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Harmonic Inc.

Self-publishing web site, extranet

Harmonic (Nasdaq: HLIT) is a leading provider of digital video, broadband optical networking and IP delivery systems to cable, satellite, telecom and broadcast network operators. (http://www.harmonicinc.com)

The Challenge
Harmonic needed a self-service web site control panel that would enable marketing, human resources, training, investor relations, customer support, and other staff throughout the organization to publish their own web content, without needing to know HTML. This also enabled them to redeploy valuable web/IT staff to other projects, saving a small fortune in staffing costs.

They wanted a complete corporate communications system that would send out dynamic and compelling emails for sales follow-up, trade show and events announcements, holiday greetings, and other outbound communications. They also wanted sales tools that would enable sales staff to send collateral to prospective leads. All communications would be audited and tracked so that marketing and sales would know if their messages were getting through.

Most important, Harmonic needed to launch an extranet, administered by dozens of account managers worldwide. The goal was to enable Harmonic staff, partners, and customers to publish and share documents in a secure environment. Content had to flow both ways, under strict access controls, as everyone needed to be able to submit and share documents and web pages with select groups, without compromising security.

The Wish List
Harmonic requested a special navigation system of their own design; a system that enables a site visitor to navigate, with a single click, to anywhere on the site, even to a deep 4th level of hierarchy. The navigation is essentially a dynamic interactive site map that fits neatly into the top of every web page, without taking up more than the usual space reserved for navigation. Tied in to this navigation system is a complete online product catalog. The navigation automatically changes to reflect changes in products, product families, and product lines.

The control panel needed to have a workflow and security system that would restrict access to certain types of information, by department. They also wanted to give different levels of permissions to content authors, owners, and publishers, thus controlling who could create and edit content and who could publish content to the web site.

Web pages needed to be scheduled, so that they would be available for viewing by a select group for a specified period of time, and each account manager needed to be able to easily administer their own extranet users and access security. Because Harmonic is a global company, the site had to support web page and document content management in a variety of languages, including multibyte languages like Chinese.

The Solution
Harmonic chose Specific Impulse as web site developer primarily on the strength of the StageOne web publishing system. Harmonic was attracted to the fact that the StageOne web site control panel wasn't going to be a one-off application hand-built at considerable cost, like their previous control panel, which was unable to accommodate new site designs. StageOne was a well-tested, flexible system already powering other corporate web sites. Moreover, since StageOne is a fully-customizable web application, it could be used to automate virtually any graphic design Harmonic selected.

Harmonic's StageOne system features over 40 modules for managing various types of web content, such as training classes, press releases, job postings, an online document library, a product catalogue, and events. The navigation system, designed to work cross platform and on browsers from Netscape and Internet Explorer 4 to the latest Netscape 7 and IE 6 releases, is completely controlled by StageOne.

Content owners in departments across the company and across the world log in to StageOne to manage their content. Depending on their StageOne permissions, content owners might see "locks" on certain modules, or certain modules may simply not appear. StageOne also supports to additional interfaces, a "light" interface for content owners who do not access StageOne directly, and an Extranet interface designed to look like the web site, rather than the control panel.

For example, Harmonic account managers have access to the Companies and Members modules through the Harmonic web site extranet, rather than through the StageOne control panel. These modules enable account managers to set up guest accounts in the extranet and set access permissions to content.

StageOne also provides outbound communication tools that enable Harmonic staff to email electronic document kits: sets of documents from the document library. These kits are configured to send documents as zip files, or more common, to invite the recipient to visit their "personal page" on the web site. All document access is tracked in an audit system, so the sender knows whether the recipient received and accessed their personal page and the documents themselves.

StageOne gives them complete, secure control over web content, including a powerful content classification system, graphical webpage editing tools, and a convenient content update scheduler that provide content owners with the option to schedule the precise date and time for web pages to appear on the site or expire.

Two years later, thanks to StageOne, the Harmonic site is undergoing a refresh to their graphic design at a slim fraction of the previous cost: because all the content flows automatically into the new web templates, only the master templates and artwork need to be revised.

The Players
Graphic design (including original artwork, interface elements, and layout) by Richard Klein Designs of Palo Alto (RKD). Information architecture, Javascript, DHTML, and StageOne system by Specific Impulse.

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