Meghan Sencabaugh remembers the challenge her team at Ciena faced in 2010 after it acquired Nortel’s Metro Ethernet Networks business

“We became a global company overnight,” Sencabaugh, a senior manager of digital marketing for the Hanover, Md.-based telecommunications networking equipment provider, said during a recent CMSWire webinar.

The company's existing web content management system (Web CMS) wasn't enough. So the company opted for another solution, the Clickability Web CMS platform by Upland Software, an Austin, Texas-based cloud-based enterprise work management provider.

Ciena’s Web CMS journey — highlighted in the CMSWire webinar, “Key Steps to Adopt a Global Web Strategy" — is not unlike the tale of other enterprises that must transform in the digital experience world.

The Problems

Meghan SencabaughBefore going global, Ciena had little translated content and very little structure around what it did have. Then things changed — fast.

“The directive to us, the digital marketing team at that time, was to create a global web presence. Here are the target languages, here are the regions that we were suddenly operating in, and we needed some translated web content on to support that,” Sencabaugh said.

The goals? Extend the Ciena brand in target countries and regions. Create 13 new translated websites or “copies” of Convert six global “pamphlet” sites (basic sites, essentially with not a lot of deep content).

But Ciena had only the equivalent of three full-time employees: a web content specialist, a translation manager, a half-time developer and a half-time web manager.

It also had little input from regions on what was relevant in its target countries, and lacked an effective rollout/quality assurance process.

“It was quite an overwhelming process because we were going from virtually nothing to creating carbon copies of our English website,” Sencabaugh said.

Old CMS: Not Robust Enough

screenshot of CMSWire webinar on global web strategy

Cory Reed, Ciena’s director of digital marketing, said the former Ciena Web CMS platform was “fraught with usability and publishing difficulties.”

The workflow was cumbersome. It was difficult to publish any change to the website. They saw performance issues with the traffic spikes, like when company earnings went live.

“If we needed to publish anything, we had to publish everything, so everything on our quality assurance server had to be ready to go basically at any time,” Reed said. 

“If we needed to change a date or event on a webpage we had to send out an on-call email to anybody with access to the system to make sure that all of their content was ready, which definitely slowed us down in our ability to publish.”

Security risks were high, too. The Web CMS was hosted in-house and connected to some of Ciena’s internal systems. He called downtime “crippling, especially for developer productivity.”

Bottom line? They had to grow. And they couldn’t.

“We were overly reliant on IT do any of our publishing and again to maintain those servers, I had to take a half-day out of every month to do the latest server patches,” Reed said. “We needed a platform that we could manage ourselves within our team. We needed an easy-to-use platform that our customers could rely on. There was just a small number of people that had access to our old web content management system mostly because it was so hard to use and very few people were willing to even use it.”

The Move to Clickability

And so the transition ensued. Ciena put its Web CMS selection team in place. It hired a consultant, a former colleague of Reed’s, who was an IT director. Ciena looked at more than a dozen potential companies and shortlisted solutions.

Why Clickability?

“The delivery model was incredibly important,” Reed said. “Clickability could give us a better guarantee of optimum uptime than anybody else.”

The new Web CMS platform also offered content targeting and content personalization.

“We know that the modern web experience isn't just a one-size-fits all,” Reed said. “You need to cater the content to the user.”

You also need the ability to have rapid and discrete publishes. Ciena no longer has to call everybody with access to the system and find out if everything was “good to go.”

“Clickability gave us the features that we could control what we could publish, and what type of content to make sure that what appears publicly is secure,” Reed said. “We also like the rolling product updates. It's just one of the great benefits of (Software-as-a-Service) solution. While we may have been several versions behind in our old platform because we didn't have the IT resources to manage the upgrade. It happens automatically with a SaaS solution like Clickability.”

No Pain, No Gain

Ciena isn't suggesting that adopting a new CMS or translating an existing site to another language is easy.

“We needed to fail before we could succeed,” Sencabaugh said. “Not only were we trying to translate everything, we really didn't have any direction in terms of priority and we didn't have the relationships to go to the sales team in region or in country and say, ‘Hey can you tell us what’s hot right now, what are you working on, what do you need from us?’”

It was overwhelming, she said. At one point, Ciena translated content through Word documents -- copying and pasting Word docs in text over to the translation folks. In turn, they sent them back, and the web team copied and pasted those changes into the website for multiple languages and thousands of pages.

“So you can imagine, just right there, the quality assurance problems that arose from that,” she said.

Ultimately, the team regrouped and realized they only had to translate seven sites, fewer than first planned. “We were going to translate core content on the site, products, information, solution information, industry information,” she said. “So it was who we are, what does Ciena do and how can we help you — our core content.”

Ciena began to customize content on the home page for the audience of a particular region, “which again is better than where we were before,” Sencabaugh said.

“With this approach,” she added, “we've been able to grow traffic because it's freed us up to actually do a better job with the seven languages we decided to actually tackle, and it's enabled us to do some other things like deliver geo-targeted content. So if we have an event in a region we can make sure that people are seeing that on as well.”

To help with the transition, Ciena brought in to help build a tool that would automate the process for us. The third-party agency connected through an API to the new Clickability Web CMS and helped Ciena define everything that it wanted to export out to for translation.

“We started with a strategic framework and refined as we learned,” Sencabaugh said. “We really didn't have a plan. We knew where we needed to go just didn't have a plan to get there and realized pretty quickly that wasn't a great approach. So we came back and figured out a better plan."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Me in ME