Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott throws his hands in the air at the continual presence of siloed solutions in the content management industry.
Although these days I am best defined as a B2B marketer, if I can lay claim to an industry specialism it would be in content management. I have worked for half a dozen vendors, been an industry analyst, sat on the board of the Content Management Professionals Association, worked for agencies and advised plenty of big brands since the early days of this industry with folks like Vignette, close to two decades ago.
Back then the industry was broadly defined as document management or the new kid on the block, the sexy Web Content Management. Software which you could barely call software, it was a bunch of API’s which techies built everything on, and yet the industry grew and innovated at an incredible rate to produce the easy to use, business tool that we use today. Along with this maturity, the industry briefly flirted with the concept of Enterprise Content Management (the ERP of content) and a realization that all content, whether a document or a web page, was the lifeblood of any company.
But, as I flick through another industry analyst report (this one rating the best DAM vendors), I wonder what the f**k has happened.
Content management is essentially an easy concept - you need a database in which to store your content, a data model that enables you to tag your content with metadata, a user interface through which the content can be managed, a workflow engine, some API’s/integrations, and a way to render the content on the channel of your audience’s choosing.
Yes, yes, there is of course a devil in the detail such as specialist functionalities to fit certain use cases, but whether you are managing products, images, videos, documents, web pages, call center responses, augmented reality, social posts tweets, campaigns, or rendering content on screens as small as a Smart Watch or as big as an electronic billboard on Time Square (or whatever else the cool kids are thinking of), and whether you call it something cool like Content Marketing, or something practical like Product Information Management, or even something grand like Digital Experience Management, it’s basically this:
Essentially, the process and craft are still the same. We create stuff digitally, integrate to systems, add metadata - so the machines know what it is - manage it through a publication process and then we render it in context to the consumer, sometime even in print (gasp!) and ALL companies need to do this for ALL of their content to a greater or lesser degree, whatever the content is - and we’ve had close to 20 years of practice at it.
So my exaggerated eye roll of a blog post is not down to this particular analyst report missing any of these functionalities, as it’s a thorough piece of work, very exactly describing the features one would expect of a content management system.
My issue is that it’s narrowly focused on Digital Asset Management and after only a quick flick through the analyst’s website I discover similar reports for MAM, PIM, WCM, ECM that all describe essentially the same thing.
Is it really beyond the wit of this industry to consider these things as the same bloody thing? That these are use cases, and not separate products or software markets?
I’ve even had a conversation with one analyst who stated that a vendor needs to provide a separate dedicated product in order to be considered in his particular niche. “Sing AND dance, f**k off you are not invited to audition for this particularly boring series of America’s Got Talent” (OK, maybe he didn’t say that exactly).
If the analyst who wrote this DAM report thought this way and decided that he would write about Content Management, his colleagues who make their living in the niches would rise up and burn the heretic, throw him in the Charles River or off Cummins Point (note: obscure geographic references to leading analyst and research firms).
As I have said before this fragmentation does not serve the clients , but I am wondering if it is even serving our industry?
Is this it for content management? A life in the niches, divided into silos, enabling a whole industry of integrators to stitch the sane, rational, enterprise-wide solution together implementation by implementation?
Of course, we think differently , but I’m not here to sell, I’m here to rant. Who’s with me?