by Kyle McNabb.

Wow, IT Forum 2007, for me, was a blur. The level of interaction with clients, the feedback I received, and the information I learned surpassed my expectations. I walked away — albeit on Sunday evening after spending the weekend with family in the Nashville area — with the following in mind:

  • If you don’t leave the Gaylord resort, you can’t actually claim you’ve visited Nashville. The resort, or the ‘biosphere’ as we referred to it, gave plenty reason to never leave the building. I’ll admit, I never did leave during the event.
  • I heard, repeatedly, a need for more focus on best practices and lessons learned for developing strategies around ECM and WCM. Others asked for us to explore how enterprises organize their operations to support their WCM and ECM initiatives. You asked, we’ll answer. We’ve been researching how enterprises organize their Web operations teams for the past few months. Findings from this research should be published soon. But I’m still looking for insight. If you have lessons learned on how you’ve organized your Web teams, let me know (
  • I asked many IT Forum attendees how they see WCM vendors evolving. Many of those I spoke with, especially those actively evaluating products, noted they see WCM vendors focusing on one of two items: 1) good WCM and 2) the customer experience.

What’s the difference? Well, vendors focused on good WCM spend a lot of time and energy focusing on usability, workflow, and how content can be published to one or more sites that will then deliver the content to the end user. "Good WCM" products usually work very well with portals — sometimes even preferring you use a portal as the content delivery engine. As a result, these vendors often position themselves as a solution helping to get IT out of the way of publishing content, allowing IT to focus on the operation of the site (or sites).

Vendors focused on the customer experience don’t stop at "good WCM", they include content delivery capabilities such as explicit personalization, content targeting, content utilization analysis (measuring the usage of content within a site, by roles/customer segments), multi-site & multi-lingual support, and multi-stage deployment support. These products appeal to ebusiness operations and marketing operations groups as they look to remove site administration support from IT and arm non-IT resources to drive customer experience improvements. These operations groups look at these products as essential to their online operations.

We’ve been following this "good WCM" and customer experience WCM trend for some time, and use the term persuasive content to help identify how content can support the customer experience. Both ‘camps’ offer value, and the option you pursue’s very much related to business drivers and who’s taking ownership of your online initiatives. To help you evaluate your technology options, we’ve evaluated 11 leading WCM vendors (Day Software, EMC, FatWire, IBM, Interwoven, Microsoft, Oracle (Stellent), Percussion, RedDot (Open Text), SDL Tridion, and Vignette) against a mix of "good WCM" and customer experience WCM criteria. This evaluation will be published later in Q2, perhaps early Q3. Keep an eye on this blog where we’ll highlight when we publish the final report.

As usual, we welcome any and all feedback and comments.