5 Steps to Successful Web Content Management
BOSTON -- Developing and deploying Web content management (WCM) is similar to building and maintaining a house: A lot needs to be done before and after; there are numerous options to weigh and directional choices to consider; it's important to have a blueprint; and it's important to consult resources before embarking on the journey. In both arenas, it's often hard to build consensus. Most of all, whether you're dealing with an offline home or an online home page, it's tough to know where to start.
After presenting this analogy at the AIIM conference here this week, Stephen Powers, senior analyst with Forrester Research, went on to delineate the five trends decision-makers should know about the state of WCM, which he referred to as "a hot market." That begs the question -- with apologies to Johnny Carson -- "How hot is it?"
According to Forrester data, 84 percent of businesses plan on increasing their Web-based content and developing content that's more up-to-date. In 2006, 85 percent of businesses were planning additional investments in WCM. As content management on the Web continues to grow, the following trends will become visible, Powers said:
1. Continual WCM investment
2. Marketers calling the shots
3. Globalization functionality
4. Rise of open-source WCM
5. Digital Asset Management (DAM) integration
"[End users] want their consumers to have considerable branded, contextual experience," Powers told the crowd, noting that 42 percent of respondents qualified "customer experience" as the main reason for deploying WCM tactics. Only 32 percent cited "reduce costs" as the primary goal and just 18 percent listed "employee communication." (A mere 4 percent cited "IT consolidation.")
So what can integration on the Web do for CRM? Not only will Web-based programs operate more efficiently, but end users will be able to create for themselves an optimal customer experience, Powers said. He estimated that, as consumers become more sophisticated with personal initiatives on the Web, CRM software will begin exploring the possibilities of integrating Web experiences with consumer data. He pointed out that Oracle seems to be getting more serious about integrating its Universal Content Management suite with its Siebel and Oracle CRM offerings, and that enterprise content management vendor Open Text's RedDot features integration with SAP. Both of these, he suggested, provide early evidence of a trend toward WCM incorporation into CRM.
Simon Woodford, user product manager for Bechtel, an engineering, construction, and project management company, says that, until recently, WCM was operated solely by coordinators. Now, it's driven by consumers, contributors, and coordinators.
Many analysts and industry observers have suggested that the first generation of WCM failed under the management and umbrella of IT. Now, WCM appears to lie in the hands of marketers -- who are at the same time deploying social networking, DAM (videos, music, etc.), and multichannel efforts. "The gulf between IT and business remains wide," Powers said. "Both camps have trouble speaking the same language, and this affects technology projects."
The fifth trend, DAM, may seem somewhat removed from WCM, but Powers suggested that it's crucial, adding that integration between the two is central to successfully tackling both. The point that organizations are adopting open-source WCM suggests that companies are looking for strong user communities, he said.
As the economy slows in the U.S, companies will have an incentive to respond by growing internationally -- a move that will have to include changes to the content they put online. "It's tempting to put a WCM initiative into 'maintenance mode,' " Powers said. "But it's a living, breathing thing."
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