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Consumer privacy rights herald 'third wave' of Web content management

Kevin Cochrane was on the line from Paris. The chief marketing officer at Jahia Solutions, a Web content management software provider, Cochrane had a vendor pitch to make  — but not before prosecuting a case for consumer privacy rights.

Cochrane, who’s been a CMO at Agari and at Open Text, and before that, the vice president of digital marketing at Adobe, believes a new age of  Web content management is upon us — a “third wave” as he puts it.

Today, companies can no longer simply point customers the way to their online brands and goods, as they did in the first wave of Web content management. Nor is it enough to offer targeted, pertinent, personalized goods and services to customers, as businesses learned to do in the second wave. In 2016, it’s incumbent upon companies to take hold of the entire customer experience.

“That means taking responsibility for every customer interaction, online and off, whether directly through an employee or indirectly through a web site, to ultimately determine the lifetime value and happiness of the customer,” Cochrane said.

Managing the customer digital experience includes protecting consumer data and ultimately, in his view, enabling consumer privacy rights. “This is about making certain that we’re transparent about the consumer data we have, why it is delivering value to the consumer and putting consumers in charge of their digital lives,” he said.

Content management software in three waves

So what’s the pitch? In the Jahia world view of the Web content management software market, this third wave follows much the same pattern as the previous two: disruptive technologies change the conversation between consumers and the brands they do business with.

Browser, personal email. The market for Web content management software — the first wave — was created in 1999 following two technology disruptions: the advent of the modern Web browser and the rise of consumer email. Companies could  build a web site and marketers could reach consumers in their homes with links that took them to that web site. By 1999, consumers were beginning to appreciate the convenience of shopping online. “And companies realized they needed to move from traditional marketing activities to marketing online,” Cochrane said.

Facebook, the iPhone. The market for Web experience management software — the second wave — was created in 2009, “again after three years of digital disruptions,” Cochrane said. In 2006, Facebook opened up to the world, and people didn’t have to be a student at Harvard to build digital social connections with family and friends. A year later the iPhone debuted, followed by the worst consumer financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“Marketers recognized that consumers didn’t just want convenience. They wanted immediacy in terms of feedback from their family and friends on their smart phone before making the critical decision to part with their hard-earned cash in a turbulent economy,” Cochrane said. Web experience management was all about targeted experiences on mobile devices and social networks.

Big data, IoT. “Now we’re at the forefront of the third wave,” Cochrane said. In 2013, with the popularization of big data and the availability of Hadoop, it became possible to process large volumes of consumer data for customer insights. A year later, the Internet of Things became manifest in wearables such as Fitbit and programmable, sensor-driven thermostats and security systems (e.g. NEST).

“What that meant was not only could you — in real time — process more data, you could collect more data than ever before about where the consumer is in the moment,” Cochrane said. “Consumers in the first wave wanted convenience; then they wanted immediacy. What they really want now is intimacy.”  We don’t want to have to explain ourselves to a brand every time we interact with it.

Consumer privacy rights made easy?

Of course, Jahia can help do that — it sells technology that collects all this customer data, analyzes it and makes it available in real time to employees so companies can forge intimate customer relationships.

But, as Cochrane points out, customer intimacy depends on trust. So, in partnership with the Apache Software Foundation, Jahia is building infrastructure for consumer data privacy and protection — offering consumers the ability to click on a link, see what companies know about them and exercise their consumer privacy rights to delete the data permanently, anonymize it or stipulate that the data not be sold to a third party.

Sounds good, right? But will companies buy into it? “Brands that want to be leaders will be the ones to move faster and say, ‘You can trust your online experience with us; you can trust that personal engagement and intimacy because we are protecting your data,'” Cochrane said.

Consumer privacy rights as competitive advantage. I’ll believe it when I see it.