge. In order to be agile, you need to be able to have the ability to get relevant web content and information out to customers quickly and efficiently.
Making changes and adding new web content to a site can often involve a number of staff across various departments. And the larger and more complex the organization, usually the longer and most costlier these changes are to make – thus losing agility in the process. FatWire helps large enterprises make these changes and stay agile with solutions that free up the IT staff to focus on more important issues. Hence, business content contributors and marketers can freely edit existing information on a website, update a site with new content, enable multi–lingual capabilities, preview and publish content for immediately or push it out for a scheduled campaign or event. This enables publishers like The New York Times, BusinessWeek and Elsevier to maintain their agility, in spite of strict daily publishing demands.
“The real issue is: does your current solution require your people to make changes to your website in days, or hours or weeks? We make it easy for people to create and make changes to their website quickly and easily, and get the site up and running without getting IT involved,” says Gupta. So, FatWire’s cost effective, easy to use solutions reduce time to market for customers.
Once a website is launched, an organization also needs to establish a mechanism that manages the site’s content going forward, as well as any changes that occur. Web content editors and contributors can also establish rules and guidelines for the web content to be automatically assembled and dynamically delivered, along with any related product information and graphics as changes occur on the site. Editors are thus ensured that visitors are getting the most up to date info displayed whenever they visit the site, regardless of the region or geography.
The cost to an enterprise to develop and maintain an in-house solution often runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. FatWire helps many customers save IT dollars with their cost-effective solutions. For example, in case of Linksys, the company was able to provide technical support to all its customers by creating and managing the relevant Web pages with all relevant information at a much lower cost. This helped reduce call center costs by nearly 50 percent over the course of one year alone.
This strong value proposition has helped FatWire win the hearts (and business) of many customers. FatWire’s client roster includes a list of impressive names across a variety of industries. Leading players like Wal-Mart, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Best Buy, The New York Times, and Irish Times host their websites on FatWire’s platform.
“We sell to large companies who rely on us. With offices across the world, we can offer customers global support. We know what organizations need in order to be successful, and because my entire management team has a software background and come from large organizations – we know what it’s like to support customers and treat them right,” Gupta states.
To achieve this, FatWire works with a select group of about 35 highly qualified and trained service and technology partners. Service partners enable customers to rapidly develop and deploy FatWire solutions, so they can quickly benefit from delivering the best possible web experience. Technology partners help FatWire create innovative integrated hardware and software offerings and allow it to quickly deploy best-in-class solutions for its global customers. Congruent, Indira, Ericsson, Sapient, Capgemini, Accenture, IBM, and Oracle are among its well-known partners.
The Technology Backbone
FatWire’s Web Content Management solutions revolve around three core products – FatWire Content Server, FatWire TeamUp, and the recently announced FatWire Content Integration Platform. FatWire Content Sever automates the entire WCM process, including site design, content authoring, content publishing and delivery, targeted marketing, site analytics, and user participation. It enables organizations to offer a world-class web experience – via their Internet, extranet, or Internet deployments – and to manage it with remarkable ease.
FatWire TeamUp helps companies offer a collaborative and interactive web experience with industry-leading capabilities for user-generated content, community, and collaboration. Its features, which include simple-to-create wikis and blogs, an application mashup platform, and more, allow businesses to facilitate internal collaboration and promote an active online community around their brand. The FatWire Content Integration Platform enables organizations to seamlessly access content stored across the enterprise and publish it to websites managed by FatWire Content Server and to FatWire TeamUp collaborative spaces. Based on a web-services-based, peer-to-peer architecture, the FatWire Content Integration Platform offers powerful capabilities for accessing a broad range of content on a variety of different systems for use online.
FatWire’s products are developed on JAVA, so that they can be deployed on multiple platforms to provide customers with flexibility and potential cost savings. The FatWire Content Integration Platform consists of various web services that use service oriented architecture platform (SOAP) and Enterprise Java. The distributed agents that make up the FatWire Content Integration Platform are written using a variety of different languages but C++ is preferred since it runs on many platforms and has a negligible impact on performance. They are architected using REST and SOAP API’s. It leverages Web 2.0 technology to enable multimedia capabilities, provide collaboration, and ease content management which makes the platform more dynamic.
