WCM, ECM have more in common than you think

Both aim for a single solution in misguided attempt to meet all your needs

Last week at the Gilbane Conference in Boston, Stephen Powers from Forrester postulated that web content management and enterprise content management might have more in common than we previously thought--but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Powers admitted that for years he had told clients that WCM was very different from ECM, but there is a place today where they are overlapping. "We remember the Utopian dream of the ECM content management suite," he said. There would be one big content repository and a set of applications on top of that including document management, asset management and so forth and all would be from single vendor and would have similar look and feel. Sounds great doesn't it?

Powers explained that there was a big flaw in this approach though. "This idea of ECM suite didn't exist," he said "because nobody had best of breed ECM solutions [across all application categories], and even if some vendor did come out with an end-to-end suite, most clients would have said we can't do rip and replace." 

Since no one vendor could really do it all for a company, the model moved from a one-stop shop to one where vendors sold different solutions for different types of content.

And Powers believes that WCM has some striking similarities. That's because once again we have vendors building monolithic suites and once again customers aren't buying it because they already have existing solutions in place. "Even if somebody did have that, customers would have to rip and replace all of the customer experience technology they already have," Powers explained. And of course as with ECM, nobody is about to do that no matter how good an offering may be--and no one vendor can ever be best breed across the board.

So, Powers says this is going to be an integration play where customers find the new technology that meets their needs and find key integration points across those technologies. Therefore, it's going to be key to play nicely with others and he says too many of the large vendors are still stuck in the mindset that they will meet your needs, so long as your content is in their repository.

"I think you have to expand beyond dealing with content in your own repository. If you don't do that, one of the upstarts is going to," Powers said.

Powers also says it's time to move beyond this idea of one solution set for everyone. As we've learned with ECM, that's a great play for the vendor, but it doesn't really meet the needs of the customer, and WCM vendors are going to have to offer solutions with key integration points, especially around engagement and customized content delivery--or risk suffering the same fate as big ECM vendors in recent years.

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