Content managers used to have a relatively easy time of it-although, they likely didn't realize it then. Not that long ago, content was published on a website and accessed through page views. But a lot has changed over the past couple of years. Today, consumers of content have a wide range of devices to choose from when accessing that content-from desktops, to laptops, to iPads, iPhones, smartphones, and Kindles, etc. The experience has become far more complex-for content providers and, arguably, for consumers as well.
A new concept has emerged to describe how this proliferation of access points impacts the content consumer--CXM, or content experience management. But does this new concept really, fundamentally, change the content management process? Many say that, despite the proliferation of platforms, the answer is no.
What Is Content Experience Management?
CXM, says Seth Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Systems, a user experience and technology consulting firm based in Boston, "starts to get a little bit more into how are we personalizing the experience.
"Are you dynamically delivering an experience based on what you know about a user in a way that's more real-time? It could be based on that session or data that you have offline." Ultimately, he says, it all depends on the type of experience you're trying to deliver, which of course is largely driven by the types of experiences that consumers are now demanding.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis is global agency digital strategy lead at Valtech, a global provider of next-gen digital platforms for top brands. "To me, CXM is a catch-all phrase that can describe every digital-and offline-touchpoint a business has, or could have, with a customer," says McGowan-Ellis. "Companies that embrace content as part of their digital marketing and sales strategy," says McGowan-Ellis, "will realize the benefit of content experience."
That experience, says Dave Dabbah, general manager of Hawq, a firm that monitors and protects websites from content errors, "is really the holy grail of content management. Being able to provide the right content, to the right people, at the right time is what all marketers strive for," he says. "While we all strive to achieve a high level of CXM, it really is a component of the overall content management umbrella."
Changes in consumer expectations around their content experiences, and how they gain access to those experiences, is driving changes in how content is being delivered-content managers are scrambling to catch up with these expectations. Ultimately, though, content is still king.
Content Is Still King
"The concept of the ‘customer experience,'" says Ian Truscott, VP of products for SDL and director for the CM Pros (a collaborative community for content management professionals), "brings together ideas around personalization, around relevancy, around repurposing content based on the device someone is on, or the task they want to complete." But, he adds: "A lot of those things have been around for a while." Ultimately, he notes, "[T]he experience is content. It's just another variant of the same story being told in a different way."
Bob Egner, VP of product management for EPiServer, a digital marketing and ecommerce solutions firm based in Chicago, agrees. Egner believes that content management isn't being replaced by content experience, but that content management is evolving into content experience. "While it may be tempting to separate them, strong content management is the core on which experiences are built," he says. "Content management is just being thought of in a different way now, with higher expectations of the value it adds."
Content still defines the experience, asserts Truscott. CXM, he says, "is the sexy new term and the zeitgeist at the moment is to talk about content experience. But that doesn't mean that content management has gone away. It's still a business practice that's required in an organization."
Miller agrees. "I think to the extent that automation allows us to craft more targeted experiences based on information we know about folks or based on the device they're using, or the language they use, or their location-all of these things can play into user experience management frameworks," says Miller. In fact, he says: "It's always been about experience-it was about experience 15 or 20 years ago too. It's just that there's a lot more we can do now than we used to be able to do."
It's an evolution, says Miller. "Content management was the most obvious problem, if you will. That's why so many people elected to solve that problem. That's why everybody has a package. But how much of that is really automating the ability to deliver experience beyond content is where things start to diverge a lot." Today, he says, "[T]he big difference is now that content doesn't always come from you-whether you like it or not it comes from the world." Content is also being consumed on an expanding array of devices, complicating the process of delivering a satisfactory experience to content consumers.