It’s that time again. With 2011 coming to a close and 2012 swiftly approaching, it’s time once again to make my predictions for what the coming year holds for the content management industry.

Last year I made ten predictions. This year I am scaling it back to five. It could be that I am just out of ideas, but I prefer to believe that 2012 will be a year where fewer trends will make a larger impact. It will be a year hallmarked by execution of existing trends in mobile, digital marketing and cloud computing and innovative new solutions in “Big Data.”

The overall theme of 2012 will be Web ROI -- more business value, lower cost SaaS solutions, more agile development approaches. Measurable and achievable ROI combined with a rebounding economy will equate to a very good year for the Web CMS industry.

My Top 5 Predictions for the 2012 Web CMS Market:

#1. Big Data Meets the Web CMS

90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years alone. All that data means big growth in “Big Data” Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. From ultra-hyped start-ups software like Domo (founded by Omniture’s Josh James), to nimble SaaS systems like Birst and Tableau Software, BI is everywhere. In 2012 Web CMS vendors will follow the trend and move beyond web analytics to deliver more insightful KPI’s (key performance indicators) as well as build new CMS features that turn Big Data into compelling web content and actionable intelligence.

#2. Tablets Become a First Class Web Platform

I was recently reviewing a client’s analytics and was surprised to see the Apple iPad was the #1 mobile device accessing their site, above the Apple iPhone and all Android devices. The popularity of the Apple iPad combined with the growth of the Amazon Kindle Fire will make tablets a must-support platform for websites and apps in 2012. Websites will become more tablet friendly by adding “reading views” of the content and supporting multi-touch experience.

#3. Websites Will Become the New Landing Pages

Online marketing for the past few years has focused on driving prospective customers to landing pages. But with conversions hovering under 2% and the rising costs of pay-per-click advertising programs, savvy marketers will look at converting their existing web traffic through better contextual targeting and in-bound marketing. The website itself will become the persuasive marketing tool.

#4. Microsoft .NET MVC / Razor Will Become #1 Template Technology

The speed of development and adherence to web standards will make .NET MVC and the new Razor view engine the #1 template approach used in Web CMS projects over .NET web forms, XSLT and other technologies.

#5. Will Change how Web CMS is Delivered

Businesses have moved in droves onto They have also embraced the broader “Sales Cloud” ecosystem of marketing automation and SaaS-based sales tools. The market expectation is now that any marketing solution will be offered as a software service, be easy-to-use and implement and packaged into affordable entry-level pricing. Web CMS vendors will move to more SaaS-based delivery, focus on easier “last-mile” implementation solutions and offer value-based packaged pricing.

Bonus Prediction

#6. Forms and Data Processing Become “Solid State” Web CMS Feature

Forms are where the ROI is created on websites, whether from lead generation marketing programs or from customer self-service. Forms have also become much more complex. Today, forms can range from simple sign-up forms to full-blown multi-step applications. What many organizations need is an easy way to capture, store and manage data online and to tie data back to key business processes (think workflow + forms). They also need easier ways to integrate third-party forms. In 2012, Web CMS will evolve from a system designed strictly to manage content (media and text) to a system capable of managing and processing data. Vendors will introduce new forms solutions that are tightly coupled with the Web CMS and other applications.

2011 Predictions

Now that I have made my predictions for 2012 it may be humbling worthwhile to look at last year’s predictions to see how much actually came to pass.

  1. Mobile Will Accelerate Web Content Management Adoption
    Yea! Overall I think this predication was accurate. The Web CMS industry has seen huge rise in mobile projects and requirements. However, this is clearly just the beginning of a larger trend that will continue to shape the industry.
  2. Deployment Will Be King
    Hmm. I may have been a bit optimistic on this one. We did see several CMS vendors update their deployment capabilities, but I do not think most CMS evaluators grasp the differences in deployment approaches. This may take a few more years of post-pc pain until the market starts to understand that deployment really is the key differentiator in CMS systems.
  3. Structured Content Will Be Queen
    Hmm. It seems like SEO is pushing the curve with the standards adopted by Google and Microsoft. But structured content is still (slowly) evolving as a cornerstone CMS feature. It will get there. But it may take another few years.
  4. Mobile Pushes Adoption of HTML5
    Yea! HTML5 came on strong in 2011. HTML5 and JavaScript (jQuery Mobile, et al) became the de facto way that mobile websites and many applications are built.
  5. Content Moves to the Cloud
    Yea! Interestingly, it is mobile pushing the curve on this prediction. Services like Dropbox and tipped in 2011. SaaS for Web CMS solutions continued to grow at a steady pace.
  6. Back to Basics
    Hmm. Every CMS vendor has a different approach here. Many leading vendors focused updates on core features. Other vendor’s focused on expanding the definition of Web CMS by providing solutions generally managed in a CRM or marketing automation system. Hard to say what was the overall trend was. Time will tell which direction wins.
  7. Got Apps? Welcome to the CMS App Store
    Nay. This never really took hold in the CMS industry.
  8. Meet the Social CMS
    Hmm. Generally the CMS industry is still trying to understand how to support social. Although it was a big year for business social software, I did not see many CMS vendors add interesting features to advance social in the enterprise -- whether in monitoring, publishing or community management.
  9. Mobile Changes Web Expectations (Death of Brochure-ware)
    Yea! At least mobile killed Flash. Simple web design and information architecture also came into vogue. Generally the larger the website, the smaller the information architecture at the top level. Many sites also moved away from left column navigation in favor of more sub-tab navigation.
  10. MVC Disrupts .NET CMS Marketplace
    Yea! MVC certainly started tipping the .NET Web CMS marketplace in the second half of 2011. That trend will continue in a big way with the Razor view engine and .NET 4.0 updates.


I am excited for 2012. The post-pc Web CMS industry will bring many exciting changes. Web CMS software will continue to evolve by supporting better mobile and tablet delivery -- and by aligning with high ROI business intelligence, digital marketing and forms processing solutions. Web CMS software will also join the ranks of the broader Sales Cloud movement by integrating CRM, becoming easier to use and implement and delivered as a much more affordable value-priced SaaS solution.

Have a great new year – and a wonderful 2012.

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