So what differentiates FatWire Content Server and the FatWire Content Integration Platform from other tools? Their distributed peer-to-peer service oriented architecture delivers better performance, scalability, and security, as compared to other platforms that rely on a hub and spoke architecture, which create more of a bottleneck at the hub.
Winning Over Competition
The WCM market has been achieving gradual, steady growth and is estimated to become a billion dollar market by the end of 2008. Over the last few years, several big and small players have been vying for a piece of this pie. While Microsoft SharePoint, for example, offers limited WCM capabilities, Gupta is not at all fazed and in fact, remains quite optimistic about FatWire’s position in the market. And he stands by these proof points: the strength of the FatWire portfolio and the strength of his team. Gupta claims that while some competitors only offer various WCM bits and pieces, FatWire delivers an overall solution that goes beyond the basics. “We are a one-stop-shop for collaboration, content delivery, multi-lingual support, personalization, targeting, and analytics,” says Gupta.
FatWire Content Server’s use of distributed agents enables content stored in various repositories to be accessed from across the enterprise. These distributed peer-to-peer agents pull information from various repositories and publish it onto a Content Server supported site. Then, using pre-defined templates and protocols (set up typically by the IT staff responsible for maintaining their own web content) it is deployed to the web. Since web content asset is accessed from within Content Server, reaching the back end repository does not compromise a site’s performance.
FatWire is able to collect analytical data by combining site visitor data with their behavior on a specific site, so geographic location, content interests, clickstream paths and conversion rates can all be tracked. Apart from content editors, marketing department, customer support teams, accounting and finance departments benefit equally. In addition, customers need not worry when new browser versions are launched. FatWire ensures that there is no stoppage in a customer’s business at times like these. When asked about the competition FatWire may face if a larger organization acquires other small companies with the similar capabilities, Gupta remains optimistic. According to him, large companies face two-fold problems. And as the former CTO of Computer Associates (CA), he would know. First, integration poses a major issue and takes many large companies a long period of time to develop and fully integrate a seamless service or solution and deliver it to market. Secondly, many large companies there are focused on multiple issues and have varied interests, while pure play vendors like FatWire can focus solely on meeting customer needs. “FatWire continues to have positive momentum when the rest of the industry (and many of our competitors) are struggling. My philosophy is to stay one step ahead of customers and two steps ahead of competition,” Gupta says.
Growth and Future
The past three years have exhibited impressive, if not explosive growth from both a product and market perspective. The 12-year old company has strung together a notable set of customer wins - most recently with the migration of Military.com onto its Content Server product.
According to industry analysts, the Military.com migration was an impressive achievement. The site boasts over 10 million unique users from all branches of the military – both active and retired service personnel and their families. The reason for the move is a familiar one. Military.com outgrew its old Content Management System and needed to move to one that offered more scalability and flexibility. The move to Fatwire’s Content Server platform has been in the works for about six months and the site was recently relaunched. Moving a site of this magnitude to FatWire technology speaks volumes about the customer’s confidence in the product as well as the provider – thanks to FatWire’s continuous drive towards innovation and customer satisfaction.
The constant effort of pushing itself has been a strong factor that in achieving a 40 percent growth in year-on-year revenue. FatWire’s current revenue stands at $50 million making it a big ‘small’ company. ”Success depends on innovation and growth, and we have both of those on our side,” says Gupta.
With an employee base of over 200 spread out over offices in as many as eight countries, FatWire enters 2009 with plans to stretch its wings towards India, Ukraine, and the Middle East. The company plans to establish support centers for its large customers and increase its strength by about 50 percent. Though a financially crunched market looms ahead, Gupta sees a tremendous opportunity in deploying user-generated content in mashups to create the next killer application.
Over the years, FatWire has quietly and effectively entrenched itself in the midst of the enterprise IT space, something Gupta attributes to his company’s vision and persistence. “I get unhappy when someone calls us just a Web Content Management company. When you have customers that have half a billion page views per month, you’re doing a lot more than just managing content,” says Gupta.
Founded : 1996
Founders : Mark Fasciano and Ari Kahn
CEO : Yogesh Gupta
Headquarters: Mineola, New York
Other Offices: Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands,
Singapore, Spain, UK Headcount : 200 worldwide
Customers : Over 500 across various
Investors : Topspin Partners, EuclidSR Partners, Wheatley Partners and Newlight Associates
Website : www.fatwire.com