All posts by Matthew Johnson

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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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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How will social media and CMS or ECM converge?

Image representing Razorfish as depicted in Cr...
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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Success is Content Distribution, but be careful.

by Matthew Johnson

The last decade has been a time of radical change in content ecosystem.  Users used to primarily consumed branded content thru one or few of “on-domain” channels like somecompany.com.  This hub and spoke ecosystem focused on how to lure as many potential or current users to on-domain properties to consume content that conveys the company’s value proposition.  Companies presented online users with emails, micro-sites, and advertising with the goal of getting as many users to click thru into their “walled garden” (large .com sites).  Within these large walled gardens companies could leverage web content management tools to share/distribute large blocks of html and metadata across organizational silos.   However, times have changed, the advent of web 2.0 and social media changed how content is being consumed.  Walled gardens that follow traditional on-domain methodologies are being torn down and in its place are social media, open networks, new aggregators, API frameworks, and widgets.  A critical success factor is no longer based on getting people click thru to on-domain content but how well content has spread virally across the Internet using a channel most relevant to a user.

However, many CMS solutions unintentionally bind content to specific channels of consumption, aka blabla.com.  Content Types created in Interwoven, Drupal, Alfresco, SiteCore, and other products need to be strategically created to anticipate and plan for new and developing channels of content distribution.  Content types needs to house semantic and simple content to alleviate distribution across news sites, facebook, mobile apps/mobile web, and emerging channels like XBoxes, Digital Signage, Set top boxes, podcasts, etc.. I see the issue over and over again, companies create a global content types to meet a current or generalized need and then start up the content production line using dreamweaver or WYSIWYG editors.  Content which looks like it can be reused, cannot be reused because the content types do not provide the metadata, guidelines, governance, structure to give the content agility.  Content should always try to be agnostic of channel.  Content should be so semantic that is can be easily dropped and restyled using CSS or XML transformations.  I can say it over and over again, its all about the content types and their hierarchies.  CMS projects should not always jump straight into technical integration and performance testing.  True performance is how you expand the reach of your content across the web, not drive to a specific site.

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Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 & CMS Dilemma..Where’s the total solution?

by Matthew Johnsonredbull

A common conflict I am seeing across companies is the clash between the CMS needs of B2C or external web 2.0, social media, Internet infrastructures and internal B2B/B2E Enterprise 2.0 Enterprise content management efforts. While I do see a convergence within the Enterprise 2.0 and CMS markets, I still do not see a enterprise cohesive solution for Web 2.0 and CMS that bridges the gap between internal and external efforts. I see many companies are still looking for the holy grail of solutions that will fulfil all their needs (B2B, B2E, B2C) but the fact is (and I am sure many people will disagree), solutions such as Microsoft Share point and other ECM tools that excel within the intra-nets, often fail to meet expectations within in the B2C Internet scenarios. However, this holy grail will needed when it comes to holistic compliance and legislation requirements in the future.

Internal efforts within companies can live with canned, generic solutions, while B2C Web 2.0 solutions needs to be unique, cohesive, and sticky. Now I know that the evangelists of Microsoft, Documentum, Drupal, and Joomla will all say that these solutions can meet that need. But the problem I see within the market is speed. Almost of the time these solutions needs at least three to six months to get a site online that meets all the needs of creative, user experience, legal, compliance, analytics, and most importantly the business. I wish a solution was developed using the API first methodology where a CMS was not bound at all by platform, the entire engine is web service, REST, JSON driven. This will allow the entire infrastructure to be totally segmented from presentation and be placed in the cloud not be tired to .Net, Java, PHP, Ruby, etc.  I know this is a rant…but where is it?

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Information Technology vs. Business Needs in CMS

Business Strategy and IT Alignment
Image by Alex Osterwalder via Flickr
By Matthew Johnson

In the last 10 years, I have seen a common theme in fortune 500 organizations in regards to Content Management Systems (CMS) and-or Web Content Management (WCM) solutions.  Many CMS projects begin with a misalignment between the objectives of the business (Marketing, Finance, Operations, Silos, Product Groups) and information technology. It is essential that a CMS/WCM solution be started with all parties having common and clear set objects and performance measure for CMS success.  CMS initiatives should always reflect an organizations long term business strategy (Internet, extranet and intranet etc…).  However, more often than not, the CMS reflects a general interpretation of business needs by I.T.  Why would I say this?  To start,  most CMS initiatives begin to assuage a general need across the company.

For Example:

“The business would like shorter time to market for web content change and decrease the need and dependency of resources from I.T.”

“The organization would like to reuse and share content across the organization and gain efficiencies and reduce duplication of effort across departments.”

Do these sound familiar? Well this is common sales pitch for a CMS.  However, these needs are typically paired up with vague performance measures that quickly attempt to define measure for ROI and before you know it, you have a CMS budget and the project begins.

