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In Focus: Whither Web Content Management?

With the exception of Interwoven and Stellent, ECM vendors just don't seem to talk about WCM any more.

I've had product briefings with IBM, EMC, Open Text and Hummingbird within the last two months, and at least one thing all four conversations had in common was that WCM (Web content management) never came up — unless I brought it up first, that is. With the exception of Interwoven and Stellent, ECM (enterprise content management) vendors just don't seem to talk about WCM any more. Even Vignette tends to dress it up by talking about Web applications, portals and services rather than the presentational, workflow and administrative burdens of WCM.

So what's up with this market? By most estimates, WCM revenues total between $750 and $900 million — at least three times larger than the digital asset management market. Many independent vendors report double-digit growth, and in our most recent poll, 397 readers ranked WCM fourth among 12 ECM priorities, after records management but ahead of e-mail management and archiving (http://www.intelligententerprise.com/channels/content_management/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=161600388).

In my most recent ECM briefing, Andrew Pery, CMO at Hummingbird, talked at length about the company's document-, record- and e-mail-oriented priorities: 1. ease of use, primarily through deep integration with Microsoft Office tools; 2. higher scalability through distributed caching and better multilingual support; and 3. solutions, starting with contract and correspondence management.

Hummingbird is the rare ECM vendor that hasn't bothered with cheap talk about WCM, and when I ask a final question on the topic, Pery didn't change course. "We have a services layer that allows us to expose API function calls to any third-party WCM engine," Pery said. "RedDot remains our partner in the small- and medium-sized enterprise space, and we find that many of our larger customers have already deployed WCM products."

RedDot offered the mirror image of that viewpoint in an interview last week. "A lot of our larger customers already have document management," said Darren Guarnaccia, director of business development for the company, "but they'll use our software to expose those systems through their customer extranets."

Two years ago, many thought mid-tier WCM vendors would be highly vulnerable to competition from Microsoft. But RedDot, for one, has proven to be a plucky competitor, staying focused on the midmarket, adding a collaborative document management module last year and more recently beefing up personalization, decoupled delivery and content integration capabilities. Other independents have been equally focused and resilient, including FatWire and Percussion at the upper end and Ektron and Paperthin in the departmental range.

Then there's hosted WCM, which is offered by Atomz, Clickability, CrownPeak, iUpload and Marqui. Taking this approach you'll spend $15,000 to $30,000 to get started with a one-year commitment and then pay $1,000 to $4,000 per month thereafter, with extras such as search and site hosting included at the high-end price. Hosted WCM has synergies with other hosted apps. Atomz, for example, was recently acquired by WebSideStory, the hosted Web analytics provider, and CrownPeak is partnered with SalesForce.com and Convio, the latter a hosted CRM system for nonprofits.

For the largest ECM players, the apparent lack of interest in WCM is a matter of sheer economics. Many larger customers with demanding WCM environments have already settled on vendors that cater to their needs. And in the SME market, departmental-scale deployments just can't add much heft to the quarterly results. Issues such as records management, e-mail management, document management and collaboration are every-seat, cross-enterprise concerns; despite the old vision of "everyone being a content contributor," it's just not working out that way for WCM. So to the focused independents — and a select few ECM players — go the spoils.

Resources:

a. 5 Biggest Mistakes in CMS Selection
http://www.cmswatch.com/Features/OpinionWatch/FeaturedOpinion/?feature_id=84

b. Choosing the Right CMS Authoring Tools
http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/kmc_authoringtools/index.html

c. Web Site Design: This page outlines the process, standards and guidelines that have been followed when creating the CM Professionals Web site itself.
http://www.cmprofessionals.org/resources/website/

d. Web Content Management Marketplace Circa 2005
http://www.cmswatch.com/Features/ProductWatch/FeaturedProduct/?feature_id=119

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