Enterprise Web Content Management is BrokenPrint This Post
Given the mission-critical role of e-business today, most traditional web content management (WCM) systems are actively failing in the enterprise setting. Inside small and medium-sized corporations, many WCM products have gained traction and are doing a reasonably good job. Not so in the enterprise, where it’s common for digital-marketing exectives to wait six months to a year to get a new web or mobile project live. In a recent private conversation, one newly hired e-business executive at a Fortune 1000 insurance company talked about her dilemma:
“We do 80% of our new business from our websites. It’s tens of millions in revenue per day. It’s a core, business-critical function. As things stand, we can make content changes to the existing sites pretty rapidly but we can only make a change to layout or function on the website in major releases every 12 weeks.
“That’s only four times a year! So nobody here even thinks about any type of experimentation or innovation. There is no mobile strategy. No content targeting or optimization. We’re just trying to get keep our existing web projects up-to-date. Everything is just too hard.
“And the problem is that the legacy WCM system is all part of a monolithic e-business architecture. Any change is seen as unacceptably high-risk. We’re simply trapped in a slow-moving environment.”
No Experimentation. No Targeting. No Innovation.
The inability to move rapidly or to innovate is an unacceptable failure of digital marketing in the modern enterprise. Even marginal acceleration of the speed of product launches or conversion rates can mean millions of dollars of added revenue.
So how can this be happening in the enterprise? The culprit is hidden in plain sight: It’s the prevailing WCM approach. That methodology was designed 15 years ago, and while it’s still viable within small and medium corporations, it’s functioning as an active roadblock to productivity inside the enterprise.
Few CEOs think their websites or mobile projects are active, innovative, vibrant and well-executed. At best, corporate websites are safe, clean representations of the brand. But few websites allow companies to actively drive leads through multiple customized sites and campaigns. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Skype and Amazon, but the vast majority of companies are struggling to execute on all the campaigns that they envision and that they need in order to stay competitive.
How WCM Gridlock Takes Hold
How do savvy enterprise professionals become handcuffed to WCM that doesn’t work? By seeing how well the first projects on those traditional WCM systems go when they’re initially installed. That’s because at projects one to three, the enterprise looks like a small or medium-sized corporation. The prototype looks perfect and the company makes the decision to replace the broken architecture with a new version of the same broken architecture.
Then in projects five to 10, the environment becomes complex and things slow down. And by the time project 100 rolls around, everything has fallen apart. Forty people are running around trying to compensate for an architecture that simply doesn’t work at this level. The model that functions so well for two or three websites simply doesn’t scale.
Challenges Unique to Enterprise WCM
Web content management implementations in the enterprise should help the organization meet its most critical business challenges.Enterprise customers need WCM to help them manage:
- Many websites – Compare the typical three or four in the mid-market to what’s often hundreds in the enterprise
- Many languages
- Many contributors
- Diverse and complex regulatory requirements that vary by global market
- Many more (and more complex) existing technologies
- Multiple digital channels
- Many content consumers all over the globe.
Critical Requirements for Enterprise WCM
Due to the significant differences in scale outlined above, enterprise WCM implementations have different requirements from smaller corporate WCM implementations:
- Many-to-Many WCM Production Model: It should be possible for many websites and/or mobile projects to be produced and released simultaneously by different creative and development shops without risking website uptime or integrity. Organizations with hundreds of websites simply cannot work one project at a time due to the necessity of a release cycle.
- Creative Team Inclusion: The enterprise needs an option for new web projects to be implemented by third-party organizations–specifically creative organizations. A bottleneck of expert developers working on fragile code for each and every change or project is the outcome of the current enterprise WCM approach. An architecture that allows third-party developers to develop new websites and mobile projects without any risk to security or site uptime is a requirement.
- Separation of Style from Transactions: Website layout and look-and-feel should be independent of any e-commerce or transactional functions. This separation is required in order for third-party developers to be able to work on websites and is required to make #2 above a possibility.
- Speed of Look-and-Feel Modification: Marketing/digital-business teams must be able to change website look-and-feel easily, and release it to the live environment within a day or two.
- Regional and Divisional Empowerment: Regional or marketing/digital-business teams must be able test and target content easily—and then adjust layout and look-and-feel based on results. Dozens of tests a month should be possible. And regions and divisions must be able to do this on their own without any central bottleneck.
- Rapid, Reliable Global Content Distribution: Content must be distributed rapidly and with high reliability around the globe. The existing approach of a single WCM setup dynamically delivering all of the content and functionality works fine for the midsized corporation, but fails badly in the global enterprise.
- Built-in Regulatory Compliance: When new projects are launched, regulatory compliance must be built into the system to prevent errors or omissions.
- Easy Adoption by Non-experts: The WCM system user interface should not be an expert system. It has to enable a first-time user to contribute content right then and there.
- Integrated Mobile and Social Content Publishing: Mobile and social-media content creation (and digital signage) should be simple output options and not require new systems, content owners, etc.
It’s All About the Global Business
The bottom line for enterprise WCM is that it needs to help the business compete globally. Done well, WCM can help a company widen top-line revenue streams and swiftly roll out new projects and initiatives around the globe.
WCM is not broken for smaller corporations. We know this because many of those companies get websites live quickly and successfully. Options abound. The mid-sized corporation has more complex challenges, but is able to succeed even when changing out the content management system with every redesign, because teams and projects are contained.
But until the enterprise begins evaluating WCM technologies that can take their digital marketing and global initiatives to market quickly while addressing global scaling, security, and interoperability requirements, enterprise WCM will continue to fail.