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Thrifty Car Rental Uses Percussion Software's Rhythmyx 5 ECM as the Cornerstone of its International E-Commerce Effort

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
April 2004 Issue
  By Brad Rosenthal
Review of: Rhythmyx Enterprise Content Management from Percussion Software, Inc.

CATEGORY: Storage, Content Management and Knowledge Management

REVIEWER: Brad Rosenthal, director of Internet strategy for Thrifty Car Rental.

BACKGROUND: Thrifty Car Rental, part of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc., is a value-oriented car rental company with a significant presence both in the airport and local car rental markets. It operates more than 1,200 locations in 64 countries around the world.

PLATFORMS: Rhythmyx Server -- Compaq DL 300 series. Web Environment -- Microsoft IIS 5.0 servers, Radware load-balancers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As Thrifty's Web presence grew over time, our small support team became a bottleneck, due to an increasing load of content requests that had to be processed by the team. We also had an aging proprietary content management system (CMS) that became cost-prohibitive to maintain. We shopped for a new CMS, with a number of major goals in mind: (1) making our main Web presence, Thrifty.com, easier to use, consumer-oriented and fast -- with the overall sales goal of converting online prospects into customers; (2) maintaining a consistent look and feel and brand presentation across Thrifty.com and 250 localized store Web sites in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America -- to build brand loyalty and maintain competitive advantage; (3) simplifying the customization of the local store Web sites which are linked to Thrifty.com and used to deliver targeted special offers for local audiences; and (4) enhancing Thrifty's internal communications via the corporate intranet, which is used by Thrifty employees as well as local franchise holders. We selected Percussion Software's Rhythmyx 5 Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, and it has become the cornerstone of our e-commerce efforts. With it, we have achieved all of our initial goals, doubled our programmer productivity and also implemented some cutting-edge functionality in linking ASP functions and Rhythmyx-based content.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Rhythmyx's success at Thrifty is largely due to robust content reuse and personalization capabilities -- we enter content once and use it in many places on Thrifty.com and our 250 local sites. The Rhythmyx Active Assembly graphical capability allows our local franchise owners to customize Web pages easily, with no programming, based on defined templates that maintain our corporate branding and look and feel. We're a Microsoft shop, and the Rhythmyx standards-based architecture has made it simple to link Rhythmyx with ASP.NET. Now, we can easily tie content to our proprietary transaction engine on Thrifty.com. In addition, the Rhythmyx database publishing capability enables us to dynamically create personalized Web pages -- we simply use ASP, working with Rhythmyx, to pull information out of a database and serve personalized content combined with the appropriate ASP navigation. Our foreign language translator, Translations.com, has also created a link with Rhythmyx. We produce our content in English, and the Rhythmyx workflow automatically routes the content to Translations.com for conversion to French or Spanish, then back into the Rhythmyx workflow for approvals.

STRENGTHS: With Rhythmyx, all Thrifty content is controlled by business users -- 15 power users in Tulsa, with approximately 150 contributors spread throughout Canada, the U.S. and Latin America. Our programmers don't touch content anymore. This has doubled their productivity and enabled us to launch a new version of Thrifty.com in only six weeks, compared to the four months it took before. Now, we focus on updating the presentation layer and Rhythmyx publishes content into the new site without any additional effort.

WEAKNESSES: We think we could have implemented Rhythmyx faster if it included more out-of-the-box samples, such as templates. Additional examples in the documentation for developers would also have been beneficial.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Thrifty evaluated eight different CM solutions across the cost spectrum. Primary criteria were pricing and fitting features to our needs. Concerning cost, Rhythmyx delivers the best value because it offers scalability at a very predictable price point. The de-coupled delivery architecture enables us to install Rhythmyx on one centralized server and publish content to any number of systems at no additional cost. Other vendors charge a fee for each target system, making them cost-prohibitive for Thrifty. We can't afford to be penalized for growing.

DELIVERABLES: We output HTML pages that combine content with ASP.NET/ASPX.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We called for support frequently as we dealt with our initial learning curve, and Percussion was very responsive. They told us a price up front for our annual service contract, and that price has not changed.

DOCUMENTATION: Rhythmyx training materials and end-user documentation are very good, and the training staff is outstanding. Our business users do fine with Rhythmyx after only a single day of training.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Content Management.

Brad Rosenthal, director of Internet strategy for Thrifty Car Rental.

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