Disruptive Shifts in Content Management – Why the mobile app / ipad world is changing the game?

Looking couple of years back, we saw the rapid domination of facebook and twitter in content distribution. The game was all about getting your “page” based content linked and shared out within the content ecosystem.  Link backs and RSS were king. People where using tweet deck as the broadcast mechanism for their articles, blogs, announcements.  This is still goes on, but I believe we are seeing rapid shift in consumption.  People are not just consuming content via browsers like Chrome, Safari, IE, and Firefox.  They are using connected and disconnected apps on ipads, androids,  connected TVs, sms, game consoles, kiosks, car dashboards, personal devices, watches, etc.

However, this rapid and disruptive shift is causing pain in the CMS community.  CMS providers and their customers spent millions automating, managing, tracking, and publishing “web pages and sites.”   For example, large and powerful CMS providers are struggling to adapt their page + template based products with more flexible publishing systems.  For example, many CMS providers are establishing alliances and partnerships with adaptive/screen scrapping technologies like Usablenet and Netbiscuits.   These technologies focus more on the quick and dirty approach of adapting a website to other devices, while not changing the underlining CMS technology.  This approach works from a pure reach perspective, this mean it will allow these CMS solutions to publish to a vast array of devices, but usually sacrifices  the user experience and perceived speed.   Adaptive technologies are very hard to implement when constructing a very native / dynamic / and-or immersive experiences.  For example, if I want to manage content used within an native iOS, Android, and-or Vizio TV application, it will be very hard or next to impossible to use these solutions.  Its less about the page, more about the content API.  More and more developers are demanding content publishing systems that expose assests via REST Json/XML APIs.  This enables pure content distribution across more devices and channels. It is my opinion, the era of the “CMS template” is becoming less relevant in regards to overall CMS need.  I want my content to be semantic, agile, and portable.  This way I can truly use and publish it anywhere.  Therefore, its less about bake vs. fry, its now about an API.

CMS Trend Predictions for 2010

Well 2009 has been interesting, especially in CMS space.  Its all about cost control and compliance right now.  Companies are under direct and extreme pressure to stay above water as consumer and business spending is down.   Companies have slashed budgets, minimized inventories, and cut back head count in an attempt to look good to shareholders and the market.  In these times where the importance of efficiency is high on list, it would seem that demand for CMS, ECM, and WCM solutions will increase.  CMS solutions do present a viable option to improve efficiency within web development, document management, records management, etc.  But large CMS projects and software solutions are expensive, not in licensing, but mostly in people and time.  Company leaders are under pressure to add value now, not in 2 years, therefore CMS projects need to think of this as well.   From 2000-2005, we saw the famous ECM arms race, as companies looked for the one-stop-shop to handle all information management. However, most ECM products cannot achieve best-in-breed status across all elements of content management (document management, records management, web content management,  etc); therefore the holy grail of a total ECM solution is yet to be found.

Putting these factors into consideration,  I have put together some thoughts on how CMS will trend in 2010.

  1. Federation over Centralization: I always love the line “the best repositories are the ones you have.”  This is where I see CMS going.  CMS solutions will need to continue to grow in integration capabilities and function as the connective tissue between federated repositories.  The opportunity cost  of moving large legacy  repositories of one format into another centralized CMS is high.  Centralization is an attractive term from a operations management perspective, but most often not technically viable.  Some CMS evangelists always promote centralization and consolidation when it comes to content management practices, but this not really realistic. For example, many companies will continue to leverage different solutions and packages across their CMS stack, these product will continue to need new ways of talking to each other.
  2. Cloud Options: With the economic downturn in play, cloud solutions will grow in adoption, especially in Web Content Management + Marketing scenarios.  The cost saving and time to market considerations will provide significant pressure to try out these options.  Many products are looking for examples on how o install and configure their products within Mosso, Amazon EC2, HP, IBM, or other cloud hosting providers.
  3. CMS + API + SOA (Rest, JSON, XMPP): Content will need to continually pushed and pulled to and from more sites, channels, and mobile device.  Content will need quick and easy means of integrating into widgets, apps, iphones, android apps, etc.  As a result, APIs and SOA for content services are critical for strategic positioning.
  4. WCM + Analytics + Targeting + Testing: WCM will continue to expand into the complete experience around content. Especially how content is performing, targeted, and delivered within experiences across multiple sites and channels.  WCM vendors will continue to acquire and establish partnerships to expand their offerings.
  5. Faceted Search: As federation expands, faceted search with grow in importance to search and locate content via filtering and metadata.
  6. Open Source will expand: Open source solutions will grow in adoption, especially in social networking and content distribution scenarios.  The adoption of Drupal by the http//www.whitehouse.gov is dispelling the myth that open source cannot scale and provide an enterprise level solutions.
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CMS and Faceted Search

