Liferay Symposium North America 2016 - Monday's Live Blog

Welcome to the Liferay Symposium North America 2016 Live Blog! If you've never followed one of these live blogs before, the content runs in reverse chronological order so that people following live can just refresh the page and see the latest on top.


5:00 pm

That's it for today! Tuesday's live blogging starts here at 9:00 am.

4:30 pm - The Customer Lifecycle Dashboard of the Future - Jason Chang and Mark Hensley, Liferay

One more session until the day is over! Jason Chang and Mark Hensley both work with the Marketing department at Liferay. As marketers, they're here to share how IT can partner with Marketing to support customers across the full lifecycle.


- We need a dashboard that has a full view of the customer lifecycle. What it actually looks like will vary from company to company; the important part is how you build it and how you use it.

- Digital transformation should be guided by a customer-centric digital strategy – not a marketing strategy, and not a customer service strategy.

- The traditional customer journey is department-centric. As customers move through their journey, they are passed off from Marketing to Sales to Support and eventually to Community.

- Customers don't see companies in terms of departments; they just see one brand experience. The customer lifecycle dashboard isn't about a prettier UI. It's about having visibility into the entire lifecycle regardless of your role in the organization.

Jason and Mark offered some hypotheses for how to get out of these traditional boundaries:

- Improve customer loyalty and retention. Look at percentage of customers onboarded, percentage of customers trained, low/no support ticket counts as things that you can look at in order to prepare for future problems. For example, in Liferay, if customers don't hit project milestones within the first 90 days, there is a high percentage that they will not renew their subscription. Part of our job is to make sure that their onboarding goes smoothly, so that they continue to have a good experience with Liferay.

- Sharing retention and loyalty metrics between Sales, Training and Support ensures that no one has fallen through the cracks. Again, using Liferay as an example, if training goes well, the number of tickets that Support sees should decrease, because customers have been educated well on how to use the software.

- Marketing can additionally contribute by targeting content, not just to prospects, but to customers during the onboarding and training process as well. Additionally, they could contribute to building loyalty by targeting content about new features and upgrades to existing customers.

They also shared a table of recommended metrics, how to diagnose them, and opportunities to improve customer experience. You can see from the picture that it had a lot of information in very small text! Make sure to check it out on the Recap site in a few weeks:

3:50 pm - Case Study: Building a Foundation for Healthcare Transformation - Deepesh Chandra, Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai is based out of New York City. They own 7 hospitals, 1 medical school with 15 institutes and 12 ambulatory practices. Their goal is to drive innovation and research in healthcare, and they consider themselves champions of technology in their field.


- The healthcare industry is based on volume (if a doctor sees a patient ten times, she gets paid ten times). There is no incentive to keep patients out of the healthcare system.

- Today's question is, How do we sustain a healthier system going forward?

Changes you will see in the next 5 years:

  • Health insurance utilization will continue to increase, while available funds continues to decrease (in terms of medical spend per capita).
  • Demand for services is increasing due to an aging population, an increasingly unhealthy population and general medical inflation.
  • Many large practices will merge or go out of practice due to the strain of financial and clinical transformations.

- DSRIP is New York's Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program and aims to transform the state's delivery system, so that the demand for healthcare services goes down. This would be done by coordinating with community care to prevent the need for acute or emergency care services, which are always more expensive.

- Mount Sinai is approaching this by building Community Care Hubs around New York. The idea is that any patient living within this "hub" will be connected with community care options. Under the hood, this will all be powered by IT so that providers are working with one another, and have the right information at the right time. The technology even enables them to go on the field through mobile services.

- Ultimately, healthcare will treat people less like patients and more like customers by filling in gaps in the system, such as providing warm handovers to housing services for a patient that is homeless. All of this coordination and collaboration within the community is built on Liferay and Okta; together, these technologies drive user experiences for Mount Sinai's community partners.

Deepesh Chandra shared a detailed overview of how Mount Sinai is creating these services with Liferay and Okta. Mount Sinai is all-in on building these hubs and implementing them into a system-wide process. "If our beds are filled, it means we've failed," one advertisement from Mount Sinai says. The ultimate goal is to use technology to provide better care to patients.

The Liferay implementation took them 6 months, and most of the work went into integrating Okta and building the necessary security layers. They are moving forward by continuing to build more applications into Liferay.

2:20 pm - Uncovering the Business Wins in Modularity, Microservices and Other Technical Megatrends - Milen Dyankov, Liferay

Milen Dyankov is a Developer Advocate at Liferay, meaning that he interacts with our community and brings their feedback into our products. It can be challenging to get the worlds of business and IT to understand one another, but it's crucial to find a way, especially when responding to technical megatrends.


