If I bought the Ferrari, would I get it out of first gear?


Over the last few weeks it’s been strangely coincidental that I’ve had 3 new web content management system (WCMS) experiences, given I’ve been considering reviewing the business’s current WCMS with a potential decision to upgrade.

One of my first software decisions (too many years ago) as a digital business owner was the selection of a WCMS. Years later, and after a number of software decisions, it is discussing a WCMS that really gets my geek on for some reason. I’m not really sure why, maybe it is because as a digital marketer there is always so much we want to do with WCMS functionality and it has never been possible because of the technology.

Here are 4 areas where I think web content management needs to be focusing on today:

  1. Device and channel integration – content should only need to be entered once and then automatically distributed across multiple devices and channels.
  2. Social integration – and I’m not just talking about growing ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ – but deep integration with social feeds, communities, onsite commenting and openID, to name a few.
  3. Self-service – how much can a business user do themselves without needing a computer science degree?
  4. Personalisation – how to distribute the right content to the right person at the right time.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, it is essential to partner with IT for any technology decisions. But in the case of this blog, I’ll only lightly brush across a few technical considerations and instead, will focus mainly on considerations as a business owner.

At a recent Chief Marketing Officers conference in Queensland, I had high-level meetings with SDL and Ektron, 2 vendors in the WCMS space (I had actually never heard of either before). Walking away from each meeting and although not actually seeing their systems in action, I was impressed by their individual capabilities. SDL is trying to be an all-in-one solution and Ektron was focusing on core content management and building adaptors into the
best-of-breed systems for metrics, e-commerce, email marketing, social etc.  

A few weeks earlier at an Adobe conference I experienced CQ5. Wow! I walked out of the Adobe conference completely geeked out by the presentation and excited about starting the review of WCMSs in my head. Sad I know, but we all have our thing. Adobe has set the bar very high in combining its capability across content management, social media, email marketing, search, SEO and more. The recent Gartner report on WCMS’s has Adobe as leading the pack – and for good reason. Though, Adobe is a beast – it is huge and although the new interface brings together a number of different capabilities, it will take a good deal of time to learn and make the best use of its functionality.

If I bought the Ferrari, would I ever get it out of first gear?

The WCMS needs to suit your business. We all want the Ferrari and we get dazzled in the sales presentations, but at the end of the day, are you really going to use or need all the functionality?

My incumbent WCMS is OpenText, formerly known as RedDot with a few Vignette pieces plugged in. OpenText still have a little work to do to keep in the picture and it is not just about the technology challenges, it is also the account management and support needing attention.

Here are several additional considerations percolating around my head as I contemplate the WCMS investigation phase…

  1. Ensure you have a digital strategy. You need to know where your digital business is heading, or at the very least, ensure digital is part of an existing business strategy. The functionality of the WCMS will need to support your business for the next 3-5 years as you won’t be changing your WCMS easily once it is implemented.
  2. Develop your wish list and rank your requirements. Consider what are must haves, optional, desirable or high, medium or low priority – or whatever ranking system you choose to use. Do this before you start meeting vendors as it will ensure your requirements are better solidified. During vendor discussions you will learn about new functionality – this again should be considered and ranked. It’s probably a good idea for IT to create their own list as well. Your wish list will also help in quickly ruling out any unsuitable vendors.
  3. What skills are needed in your team to use the new WCMS? The user interface needs to be designed for dummies (and at times I’m one of those dummies). Will the vendor be happy to provide training to your team when the WCMS is close to going live?
  4. The sales process will promise the world but how much complex integration is required, especially with multiple data sources. Watching Adobe was sweet, however, my mind kept thinking about the integration required into a number of other systems both internally and externally. Ensure IT is involved.
  5. Get your hands under the hood and drive it more than once around the block. If you have the budget, get a proof of concept or use your influencing skills for the top two vendors to let you play in a sandpit environment. Ensure the team who will be using the new WCMS is part of the trial and testing period – as the ones who will be using the system daily, it’s important they have input in the selection process as it could make or break their workload.
  6. Cloud versus on-premises technology. There are generally functionality limitations with using the cloud – so be very aware. However, cloud is good if you have limited IT capability in your business as you don’t have to worry about infrastructure, security, upgrades etc.
  7. Know your vendor’s business model. Is the vendor’s focus on software development or professional services?  If it is the later, experience tells me that unless you use their professional services to an adequate level you may not receive the amount of love you require once you have signed on the dotted line.
  8. In-country support – and not just on the phone. How quickly will someone respond to a request? Are tickets raised overseas to then permeate around for days before being allocated? Another consideration is if there is on-the-ground support, how accessible are they? You can always be a bit cheeky and try to determine how quickly the support team can be in your office. That would be an interesting Service Level Agreement to write!
  9. Reference check, reference check, reference check – this goes without saying.
  10. How much documentation is there about the system, clearly outlining in business terms what it can and cannot do? If they claim their software is mobile and app friendly, is their own website mobile ready? You’d be surprised at the number of vendors who talk mobile solutions but aren’t there themselves. (I’ve checked OpenText, and yes, their website is mobile-friendly).
  11. Finally, put any concerns in writing and have the vendor respond. There is also nothing wrong having the responses in an appendix as part of the contract. You’ll know for sure you’re getting what was sold and paid for. For any areas where the vendor won’t commit in writing you know exactly where to send your IT team in to investigate.

I could go on and on here because web content management is a real interest of mine or maybe I am a frustrated IT person.


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