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'The CMS Industry Is a Mess,' Marketer Christopher Justice Says

4 minute read
David Roe avatar

(Second of a two-part series.)

Christopher Justice thinks the content management industry today "is a mess" — and "everyone is fighting for table scraps."

"The interfaces are getting old. They are non-responsive, they don’t work 100 percent on mobile. They don’t support modern computing principles. They are challenging to deploy.

"Most CMS vendors are struggling to make software simpler, but at the end of the day, a content management system (CMS) is still a complicated and insanely expensive piece of software. It doesn’t have to be. There are much better ways to do things," he said.

Giving Customers the CMS They Want

A 20-year veteran of the content management and digital marketing space, Justice has worked for both public and private businesses including Joomla, Magnolia and Jahia. He's currently CEO of Austin-based High Attendance. The company markets a CMS for event marketers. 

In this final installment of a two-part series, Justice gives his perspective on the state of the CMS industry. Justice predicts consolidation in the CMS industry in 2017, noting the market is ripe for major adjustments and mergers. 

"You can build an enterprise scalable CMS using one or more of the modern coding frameworks in a few months. That’s what you're seeing now — the rise of the headless CMS. Everything that's happening in the CMS industry is being commoditized and the vendors are struggling to serve customers that demand more flexibility, integration, security and transparency. Custom software makes sense again.

"Some organizations stay with old vendors because that’s what they are used to and it’s comfortable. Content management technology is as perishable as bananas. Sometimes, we just have to accept the fact we are not going to make banana bread and that we will have to start over with fresh fruit," he said.

No One-Size-CMS-Fits-All

Justice said there is no single content management system that's right for everyone.

"There are pillars of content management that need to be satisfied by different products and by different roles. You can be as large as IBM and use a half dozen content management systems. WordPress, OpenText, Drupal, Jahia ... It simply doesn't matter anymore. Just don’t pay too much," he said.

"Content management is not hub or spoke anymore, but a spider web of interconnections between internal and external systems."

Learning Opportunities

Having worked in both the United States and Europe, Justice has a unique perspective on the way the tech industry on either sides of the Atlantic compare.

"Business protocol and entrepreneurship are fundamentally different working in Europe. I found the passion for entrepreneurship to be similar to North America, but the financial and legal obstacles are designed to prevent arbitrary companies from incorporating. The business environment in Europe is designed to avoid risk where as Americans seem to seek out risk. American businesses have trouble adapting to the sales cycle in Europe.

"Funny enough, European companies hire Americans to market in the United States. The dichotomy is that you are only as good as your product and your best sales person who understands the culture into which you are selling. If you lead a company and you haven’t worked in Europe, you must."

Differences in American Culture

Justice said European companies moving to the states have to embrace a fundamental shift in thought processes and culture. 

"Americans trust until there is a reason not trust. Europeans believe trust takes years to foster and is earned carefully. For European companies moving to the United States, you must recognize that we (Americans) purchase technology based on the way that it feels or on impulse. Americans often agree then disagree, then agree again.

"We cancel meetings then apology for rescheduling the fifth time. It can be frustrating to do business with American companies due to the lack of decision and bureaucracy. Nothing is universal of course, but I spent a great deal of time with companies in Europe only to end up being a shoulder to cry on. I never got tired of apologizing for American business protocol but I strictly monitor my own performance so I won’t adopt bad habits again," he said.

(See Catching Up With Veteran Digital Marketer Christopher Justice.)