In a recent installment of the Real Story Group webinar series, I’ve addressed the Web Content Management industry from Marketing & Business perspectives:
The WEM Marketplace: Blueberries and Ricotta
As Web CMS products reached maturity, a standard set of features became core for most vendors (i.e. templating, workflows, in-context content preview, integration APIs, scalable architectures, delivery and caching, etc.) Things are different with Web Engagement Management. The industry is still trying to figure out what this WEM thing is all about.
In the WEM sector, we’re in a market that sells oranges, apples and blueberries from the same bin as ricotta cheese. Spaghetti is positioned on the same shelf as the Russian Caravan loose leaf tea, right next to heavy-duty laundry detergents. But this is slowly changing, as the WEM evolution is happening right before our eyes.
Who Plays in the WEM/WCM Space
WEM capabilities of varying degrees are offered by most mature Web CMS vendors (but not by as many Enterprise CMS vendors). However, comparing those capabilities one to one would be rather difficult in this stage of WEM evolution.
Just take a look at how some WCM vendors position themselves and draw your own picture based on the messaging we hear from them:
Alterian has email marketing, web behavior analytics, social media marketing, social media engagement, social media monitoring and sentiment analysis capabilities to offer with its Alterian SM2 product.
Autonomy Interwoven is focusing on Meaning Based Marketing. Using Autonomy’s IDOL server, their products are able to extract meaning from various content types to help marketers improve customer experience. Web CMS comes with integrated multi-variate testing (MVT), email management, analytics and a multichanel optimization module.
CoreMedia proclaims itself as a “Complete Communications Suite” that allows for a combination of Web CMS, social software and CoreMedia Adaptive Products offering adaptive personalization and delivery, mobile optimization, cross-channel interactions.
Day Software’s CQ 5.3 Web CMS comes armed with personalized content delivery, campaign targeting, customer targeting and segmentation, campaign measurement, content optimization capabilities, and support for A/B and MVT testing.
Ektron provides social media management, integrated web analytics with Google Analytics, MVT in the PageBuilder, content optimization, etc. — as part of the latest release of CMS400.NET v8 Web CMS.
EPiServer’s Marketing Arena came out in 2009, focusing on the “new era of the engaged web,” with WEM features like landing page management, digital visibility management, campaign monitoring and optimization, SEO support, personalization and prospecting.
FatWire’s WEM proposition — Web Experience Management Framework — is based on modules for UGC and interaction (Community Server), content targeting (Engage) and content optimization (Analytics) connected to FatWire Content Server (the CMS part).
Open Text Web Solutions is a combination of Vignette and RedDot and has a number of WEM-related products and features. The Vignette Community Applications is now part of Open Text’s Social Media offering (note that OTEX also has its own Social Media product) with community management, social interaction and collaborative communication features. There’s also Vignette Experience Optimization that includes a recommendation engine, analytics, and delivery of personalized and multi-channel content.
SDL Tridion’s WEM proposition comes under the umbrella of the Unified Online Marketing Suite that includes audience management, email and multi-channel, multi-lingual campaign management, personalization and profiling, and E-commerce with the recent acquisition of Fredhopper.
Sitecore has a product called Sitecore Online Marketing Suite that claims to provide WEM functionalities like visitor experience analytics, real-time personalization, landing page optimization, campaign management, etc..
WEM Needs WCM (And Vice Versa)
If your Web CMS doesn’t have WEM capabilities, it’s stuck in the Netscape era. With that said, you don’t necessarily have to buy WCM and WEM functionalities from the same place. Some vendors offer both, some — only Web CMS. But there are third-party tools that can be (or should be able to be) integrated with your Web Content Management System.
It may be difficult to find a Web CMS that offers a complete set of WEM functionalities that you need to achieve your goals, but a sound engagement strategy comes first. What are your goals? What are the objectives? What are you trying to achieve? Most number of likes? Selling more products? Increased customer loyalty? Word-of-mouth marketing opps?
Mere mention of such WEM buzzwords as online marketing, social analytics, web engagement and eCommerce in a marketing brochure authored by a CMS vendor you’re considering may not guarantee it’s a fit for your goals.
