What's Next for Content Management?

Jul 12, 2016

Article ImageThe death of the Content Management System (CMS) market has been predicted many times over the years because of constant market consolidation. But for every CMS vendor acquired, new vendors emerged. This is still happening. But in addition, CMSs are growing in capability, and both CMSs and Content Management Components (CMCs) are being integrated into all kinds of platforms and applications. Is the CMS market finally headed to death by dilution? Is it "eating the world"? Whatever stake you have in content management -- the technology, market, or your own deployment -- you need to keep one eye on the big and complex picture to understand all the opportunities and challenges.

What Does Content Management Look Like Today?

The CMS market doesn't look much different than it did a decade ago when you consider that the larger platforms are using the CMS technology of vendors they acquired. Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and other market research firms more or less agree on the overall content management landscape:

  • Web Content Management vendor lists are mostly the same, especially those they rate as leaders.
  • Enterprise Content Management is used as a catch-all, mainly to include legacy systems and content types.

In addition, there are large numbers of open source and uncounted custom, and in-house content management tools.

Market research firms also include Content Management Systems in other Customer Experience, Digital Experience, Digital Marketing, Marketing Technology landscapes - some as platforms and some as components of a platform. While it is easy to be cynical about newly created landscape products, there is justification for these new lenses, and content management certainly has a role to play in each. They illustrate a stage of maturity in our use of software for all business applications - a recognition of the increasingly digital world we live in.

Major Forces Driving Change in "CMS Land"

Content volume is a big driving force for change, but so are digital transformation, content diversity, and channel proliferation.

Digital transformation across industries, especially in marketing and publishing functions, is fueling a content and marketing technology boom. There are more service providers than ever to help with content management strategies and implementations, further driving growth.

Today's CMSs have advanced well beyond the simple HTML and image content managed and delivered to browsers by the first CMSs. But both business and consumer applications continue to add demands for mixing and matching content with data, transactions, code, metadata, new encodings, and media types that need to be managed.

New delivery channels pop up unpredictably, accompanied by rules for content encoding and formatting that may or may not be proprietary, may or may not gain traction, and may or may not be relevant for your business. The number of channels you have to be prepared to support is always n+1.

The Future of Content Management

The proliferation of content types, content cocktails, and channels will only continue and almost certainly accelerate. Digital content is increasingly embedded in things, some of which are even being implanted in humans, and business processes.

New content types, and most channels, start life in a proprietary form. Standards moderate this problem, but standards have to evolve themselves and there will always be new proprietary encodings that offer improvement, protect a business investment, or both. This open v. proprietary dance is something to celebrate and protect - it supports innovation and information access. It can complicate content management and delivery efforts, but is also another type of job insurance for content management.

Being a content manager, whether in human or system form, is a critically important role, but agility is a must. There will still be jobs for specialists in text, video, and other specific content types. But managing mixed content and data types across n channels with new UX tools and practices, is where the action, creativity, and future is. The more content, content types, and channels you can manage, the better your prospects.

Content management is more important than ever. It has more jobs to do, more problems to solve, and more coming. Sometimes the best solution will be content management components under the covers of another enterprise system or platform. Sometimes it will be a bot buzzing around collecting and categorizing. Sometimes it will be a CMS serving as a marketing or customer service hub. Content management may not be eating the digital world, but it is managing quite a lot of it.