RubyApps Insights: The Year In Review

As we wind 2019 down, we take a momentary pause to speak with the ever-active, always-involved, tough-to-slow-down Jaron Rubenstein, Creator of RubyApps and President of RubensteinTech, and we look back upon the past year. Jaron will share some of the year’s highlights, including a recap of the highly successful RubyApps DevCamp, and provide some insight into what lies ahead in 2020. This special episode even includes a "listener mail" segment!

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Episode transcription 

Voiceover:                    It's that time of year again to get nostalgic, to make lists, to plan for the resolutions that will soon come, and to start whetting the appetite for Uncle Burt's lighter fluid-infused eggnog, which is why we have Jaron Rubenstein, creator and founder of RubyApps, eggnog specialist, and all about town person here to join us on the last episode of RubyApps Insights of 2019.

Alexander Kotler:          As we wind 2019 down, we take a momentary pause to speak with the ever active, always involved, tough to slow down Jaron Rubenstein, creator of RubyApps, president of RubensteinTech, freakin' guest on this podcast, and we look back upon the year. Jaron is going share some of the year's highlights, including a recap of the quite successful RubyApps DevCamp, and he'll also provide some insight into what lies ahead in 2020. Jaron, welcome back.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Thank you for having me, Alex. It's always a pleasure to be here on the RubyApps Insights podcast.

Alexander Kotler:          We're delighted to have you. Let's look back in time before we look forward. Let's get right into it. What were some of the milestones of 2019?

Jaron Rubenstein:         You know, there's a, there's a lot that the 2000-teen years have culminated in here at RubyApps. And this year was definitely the, where a lot of those things came together. So, I think the first is, you know, our increased focus, of the RubyApps platform on content lifecycle management, or CLM as we sometimes abbreviate it. And, the idea of helping our clients to... which... The idea of extending what we've been doing really for many, many years, which is helping our clients to manage the entire lifecycle of their content, from ideation to draft to completion to approval to distribution and then to analysis. And throughout that whole process, we've been focusing more and more on the idea that RubyApps is the core content hub or a central point of content for our... for our clients, for its users.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And having that single source of truth throughout their marketing and business development content allows them to be more efficient, more productive. And that's helped to align the way we think about the continuous evolution and the future of the product. And we've also seen a huge increased spike in adoption of the additional modules that come with RubyApps and sometimes for our legal clients, RubyLaw. Things like proposal generation, document generation,  experience management, and Sweeper, our quality assurance tool. And more and more clients seem to selecting the entire suite of those products, or more of them to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their teams.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And so that's been great for us because quite frankly, it's allowed us to continue to innovate in each of those different product areas, continue to push them forward with new clients coming onboard every couple of months.

Alexander Kotler:          The year also had some impressive launches, some projects that had previously been under development that are now out in the world. What are some of those that we might be able to nod to?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah,, this year saw the culmination of a number of multi-year projects. Ones that certainly lasted more than 12 months and were just enormous undertakings both from our project development teams as well as for the clients and the teams that on their side, that pulled this all together. Through this year, 2019, we launched a new web presence and, and other document and generation tools on RubyLaw for Troutman, a law firm based primarily in Atlanta. We launched the entire RubyLaw suite for Benesch, a firm out of Cleveland with also a national footprint. Wilson Sonsini, which is long regarded as one of the most innovative firms in the Silicon Valley area, and they're also a global firm, relaunched earlier this fall on the RubyLaw suite, the entire suite based on the RubyApps platform.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And, most recently, a few weeks ago, we actually relaunched a new site for a Seyfarth, headquartered in Chicago, also a global firm managing an enormous amount of content and complexity on the RubyApps platform for their teams. So, it's been a very active year for sort of full-scale project launches. We've also continued to see increased adoption and evolution of the product within the organizations that we already service. So clients have been upgrading to the latest releases. We've been working hard to ensure that it is a easy upgrade and that they are able to take advantage of the latest and greatest that RubyApps has to offer by staying on the latest versions of the software, the latest releases.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And, so, we saw a number of launches, but probably the biggest one, which was also a combination of lots of data migration and other complexity, was for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, the recently merged global firm that came out of former client Bryan Cave and Berwin Leighton Paisner out of Europe. And the two of them together have finally really merged all of their content and their systems into RubyLaw and the RubyApps platform, and that was an amazing launch and an exciting opportunity to really propel the system that they had forward to make things more efficient for them going forward.

Alexander Kotler:          So progress doesn't always happen for clients and on their behalf, or indirectly, I suppose, it can. What I'm trying to get to is the growth of the team behind RubyApps and how that's evolved over the past year. So, what kinds of internal changes have you seen here in the organization?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Oh, that's a... That's an interesting question. You know, we started... we've been developing the RubyApps platform for the majority of the last 17 years, but as we've discussed, I think on this podcast in the past, about five years ago or so, we embarked on a major project to re-platform RubyApps, to build it on a completely modern technology stack, which some of you know are technologies like Node and JavaScript and React. And when we did that, we allocated a dedicated core RubyApps development team to that initiative. And for the past five years, we've had that team focused on that initiative. It's varied in size over the years based on what we're trying to accomplish in that year, but really in 2019 what we saw is just about everyone on the team contributing to the RubyApps core products.