When looking at particular features of a WEM-friendly Web CMS, ask vendors to show you how their features will help you get where you want to be. Knowing your goals and being familiar with your WEM strategy will help you help the vendors on your short list – in the end though, benefiting you with the closest match of technologies for your strategy.
Nowadays, the relationship between Web CMS and Web Engagement Management is akin to the one between the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco: It has to be there, the city would look odd without it, and it’s just plain necessary.
When I look at the relationship between WCM and WEM, there are several key concepts that deserve attention. While both strategies/technologies are inherently different, they both first and foremost focus on content. Let’s take a look at those concepts, starting with the ‘C’.
The C in WCM — Content is Still King
What has been proclaimed by Bill Gates years ago is still true. No WCM or WEM strategy will help your business if you lack good content. And by good I mean relevant, timely, engaging.
Even though analysts and consultants in the content and information management industry constantly debate over the definition of content, by content I mean not just your corporate website or product descriptions pages. The content now also means comments, Twitter feeds, Facebook likes, item ratings, micro-blogs, activity streams, tag clouds, etc.
The web that we now call “Web 1.0” was more of an informational resource — mainly uni-directional way of communicating. The web known as “Web 2.0” and beyond is different. It’s more human, more talkative, more impatient and more demanding. To address these demands you need a more sophisticated content strategy as the foundation for your online engagement strategy.
Just like with the evolution of Web 2.0, these days, web engagement management in WCM is sometimes misunderstood – often, due to the lack of clear definition and direction around web engagement management (or is it web experience management?). To clarify, let’s agree that we’re talking about engagement here – not to confuse the E with any other e-things that are used in some vendors’ product names. And let’s move onto the E in more detail.
The E in WEM
Engaging content converts web visitors into participants, into relationships. But for most of you content alone is not going to ink the deal. Nurturing a relationship is what makes it work. You have to engage, pay attention and be responsive. Web engagement means conversations with your audience, replying to their @s, likes and comments, and picking up sentiments and addressing them.
While engagement is not all about technology, or which Web CMS to use, WEM does call for WCM systems that are capable of “talking” to other tools inside and outside the organization, and for a thoughtful customer engagement strategy that gives both form and policies.
Which tools and capabilities do you need to *not* suck at web engagement? Here are a few:
- A Web CMS
- Web and social analytics
- Segmentation and personalization
- Content and campaign testing
- CRM and social CRM
- Multi-channel marketing and content delivery
- Social media monitoring and analysis
WEM tools allow you to test and measure results — enhancing the effectiveness of your communications via web and social analytics, CRM-driven intelligence, segmentation and personalization.
Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re experiments are working and you’ve got happy, repeating customers who participating in the recruitment of your growing fan base. The cycle never stops.
The M in WCM and WEM
That brings us to the M of both acronyms. The M stands for manage, monitor, measure, maximize — to name a few notions. Chances are your Web CMS cannot (and by design, is not necessarily supposed to) do much more than “manage” content. Other tools can do the others Ms: mine data, leverage social network interactions, quantify customer feedback, monitor and analyze, and deliver personalized content to specific segments.
True customer engagement doesn’t stop at the web URL level (think mobile, too). Our audiences are getting increasingly diverse in how they access content: from their iPads, mobile phones and other portable devices. Mobile content management has never been more crucial.
Your customers now have more ways to say things about you. WEM tools should help you manage those conversations that happen outside your corporate site. Accurately measuring customer feedback and appropriately reacting to it should be part of your web engagement management activities.
Knowing your engagement goals and objectives, having done content planning and having developed your WEM strategy will help you help the vendors on your short list.
WEM is not a subset of WCM, nor is it a new wave of CMSs. The two notions may be converging, but WCM and WEM are not replacing one another. They need to exist together and complement each other — just like San Fran and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Part 2 – WEM Marketplace: WCM Players and Ricotta – coming next.
Thanks to @IanTruscott for letting me bounce some ideas off him.
The post was inspired by several years of being an SDL Tridion customer, when the company was Tridion and the product was R5.x.
