Sunday, December 23, 2012

Web Content Management: Opportunity to integrate with Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning technology!

Web Content Management (WCM) space has come a long way in terms of maturity from mid 90s to where it is today. Many companies, specially the ones who rely on their online business for revenue generation, are probably going through third or fourth iteration of overhauling their WCM solution. There are hundreds of commercial and open source offerings in this space catering to all sizes and different needs.The WCM vendors have also done a good job in keeping pace with the customers' demands. In fact, WCM has graduated to being part of a Web Experience Management (WEM) or Customer Experience Management (CXM) where WCM is one of the aspects of the solution along with  web analytics, optimization, targeting, A/B testing, social media integration, personalization and marketing integration. Overall, the space is matured and all major players from HP, Adobe, Oracle, Opentext, SDL, IBM, Microsoft and hundreds of others are playing in it. All of them are trying hard to find their own niche and differentiation as it is a crowded space.

CMS tools have also become more business friendly and no longer require the level of involvement of IT for every small task. Now the business has better ability to do tasks like content creation, presentation management and workflow without IT intervention. These tools continue to offer advanced features like in-context editing, multi-site management, multi-channel delivery, social media integration, globalization etc.. There is definitely room for improvement in the areas of multi-channel delivery, globalization, social media etc.. All leading products support standards like J2EE/.Net and have a cloud offering so that is no longer a competitive differentiation. Mobile is definitely a must-have thing now and everyone, CMS vendors as well as businesses, is trying to keep pace with the increasing number of varied mobile devices in the market. Definitely, there are more channels and platforms to worry about now. Content is no longer though of as a web page now! It doesn't mean because of these advancements in tools and technology, all projects run smoothly. They don't and the main issue is lack of CMS experience, inability to structure CMS projects correctly from timeline perspective and in some cases because of disconnect between business and IT. I also wonder where do we go from here as far as capabilities of CMS tool is concerned?

The focus on building an integrated digital marketing experience by vendors where content is at the core is the right thing but one important aspect is still lacking. That aspect is ability to have recommendation and deep personalization as part of the experience. The bar is set by and it is the model  everyone can look upto. It is not an easy thing to build but CMS vendors need to think of ways to offer templates which can enable it. They also need to think of  innovative ways to integrate with all the work that is happening in Big data Analytics world. In my experience, companies have a very good understanding about the level of personalization and recommendation they should provide to their end users. They just don't know how! They are just constrained by the limitations of their IT departments to deliver this functionality. IT also has a big challenge as they don't have access to out-of-the-box tools or an easier path to provide such functionality. Analytics and machine learning, technology behind deep personalization and recommendations, are not understood very well by many IT departments. It is also not easy to build as an  investment like an in recommendation technology is not easily affordable. Something to keep in mind for CMS tool vendors!

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