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Video, ‘big data,’ cloud, mobile among WCM tools to watch for in 2012

Tighter integration with enterprise systems and a focus on multichannel experiences with video, mobile and cloud WCM tools are among analyst picks for 2012 as WCM takes on CRM strategies.

Without singling out a specific technology as likely to dominate the Web content management (WCM) landscape in 2012, analysts and industry watchers are talking about a convergence of core WCM capabilities as content becomes more personalized, more mobile and more central to broader customer engagement strategies.

Last year, WCM gained traction as a sales and marketing hub for customers and prospects, integrating with email management, campaign management and search systems. In 2012, that vision of WCM as a focal point for business is expected to expand further, but the emphasis on sales and marketing is morphing into a broader focus on customer experience. That is precipitating a need to build tighter integration between WCM tools such as a content management system (CMS) and core back-office systems like customer relationship management (CRM).

“The notion of a 360-degree view of the customer is driving the changes,” said Scott Liewehr, lead analyst in the WCM practice at Outsell’s Gilbane Services in Cambridge, Mass. “The problem with Web engagement is that it’s not broad enough. Now suddenly as we’ve changed to customer experience from Web experience, the Web is only a part of it.”

There is a popular notion, Liewehr said, that all the technologies and applications used to keep track of and engage a customer or website visitor are coming together in a way that offers users a more complete view of customers and prospects to aid in marketing and sales activities as well as future product development.

Beyond CRM applications, WCM software will continue to be integrated with other systems to support customer experience strategies, including online analytics and digital asset management applications, Liewehr and other analysts said. The aim is to enable users to tailor content and interaction experiences to a customer’s specific interests, needs and purchasing history, they explained.

“CRM and CMS have always been central to managing the customer engagement and experience, but the two systems are usually in separate places,” said Irina Guseva, an analyst with Real Story Group in Olney, Md. “We’re seeing more and more blurring of the lines and we’ll see more in 2012.”

Here are some other technologies analysts said were poised to affect WCM offerings in 2012:

Mobile and multichannel. Equally as important as the developing focus on customer experience will be the impact mobile technologies have on WCM this year. With increasing sales of smartphones and tablet PCs, organizations are going to need to offer content via multiple channels.

“It’s less about having mobile apps and more about how to have a consistent management platform for managing content regardless of where it is consumed,” said Kathleen Reidy, a senior analyst at The 451 Group in New York.  

“Big data” and the art of personalization. Digital marketing systems from social media monitoring tools to analytics packages are producing massive amounts of data that can be used to glean insights about customers and other website users. Those insights can also be leveraged to fine-tune the Web experience and customize it according to the individual.

“It’s the ability to serve up content based on interest or demographics or browsing behavior that will be important,” said Stephen Powers, a principal analyst with Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. “What companies will be able to avoid is that ‘one size fits all’ [user] experience.”

Video and rich media go mainstream. Video, once viewed as a luxury accessory in content management systems, is becoming a necessity. As a result, analysts said, WCM systems are going to have to evolve to offer new and more powerful capabilities to support better management of video and other rich media types.

“You’ll no longer have that luxury of just being able to post video to a website,” Powers said. “You’re going to have to manage it, generate different renditions of it, search it, expire it. It’s all the traditional management tasks that come along with content management.”

More integrated search. Expect to see far more integration between WCM platforms and search capabilities, said Gilbane’s Liewehr. That will not only help website visitors find content far more effectively but will also offer a means of optimizing content in the future.

“This gets us closer to the notion of the semantic Web,” Liewehr said. “Instead of content managers having to describe content in as many ways as possible, the search results can inform the content itself” to create a relevancy model that remains attached to that content, improving future related searches.

Moving to the cloud. While Software as a Service WCM made some headway last year, there wasn’t a wholesale migration to the cloud. Analysts expect that companies will continue to experiment with the cloud-based WCM model in 2012, in many cases opting for a hybrid approach. That might mean leveraging the cloud for its scalability and provisioning benefits that get users up and running faster while maintaining on-premises systems for sophisticated WCM tasks.

Beth Stackpole is a freelance writer who has been covering the intersection of technology and business for more than 25 years for a variety of trade and business publications and websites.


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