Faceted search and navigation has been mainstream for a while now in the larger eCommerce sites. This was partly driven by both the faceted nature of product data (i.e., most products have a type, brand, price, etc.) and the availability of the data in retailers’ existing information systems.

Interestingly enough, even though the technology is there, the use of faceted search and navigation in mostly content sites has been lagging. However, in the last year, we have finally seen an uptick in the use of this pattern beyond commerce sites. With the redesigned Bing search engine really leveraging this concept, and driving some of the innovation around search, I believe we will see the concept become a standard practice on sites that have large amounts of content.

One additional contributing factor is that there is also some traction around the lower end and open source market. Although vendors like Endeca and Coveo have been providing this capability for the enterprise for a while now, open source and low cost alternatives are emerging as well.
For example, Apache Solr is getting a lot of traction recently, and Acquia launched a hosted faceted search capability for Drupal earlier this year.

This is an exciting development, and I believe we will see significant improvements in site search in the future.

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Hey Gartner, your Magic Quadrant in WCM is missing key players.

I have just read the August 5 2009 magic quadrant of WCM from Gartner.  I am sad to see Gartner still proceeds to evaluate only commercial offering when it comes to top WCM solutions.  Gartner’s main driver for inclusion seems to be revenue, not user experience, not adoption rates, not market peneration, and not features, but legacy measures of revenue, professional services, and support.  By doing so, Gartner tends to elevate and promote the older, less agile solutions, and may skew the research of companies looking for cutting edge approaches.  Gartner identifies trends in the markets are web 2.0, enhanced usability of non-technical audiences, popularity of open source, and interest in saas, however they fail to identify open source WCM drivers in the market.  For example, user experience and web 2.0 are directly being impacted by the expansion of the open source communities building and implementing WordPress, MovableType, Drupal, and Joomla solutions.  Next, the Saas market is seeing an explosion in adoption of cloud products like Squarespace.

I truly value some high level assessments of great products like Autonomy Teamsite, Sitecore, Ektron, and Sharepoint; since a majority of the open source solutions cannot scale in fortune 500 situations across the enterprise.  However, when evaluating a magic quadrant of WCM, you cannot leave the open source off the table, many large distributors of content and SMBs are looking to open source since they provide quick and easy solutions for business users to rapidly produce and publish content.  Trends of WCM/CMS now place a higher value on development community over revenue.  Through development communities, companies can accelerate innovation and adoption of new web 2.0 and social media features.

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Drupal User Experience

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Image via Wikipedia

Drupal is a great open source CMS. One of the reasons I like it is the strong community around the platform. There are many different modules available for all kinds of purposes, ranging from forums to integration with salesforce.com. Secondly, many vendors releasing new products are creating plugins for this platform to generate traction, such as Kaltura , OpenX and Mobify.me. With this kind of community support, an open source CMS solutions have a leg up in how easily new features or trends can be incorporated in a web site. Other open source solutions like WordPress have these same benefits as well.

It is interesting to see that there is now also some community traction around enhancing the user experience of the Drupal administration functionality. This blog post shows some great ideas around improvements than can be made, while still building upon the foundation that is currently in place. The Drupal 7 User Experience project outlines similar strong ideas. Incorporating ajax functionality such as drag and drop within the admin user interface would make Drupal a CMS that can become much more user friendly, allowing business users to really control their site.

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The CMS selection process

Seth Gotlieb has an interesting blog post on CMSWire about the CMS software selection process. He argues that a requirements matrix, and evaluating and scoring against these requirements is a wasted effort.
He makes some valid points. With any analysis that involves numbers, it is always dangerous to assign to much value to the actual number and its precision. In addition, it is easy to get lost in the details, and losing oversight on the big picture.
From our experience, the requirements matrix still plays an important role. It ensures that all different areas are covered, from end user to IT needs. The matrix creation process also triggers important discussions with the different stakeholders.
However, equally important in the selection process are vendor demonstrations. They give users a good perspective on the solution, forces them to think about how a specific product would work within their process and environment. The follow on discussions then provide a forum to identify any red flags with specific software packages.