- Software is now everywhere. You have to deal with it no matter what. Software is also never done. It is constantly being improved and enhanced.

- Think of racecars, which are constantly being maintained and improved. But racecars don't win races; people do. Software is the same way, and it needs a great team of people to keep it useful.

- For those of us that don't exactly understand how it works, software seems like magic.

- How much is the magic of software worth to you? Is that magic efficient? Is there better magic out there? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking about software, rather than focusing only on the end result.

- In other words, can you trust the magicians? Do you trust their integrity, their approach and their expertise?

- The problem with off-the-shelf products is that the magic is replaced by production. The result is that business users view software as an assembly line that needs to be made more efficient. It's tempting to try and implement trends (such as microservices) that aren't relevant to the software.

Milen used this image to explain the business and development perception of software:

Hopefully you can see that clearly. On top, we have a magical scene of three people floating on bright green balls of light. Below, we realize that there are more performers dressed in black controlling the balls of light. Milen explained that the bottom view is how IT teams actually make things happen, and the top is the part of software that end users usually see.

- One of the key changes in Liferay DXP is that it targets a new business problem: How do you interact with and understand customers? Liferay Portal aimed to solve integration problems, and dev teams have served up many solutions that are capable of solving this problem. Digital experiences are new ground, and software experts are working on building the magic that will solve this new challenge.

- The perfect infrastructure of today is built by unconstrained developers focused on business goals, building independently deployable, cohesive services with well defined boundaries and communication countracts, and a modular runtime with service management capabilities. Whew – that's quite a sentence. Here's a picture of the slide:

And here are three ways that you can use Liferay DXP to achieve this:



(I recommend checking out the slides when they're available for better quality images)

Milen emphasized that there's no "best" solution. It depends on your business and what you need to solve the problems you have.

"You don't pay engineers to write code, you pay them to understand subtleties and edges of the problem. The code is incidental." -Ted Dziuba

If you can trust your software team to help you, than you don't need to focus on buzzwords. You can focus on the business problems, and your team will build the solution you need.

1:40 pm - Keeping Millennials' Atten... ooh, Snapchat! - Michelle Hoshi, Liferay

Millennials! Who are they, really? Marketers talk about millennials all the time for the following reasons:

  • They are born between 1980 - 2000, which is a wide spread of people.
  • $200 Billion+ spending power by 2020.
  • Known as The Always Connected Generation, Sharing Generation, Digital Natives
  • They use multiple tech devices, everything from wearable devices to tablets. 87% of millennials use 2-3 devices every day.
  • Although they are experts at navigating technology, they have little patience with poor user experiences.
  • Authenticity is extremely important to millennials. They aren't easily moved by flashy ads or hype.
  • Millennials are also research-oriented and will usually do a lot of independent research before ever talking to a company about a purchase.

Busting the myths about millennials:

  • They're all part of the same audience. Millennials cover a 20-year age difference, meaning they can be anyone to a teenage girl to a young father with children.
  • Jumping on a Trend = Success. Selfies and emoticons are popular, but when companies try to implement them, they often fall flat for being inauthentic or gimmicky. 
  • Don't develop strong brand loyalty. Millennials who develop a relationship with brands at a young age are more likely to stay loyal as they grow older, as long as the company makes sense to them.
  • It's all about online shopping. There's an idea out there that, because millennials are so connected, everything must be online. However, they also expect offline experiences to stay connected with what they see online.

Michelle Hoshi proposed that we need to think about more than "Why Marketing to Millennials Makes Sense for Your Business." Now, the mindset has moved beyond just millennials and is driving change for other audiences as well. She shared about Hylands, a homeopathic company that used an online Pickleball campaign to build a community for the seniors using their products.

Three final takeaways to get to the heart of customer experience:

  1. Keep it individualized.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Keep getting feedback.

12:04 pm - Lunch time!

I would have snapped a picture of the amazing spread we had for lunch, but there's too much going on right now to focus on the food! Most of our attendees are networking with peers or sitting at our Food for Thought tables, where they can have focused conversations about Liferay products and other website-related topics.

It's a little hard to read the sign, but this group is talking about Testing Your Liferay Implementation with some of Liferay's Quality Assurance team.


It's definitely crowded in here! I was barely able to back up enough to get everyone in this picture. You can see half of Zeno Rocha's face on the right, pausing from talking to customers about WeDeploy, a new product from Liferay.


Other LSNA16 attendees are taking advantage of our speed consulting sessions...


...or spending time talking to colleagues.

