What to Expect From the Next Generation of Web Content Management

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Article ImageFeeling pretty confident in your current web content management (WCM) system? Do you sleep well at night with the peace of mind that your chosen WCM toolkit is up to snuff when it comes to creating, managing, and delivering content? It's time to wake up and smell the JavaScript. Because the WCM solution you rely on today is bound to land on the software scrap heap before long. Planning now-before its obsolescence-and forecasting the new bells and whistles of tomorrow's WCM tools can keep your company moving forward without being left in the digital ditch.

Taking a Look Under the Hood

Over the years, WCM systems have evolved from being complicated programs that only savvy webmasters could conquer to being user-friendly applications full of handy features. Today, many companies depend on a strong and reliable WCM system to juggle the wide array of sites, portals, intranets, and extranets they own. The do-it-all WCM system has become an indispensable resource responsible for consolidating websites, converting content for smartphones, and maximizing the digital experience for customers across any device or platform.

Consider that Research and Markets' "Web Content Management Market by Solution, Services, Deployment Type, User Type, Verticals, Regions-Global Forecast to 2020" anticipates the WCM market to grow from $3.47 billion in 2015 to $6.85 billion by 2020-representing a compound annual growth rate of 14.5% over this period. In addition, investing in WCM to deliver digital experiences is a priority among 60% of tech, marketing, and business professionals recently surveyed by Forrester Research for its report, "The State of Digital Experience Delivery, 2015."

Nowadays, many digital publishers opt for solutions from established WCM providers such as Adobe, Oracle, IBM, OpenText, and HP. Others employ simple WCM applications-such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla!-that allow users to create and deploy content for webpages without necessarily requiring them to have programming abilities.

While these primary players dominate the landscape currently, the movers and shakers in this space are expected to change. That's because the state of WCM is fast-paced and ever-expanding, the experts say. Web content, of course, has matured massively in the past few years, featuring more interactivity for users and shifting further away from the traditional page consisting of text and images, and WCM has been instrumental in that evolution.

"Today, WCM is no longer about simply publishing or broadcasting content-or seeing the web as a digital billboard. It's about understanding the customer's goals and serving up content to the customer that takes into consideration their needs and what they want to accomplish. It's about having a one-to-one interaction with that customer in providing the most relevant experience that is painless, seamless, and convenient," says Bob Egner, VP of product management at EPiServer.

The WCM industry is in a constant state of flux as innovation takes technologies in different directions, says Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer, co-founder and CMO of Hippo. "Simply publishing content isn't enough for modern organizations. Today, it's about improving content's ability to serve business goals and empower content marketers to truly articulate their contribution to the business' bottom line," says Brenninkmeijer.

Shane Walton, co-founder of Green Vine Marketing, agrees that modern WCM systems have become much more versatile and dummy-proof, as evidenced by the mainstream success of sites such as Wix, "which makes creating a website a drag-and-drop process that gives full design control to absolutely everyone, regardless of their knowledge of HTML."

Additionally, WCM has moved outside the narrow box of websites to deliver to all digital touchpoints, including portals, email, social kiosks, and vending machines. "WCM is no longer just about the web. It's about all digital channels and engaging with consumers where they are at any moment in time," says Dominique LeBlond, SVP of product management for SDL. "Mobile has also ushered in a whole new era for WCM, with brands now catering to consumers' screens of any size in the context of the experience."

Lane Changes Ahead

The heart of the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 was putting the power of publishing and discourse into the hands of the average person. This provided everyone with the tools to easily make their views heard online through forums, blogging platforms, social media, and wikis. But the next great leap in WCM will be rethinking publishing to better integrate with this discourse.

"Online conversations move at blinding speed, and the ability to react in real time is becoming more essential," Walton says. "A tool that enables rapid initial article posting and real-time, ongoing article revision based on social feedback will give publishers using that tool a huge advantage over their competition."

Today, the WCM goal for many is fostering an end-to-end multichannel selling solution with customer-driven and contextual information needed to enable smart, educated, and confident decisions, such as ratings and reviews and recommended or related products.

"The holy grail is the ability to integrate web, email, mobile, and social customer interactions with systems of record or transaction, plus rich content and commerce," Egner says.

LeBlond sees two trends driving fundamental changes within WCM systems: that digital content is being delivered in a multichannel approach-which means that brands are now able to track how information is consumed and use this data to further personalize relationships and drive their digital strategies-and the reality that marketers need to have a panoramic view of these channels to create and orchestrate meaningful customer experiences and to digitalize the services they offer.

Oliver Jaeger, VP of global marketing and communications for e-Spirit, believes the most important WCM changes to come will revolve around the integration of all applications and systems-including ecommerce, CMSs, marketing automation, analytics, SEO, and portals. That way, companies can deliver a superior experience across multiple channels.

The bottom line, says Mike Upjohn, web developer with Venn Digital, is that WCM changes are inevitable and constant due to the increasing nature for websites to be heavily interactive. "For example, WCM tools increasingly need to be able to deal with various JavaScript plug-ins to render video, audio, and text content and even live streams differently," Upjohn says. "Also, WCM tools need to cater better to live data like stock market prices, weather forecasts, and news, so that users don't need to refresh to see new data."

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