To remain relevant, the Web CMS (WCM) world must evolve. And given WCM's critical position in the information stream this fact is broadly accepted. However, the nature of the forces driving this evolution look different depending on who you talk to.

In this exclusive CMSWire interview SDL's CMO of Web Content Management Solutions, Robert Carroll, expounds on the industry shift from a core Web CMS focus towards Customer Experience Management (CXM).

Web CMS Meet Marketing Automation

Like almost every other Web CMS vendor out there, SDL understands that the role of the web content management platform is changing. While creating, publishing and managing content are still crucial functions, these things are just one part of the customer experience picture.

According to Carroll, we are seeing the conversion of marketing automation, web content management, multi-channel delivery and backend enterprise content management coming together to solve business challenges.

Engagement, Experience to the Fore

Actually, SDL refers to it as pervasive engagement management, meaning 24/7, always on, where you are, who you are. In short, it's Minority Report without the retina scans.

As Carroll clearly points out, you need to carefully think through this relationship, as it's something that can fundamentally change your business.

This leads us to the idea of an Engagement (or Experience) Architect.

You already have your business architects, your systems architects, but Carroll believes there is a role above these. This Engagement Architect needs to help the organization understand what it's trying to build and deliver, and bring a consistency of best practices across the experience spectrum. Given the breath of this spectrum, such a role is typically also burdened  with significant change management responsibilities.

SDL and Customer Experience

SDL offers a number of capabilities to support different types of customer experience and different components within a customer experience. We often think of these experiences as information foraging or e-commerce events. But when you get into the structured content and documentation management side of SDL's business, we can just as easily be talking about technicians in the arctic repairing sophisticated machinery, needing context-specific technical data, and where providing the wrong "experience" can mean putting lives in danger.

Learning Opportunities

SDL's experience management capabilities include language translation, support for structured content, as well as unstructured content and tools for ensuring any content is delivered in a way that can be targeted or personalized based on the current user context.

Carroll acknowledged that web content management is key, but that other capabilities specifically designed to enhance relevancy are becoming part of what we think of as core Web CMS features. SDL's SmartTarget module is one example. This functionality came to SDL via acquisition and was integrated back in June 2010. SmartTarget brings both rules-based and predictive targeting -- allowing marketers to enhance a range of e-commerce, information foraging and other experiences.

Old Faithful: Blueprinting

The irony here, in our rosy customer experience land, is that SDL's big competitive differentiator is all about core Web CMS functionality.

If you ask SDL what sets them apart from the rest, you'll immediately hear: blueprinting. This is SDL's technology to support the management of large numbers of websites and large numbers of delivery channels, as well as multiple languages, global brand management, etc. This is their "we manage lots and lots of digital stuff better than most" story.

So is the Customer Experience (CXM) mantra simply a marketing ploy? Hardly. For those coming out from deep in the WCM woods, CXM might sound like the fluffy fodder of shiny sales materials and tradeshow babes.

But spend some time looking at the marketing automation, social media management and CRM space and you will quickly see that there are real budgets, tools and practices here. Web CMS vendors may be spinning volumes of CXM tales, but there really is gold in them thar hills.