Are the web content management systems (WCMs) that many digital publishers and web content producers use today outdated? Yes, according to a new report authored by Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered market research and analysis firm Frost & Sullivan, entitled "Web Content Management Systems: So Five Years Ago."
The white paper suggests that WCMs (such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! that allows users to create and deploy content for web pages without necessarily requiring them to have technical knowledge of programming abilities) are rapidly evolving. Additionally, newer systems that offer a robust customer engagement platform-featuring integration of marketing capabilities like personalization, community and social media, and email campaign management-offer greater value than traditional standalone WCMs, which often operate web, email, social and mobile systems and campaigns in silos.
"The old model of WCMs as standalones is fast diminishing, and most standalone WCMs that cannot help manage larger enterprise workflows and content are going to find it very difficult to survive going forward," says Mukul Krishna, global director for digital media, Frost & Sullivan.
Krishna says digital publishers should avoid silo strategies to manage their web content and instead choose enterprise content management systems (ECMs) that integrate with other solutions.
"As infrastructure increases across the world, more people are going to be using the web," adds Krishna. "The ability to manage the web experience keeps getting more important, but now it's that much more dependent on your overall ecosystem. And that ecosystem is dependent on having (an ECM) that allows you to take care of your entire workflow, including your front end, back end, rights management and analytics."
Bob Egner, vice president of product management and global marketing at EPIServer, a WCM provider based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., says that employing a WCM effectively nowadays requires a thorough understanding of your audience.
"How does your audience want to see things online? People aren't just engaging with simple web pages anymore, so publishers and producers need to think about social and mobile channels," says Egner. "At the end of the day, publishers are interested in how to make the value of their (content) relevant, and that's especially important as people are consuming their content in all different ways and across channels."
Cost has become a huge issue for publishers, noted Krishna, and margins are razor thin. To survive in this environment, "it becomes that much more important for (publishers) to examine their entire ecosystem. Anyone can be a web publisher, but to attract the most eyeballs, you need more than just web content management-you need to create a community, encourage social interaction and source correct content from the right database."
Ask Irina Guseva, senior analyst with Olney, Md.-based Real Story Group, however, and she'll tell you that rumors of WCMs becoming outdated are hugely exaggerated.
"The past few years have been evolutionary for WCM technology. Unlike ECM, which remains mostly static, status quo is not something I see in the WCM industry, which continues to evolve under the notion of experience management," says Guseva, who prefers the term "web content and experience management" or WCXM. "Today, it's no longer just about managing pages on your web site, as it was at the beginning of WCM in the 1990s. It's also about managing the experience-both online and offline-for your customers across all channels, including web, mobile and social."
Digital publishers, Guseva said, can benefit from a WCXM system which can provide features like analytics integration, SEO, URL management, workflows, social integrations, digital marketing capabilities, personalization and targeting.
"At the same time, in certain cases it makes more sense to employ systems designed for specific purposes," says Guseva. "For instance, a digital marketing system like Marketo or Eloqua for marketing automation tasks like campaign creation and management, or toolsets like SDL SM2 and Sysomos."
According to the Frost & Sullivan report, today's WCMs must have at least the following components for best functionality:
- content management and editing, including WYSIWYG
- security measures that employ user assigned user permissions, roles, and groups, and which establish approval processes
- collaboration and content virtualization that ensures that only the correct, final version of any content goes live on the site
- output templates and forms that can be quickly applied to content, and post-deployment content syndication that lets users replicate a single implementation quickly across multiple domains
- on-board modules and/or application programmable interfaces that can rapidly extend site functionality
- the ability to build pages that automatically detect which type of device (including smartphones and tablets) is being used by each user and serve content optimized for that device.
The report further recommends implementing the following additional capabilities:
- search engine optimization
- visitor customization/personalization to quickly assess visitor profiles when they land on a site and which displays content to each visitor tailored to their areas of focus and interest level
- on-site social engagement, which enables visitors to create user profiles, share opinions and recommendations, post their own rich Internet application (RIA) content, and interact in other ways with fellow site visitors
- e-marketing that allows for multichannel communications to work together in an integrated fashion
- on-board web analytics, which provides for the use of data intake to reload digital communications/marketing efforts, including implementing an RSS reader-driven social media outreach campaign and using e-marketing to develop successful drip marketing programs.
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