According to Gartner’s atricle “Tactical Guidelines for Narrowing Your Choices When Evaluating WCM Vendors” from December 2008:

1.  More than 65% of the Web Content Management teams were unaware of their organizations’ high-level, nontechnical objectives.

2.  More than 95% of Web Content Management related inquiries involved teams that had not identified specific, measurable metrics for their WCM initiatives.

This research validates my professional experiences and points to an overwhelming trend in companies that enterprise level CMS/WCM projects are executed without clearly identifying the needs/wants of the business and the key performance indicators of success.  In fact, many CMS/WCM projects are designed and executed from a technical point of view within information technology communities. Information Technology groups are measured by ROI of their systems and resources shared across the organization.  I.T. traditionally tries to develop a “general”  CMS solution that can be shared across the organization as to achieve economies of scale in content management and support resources.  For example, many WCM initiatives revolve around solutions that allow business units to leverage

  • Generic Presentation Templates for HTML/JSP/ASPX Generation
  • Generic Content Types and Metadata
  • Generic Tag Libraries or APIs for integration with legacy systems

However, this “one size fits all solutions” directly or indirectly conflicts with the expectations of business units that are moving toward a more segmented/targeted solutions that deal with customers at a more granular level.  Many business units interact with the web and see all the new technologies dealing with Analytics, Segmentation, Targeting, AJAX, Flash, Silverlight, Video, JavaScript, Facebook, Social Media, and RSS. The business units then ask the internal I.T. group on the time and effort required to get these features into the CMS/WCM solutions.  What is the result…. push-back!!!

Why do they get push-back?

  • The key performance measures of I.T. conflict with the business needs of the client.
  • I.T. focuses on centralization, support, and reuse while the business units wants segmented, targeted, and custom solutions.
  • I.T. just spent 2-5 years developing a CMS infrastructure to meet the requirements of five years ago and architecture cannot support current needs that demand quick, agile, custom across multiple distributions channels.
  • The current infrastructure is just now getting return on investment and the CTO/CIO are under pressure to squeeze every last dollar out the current infrastructure before significant improvements are made or rebuilt.
  • Traditional I.T. projects require 6-12 months before customizations and modifications can be brought online.
  • Most enterprise CMS/WCM vendors (Microsoft, Interwoven/Autonomy, FileNet, Documentum, Oracle) move just as slow as internal I.T. organizations in delivering more relevant and rich feature sets to meet current and future needs.  Therefore the CMS vendor architecture itself cannot support the business requirement  (Now I know most vendors will directly disagree with this statement, but its true)
  • Due to this push-back, many business units tend to see their internal CMS controlled by I.T. efforts as slow moving, difficult to use, and political.  As a result, we see growth in software and as a service (SAAS) solutions being leveraged by business units, such as marketing, to go around their internal information technology departments.  This is especially prevalent in situations dealing with social media, user submitted content, and moderation.

In order to prevent and-or lessen these issues in regards to CMS initiatives, it is essential to create and develop a cross-department CMS team that has a common set of high level non-technical business objective agreed upon.  These objective must be measurable and have specific targets to measured against.  Once done, technology and business will be on common ground for successful cross-organization CMS experience.

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What is driving the ECM and CMS marketplaces in 2009?

The ECM and CMS  markets are consolidating and changing according to the demands of users, regulations and the needs of the enterprise environment.  To summarize I have created a list of key drivers pushing the the content management market in 2009.

- Compliance and information retention are receiving more attention.  Organizations need to not only control but also archive content being distributed to their partners, customers, etc.

- Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to “distribute” content across channels.  No longer is it about driving users to a single web site, but distributing content across social networks (facebook), fan pages, micro blogs (twitter), blogs, wikis(wikipedia), mobile,  rss,  web services, news aggregators, widgets, etc.  As content becomes smaller, segmented and more relevant, the focus is not on the maintenance and centralization of large pieces of content, but on the distribution and delivery of an organizations content across channels, devices, and boundaries.  The distribution of content should be factored into ECM/CMS strategy.

- Users are increasingly adopting user-generated content tools such as blogging, micro-blogging, comments, ratings, wikis, instant messaging.  User-generated content capabilities should be a component of content management system, especially when positioning for the future.

- Rich Internet Applications (RIA), Widgets, and Web 2.0 sites are becoming the primary interface into content production.  These mediums provide real time content production and deployment to users and business groups.

- Digital Asset Management features are gaining momentum. Due to the high cost of production, organizations are looking for ways to cut costs, especially when it comes to expensive photo/video shoots.  Digital asset management provides a way to centralize and share creative assets across an organization.

- Mobile internet is a growing market in the North America.  However, throughout the rest of the world, mobile is the primary interface to the internet.