Forrester finds that integration, better interfaces key to improving WCM

Forrester’s Stephen Powers has released a report that finds that companies are still investing in WCM even in tough times. The report is a survey of 261 information and knowledge management professionals across all verticals. According to the report, released on January 12, nearly three quarters of respondents said they would do more WCM in the coming year and only about one-third said they had rolled out WCM enterprise-wide already.

So what improvements do people want out of their WCM system? The top three, according to the report, are “Integration with other enterprise applications or content repositories”, “interfaces for content contributors”, and “management of multiple sites and/or environments” which is tied for third with “workflow”.

The “workflow” one is a bit of a surprise to me. In my experience WCM workflows have been much more straightforward than workflows we’ve seen in document management or other content-centric applications. The report doesn’t include a breakdown of the incumbent WCM vendors used by the respondents, and, unfortunately, doesn’t get more specific so it is uncertain exactly what about “workflow” the respondents found lacking.

“Integration with other repositories” and “management of multiple sites” aren’t surprising. We’ve been seeing a lot of interest from clients with a “multi-site” problem. The problem might be one around operational efficiency or it can be about moving content around, finding content, or potentially reusing content across heterogeneous platforms. I think the proposed CMIS standard will help out a lot here but more vendors will have to roll out their implementation and tools based on CMIS will have to become available before we will feel the full impact.

“Better interfaces for contributors” is another one that makes sense. As technology like flash, flex, and AJAX continue to be deployed in consumer applications and across the enterprise, it is natural that users are demanding similar enhancements to their WCM systems. It seems like in a lot of cases, the original goal of WCM–“remove the webmaster bottleneck”–has failed. We’ve simply moved the work “up the stack”. Now the inefficiency is around content owners, who are largely business users, that struggle with difficult-to-use tools.

Powers tries to make the case that Enterprises “fear upgrades” citing that 57% want upgrades kept to a maximum of one-per-year. This is an important stat, particularly for open source WCM, which prides itself on being able to innovate faster than its legacy cousins. I would imagine that if upgrades were entirely painless, this number would drop significantly. Customers want to roll out new features to content contributors and content consumers–they just can’t afford to do it frequently if upgrades are huge ordeals. (I recently spoke to an enterprise that was going to pay their incumbent legacy vendor over half a million dollars in services alone just to get their installation current).