Investment in Web CMS Focuses on Implementation, Not Licensing
It has often been said that you can prove anything with statistics. If that is in fact the case, then the results of a new survey will prove what many people know already -- companies are still throwing money at web content management systems.

What is striking about this survey however, is that many companies this year are spending, or plan to spend, their CMS budgets on implementation rather than licensing.

The CMS Survey Report 2009, published by UK-based Econsultancy in association with Australia-based Squiz.net (news, site) also shows that companies are doing this because they don’t believe they are getting a high-enough ROI from their existing CMS.

Implementation Over Licensing

The new report is based on a survey of more than 800 respondents, which took the form of an online survey in March and April 2009. Covering both the client-side and supply-side of the industry, the majority of respondents were based in the UK.

An analysis of the figures shows that 45% of organizations intend to spend more on implementation over the next 12 months, as opposed to those who intend to spend more on licensing – a mere 26%.

Of that 26%, 35% are currently spending UK£ 10,000 or more on licensing (up to 70% for organizations of more than 1000 employees), while a further 48% of big companies are spending more than £50,000 with 5% paying over UK 1m.

Significantly, the spend on licenses is not likely to change of the next 12 months the figures show.

Ben Wales, General Manager, Squiz UK, said: “When budgets are being slashed, the focus rightly shifts to getting value for money. Recessions have a habit of doing this. Customers examine their costs harder and ask the kind of questions that really ought to have been raised before.”

Low Level Of Satisfaction

Now that the money is out of the way, the report also throws up some interesting facts about the use of Content Management Systems. Some of the findings are particularly interesting particularly given that most companies are looking for Web 2.0 features on their sites.

Additional findings include:

  • Ease of Use: Ease of use is one of the top criterion for companies assessing the merits of a given CMS with 49% of respondents saying it was in the top three deciding factors when deciding to invest (only 18% said their CMS was easy to use).
  • Open Source Rules: Few companies say they are satisfied with their CMS with 21% rating community open source vendors as excellent and only 4% finding proprietary vendors excellent.
  • Integration for the Big Guys: Integration with other parts of a business and with work processes is significant for larger companies, and less so for smaller companies.
  • SEO Yes/No: SEO friendliness is only the third most important selection criteria for 30% of companies and is even less important for the rest, while 37% say cost is the most important factor.

CMS Industry Figures

The survey also throws up a number of interesting facts regarding CMS use, but not directly related to the money invested.

Content investment

40% of respondents said that they had between two and five people working on developing content, while at the higher end of the scale 10% of them said they had more than 100 people developing it.

econsul_graph 1_content(2).jpg

Econsultancy survey: Number of people working in content provision

Main purpose of CMS

Over a quarter (26%) of companies surveyed use their CMS for publishing with 23% using it for marketing. A further 20% use it for web services and 17% use it for ecommerce.

econsultancy_graph 3_what do you use it for.jpg

Econsultancy survey: What CMS are used for

Type of CMS

The majority of companies (60%) use proprietary software as their CMS, while 31% use either open source software (24%) or supported open source (7%).The largest organizations (those with more than 1,000 employees) are much more likely to be using proprietary systems.

graph 4_what kind do you use.jpg

Econsultancy survey: Type of CMS used

Low Web 2.0 Functionality

While a lot of this will be good news for CMS vendors there are a couple of negative findings that should be noted and underlined.

  • Lack of Web 2.0 Capabilities: 47% of respondents said that the weakest link in current content management systems is the lack of support for Web 2.0 functionality. In addition to this, a quarter of respondents say that SEO issues are the biggest drawback.
  • Implementation: The difficulty of using a CMS was deemed to be the principal reason for the unsuccessful implementation of one.

This final point is particularly telling in light of the fact that most companies plan to continue spending on implementation this year.

Is Spending Money The Solution?

The question needs to be asked here; if you have already spent money implementing a CMS system that your company is finding too difficult to use, is there any point in throwing more money at it in the hope that this will make sense of it all?

Would it not be more beneficial (and cheaper) to make sure that the vendor provides something that employees can use in the first place?

In this respect Ben Wales of Squiz.Net’s comment earlier on should be born in mind when looking at this issue in the first place: “Customers [need to] examine their costs harder and ask the kind of questions that really ought to have been raised before [investing in a CMS]”.

The full 45-page report is available to buy for UK£ 150 from Econsultancy. Alternatively there is a free 18-page summary available at the same location.