If you're on-site with us, this is also a good time to participate in this year's charity activity. We're collecting supplies to put in backpacks that will be given to survivors of human trafficking. If you have extra shampoo, conditioner, etc. in your hotel room, remember to bring them downstairs so you can help with this great cause!

From the Liferay Event mobile app:

11:20 am - Case Study: Leading Your Company's Digital Transformation - Brian Laird, Apollo Education Group

Just five years ago, we wouldn't have thought we could change our thermostat from our phones. This is digital transformation: using the digital age to do things differently than we've ever done them before. Apollo Education Group is a US-based company that owns universities across the country. Higher education is growing and the number of students enrolled is expected to double over the next 10 years. In addition, the types of students are changing, as more people attend school after being part of the workforce for a few years. Brian Laird leads digital transformation at Apollo so that they will be ready for this future.


- Digital Transformation is NOT about IT. It's about looking at how technology is changing the world and seeing how business can respond.

- Uber just disrupted the taxi business five years ago, and they are already being disrupted by autonomous cars. Everyone needs to pay attention to digital transformation and innovation.

- Brian Laird shared that one key part of the transformation was to map the business processes for all of their universities. This resulted in a list of 13,000 requirements, but 80% of them were actually the same process for every university. Apollo saw an opportunity to create a standardized plan that would apply to most of their schools. This became the foundation for their digital transformation and move to a new platform.

- Why was Liferay important?

  • Time to market has greatly decreased. If the university has the content ready, Apollo's IT team can create a fully integrated student portal in 3 weeks or less.
  • Sharing of best practices is now the norm, due to the work of mapping business process. This allowed IT to templatize the initial roll out and build common components used by the schools.
  • Allowed them to jump start their mobile initiatives.

- Results:

  • The ROI paid for itself in only 2 years.
  • eCommerce now has over $60M running through it and is rapidly growing. Someone can pay online and start going to class in 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Supported 4 new institutions along with approximately 20% organic growth across the rest of schools.

- Tips for Success:

  • Understand the Digital Transformation Maturity Model (see this one by Altimeter).
  • Create a process for general IT transformation, including fixing the nuts and bolts, fixing the applications and processes, and optimizing systems.
  • Executive team needs to be completely bought in and willing to drive the change. This was the biggest driver for change.
  • Be willing to "figure it out as you go." No matter how well you plan, things may change in as little as two years.
  • Agree on what is most important to customers and the company. For Apollo, this meant understanding what millennials expect from a quality education.

Brian Laird shared even more keys to success in his slides, which will be available in a few weeks. What an incredibly in-depth look at the process of digital transformation and how to tackle the challenges every business encounters.

10:40 am - Case Study: AvMed - Delivering a Superior Health Experience with Liferay - Ana Eberhard, AvMed

AvMed was created in 1969 to provide health insurance in the aviation industry. Today, they serve over 340,000 members and have over 800 employees across the state of Florida. They call themselves a WELLfluent Lifestyle Brand, a portmanteau of "Wellness" and "Affluence". AvMed's goal is to help their members have lives that are rich in health and happiness.


- The website AvMed had was originally created inside-out, rather than needs-driven. The company decided internally that they needed to communicate information, and then it was added to the website. It lacked a storefront, a way to sell directly to consumers, because the site was built for people who were already members. On top of that, the entire website was hard-coded and not responsive for mobile.

- The new website would need a better user experience, as well as integration with portals for AvMed's 4 consituent groups. They wanted the new website to be engaging and a true home of their brand that kept people coming back.

- They began by redesigning the pre login experience and saw the following advantages:

  • Improved design appeal
  • Content updates managed through Marketing
  • Appealing "storefront"
  • Mobile responsive
  • Scalable with the Liferay platform

Keep an eye out for the recording of this presentation (which should be available in about two weeks). Ana Eberhard walked us through individual pages of the pre login and post login experience that they designed for their customers, including a personalized dashboard, information on plan-specific costs, a secure message center and other values behind AvMed's services.They have already seen $38,000 in call center savings, after only three months with the new system.

10:00 am - Case Study: Qad's Evolving Web Systems Architecture - Bob Ward, QAD

QAD is  a global ERP company that helps companies manage their supply chain, primarily manufacturing companies. QAD's IT team is always looking for better IT architecture solutions so they can improve their systems and make QAD's employees more productive. This is Bob Ward's role within the company, and he originally chose Liferay as a CMS and an integration platform.


- Every company needs to find a way to address the gap between strategy and execution.

- QAD uses Liferay internally to create Business Management views as well as Architect views, which allows them to "roll out the blueprints on the table," so to speak. They can have a clear view of their architecture when planning for the future. 

