web CMS, 2014-11-August-Ice-Cream.jpgWhen was the last time you heard of a company using its content management system as a recruiting tool? Never? Well last month the New York Times made a splash providing an overview of its custom-built content management system called Scoop. One of the inspirations of this post was that a prominent editor for competitor Washington Post, Ezra Klein, announced that the reason he was leaving the Post for Vox Media was because -- ready for this -- of how fancy its web content management system was. As Klein said in the article: “at our first meeting, we knew we were going here. They had the technology we thought we were inventing.”

Build It or Buy It? No. Implement It to Change

For those who have worked in the content management space for more than a few years, we know it’s highly unlikely that either The Vox’s web CMS or the NY Times'  web CMS has any one feature that no other commercial or open source system has. In fact, when you read through the overview of Scoop I dare say that you'll not see any feature highlighted that a reasonably featured enterprise-focused web CMS doesn’t already employ.

One thing that is called out at a higher level -- and merits a bit of exploration -- is the flexibility in models. Both Klein, in his accolades of The Vox and Luke Vinenchak, the New York Times writer who provided the overview of Scoop, mentioned the flexible models' ability to support evolving businesses and the separation of management of content from presentation. As Vinenchak wrote of the NYTimes CMS: “Scoop is central to our ambitions to innovate on all platforms.” This includes all things digital AND print.

We all know that managing content is still a big challenge for most enterprise organizations -- and it’s not one that’s getting any simpler. But what change needs to be made so that enterprises -- while maybe not passionately believing that their web CMS is their competitive advantage -- at least feel like it makes them strategically competent with digital content? I believe it’s change. These two writers identified the great value in their systems derive from their ability to flex to an evolving business. I believe that flexibility and the ability to change should be at the heart of every great web CMS implementation.

It ultimately doesn't matter if your web CMS is installed, or cloud-based or some kind of hybrid. And it doesn’t matter if the web CMS simply manages content that is displayed by some other application, or publishes and renders the content as well. What matters is that it should be flexible and changeable enough to do ALL of those things depending on the company’s evolving needs.

This is what content as a service really means.

Content as a Service as a Change Agent

From desktop to tablets, from mobile to social, and all of these in different languages: it's clear why so many CMOs are months and years behind in keeping up with consumer expectations on how to access content.