Jaron Rubenstein:         So, it wasn't just that core development team that continued to push forward with the evolution of the product and continuous development and improvement of the system and the software, but we saw a lot of the other members of our team, the members of a project team, contributing to the core product as well. And I think that's important from the internal view of how we're completely focused on ensuring that RubyApps is the platform of the future not just here but also for our clients and our client... many clients to come.

Alexander Kotler:          The year also hosted the second installation of RubyApps DevCamp. Tell us a little bit about the objectives of that. We'll get deeper into it in terms of feedback in a few moments, but what was the objective behind hosting this event again?

Jaron Rubenstein:         I think it was really to build on the energy that we saw out of last year's event. You know, we, we did it last year, and we had some great attendees and we got some wonderful feedback and we saw an opportunity to really continue to improve on that. Like, we continuously improve on just about everything here at RubyApps, and so we are excited at the opportunity to make it larger and to evolve the programming and tailor it more towards what we heard from folks that attended last year. And I think we achieved that. And, as you said, I hopefully will... I guess we'll talk about that later in this podcast as well.

Alexander Kotler:          (laughs) And the moment's moments away. It's not terribly far off. I just wanted to-

Jaron Rubenstein:         I can't wait (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... hear a little bit. Yeah. I just wanted to hear a little bit about your year. What were some of the highlights for you as you look back, and, what did you hope to accomplish over the past-

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah.

Alexander Kotler:          ... 12 months or so?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah. So, yeah, so DevCamp was definitely a major achievement and something that I'm quite proud of for the entire team. I also was able to travel a lot this year and, and meet with clients and see them, you know, face to face and get a chance to hear their feedback and hear what's working and what can be improved. And we've had lots of wonderful conversations throughout the year. And those kind of conversations tend to drive the future evolution of the product as well. And so they're important on many levels, not just from a client relationship standpoint but also really from a product planning and evolution standpoint as well.

Alexander Kotler:          So, you had an opportunity to go see clients. We had the opportunity to have some clients come to us, and that is our big segue to RubyApps DevCamp and talking a little bit deeply about that experience. So, provide us a quick overview with what the program and what the experience was actually like. And then, if you can share with us, I'd like to hear some of the feedback that we got from this year's attendees.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah. That would be great. So, first of all, you know, it's, it's what RubyApps DevCamp is - it's a full-day immersive experience where clients and users and other teams that are using RubyApps in various ways can gather with our team and with some of our team's leaders to have hands-on immersion in the product at a very advanced level, maybe using features that just recently were released or that are more advanced than what they're typically doing in their day-to-day use of the product.

Jaron Rubenstein:         It's an opportunity to hear from again, some of the more senior folks on our team about marketing technology, about what's happening in the sectors that they work in and how marketing tech is evolving. How different firms are solving the challenges around marketing and around business development using martech in new and different ways and learn from each other and learn from some of the best practices that we've identified in working with so many clients across so many sectors.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And it's, you know, of course, it's an opportunity for discussion, for feedback from our users on what's working with RubyApps and what's not.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And then, of course, networking. There's always an opportunity to meet others. You know, I think for the folks that attended that were clients of ours and users of RubyApps, I think for them to just be able to sit in a room and talk with others at other firms, other organizations that are using this system and, you know, hear how they're using it and what's working for them and what's not, I think they got a lot out of that as well. In terms of growth, we grew the day. This year, we had three times as many client attendees or I should say non-RubyApps attendees as last year. So that was wonderful. I think with the increase in thinkers in the room there was just more robust discussion, more robust conversation, really, really great interaction throughout the day.

Alexander Kotler:          So, what are some of the things that our participants on the positive and on the constructive side said to us in terms of the feedback that they gave?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah, I think... So, we got some specific feedback around, like, for some of our law firm clients that are on the RubyLaw version of the platform, that it was helpful to understand how other law firms are using the platform and what obstacles they've hit and how they've overcome them. It was also great to converse with other marketers. They felt like everyone was able to communicate the good, the bad, and the in-between and that's always nice to hear. Because, you know, I think it's important. Part of our culture is the idea of open and honest conversations and communication. And I think our clients got that from the day, and they were able to share some of that open and honest feedback. And that's really important for everyone.

Jaron Rubenstein:         A lot of folks got a lot out of the marketing technology stack blueprint which we provided and was one of the sessions of the day. We also heard lots of great feedback on the swag. There was lots of really cool RubyApps swag given out throughout the day. All of it very limited edition, (laughs) intentionally, so creates that, I think, scarcity that hopefully will encourage three times as many attendees to attend DevCamp next year. If they only attend for the swag, I think that they'll walk away happy, from the feedback we've gotten (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          So, RubyApps DevCamp will, in fact, return for year three.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Oh, absolutely. And we're looking forward to it. We got some great feedback about suggestions from folks on asking for challenges ahead of time, ahead of the day so that we can tailor some of the programming around that feedback and around those challenges, and so we intend to do that. We definitely hope to, as I said, continue to evolve the programming but also continue to grow the conference into a fabulous day for everyone.

