Our friends at CMS Watch recently announced their take on trends in SaaS Web Content Management for 2009. We've been contemplating about the future of SaaS WCM for quite some time ourselves.

Let's take a look-see at CMS Watch's predictions for the year to come and some more analysis of hosted Web CMS solutions.

CMS Watch on SaaS Trends

Citing the recent 2009 Web CMS Report, CMS Watch's Jarrod Gingras says that "the technology marketplace has seen consistent growth in the acceptance of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models, and Web Content Management is certainly no exception."

At the same time, Gingras refers to the major SaaS-based Web CMS vendors - Clickability, CrownPeak and OmniUpdate -- as "relatively small players" that still need to evolve to meet the changing customer demands.

Going back to the Web CMS Report 2009, CMS Watch outlines the following interrelated trends in the SaaS Web Content Management space to expect in 2009.

1. Customers Want More Than Just Software

My SaaS is not your SaaS -- we said it before, and we say it again. Not only all hosted WCM solutions are different, many customers want more than simply taking the weight off their IT teams' shoulders.

Despite the original idea of SaaS being a limited, hosting and outsourced utility, in fact, SaaS WCM customers tend to see SaaS providers as a kind of outsourced consultancy with not only infrastructure but Web design and development support as well. Will SaaS WCM vendors expand their offering portfolios or stick to the original business model?

Vendors like OmniUpdate already offer training services (from 2-hour end-user training to a multi-day custom one)? What's next?

2. Vendors Turn More to Implementation Partners

With customer needs expanding, vendors look for more help from implementation partners and systems integrators for such services as custom development, CMS implementation and customer support, moving away from the more traditional in-house model.

Word of caution: Be careful which implementation partners you choose, as not all of them will help you extend (and protect) your brand.

3. Vendors Pay More Attention to Developers' Needs

With changing customer demands, open APIs represent a long-term trend among SaaS vendors. Not all customers want to outsource their Web development. Developers also want more flexibility as to access and tools they are able to work with.

Online or desktop IDE, either way, developers want in on all CMS APIs and everything that goes with it. In response, WCM SaaS vendors are trying to adapt and make their IDE tools more flexible. Clickability, for example, is making their tools more Visual Studio-like.

OmniUpdate, on the other hand, doesn't offer any dev tools whatsoever, allowing developers to work in their own familiar environments and then upload their work to the CMS via FTP.

A Look at SaaS WCM Vendors

In the SaaS Web CMS space, we closely watch the following vendors:

  1. Clickability
  2. CrownPeak
  3. OmniUpdate

Let's take a look at the recent activity in this space and any disclosed future plans for 2009.

The Latest From Clickability

Clickability has been making headlines a lot lately. We've told you about their Clickability Media Solution, leveraging Google for Web site optimization and partnering with Twistage to provide online video services.

Last we talked to John Girard, CEO of Clickability, we discussed the viability of SaaS as a business model. Girard said that SaaS providers can generate an operating profit in the first year, if their business model is designed correctly. From what we can see so far, Clickability is going strong, but let's see how 2009 pans out for them.

The Latest From CrownPeak

Most recently, CrownPeak reported significant growth in Q3 2008 and attributed its success to the SaaS model and positive expansion of the overall Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry.

Jim Howard, CEO at CrownPeak Technologies, also recently noted several benefits of SaaS, with joint "visibility" being one of them.

The Latest From OmniUpdate

We have talked to OmniUpdate just last week to get the latest from the vendor that seemed to have gone too silent for too long.

OmniUpdate tells us that in 2009 the vendor plans to release some product updates.

Speaking of the paying more attention to developers' needs trend identified by CMS Watch, OmniUpdate says it is not a "design tool." Which means there's no traditional development environment, and there are no OmniUpdate-specific tools and/or IDEs for developers to create their magic within the OmniUpdate interface. But you can work in other tools and do your FTP uploads into the CMS.

We are looking to dig deeper into OmniUpdate CMS soon and will bring you a full-blown review, as we did with Clickability.

Final Thoughts

We should expect to hear more from WCM SaaS vendors this year as well as next. SaaS is definitely a hot item on the menu nowadays, both in the WCM and ECM markets.

Web CMS SaaS customers, as all CMS customers in general, should exercise caution in this changing landscape and carefully weigh all pros and cons of going SaaS versus on-site content management.

Interestingly, some traditional Web CMS vendors are making a move on the SaaS model. Recently, we had a conversation with eZ Systems that is soon to offer its eZ Publish Web CMS as a hosted option through a technology partner.

With CMS Watch's predictions in mind, be careful when stretching a SaaS vendor beyond what it is. The appeal of the SaaS approach is that you get everything in one place. But many SaaS vendors are not necessarily magicians who can do it all for you, so expect to interface with partners and third-party vendors, if you ask for more than what your SaaS vendor has been designed to deliver.