Next up on our coverage of the Gilbane Conference in San Francisco was the "mini keynote" for the "Web Content Management" track which was a panel discussion with some big names in the WCM space, moderated by Tony White, a Lead Analyst for the Gilbane Group.
The panelists present were Yogesh Gupta, President and CEO of FatWire;
Erik Aeyelts Averink, of SDL Tridion
; Bjarne Hansen, President, Sitecore USA
; David Graham, CIO, Vignette
and Jim Howard, CEO of CrownPeak
. The first round of the panel consisted of each panelist discussing what they thought were the most pressing issues when picking a potential Web CMS provider
An immediate distrust of the popular sales and marketing lead "demo" was immediately identified and several of the panelists advised that it was much smarter to actually have a company install a product and have real users testing it out as opposed to having a smooth talking sales person show you a pretty demo. Tony White made the analogy of buying a car without test driving; don't buy a CMS without actually using it.
Yogesh Gupta of Fatwire made the somewhat vague point that the product, overall, should "just work", as well as being to easy to use and easy to scale. An audience member would later on call him on this assertion, and he was able to clarify his point -- that the product should work for what the customer is looking to do.
Mr. Gupta mentioned an example of how he had one of his sales employees turn down a potential prospect since they would not be a good fit with Fatwire. Oddly enough, this made the customer want to do business with them more than ever. All the panelists agreed that a company needs to have really clear goals of what they are looking for if they are going to pick a vendor that is right for them.
Other points made were the importance of picking a product with a good UI -- although as Tony White and Jim Howard said, sometimes too much of the decision is made on a sleek, pretty interface -- and of course, the somewhat obvious idea of knowing what your website goals are. As Eric Averink put it: your goal should not be to just "get a website up".
After this first round, Tony White made things a little more interesting by asking the panel if it really mattered what product a company picked, since a disorganized organization isn't going to get the most use out of a web CMS
no matter how hard they try. Naturally, a panel of 5 higher ups in CMS vendors disagreed just a bit. Jim Howard said the product does matter, but "within a range". David Graham of Vignette wavered more on the side of it being the company's responsibility to understand how to use a web CMS and to be prepared for the change.
In the end, Tony White finished up the panel by saying, perhaps as a warning to those in the audience: "You will never be finished with your implementation." For the more upbeat readers who need a happier ending, Jim Howard had some encouraging words: "Using a CMS means you are packed and ready to go!".