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Telligent Wants A Piece Of The Content Management Market

Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent, pulls no punches when he talks about his company's aspirations in the content management space. And the way Telligent markets its new CMS offering is just as brazen.
Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent, pulls no punches when he talks about his company's aspirations in the content management space. And the way Telligent markets its new CMS offering is just as brazen.I learned of Telligent's Graffiti CMS by clicking on one of the ads running in my GMail. I'd seen the ad for so long, obviously driven by the quantity of CMS content in my inbox, I finally gave up.

After a little investigation, I noticed there's been some lively discussion around Telligent's marketing approach, mostly criticizing the so-called "attacks" on WordPress. The comment thread makes for a good few minutes of reading at the very least.

When I caught up with Howard, I wanted to find out what gives a maker of community software such an advantage as it enters a competitive CMS market.

"The advantage for us is our experience in developing software," said Howard. "As we developed Community Server, we became very good at using things like blogs and forums to manage content. We took what we learned from that and added some of the great features in Graffiti CMS, things like comments, spam control, and flexible theme-based templates."

But don't let the blog-like simplicity of Graffiti lure you in if you're one of the bigger enterprise users. Howard says the platform is better suited for small- to midsize companies.

"We're actually taking a very open approach, one with a friendly set of programming interfaces," explained Howard. "It's very easy for clients with fewer technical resources to deploy our solution and then mash our content up with other systems."

I also pressed Howard on whether he intended to roll Graffiti's CMS capabilities into its flagship product, Community Server (CS)2008.

"They really serve two distinct markets," commented Howard. "You have companies like Microsoft and Dell using Community Server to power large online communities, whereas Graffiti helps smaller companies manage the content that drives their Web sites and intranets."

Howard says his company also is beefing up its ability to demonstrate ROI in 2008, with plans to release an analytics engine and report server.

"Companies need a strong set of tools to measure how users are engaging and interacting with their brands," said Howard.

"The problem is that Dell and Microsoft have differing views of ROI. Sometimes it's customer satisfaction (traditional metric), while other times it might be how fast customer comments are addressed."

According to Howard, Telligent has written more than 85 reports to help clients sift through valuable data that helps them measure the effectiveness of content. Clients will get access to Telligent's Harvest Reporting Server (Version 1)on Feb. 25, according to Ken Vernon, the company's director of marketing.

On the heels of Graffiti CMS, Telligent also plans to roll out a fresh version of its popular Community Server platform in April. Howard said CS 2008 will include better profiling and "social streams," something he compared to Google Groups.

If Telligent can convince even some of its loyal Community Server clients to spread the word about Graffiti CMS, 2008 could be a rocket ride for its 80 or so employees.

"We're going to dramatically change the way people think about content management," concluded Howard.

Time will tell.

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