The overarching trajectory in the evolution of web content management (WCM) that emerged in 2013 largely reflected the trends that have been defining nearly every other corner of the technology sector in the last several years. The equalizing principle of ease of use for nonexpert users, a drive toward mobile functionality, a preference for a solution that integrates well with other systems, and a strong inclination toward user-driven or social content creation-these tenets are now the new normal for the creation, management, and distribution of enterprise content, particularly web-based content, and they drive expectations of technological functionality for both internal and external stakeholders in any enterprise.
Where WCM is concerned, mobility, usability, integration, and social functionality are now among the most influential criteria that organizations are using in selecting a WCM vendor, and they are among the key elements that come into play in crafting an internal WCM strategy. These factors, which as recently as a year or two ago were still considered fledgling, next-generation components of a web marketing strategy, are now deeply ingrained principles that everyone in the business life cycle-from executives to customers-has come to expect from a web commerce experience.
"Consumers of web content demand access to content anytime, anywhere, which means that organizations must be able to deliver content in the appropriate format for the device it is being delivered to," says Sue Clarke, senior analyst at Ovum.
In Gartner, Inc.'s comprehensive analysis of a dozen or so WCM vendors in its 2013 "Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management" report in July, it gave Adobe and its Adobe CQ product the highest combined marks on the axes of "Completeness of Vision" and "Ability to Execute." Chief among Gartner's praises for Adobe CQ was its mobile capabilities.
"Adobe has the most complete and cohesive strategy of all the WCM providers for supporting mobility," the report states. "CQ's architecture ensures the integrity of a single authoritative content source to serve a broad range of established and new mobile delivery mechanisms and technologies, including device detection, mobile sites, mobile Web applications and hybrid mobile applications."
Ovum's Clarke points in particular to the dynamic rendering of content for mobile devices that is no longer just a hoped for feature, but an expectation on the part of most WCM clients.
"WCM systems must be able to render content on-the-fly to a wide range of mobile devices. They should be able to recognize the device type and render the content appropriately using the features of the device," Clarke says.
"For example, on touch-screen devices, buttons should be positioned far enough apart so that a user does not accidently select the wrong button, and if the device is a phone, then a box ... containing a phone number could be a button, which when selected automatically calls the number."
Clarke also points to geolocation as another emergent standard in mobile commerce. WCM solutions should enable "organizations to target content to website visitors according to their location and ... embed maps and other local-based content on the page," she says.
Irina Guseva, senior analyst at Real Story Group, makes the point that most WCM users are now much more comprehensively up-to-speed on the processes and tools that make for good mobile experiences. In her view, it's the vendors that now need to catch up.
"Mobile remained on the forefront," Guseva says, "but compared to previous years, organizations are more educated and experienced when it comes to developing and managing mobile apps, mobile web, and hybrid apps. They realize that WCM tools are rarely the best tool for these types of activities-with the exception of mobile web, perhaps-and are seeking best-of-breed mobile platforms to integrate their CMSs with. Not many vendors focus on the fact that HTML5 friendliness is not driven by their tools, but by the code that is put into those systems."