Once the leading products have been evaluated and scored, vendor demonstrations have taken place and discussed, we take a step back and look at the overall results. Based on these elements, a decision can be made that meets the majority of requirements, and also is the right fit for the organization.

Content Targeting and Optimization: CMS vs. Analytics Solutions

Many CMS vendors have been busy incorporating richer targeting functionality into their CMS product. For example, Interwoven acquired Optimost and also incorporates targeting capabilities in its LiveSite product, Sitecore is coming with an Online Marketing Suite , Tridion has its Unified Online Marketing Suite and Fatwire has had targeting capabilities for a long time. At the same time, analytics vendors are now in the same market, with Omniture offering Test & Target, Google offering Website Optimizer , and yesterday Webtrends announcing they are acquiring Widemile.
Obviously, CMS vendors need to move beyond basic content management. Offering targeting capabilities is very attractive, as it is an area where CMS vendors can claim direct results and clear ROI, justifying the investment companies make in buying their products…

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How will social media and CMS or ECM converge?

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Image via CrunchBase

Razorfish just released a great report at http://fluent.razorfish.com. This report shows the ever growing importance of social media within the digital landscape. An interesting topic that is hard to grasp the is how enterprises will gain control of social media and centralized federated content into one holistic or a mashup of content repositories. As social media expands, a greater importance of archival, compliance, retention will grow in the future as content expands. We are seeing content growth within organizations at 100+% year over year. When you think of fortune 100 companies, that amount is massive in sheer size. Many solutions in play such a Autonomy/Interwoven, SharePoint, Filenet, etc… just do not have a clear method of how companies will centralized content being distributed across social media and other off domain channels. Content is becoming more segmented and portable, but how will organizations retain and process all the vast entries of user submitted comments and content. Content is becoming federated and spread across channels, but how will content phone home and be stored?

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What is the value proposition of CMS/WCM?

by Matthew Johnson

I just wanted to provide a brief reply to this basic question I get from various clients. Why should I use a CMS? Many clients who are new to CMS/WCM, view the solution as just another repository or database.  I continually get this response, why can’t we just put the content in Oracle, or SQL Server etc… well you can… but that is not the primary objective of a CMS and it will not get you the economies of scale in content management.  A CMS is supposed to enable a “Management System” which involves:

  • Operations Management & Governance: (Strategy, Policies, Roles, Responsibilities, Workflow, etc)
  • Content Development: (Content Editing, Reuse, Search Engine Optimization, Channel Agnostic and Specialization)
  • Content Repository: (Content Storage, Source Code Storage)
  • Content Distribution: (Cross Channel / Cross Infrastructure Deployment, Integration Services, Transformation/Template Services)

Many companies jump right into repository and integration mindset.  AKA, how do I store some content and get it onto the site.  Well this is a great idea, but to get value out of a CMS, you must set up the operational infrastructure and governance model to sustain a CMS.  If you focus on repository/integration, you are only solving specific technical problems for most often one defined channel like one web site, not larger scale and business specific operational needs.  Most often this approach involves a reduced set of resources that know how to store and integrate the content for a specific channel.  The result is a CMS that can be leveraged by only a certain subset of resources and then limits the reuse of content.  I do not know how many times I have seen a multi million-dollar CMS implementation that only can be used by 4-5 people and only use 30% of a CMS’s capabilities.

A CMS is supposed to empower your Content Management Model to allow more people to participate in the content process, whether its content production, viewing, reuse, and deployment.  A properly deployed CMS solution will also enhance a short time to market for content integration/distribution into new channels.

Key questions to ask yourself before you begin big CMS projects are:

  • Who participates in CMS requirements? (It should not be controlled by IT only)
  • Have you developed your Content Types and Content Hierarchies?
  • Have you defined your roles and responsibilities (Who are editors, content contributors, QA, support)
  • Have do defined your existing workflows and how they can be mapped to a CMS?
  • Is you content semantic and portable?
  • Are you planning to transform your content so it can be used cross channel?
  • Do leverage in context view of content?
  • Do you use Data Capture and Presentation layer template technology?
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