State of the WCM World in Europe

Oct 22, 2010
Oshyn Labs

On Wednesday at Internet World in London, Theresa Regli, Principal Analyst of The Real Story Group was discussing her views on the Web Content Management world from a European perspective highlighting the technological and cultural dividing lines. A significant portion of the presentation was about understanding how to select a WCM. From her perspective a crucial step is to decide whether your company is focused on selecting a WCM platform or product. As she explains it, a platform-oriented buyer is looking for something that will be heavily IT-driven perhaps requiring custom applications, and requiring a lot of systems integrations. A product-oriented buyer is looking for a package that can accomplish certain things (tasks) right away, out of the box (the WCM version of plug and play). Theresa pointed out to the audience that Open Source while perhaps offering a free license generally carries very similar overall costs to purchasing a license for a commercial WCM. (You can read about this in detail in Oshyn's white paper "Open Source CMS: Is it Right for Your Organization?")

Theresa Regli discussed how some companies worry about buying a WCM from a smaller company out of concerns regarding support issues and the product’s viability. She contrasted this fear with the acquisition sprees of some large vendors like Open Text who are not necessarily buying WCM companies to expand their product offering or to focus on the needs of the WCM market – but to acquire customers. For example, there is still much debate over the future of Open Text Web Solutions and Vignette. (Though on the exhibit floor there was some discussion that Open Text’s recently acquired NStein platform may soon be available as part of Vignette and RedDot which suggests Open Text may continue to develop these products.) 

Something I found a little surprising was that apparently many companies evaluating different WCM platforms take into consideration the WCM country of origin. Theresa Regli told a humorous story about a company that was worried about a recommended German-based WCM because they felt the German’s might not be very flexible. (The audience laughed). And some European companies are wary of selecting US-based WCM because they are concerned the time difference will limit support if such vendors to do not have European offices. Sure they are just concerns, but if the WCM’s feature set in such a situation seems best-suited, you should dig further into the level of support you require and perhaps seek out feedback from current customers.

Thankfully, Theresa Regli also approached the topic of having good Systems Integrators – but with a bit of a catch. Theresa told the audience to find Systems Integrators who are NOT like you. It’s a great point actually because some larger companies might look to pair up with Systems Integrators that have a longer company history and larger employee base. That by no means guarantees a successful integration. Actually, just like it can be hard to make significant changes in a large company, a smaller company can be more dynamic and able to adapt to corporate cultures that are different than their own.

Theresa said a question she is frequently asked is, “Which is the best WCM?” Her answer: “There is no one best.” Most WCM are geared toward the needs of particular industries or needs, pointing out that for example, companies that have large media management needs should be evaluating WCM that have been developed with media management in mind like Vyre. The analogy she used was, “What’s the best wine? Depends on what you are pairing it with.”

She asked the audience if anyone was considering Sharepoint 2010 for their WCM. Only 2 hands were raised. She seemed relieved as she elaborated that Sharepoint was never created for WCM, it was created for internal collaboration, and seemed to hint that it is best used for its intended purpose.

Approaching the topic of cost, she pointed out the difficulties in comparing overall costs of licensing because there are so many licensing models (servers, modules, users, URLs, number of credentials, volume of logins). No wonder it is so difficult for a company, on its own, to assess the overall costs!

During the Q&A there were some questions about mobile-optimization since there is such a huge shift in accessing websites via mobile devices. Humorously, when the audience was asked if they knew of any websites that did mobile optimization very well….there was near silence. I smiled to myself as I thought, anytime I want to demonstrate a website that renders well on mobile I enter www.sitecore.net and pass my Blackberry over to the person I’m talking to. They always say, “Wow! That’s great.” If you use your mobile to check into Twitter or Facebook, you probably frequently click on shared URLs and thus you know how annoying it can be to wait for websites to render and after waiting, to be confronted with messages like “Javascript must be enabled”.

I was a little surprised that during the Q&A the topic of Business Catalyst came up (now owned by Adobe). There were questions about how smaller WCM packages can be integrated with CRM as a consultant noted that in increasing numbers even smaller companies are looking to integrate a CRM with their WCM. Theresa commented that smaller product-oriented WCM platforms are not particularly good at systems integration. There are some small company-platform products but they are few and far between. I can however tell you that Business Catalyst can be used with Salesforce.com

All that said, it was great to see there was standing room only in this presentation and with many heads down scribbling down notes.


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