Web Content Management: Still No Silver Bullet

“They were buying solutions to manage their Web sites and, certainly, there are a lot of features in a lot of these products,” says Rockley. “But one of the biggest issues is technology is not a solution — technology is only a piece of the solution — and organizations, for the most part, didn’t think through all the different aspects of content management.”

So what people got was a system that actually required more input from IT than before when it was supposed to eliminate, at least partially, IT’s role in the day-to-day Web site operations (outside of ecommerce activities, which work on completely different and independent systems from WCM). At least that was what was being promised by the vendors.

The differences today though are great and many. Budgets are gone, along with the “must-have-it-now” attitude of just a few years ago. So people are back to making informed purchasing decisions and doing more thorough due diligence. Companies have also realized that making WCM work isn’t about magic bullets — it’s about all the little, mundane things that always seem to fall through the cracks, said Jim Howard, president and CEO of Crown Peak, a hosted WCM provider.

“So this is partly a vendor failure but also partly an IT organization failure in that there has to be a lot of commitment once the system is live — updating and managing that system and continuously training and retraining the users to get them to use it. Which is hard,” he said. “That’s why most content management systems fail: Mary ends up giving up, not using the system and emailing the content into the IT guy who then logs into the content management system and updates the page.”

In spite of this seemingly intractable problem when it comes to IT and people, there is more good news: prices are dropping below the $100,000 mark, said Peterson, while the quality of vendors offerings, especially in the mid-tier enterprise offerings from the likes of Atomz, Crown Peak, FatWire and Red Dot are improving. This is a far cry from the days when six-figure deals reined supreme.

Still, though, if your goal is to eliminate your IT department’s role in maintaining your Web presence, said Ed Rogers, vice president of WCM vendor Ektron, you might want to think again. Yes, offerings are getting better but IT will still be responsible for the overall look and feel of the site, its security and things like style sheets.

So, if productivity is your goal, WCM today will probably help. If it’s lowering the burden on IT, then WCM will probably help but not as much as you hoped it would, said Peterson.

WCM systems are “all designed to be very, very effective but we both know a lot of the time there’s a big disconnect between what we say and what we do,” he said.