Web CMS is not a new technology by any stretch of imagination so why do so many still struggle with content management: on a personal basis, as a small-to-medium business or a large corporation? The cause of the struggle more times than not are the content silos and multiple Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS) used within one organization. We know these content silos suck up both time and money, but we still continue to create them.
One Record of Truth
I'll give a personal example. As any person who pays attention to personal branding and manages a digital presence across multiple locations, I need to manage numerous content silos. I made a professional change, so I had to go into 10 or more separate sites/applications to update my bio. There are the trade magazines I publish in, LinkedIn, Twitter, my about.me, my personal site irinaguseva.com, Slideshare, my WordPress blog, Google plus and probably a few others I am forgetting about. All of them are separate repositories, and all of them have separate “CMSs” to manage content.
It is moderately painful to go into all of these outlets where I tell the “Irina story” and copy/paste from my golden source of truth (which happens to be LinkedIn). I would like to integrate all my “publications” under the umbrella of one “system,” but that's logistically impossible -- given the breadth and depth of my personal brand and digital presence. It would be nice to at least have some integration points for feeding content from point A to points B, C, D and X. And preferably without having to spend months on coding such integrations.
In the enterprise, this is exacerbated by the multiples: more processes, more people involved and more money spent on technology.
Taking It to the Enterprise Level
Think about how much more complex and time-consuming this issue of multiple CMSs and multiple content repositories can be for an SMB, for a larger organization, for an enterprise -- where multiple systems, dozens of people and countless processes are involved.
Let’s put aside for now the fact that Web CMS still remains a complex technological discipline and many mistakes are made along the way: the wrong software is purchased, the implementation process doesn’t go as planned, user adoption never materializes, the system fails to scale and grow with the business, or another vendor acquires your CMS vendor and the product changes direction to be out of tune with your goals. These are all common scenarios -- sadly, very well known to many companies -- where one CMS is abandoned fully or partially in favor of a new one.
And thus begins the CMS multiplication process within an organization -- an arduous process to manage. Even after you migrated portions of your content into the new CMS, some content might still remain in the old CMS, and you end up supporting both for some length of time.
Then you discover the new CMS is far too complicated. It's difficult to use, difficult to create smaller sites or landing pages or marketing campaigns. Your people will find a way to gradually introduce an alternative solution: either in agreement with the rest of the organization, or under the “do now, apologize later” leitmotif. For example, you may have an enterprise wide CMS that drives your corporate site, but departmentally you may find a variety of simpler CMS solutions: from WordPress to Squarespace to a Drupal implementation to some hosted CMS that was designed and developed by your agency or systems integrator.
And then your marketing department attends a webinar that extols the magical wonders of, say, SaaS/cloud CMS. Off they go to sign up for this new, shiny thing in the hopes of faster time to market and greater independence from IT.
IT in turn may become enamored by an open source CMS, which can be a fascinating technical playground of open possibilities and a “quicker and cheaper” way to launch websites, instead of using the enterprise web CMS.
Why CMSs Exist in Plural
In the end, what we see is an organization plagued by multiple CMSs that are harder and harder to manage. Siloed content makes content management, content marketing, metadata management and content curation so much more difficult. There’s sometimes a business need to employ multiple content management systems, but there’s also always a chance to evaluate your technical landscape and streamline and centralize your content management activities.
Through devising your metadata strategy, to creating your global content strategy (after the content inventory process has been completed), you may shine a much needed light on the problem of multiple CMSs. Don’t underutilize your main Web CMS -- when you use it correctly and to the best of its abilities it may help you streamline operations.