The Motley Crew’s collaborative Google Wave post, a riot, really, about all things CMS we collectively umm.. dislike. Ah, the power of putting several great minds into one wave 😉
Step-by-step guide on how to develop (and advertise) bad taste in writing CMS marketing materials, including white papers. ‘Nuf said.
Still giggle every time I think of that morning.
The first big acquisition of 2009 set some folks, including me, into the pondering mode about Interwoven’s future. Since then the dust settled, some people left, products were Autonomy-zed to some degree, but it’s still fun to look at initial reactions and crystal ball gazings.
CQ5 marked the end of a 3-year-long silence from Basel and Day not Communiqué-ting much aside from a couple of point releases. The world was agonizing in anticipation of what the R&D-focused vendor came up with. I got a chance to install the product and poke around.
Just like in marriage, the expense doesn’t stop at a Vera Wang dress. Or, even earlier, at a short-list.
This one is only vaguely CMS-related, infectious as all memes, yet curable. The real #1 of this top 10 list was actually the about me page. Go figure.
Blogging is easy, usually free, and most importantly, fun!
Now, I am not perfect (well, am nearly 😉 ) and could use more self-blogging discipline, but whoever wrote that statement must’ve never blogged a single line in his/her life. It sure is ain’t that easy (Oh, yeah, after all, I live in the South).
After working very hard (yet, effortlessly 😉 ) on diligently neglecting this dear child of a blog, let me recap the past 68 days. Yes, it’s been that long – LinkedIn is very good at rubbing it in with their WordPress widget day counter. So, here are the CMSWire stories and happenings that have been on my radar in those 2+ months:
- Open Text unveiled its 2010 product roadmap at Open Text Content World in Orlando, highlighting many rebranding changes that are to come, including those for RedDot/Web Solutions and Vignette. The community still doesn’t appear to be appeased. But business is business. In the meantime, I am revisiting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in preparation for my next piece on Open Text planned for early January 2010.
- Open Text appeared in the news again with the announcement on expanding its ECM solutions portfolio for Oracle.
- IBM continued to focus on analytics as a way of better management of unstructured and structured content.
- OmniUpdate continued to work the hi-ed crowd with new version 8.10 featuring multi-lingual and multi-output previews.
- Sitecore v6.2 saw the light of day (I, personally, wasn’t much impressed) and took a bite of online engagement and social communities through Telligent Community integration.
- Ektron’s “big guns,” including the newest addition to the team Tom Wentworth, previously of Interwoven, showed off the new version 8 of CMS400.NET (yes, the one that was inelegantly leaked some time before the official release).
- Nstein walked me through their “New Kind of Site Search” with 3S (Semantic Site Search), interesting ideas there with multi-index federated search, embedded Text Mining Engine, semantic widgets and a more flexible presentation layer.
- CMS Watch sliced and diced the market in its Web CMS Report 2010.
- EPiServer entered into a partnership with Mediachase in order to add eCommerce capabilities to its Web CMS and Relate+ community platform offerings.
- Web publishing vendor WoodWing turned to celum for a DAM integration.
J. Boye ’09 in Aarhus
While in the handsome town of Aarhus (aka the City of Smiles), heaps of content management fun were on the menu (topped off with duh! delish herring), including:
- Jarrod Gingras and Peter Sejersen’s look into the pitfalls and best practices of selecting a CMS.
- McBoof, Janus Boye, et al’s attempt to #fixwcm, while heatedly debating some of the inconvenient truths and challenges of the content management industry.
- David Nuesheler’s of Day Software session on top 8 trends in web content management architecture and standards (CMIS, JCR 2.0, JSR-283).
- BJ Fogg’s preso on “hot triggers,” “cold triggers,” persuasive technology and why Twitter and Facebook are winning.
- A myriad of fantastic, thought-provoking, brain-activity-inducing conversations in hallways, at dining tables, at social events, while braving the rain and the cold – you know who you are.
PS: I miss Århus. Thanks, Janus!
Gilbane Boston 2009
- Content migration, the dirty little secret of content management, where content migration challenges, stumbling blocks and techniques to avoid them were discussed. One of the simplest, yet most often overlooked takeaways: Know your content.
