The second opening keynote at Gilbane SF was presented by Tricia Bush, group manager at SharePoint, who looked a bit into the crystal ball and focused her speech on the future of doing business on the internet and the promise of web content management.

Bush started off by reminding us all that MOSS is the fastest growing server product in Microsoft history. We really didn’t need the reminder, it has been clear to us for some time now that SharePoint is, to say the least, popular

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, press, I’m not here to launch a new product. I don't have the secret sauce,” Bush continued as she dove into the “tremendous value in looking at content management and making it real.” 

We all need to bring content back “as a first class citizen into the organization.” As organizations, you have to refocus and make people and users more important, while embracing governance.

One of the questions posed by Bush has probably crossed the minds of many of you at some point: “Why are we in this situation where we haven't delivered on what web content management and doing business on the internet is supposed to be?”

The Promise of Web and WCM

  • Remove IT burden of publishing content
  • Create brand loyalty and emotional connection with audience
  • Dynamically drive the content lifecycle from creation and publishing to archiving and disposition
  • Scale and integrate

But what happened to this promise? Systems, processes and cultures were not ready. WCM is a hodge-podge of do-it-yourself systems. And this is not going to work. Processes are still very manual, and multilingual content is making the situation yet more challenging. Many things still need to be touched manually.

We are introverted in cultures and that spawns stagnancy. Many things are still in the hands of IT. We are not having a dialog with customers, we’re having a Shakespearean monologue.

Another cultural issue lies in the impact of diversity. Over 50% of web designers are Millennials, who never lived without the internet. 85% of them are male and white. “We have a bunch of white guys creating our websites,” noted Bush.

The Internet Business Platform of the Future

So, what about that internet business platform of the future? If you’re looking into the future, it is just going to be content management. Not ECM, WCM, DAM, etc. Content management should help facilitate pushing content to you instead of you requesting it.

Web analytics should get smarter to target customers in a better way. Microsoft has done research about web experience and looked at three different strategies (reach, retention, revenue) the companies have. The goal is to create flexible governance for new business models and media. Policies and records retention are still important and will continue to be.

Wikis and blogs are just another content type, and you can put policy around it. Search technology that makes it easy to find information is another component of today’s and future internet business platforms. Make sure the vendor you’re looking at has that vision.

Scalable, Integrated System

The best user experience is essential, including experience of a person inside a company trying to publish out content. Make your users as happy as possible by providing a user-friendly system for them to use. Make it easy to capture metadata, so cont mangt can be easier and search more efficient. These components you should look at if you want an efficient internet platform.

Reach, Retention, Revenue

According to Bush, 80 % of sites out there are classic brochureware. Microsoft, of course, loves this. Many of the sites out there can be purely informational without a goal to drive revenue, but just aiming to reach the customers. Others are trying to retain customers from a loyalty perspective, as it is much cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones.

Revenue generation is usually achieved through e-commerce or selling content.

What does the future look like for some of these models? Dynamic content for internet and intranet sites can be pulled together to present one picture and one place to go to for all information you need.

Web Design for the Masses

Bush’s main point was that “things should be easy.” People expect to do things dynamically, put them together on the fly. Hopefully, we’ll see some of that in the future.
Never underestimate the value of social networking that can make your brand much more real. Some of the examples used by Bush of companies embracing the internet business platform of the future were Best Buy and Ferrari.

Bush concluded with her version of what Bill Gates said many moons ago referring to content as king: “It’s all about content.” Relevant, timely, refreshed content is what matters. It doesn’t matter how cool your site looks, as people will not come back if there’s no valuable content.