Powering Corporate Content, Collaboration and Community with CMS
Fellow CMS MythBuster Jeff Cram and I recently spoke to the Boston KM Forum, an energetic group of about 50 corporate knowledge managers from around New England. These are the folks in the trenches who make corporate content and data easily accessible for business advantage.
Our topic: How the Enterprise Communications division of Siemens AG has embraced a global knowledge management (KM) portal delivering content, collaboration and community to thousands of Siemens employees worldwide. Oh, and how a mid-market CMS (Sitecore) sits at the center of it all. Connective DX architected, designed and developed the portal, called BeFirst (“Be first in the market….”). We also employed the Google Search Appliance and some .NET programming.
The portal has caught fire inside Siemens by elevating the traditional search/find/retrieve model to a flexible, innovative platform to connect peers globally, create ad hoc communities; publish blogs; rate document usefulness (the best ones bubble up to the surface); support tagging, taxonomy, faceted search and more. (Read a great recap of our presentation right here.)
While we were there, it dawned on us: what were a couple of CMS-minded guys doing talking to a room full of experts in the quasi-academic discipline of knowledge management? These people live, eat and breathe strategies for indexing, tagging, archiving and searching knowledge assets inside law firms and biotech companies.
This environment wasn’t always a natural fit for CMS, which used to play more at the fringes of KM, outside the inner circle of purpose-built applications that organize and categorize corporate knowledge. Not too long ago CMS, for lack of a better phrase, knew its place in the world.
Flash forward to 2008, and there are legitimate reasons to discuss CMS and KM in the same sentence. Enterprise desires for flexible, accessible, social-networking driven intranets and portals have been met by the evolving capabilities of traditional CMS systems. Knowing a market opportunity when they see one, vendors scramble to add Web 2.0 (i.e. people-centric) features to their offerings (a smart strategy now that upstart widget makers and web 2.0 enablers are nibbling at their heels).
Sticking to the theme of the CMS Myth, we should note that the Siemens BeFirst portal, for all of the technology behind it, would not have achieved business success without organizational buy-in – without staff in dozens of offices embracing the new paradigm for accessing knowledge assets and connecting with each other to achieve greater success.
The lesson for content technology buyers is that CMS vendors should have a growing story to tell as they evolve and expand their capabilities, resulting in new options and new opportunities. CMS vendors have largely moved past traditional CM into document management and now social networking apps. Beyond that, integrated marketing suites; measurement and analytics tools; robust search and other tools give CMS an added relevance. All of which gives you the opportunity to inject CMS into new and unexpected places… and say things like, “Hello, knowledge management.”