Raising the Host Bar: Hosted CMS Model Comes of Age

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Sidebar: A Case (Study) for Hosted CMS

Vendor: WebSideStory; Customer: Fila Online, Inc.

Fila Online is still a work in progress, but Rob McClellan, GM of Fila Online, Inc., was brought on board to help build a global network of ecommerce sites to sell Fila footwear and apparel. He came from another online company where he had worked with an installed content management solution and after a less-than-stellar experience vowed to go with a hosted solution for this job.

He says that he was looking for a content management solution to allow him to roll out multiple Web sites and free up his Web development people. The main reason he cites for going with content management "is that I support a global marketing team that will be rolling out Web sites in multiple languages and I want to take day-to-day maintenance out of the hands of the Web design team as much as possible and put it in the hands of the content owners," McClellan says.

McClellan knew he wanted a hosted solution because of his past experience with an installed solution and because, for him, it put the content management in the hands of experts. "We're best at marketing and making footwear and apparel, not managing servers and upgrades and training people how to use these functions, which are fairly complex." He says the CMS he previously used "often required me to go outside to get help to roll out stuff that should be handled by users. It defeated the purpose of getting a content management system."

When it came to choosing a CMS for Fila, McClellan did not even have to go through a search process because he had done so at his previous company, and the vendor who came in number two in that search was Atomz (now part of WebSideStory). "I looked at six vendors last time around and Atomz came in second. I didn't want to waste time again. I knew it was a fair price, I knew what kind of functionality I wanted, and I knew what to expect," he says.

He was never concerned about losing control or any of the arguments about hosted solutions. "I think every ASP understands if their service is not steady, it's bye-bye," he says. What's more, he believes there are more security concerns in-house than with a hosted solution, which is built to be secure and has people paid to look at security.

In the end, McClellan is content to let WebSideStory deal with the CMS. "I like the idea they designed the stuff and are always working on it, as opposed to training a staff."

Vendor: CrownPeak; Customer: Hyundai Motor America

When Paul Juedes took over as eBusiness manager at Hyundai Motor America in 2003, he evaluated the Web site production workflow and he found his staff were spending too much time making updates to the Web sites, a task that was probably better suited to the content owners in various departments, especially since, he says, there were problems with content consistency.

"The primary pain we were feeling at the time was on our consumer sites and our dealer sites. We had a lot of the same information being posted to train our dealers about new cars and also to give information to our consumers about our new cars. And we were finding inconsistencies between what we were telling the dealers and what we were telling the consumers. So that was the starting point when we started looking at a content management tool," Juedes says.

Another issue is that Hyundai, in order to stay competitive, runs with a lean staff. Juedes has only a couple of developers and a graphic designer, and these people need to support all of the Web applications. Juedes found that making small changes to copy and images on consumer Web sites was taking between 50 and 60 percent of staff time, and because of other obligations, the staff were unable to make these changes in a timely fashion.

Juedes began evaluating content management vendors, both hosted and installed, including CrownPeak, Clickability, Interwoven, and RedDot. Initially he says he had no bias toward a hosted solution, but the more he looked at it, the better it sounded for his situation. "The more I read and learned about hosting, the more attractive it sounded because I have light staff here. And the more I started thinking about being hosted, there were benefits about not having to purchase the hardware and the software that we had to support," he said.

After going through an extensive evaluation process, he found CrownPeak scored highest in every evaluation category including cost, but in spite of this, there was some reluctance from the executive team about purchasing a hosted solution because the CIO had been burned by the hosted model in the past. "The executive team was concerned that hosted would come from smaller companies and that the company might get bought and not be around," Juedes says.

They explored all of the issues related to a hosted model and in the end were able to answer each concern. "We talked about security. We talked about owning content—that wasn't an issue. We talked about the viability of CrownPeak at the time and would they be around to support us. We went through their financials and everything fell into place. They had a good product. And to tell you truth, everything CrownPeak said came true," Juedes says.

According to Juedes, the system was up and running in two and a half months, training went fairly smoothly, and CrownPeak helped them through any rough spots. Hyundai was able to spend less money upfront using the CrownPeak hosted solution and Juedes says he was very happy with the results.

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