Alexander Kotler:          Great. So, looking forward to the year 2020, when there will be RubyApps DevCamp again, what are some of the other things that we can expect in the year to come?

Jaron Rubenstein:         In 2020 we are going to be really doubling down on this concept of content lifecycle management and all that RubyApps can support our clients in that regard. And so one of the most requested features from our clients really for a couple of years now has been the ability to have much more flexible control over content as it's being drafted, as it's being created, but before it's actually published to the system. So we already have amazing tools for our users that allow them to manage multiple revisions of content and have review and approval of that content and schedule publication of that content, all of those important things.

Jaron Rubenstein:         But with the evolution of the system in the coming year, we're going to provide a lot more power, around that content before it even gets to that revision place. So, when it's still being drafted, when there may be multiple versions out there for review and approval, where there may be custom workflows for approval, where there may be custom or more complicated requirements over how that content comes to be. All of those aspects of the content lifecycle are places where we're focusing a lot on. I'm intentionally being a little vague because I think when we announce it, we'll talk a little bit more about the details and what's coming there.

Jaron Rubenstein:         But a lot of exciting things happening around managing that content earlier in the lifecycle and also providing late in the life cycle better analytics. Analytics is an area where everyone needs to measure and show some kind of return on investment, whether that be financial or eyeballs or engagement or something from the marketing content perspective.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And, so what we've seen is really analytics are in some ways under fire by some of the privacy regulations and policies that are evolving. So, by the GDPR and by CCPA and by all of the other privacy regulations that are really making it a lot more difficult for marketers to track their visitors. It's something that we've increasingly come to rely on. I think in the marketing and business development tech world, everyone wishes they would have more resources to analyze their content more and just as that's starting to happen, we're starting to realize the value of those analytics, we're seeing that those analytics are being taken away by some of these privacy regulations and, and controls. And so finding interesting solutions around that and ensuring that our clients can still analyze the efficacy of their content marketing efforts is, is the number one priority and something that we've got some really interesting things in the works on for 2020.

Alexander Kotler:          Hmm. I'm looking forward to that as well. So, before we go, Jaron, let's open some listener mail. Did you know that we had both listeners and mail?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Listeners' mail. Was it, like... Did you get an envelope with a stamp on it? And-

Alexander Kotler:          Yes.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Really?

Alexander Kotler:          We did. Yes.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Wow.

Alexander Kotler:          Snail mail, yes. So, this one comes to us from Blake in Southern California who asks, "Seeing as it's the gift-giving season, perhaps you can give back in the form of advice. What do you think digital marketing professionals will need to stop doing, keep doing, or do more of in 2020 in order to be successful?"

Jaron Rubenstein:         Hmm. The old start-stop-continue feedback request, huh? Very interesting, very interesting. Thank you for writing, Blake. I appreciate it.

Alexander Kotler:          (laughing)

Jaron Rubenstein:         I'd like to hear from more listeners like you in the future. So I would say there's a couple of things there. I'll start with the stop (laughs). I would say, increasingly, marketers need to stop trying to talk to their entire audience at once. I think that there are many marketers that have evolved beyond that and communications professionals that realize how important it is to target each of your audiences as individually as possible. But we've certainly seen that continue to evolve, and I think that marketers need to introduce more personalization and more one-on-one conversations of course, but at scale, which makes it more challenging. But the more that marketers can think about how they can personalize that content into segments, into channels, or even into that getting to that one-on-one level, that's where they're going to see increases in returns.

Jaron Rubenstein:         I think that by and large, audiences are only increasing in their levels of sophistication, and they're tired of getting blasts with things in it that don't pertain to them. Whether that's a email blast or a, you know, even social media, or when they come to a website and they see something on there that's just completely not what they're looking for. With the level of attention spans that folks have these days, it's very easy for them to balance. And so I think marketers really need to stop trying to think about their entire audiences want and really start focusing more and more on the personas of who each of their audiences are. Then I guess related to that but on the start or continue doing side of things, I would say that more and more marketers need to do more experimentation and more iteration based on the results of those experiments.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Again, some folks are already doing that. And so if you're doing that already, that's wonderful. Do more (laughs), and if you're not, then you really need to start because that's what your competitors are doing, and it's a competitive landscape out there. And there's a lot of noise, and you need to figure out what it is that makes your signal come out louder and clearer than all that noise and rise above it so that you can engage those particular audiences that you're focusing on. So, more experimentation, more iteration. That I think, will carry you through for a successful 2020.

Alexander Kotler:          So, Jaron, I wish you a successful 2020. I'm grateful for the time that you've made for the RubyApps Insights podcast in 2019, and I hope we can take much more of it up in 2020 with more riveting conversations like today's. So, Happy New Year to you and thank you.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Thank you. Thank you again for having me and for all of our listeners, I wish you a most joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy 2020.

Alexander Kotler:          RubyApps Insights is recorded at Studio 55 and is hosted by Alexander Kotler. For more insights and detail on RubyApps, an enterprise software developed by RubensteinTech, visit Until next time, have an awesome every day.