- One of the hottest topics of the event – open source and its rise in content management. One little tidbit of info signaling a broader acceptance of open source even just looking at Gilbane — there were virtually no OSS vendors here 4 years ago. This year, there were 6.
PS: Great fun seeing/meeting the usual CMS crowd suspects IRL and chatting about royal matters of the content management kingdom 🙂 Thanks, Frank!
Open Source CMS
- Hippo held its ForgeFriday as planned (read event recap here from Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer) and released Hippo CMS 7.2 aiming to deliver more TLC to end-users with several Hippo Site Toolkit (HST) treats.
- Bill Beardslee called to say he moved to Miami and left Percussion for dotCMS.
- And soon after, dotCMS announced its intent to embrace CMIS.
- Nuxeo now has their very own DAM system in addition to the existing ECM and DM products — all tightly knit together. Another first is their international user conference planned for March 2010 – NuxeoWorld.
- Magnolia CMS concentrated on hierarchical content modeling and interoperability (still based on the JSR-170 standard) in version 4.2.
- Alfresco started offering an option for fault-tolerant, load-balanced, complex configuration deployments of its ECM product in the cloud with help from RightScale.
- The CIA continued its investment in open source and technology and got more visibility into social media (=open source = data in public domain) after giving some $$$ to the social media monitoring firm Visible Technologies. Any social content (open or hidden) can be scraped, scored and displayed in a nice dashboard.
It was a lovely Friday morning/afternoon, and we were Waving. The experiment initiated by McBoof (yes, that one) brought together 6 CMS folks from around the world. The event gathered together analysts, journalists, vendors, system integrators to Wave on a topic that was decided at that very moment. We had one hour (in between conference calls and other job thingys) to pick a topic and Wave it.
A little collab on what exactly to Wave about later, we decided to do “a mindmap of things we find annoying in CMSs.” To up the ante, we also decided to take the original bullet points (deemed “too easy”) and convert the whole thing to prose. Was the tool given really up to the task? Were our minds flexible enough to wrap around this kind of realtime collaboration?
In the beginning — we blame the tool 😉 — we were Drowning, not Waving. We (almost) didn’t fight about edits. We almost didn’t step on each other’s toes. All in all, it turned out to be a fun and productive collaborative exercise. Read on to see for yourself.
There really should be a CMS UI fashion police. As there should be a Magic Quadrant for shoes and handbags. Why? Well, there’s a couple of issues.
For instance, sloppy, non-designed design. You know the kind of thing that has not been thought about and reworked and made to feel right. The sort of thing coders do if you don’t force them. But at the same time, over-designed interfaces can be just as bad: the designers and developers really need to be on speaking terms.
When building a system that works, you can’t have the development team in the basement on a sustenance of Jolt coding away into the night, and the designers in the penthouse in turtleneck sweaters sipping espressos. Too many CMS designs end up being programmer vs. end-user friendly. And this is not the best way to charm away those marketing and web content folks.
Developers and designers need to talk to each other and essentially, both should talk to users – not just eat your own dogfood – but listen to what dogs like to eat. A developer or UI designer are not content editors, marketers or knowledge and information workers.
Some vendors say that the agonizingly and depressingly black UI backgrounds are hip and modern. Well, they are not, really. Who told you that? Especially if you add a Star Trek theme to it and sprinkle in some stars and cosmic swirls, because if Apple does it, it must be cool right? Not pointing any fingers, but I would quit if I were a content manager having to spend my 9-5 staring into the “black hole” of some of the CMS UIs that are out there on the market.
Even pop-ups seem less annoying when compared to dark UIs. Which brings us onto…
Interfaces need a comfortable lived in feel. Content management is something people work with every day, it is their interface to their job. You meet people who hate the interface, and that makes their work a heap of pain. I have seen people who describe the 44 clicks it takes to insert an image. You have a responsibility to these people, to make them love the content and make the tool disappear.
We all hate it when the interface does something on its own that ruins your context. E.g. a page refresh, or in Wave the jumping around of the scrolled window in some cases 😉 Or the lack of an easy way to bookmark, so you can reference someone to the content. Remember people will be collaborating and need to send links around. Make sure the UI is a proper web application with URLs. And why do tasks that are easy to describe and often repeated in exactly the same way still take more than a few clicks? (Or maybe even dozens of clicks.) With bonus points for forcing users to use dialogs or tabs to enter mandatory information. Remember people do not have all the information in the right order.
