Liferay leaps into digital customer experience market, seeks growth in Canada

Los Angeles-based open source software firm Liferay Inc. released a new version of its digital experience platform and launched a new analytics service on Tuesday.

The software firm’s new products, Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) 7.1, Liferay Commerce, and Liferay Analytics Cloud, are designed to help B2B firms educate and sell to their customers in the digital age. According to Liferay Canada general manager Joe Shum, the company’s suite of solutions are emblematic of a wider shift in the ‘web portals’ industry to broaden out and solve more problems for users.

“We solve a lot of problems that a CMO (chief marketing officer) would be trying to solve,” Shum says. “Or perhaps someone that is tasked with creating a new internal product in the CIO’s office.”

Also indicative of the trend is Gartner Inc.’s rebranding of its horizontal portals Magic Quadrant to that of Digital Experience Platforms, where Liferay is positioned alongside a long list of recognizable brands including Microsoft, WordPress, IBM, OpenText, Salesforce, SAP, Adobe, and more.

Gartner DXP magic quadrant
Gartner’s updated its horizontal portals Magic Quadrant to the Digital Experience Platforms Magic Quadrant. Liferay is in the most magical quadrant of all, the upper-right hand one.

Originally, Liferay was a German-based firm that created an open source alternative for creating enterprise intranet portals. In the early 2000s, it became a go-to resource for organizations that didn’t want to invest in a solution like IBM WebSphere. Its software was free and used common development frameworks and languages, allowing it to build a large and committed developer community, Shum says. At one point, it was one of the most popular open source portals in the world. Similar to Red Hat, its business grew out of the services it offered to firms using its software.

“Liferay has stayed independent and we’ve continued to grow and evolve beyond the portal product,” Shum said, speaking with at the recent Gartner Symposium in Toronto. “Now the thinking is that if you’ve already invested a lot of resources into creating a portal for your organization, you should be able to take that to the next level and add the analytics piece, the commerce piece, the marketing piece.”

Liferay pushes into Canadian market

In early 2017, Liferay opened up a Canadian office in Markham, Ont. with four employees to support the growing Canadian customer base. Shum says the financial services industry has been a buyer of the services, as they seek ways to create self-service portals for their clients. York University is another Liferay client, building its student service portal with DXP.

Liferay plans more of a marketing push and is seeking to get involved in different events in Canada, Shum says. Part of succeeding in the new market will be learning to operate in a new business culture – one where open source software isn’t as valued as it is in Europe.

“Governments will really focus on open source in the RFP stage, calling it out,” he says. “They make sure they have access to the code and how it works for transparency and security.”

Liferay called out some specific highlights in its new releases. DXP will be seeing several new features around personalization:

  • Personalized dynamic forms. In DXP 7.1, Use business rules to allow forms to adjust dynamically based on answers received. Configure forms to send notifications when fields are completed. Use an API to customize fields.
  • Flexible page creation. In DXP 7.1, store sections of a page as a “fragment” and then reuse them elsewhere. A Fragment Editor allows coders to create or edit fragments, including from preferred tools.
  • Improved mobile and cross-platform development. In DXP 7.1, developers can use Apache Cordova or Xamarin to build cross-platform applications from a single codebase designed for the web and embed it in a mobile app.

As for Commerce and Analytics Cloud, DXP is a requirement of both.

Liferay Commerce is a new product designed for B2B purchasing that allows customers to view products, receive quotes, make purchases, and re-order items. It’s tailored for Liferay’s B2B customers, says Ed Chung, vice-president of product management at the firm.

“There are a lot of B2C commerce offerings available and we’re seeing a great need for a product that handles the B2B use case,” he says. “Our research shows that commerce software will be an area of growth from now until 2020 in manufacturing and other industries.”

Machine learning components help understand a customers’ purchasing history to inform inventory management. “Users are better able to understand their customers and some of our future product offerings will help them further tailor some better experiences too,” Chung says.

The new Liferay Analytics Cloud works with DXP to aggregate data and provide a view of the customer. See individual activity history, engagement and interest, and visualize traffic paths for easy source identification. It’s offered as a cloud subscription.

Liferay DXP 7.1 is available now and Liferay Commerce is available in select markets, including Canada. The Liferay Analytics Cloud will be in beta immediately and planned for general availability in September.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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