Content Management Trends and Innovations

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Organizational agility is critical for successful businesses today, especially in the current economic climate.

Researchers of the study, "Organizational Agility: How Businesses Can Survive and Thrive in Turbulent Times," which was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by EMC, talked to 300 senior executives at leading international companies and found that 88% of respondents-including half of all polled CEOs and CIOs-believe organizational agility is crucial. However, more than 27% place their organization at a competitive disadvantage because it lacks the agility to anticipate fundamental marketplace shifts.

This need for organizational agility is leading the way for new technologies in content management systems (CMS). A CMS allows business users to manage the content and functionality on a website and lets them contribute, collaborate, and audit textual, visual, or rich media content for the organization.

Business agility, explains Whitney Tidmarsh, CMO of EMC's content management and archiving division, is about having systems that can "turn on a dime" and can easily be reconfigured to do things differently if business priorities change. "We need to think about how we can make companies more nimble." In response to this change, EMC recently introduced CMS software that allows the archival of applications across many different types, coupled with the tools to do compliance and audit management.

However, agility is certainly not the only driver for the continued evolution of content management. "One is better customer communications," says Neal Keene, VP industry solutions with Thunderhead. "In the past we were a print-centric world. Now we are looking at different ways of delivery."

Today, for example, "You need to empower users to interact with your website from Web 2.0 functionality," says Bill Rogers, CEO of Ektron. "Users will comment on the content, rate the content, [or] they might interact through wikis. They are probably going to build online communities."

The Changing Shape of Content Management
Not only is the definition of content and the emphasis of what needs to be managed constantly in flux, "CMS is an overly broad category," according to Tim McLaughlin, CEO and founder of Siteworx. "In a lot of ways, you could call a file system content management. As a result, there are very different products to solve very different problems. All tools have strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is to find the most efficient solution for your situation."

Because the company doesn't believe content management is a one-size-fits-all proposition, Siteworx doesn't do any product development. Instead, the company works with other people's products and provides professional services to help meet specific objectives. "We are constantly assessing the marketplace to see how CMS is evolving and how different systems work together," says McLaughlin.

To assist enterprises that are planning to build a content management system, McLaughlin says he first looks at a company's legacy system. One example he gives is of a predominately online business. The company already has a lot of applications that are exposed and works with a hodge-podge of technologies. "The question for this company is to figure out what will play well with the existing legacy," he explains.

At EMC, the CMS includes the following areas: enterprise content management, enterprise capture, customer communications management, and information governance. The companies EMC works with use CMSs in many different ways.

An airplane manufacturer uses a CMS to manage all the maintenance manuals that are unique to each airplane, explains EMC's Tidmarsh, while a sportswear company uses a CMS for brand management to manage photographs, logos, and spokesperson biographies. Pharmaceutical companies use CMS software to manage all of the pieces that make up a new drug application and its submission to the FDA.

"What all these companies have in common is a process that is involved with a lot of different content coming from a lot of different people," says Tidmarsh, "and it all needs to be heavily secured and, in some cases, government-controlled."

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Four and a half years of columns, on top of a couple of years prior studying content management systems at CMS Review, taught me a lot about how information is created, managed, and published today, especially on the web.