Innovative organizations rely on content to make informed decisions about their customers, products, and go-to-market plans. Accurate information needs to get to the right prospect, partner or client at the right time. Large companies often have multiple content management systems, particularly in industries that grow via acquisitions. Busy information workers need to make decisions, and this can get complicated if multiple systems from multiple vendors are in place.

Standards have the potential to help organizations stay agile and responsive to change. Good standards help companies streamline routine requirements and avoid re-inventing the wheel. Bad standards get ignored, fall out of date and become barriers to innovation.

CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) has been a much-discussed standard in the ECM world, even before its formal ratification in 2010. In our 2013 ECM survey, just 13% of content management decision-makers put CMIS front and center as part of their strategy.  What I wanted to understand:

  • Who is using CMIS in the real world?
  • How are architects using it to deliver valuable content to their busy front line workers?
  • How are software vendors using it to respond to their customer demands to bring content into a bigger information ecosystem?

From November to January, I  talked to architects in large organizations, asking them how they used CMIS, what they liked about it, what challenges they’d faced, and what benefits it had delivered to their organizations. The results surprised me. CMIS is delivering real business and technical benefits to companies who rely on content to deliver value to their customers.

Key highlights of my new research:

  • Software vendors outside of the ECM world are adopting CMIS and using it to pull content into bigger information ecosystems. This to me is the potential tipping point for the standard’s adoption.
  • Open source is a key to this early success of CMIS. Numerous architects specifically mentioned the work of the Apache Chemistry project to get their development work started. Healthy communities are a key indicator of successful standards.
  • CMIS is helping fast track the evolution of ECM from suites to platforms as we see a greater decoupling of application layers (i.e., the systems of engagement where content gets generated) and repository layers (the systems of record where content gets stored). I heard from several architects in large organizations taking this approach as they designed and delivered content applications to their users.

Forrester subscribers can find the full report here. It captures key observations, benefits achieved and lessons learned from architects in banking, insurance, public sector and leading software companies.

Have a CMIS story to tell? If yes, please comment below. I’m happy to get on the phone and hear how it helped or hindered your use of content to win, serve and retain customers. This is a topic I’ll continue to track and am eager to hear about more real world use cases as we track the evolution of ECM in the Age of the Customer.