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WEM Perspectives: It's Time for Analysts and Buyers to Move Beyond Web CMS

When it comes to selecting the best-fit Web Content Management (WCM) software, a great deal of confusion continues to haunt vendors and buyers alike. Industry analysts have done little to make this any easier. It's time to move beyond Web CMS.

Much of this confusion is courtesy of the industry perpetuating these mistakes:

  • Frequently lumping together disparate offerings that target clearly separate customer segments and customer needs
  • Failing to segment WCM offerings into solution categories, such as Web Experience Management (WEM) for Enterprise, basic web publishing for internal business processes/intranet, mid-market solutions for e-commerce, and so on
  • Persisting with the pointless notion that WCM is a functional subset of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), especially in light of the speciousness of the ECM platform; such a notion is even more off-target when considering WEM solutions
  • While understanding that WEM solutions are directly tied to interactive/digital marketing initiatives, analyst reports and benchmarks fail to use this understanding as an essential tenet of such reports

Analysts, writers and bloggers have continued to produce a large body of work on various aspects of the "ECM platform", as well as covering the questionable meaning of the term ECM and the many limitations of trying to shove a lot of capabilities into an "ECM container".

There are a fair number of industry writers who agree that there is no such thing as a comprehensive single Enterprise CMS platform. Within the debate of what belongs to ECM, WCM has been clumsily tacked on as a sub-component of ECM — with very little credible basis for doing so, especially in light of the evolution of WCM offerings in recent years.

Meanwhile, it has been mainly the customers who have helped to propel the WCM industry into providing the sorts of capabilities that are really needed for external-facing websites. So a significant segment of the overall WCM market has evolved into Web Experience Management (WEM), for which a much larger solution ecosystem has come together.

[Editor's Note: CMSWire uses WEM to mean "Web Engagement Management", but we do not feel there is a significant difference between the two choices of nomenclature. For our take on the composition of WEM, see What is Web Engagement Management?]

Most Web Experience Management platforms have little to do with basic content management or basic web publishing (à la WordPress and TypePad), and even less to do with the so-called ECM platform.

Understanding how to provide a platform for excellent web marketing initiatives has very little in common with understanding how to set up internal business processes for audit and governance requirements — goals which are largely the object of an Enterprise CMS project. Metrics for successful web marketing initiatives have no meaning for ECM initiatives, but are essential for determining best approaches to engaging and converting visitors into customers.

Social media / Web 2.0 have become important partners for WEM websites. These technologies and practices draw-in, engage and re-engage customers. In-bound marketing is highly dependent on quality and interesting content that is provided through a variety of social media that lead back to a particular website.

A more complete WEM solution description includes:

  • Understanding of solutions for B2B, B2C web/marketing initiatives
  • Sophisticated digital / interactive marketing strategies
  • External-facing web presence
  • Website essential to corporate business strategy
  • Ecosystem of ancillary tools to complete end-to-end solution for customer objectives
  • Savvy use of social media, well-integrated into website and marketing plans
  • Alignment with interactive/digital agencies

Related article: The 5 Pillars of Web Engagement Management

WEM Solution Ecosystem and Market Sizing

Another problem that has arisen is the seeming inability of major industry analysts to properly size the WCM, or WEM, market. There is also little evidence of analysts attempting to size the WEM ecosystem market potential in any tangible manner.


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