Also, we need sane conflict merges. Check in and check out is too extreme for most uses. But people want to edit offline still. Of course Wave doesn’t have an offline: Google thinks this problem is going away, it’s real time so there are never conflicts (that’s defined in the XML protocol; it’s quite interesting if you are that way geeky). Does Google have the right answer here? Well, the Motley Crew is struggling here, and some browsers lost sync during this experiment.
“Power users” (those who use it all day long) of CMSs needed to have a “Desktop” experience. What does Desktop Experience mean? Well, it doesn’t really have to be on the desktop — these days it is perfectly possible to get very close to a hitherto Desktop experience in a browser or similar. these are qualities: very low latency from action to response, no page refreshes, modal and modal-less dialog boxes as appropriate, “push” notification.
Architectural issues of the wave overtook any architectural issues of Content Management Systems. The fact that we authored this entire article in a single blip didn’t help, and slowed everything down enormously. McBoof learned the hard way that he really need a new laptop and spent most of the session giving his machine CPR. Next time we’ll do each paragraph in its own blip to stop FireFox going down like a Led Zeppelin.
Monolithic systems. Build it out of pieces that the client can not use all of. Obviously your pieces may work together better, but there should be components. Do not try to reinvent all kinds of wheel. “Best of breed,” though, is just another weasel marketing idea, as if systems are pinnacles not about meeting requirements.
Marketeers are adroit at using the term Best Practice to position Their Way as the only way that a particular matter can be solved. (Many of us live in that netherland of having to pedal that point of view, but it is a falsehood that the careful buyer should try to see through.) I think this devalues genuine best practice, vendors should cite references
Most often a marketeer’s Best Practice view is the only one they subscribe to as their product development has paddled up the wrong stream and cannot or won’t reverse their architectural design (probably because of the cost of doing so). This intransigence most often causes a product to doom itself. (Think of IBM and The Mainframe Is The Only Way To Do Serious Business).
Where you are buying into something that you may very well need to change or integrate with there is strong benefit in considering Open Source. Open Source used to frighten commercial software companies but we have come along way on that road to understand that commercial organisation can operate in an Open Source world and benefit. This does not necessarily mean that their prized system needs to be fully opened up, but taking the spirit of it to mean that you are completely open to people seeing and learning from your code how it operates.
Exactly what you need to see opened up varies. In a CMS there may be a subsystem that stores the content or one that allows a Rich Text Editor. These arguably don’t need to be opened up, but when a CMS ships with modules for, for example, an RSS feed widget, calendaring tool, prebuilt webforms, users who then want a variation on this module can benefit from seeing how the “pros” did it, they can then use it as a starting point for their own different implementation.
We really don’t need vendors that pay lip service to the buzzwords. When they think the new CMS buzzword “engagement” is just a screenshot of Google Analytics. Or when they add an image picker and call it DAM. And a cross-over between WCM and ECM? Don’t think WCM is like ECM and it’s about organizing content, not about effectively communicating with the audience. And don’t think that if you organize the content, you can automatically communicate effectively.
Completely different, but equally frustrating, is procurement (and the procedures that go with it.) Procurement folk don’t recognise the importance of user adoption to the success of the project — of the black background and all the UI issues pointed out previously. If a CMS is procured according to procedure, the selection is a success to them. But those same rules are often a recipe for ignoring what the users really need.
At the same time, budgets that aren’t transparent are an issue – customer and vendor should be able to have a sensible grown up conversation. As a customer, of course you want good value, but how cheap are you? But to vendors: many licensing models don’t make any sense, and force you to do stupid things. People are scared to have that conversation – the best architectural fit first I say, lets figure out an appropriate license around that.
So much hatred rolled up into a tight little ball of anti-CMS rage. Who would have expected it from such a respected bunch of CMS folk. We hate the designs, the interfaces, the architectures and the business. Time for a beer/wine? Wave good bye!
(Note: This is a cut/paste (as is, no edits) from Google Wave)