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How will you tackle your many site problems?

As my colleague Martin Eley wrote about last week, it’s a reality of the digital age that large companies have many, many web sites. Several small companies do as well of course, but the ecosystem of web sites under a corporate umbrella explodes as companies grow and the brands they manage, the number of regions they operate in, and the number of customers they serve expands. And as companies with this predicament have found, having many sites creates “many site problems” and not solving these problems can lead to lost market opportunity, higher costs, customer attrition, security lapses and splintered brand control. In a digital age, these problems have real ramifications on overall business performance.

Few industries are immune from many site problems. For a global pharmaceutical like Pfizer with dozens of brands each across several markets, being able to deliver sites quickly and within appropriate cost levels is a strategic differentiator. Without a way to rapidly deliver and centrally manage thousands of sites to support its brands, Pfizer’s many site problems could include low product awareness and steep marketing costs.

For a large provider of workforce retirement plans like Voya Financial, branded portals that end users access to manage their individual retirement accounts are a constant opportunity to reinforce the sophistication of the Voya brand. If these sites are clunky, difficult to use, and not mobile friendly then Voya’s many site problems could include the conveyance of a negative brand image with every visit. And if Voya can’t insure the highest security and performance protocols for these sites then the many site problems could include trust issues as well. At a time when Voya is competing online for customer awareness and loyalty, these problems could have very negative consequences.

And for a multinational corporation like Veolia, who needs thousands of websites to support its businesses in 48 countries around the world, centrally governing its digital presence is critical to enhancing the strength of its corporate identity. Not doing this effectively could result in a very costly many site problem with increased spending on various forms of digital maintenance resulting in even lower brand awareness and online engagement.

And the many site problems don’t end here. We’ve worked with universities that spend an inordinate amount of budget on the thousands of faculty, staff, and administration websites that bear its name; non-profit professional associations that can’t syndicate valuable content across hundreds of chapter sites that they depend on for outreach; and even large city governments that manage dozens of sites but lack the centralization required to eliminate dangerous security vulnerabilities. In fact what we have found is that any organization of scale that has many sites most likely has many site problems. And not addressing these problems exposes the business to real risk.

But while many site problems can be detrimental they can be effectively addressed, and across all our customers we have seen that this is best done by focusing in two key areas. The first is to identify and agree on a model of central web governance. This doesn’t necessarily mean centralization of access, brand, or even of features and functionality for web sites, although in some cases that is part of it. Central governance more pertains to an operating practice whereby decisions regarding access, brand, and features and functionality (and all the other components of a many site deployment) are made in a way that adheres to the underlying web strategy and that supports the sustainability of that strategy over time.

The second key is that the underlying digital platform that is powering the many site solution needs to be scalable and flexible enough to enable this central governance model. Flexibility is the key: if the platform is so rigid that it dictates the governance model then demanding business pressures will render it useless over time, and many site problems will again creep up. The governance model and the platform are equally important. A governance model without the right platform to support it can never be implemented, and the right platform without an agreed-to governance structure can never be effective.

Pfizer, Voya, Veolia, and dozens of other organizations have chosen to address their many site problems by managing their digital strategy with a central governance model and by implementing their strategy with Acquia Cloud Site Factory, the market leading platform for rapid and sustainable many site deployments across all industries. The business impact that these companies are seeing as a result of their many site solutions are nothing less than incredible and they have learned that solving their many site problems not only decreases risk but actually creates competitive advantages.

These leaders have addressed their many site problems. How will you tackle yours?

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