- For their project, QAD decided to use the Audience Targeting module to increase personalization for users. The goal of this project was to provided a dashboard on the account home page that was tailored to each user's needs and preferences, based on what QAD knew about them. Liferay's Audience Targeting module provided a good alternative to custom code, which would take a lot of resources to maintain as the project evolved.

- The key piece was setting up the profile with the correct customer attributes (job role, install type, etc.). From there, QAD created segments and used Audience Targeting to vary displays for each customer. The module allows you to "do whatever you want, in terms of personalization," without writing custom code. On the front end, this means that the customer will see icons for submitting new incidents, using screen share, viewing the document library, etc. There are eight different dashboards that QAD manages, and they are able to set the default view to whatever seems most appropriate to the customer, based on their profile.

-  This method of personalization enables rapid release of new features and improves the customer experience. QAD's future plans for audience targeting include aggregating more customer data for a 360 view of customers, improving messaging and communications, targeting content based on what is not included in customer profiles and hardening the infrastructure to grow capacity.

9:15 am - Opening Keynote, Bryan Cheung, Liferay

Bryan gave us an overview of how the rule of average was designed, looking at everything from the Bell Curve to the BMI that we still use today. Designing for the average helps achieve efficiency and scale, so traditionally, this idea of designing for the middle has guided innovation and manufacturing. However, no individual is ever perfectly average in every category. As Bryan said in his talk, "The world wasn't designed for you."

When we design for the average, we provide a perfect experience for no one. In business, we need to learn how to design for the edges of the Bell Curve – the individual.


- We tend to design to the average, by necessity. Remember those tiny desks you had to sit in at school (if you're from the US)? Depending on your size, you might have had to squeeze into them or sit with your knees knocking against the wooden tray. Historically, design hasn't been personalized, because we haven't had the ability to carry this out.

- "Technology allows us to design for each customer – at scale."

- Three of Liferay's customers are using technology to:

  • Deliver personal experiences. McDonald's has developed a personal intranet/extranet training site for their employees (primarily in Europe), many of whom are millennials who prefer to learn about their job on a smartphone or a computer, rather than behind a desk. The platform improved the employee experience, made people feel more connected and decreased staff turnover.
  • Help people provide personal experiences. Another of Liferay's customers, a telecom company, built a platform for their call center. Imagine being a rep at a typical call center. You finish a difficult call with a frustrated customer, and immediately have to dive into another call, bringing up multiple systems in order to try and understand what the caller's problem is. This telecom company solved this issue by creating a single view of callers, so that reps can intuitively scan a dashboard and know how to help callers in seconds.
  • Mix digital & human interactions to provide personal experiences. Gefa Bank has traditionally done very personalized, face-to-face business, such as driving to a factory, talking to their customers about their upcoming loan needs and getting a wet ink signature with a handshake. As the next generation of business leaders takes over this kind of traditional company, Gefa is looking for ways to digitize the deep technical knowledge of their staff (such as specific needs of their customers), so that they can use technology to create a more personal business model.
- "What is absolutely essential is that the CIO must be customer-oriented." - CIO of Gefa Bank. This quote may make you feel stressed or anxious about the upcoming changes in business, but Bryan shared that he sees this as an exciting opportunity. Business has always wanted to be customer-obsessed and provide perfectly tailored services. We've just never been able to do it until now.

9:00 am - Opening Keynote, Bryan Cheung, Liferay

Henry Nakamura, our master of ceremonies today, started the morning by acknowledging our customers who have been using Liferay since Portal 4.0. When one customer was asked what he loved about Liferay, he said, "We always trusted Liferay to be our platform of choice, and since the day we decided to do this, it has never failed us. Never."

This year's conference theme is "Get to the Heart of Customer Experience," which really captures some of the changes coming in Liferay DXP. In addition to sessions about DXP features, we're also looking forward to guest keynotes, case studies, a packed exhibit hall, networking and more.

This is also the first year of our Customer Connect program, which helps our customers who have similar business goals and challenges meet together to discuss how they're using Liferay to solve them. Definitely something to check out!

8:45 am

Good morning! We're almost ready to kick off the conference with an opening keynote from Liferay's CEO. Here are some of the sessions to look forward to today:

- Case Studies from 4 of Liferay's customers: QAD, AvMed, Apollo Education Group and Mount Sinai Health System

- How to discover business wins in modularity and microservices

- A discussion of how the traditional marketing dashboard is changing to help businesses see the full customer lifecycle, including metrics that offer insight on the post-sale experience 

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