This article is partly in response to Digital Clarity Group's Robert Rose post called “Where Have All The WCM Cowboys Gone,” a more recent interview with Real Story Group’s Irina Guseva who stated that last year was “the year of nothing” and the recent Forrester Report by analyst David Aponovich who wrote:

The relevance of web content management (WCM) has never been higher as businesses and brands leverage this technology to support their multichannel digital customer experiences.”

WCM Is NOT Marketing Automation

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Too often we see businesses conflating the two concepts. There is certainly no doubt that they are related -- and should be integrated very closely together. But the (now clear) trend of the importance of creating relevant customer experiences across multiple channels has driven many customers to be confused as to where one solution starts and the other begins.

As marketing automation has grown exponentially over the last few years, and much of the technology budget has shifted to the CMO, there’s been no shortage of Enterprise WCM vendors (mine included) that have repositioned themselves in the Customer Experience Management (CXM) space. But the difference is that, in some cases, there has been an endless expansion of features by acquisition, rather than innovation in the core principles of web content management.

In short: instead of innovating toward meeting the still unmet challenges of enterprise web content management, many have just ceded that position and simply expanded by acquiring analytics, social listening, email and other elements that have nothing or little to do with WCM.

From a WCM solution perspective, this is not what the market (or our marketing customers) needs.

Is the WCM space saturated? Is there really no more space for innovation other than expanding into the other boxes of the marketing technology landscape?

I say no it’s not – and yes there is.

Content Management Is A Process, Not A Campaign

The real question in my mind is what should be the core platform that a business uses to connect content driven experiences? As Forrester has also written: “while 74 percent of business executives say their company has a digital strategy, only 15 percent believe that their company has the skills and capabilities to execute that strategy.”

This is an important point. The process of marketing is also fundamentally changing. DCG analyst Robert Rose actually pointed this out in an interview he gave in February where he said: “today, many marketing departments still operate in projects -- in campaigns -- and today’s customer journey is not about projects -- it’s about a flexible, adaptable process that is 24/7.”

This is why content should be the center of that strategy. It won’t be marketing automation that helps the business develop more relevant experiences in a kiosk or across mobile catalogs in the e-commerce channel. It won’t be a social publishing or analytics software that will help a retailer engage 10,000 store-level employees to have access to a tool enabling them to blog at the hyperlocal level. And it won’t be an editorial calendaring tool that will help personalize a brand’s content marketing efforts across 25 different languages and serve those pages dependably and reliably in microseconds.

But It’s Also About Moving Fast

To be clear, the challenge where WCM innovation is happening is in helping the business be more agile and more flexible, while simultaneously providing for this centralized scalability and dependability.

Enterprise marketers have been bridging this unmet challenge by deploying niche solutions. As Scott Brinker discussed in his most recent Marketing Technology Landscape Infographic -- the number of software tools available to today’s marketer are overwhelming. And, this is the key: these “apps” will continue to disrupt the market. And many will serve an important purpose (sometimes even just temporarily) for the enterprise marketer. This is why best-of-breed and integration is a key component of this innovation. If the WCM is to be the core on which marketers can build, scale and measure relevant content-driven experiences, then integration with these apps provide the flexibility that traditional, unwieldy suites will never be able to keep up with without acquiring them. And even that is usually too slow.

More and more the talk of enterprise CMOs is “how do we adapt faster?” As I’ve discussed here before -- technology is developing faster than the marketing professional can keep up and the first step is a close relationship with the technology professionals on their team.

But the key to a fast race car is a solid engine -- where innovation doesn’t always happen in splashy new colors, or leather interiors or in new acquired accessories that make it sexier. No, it’s under the hood where the important innovation is happening. And, ultimately this innovation is what powers the winners.

Title image by glenda / Shutterstock.com / Article image by lisegagne (iStock)