Does it Matter Which CMS Product You Choose?

by on June 19, 2008

State of WCM session at Gilbane

State of WCM session at Gilbane

After a half-hour of softball questions to five vendors in the State of WCM session at Gilbane, moderator Tony White decided to use the vendors own logic against them.

Moments before, the vendors had conceded that one could likely succeed with any one of their products. They contended that planning and requirements had more to do with success than specific product features.

By that logic, Tony asked if indeed it even mattered what CMS product a customer selects in the first place?

It was an absurd and interesting question all in one for a fragmented industry that fails to clearly articulate key product differentiation. It also took the vendors off autopilot for a bit.

Yogesh Gupta, President and CEO of FatWire clearly stated that of course it matters. He then flipped the tables and said in fact it was Fatwire who is careful in which customers it selects. “I can’t have unhappy customers,” he said.

I would have loved to have seen a follow up for each vendor to give an example of where they are not a good fit for customers (beyond the obvious infrastructure reasons).

Vignette CIO David Graham restated the importance of internal preparation and ensuring a cultural fit. I wish he would have elaborated on what cultural fit means.  I’ve found in our own consulting that there are a host of intangibles around culture that are hard to quantify, but can make or break an implementation (plotting a future myth post on this).

Tony was able to sneak in another jab in saying customers complained that the “products are different but the messaging is the same.” Hard to disagree looking at the 50+ vendors exhibiting all with similar signage.

CrownPeak CEO Jim Howard drew distinction between open source and commercial products. He praised open source on one hand while saying CrownPeak’s business has been partly driven by replacing failed open source deployments. “Commercial products thrive on complexity” Jim contends . They cater to customers looking for that shinny object.

Sitecore USA President Bjarne Hansen said of course vendor selection matters – if not for the infrastructure alone.  Folks running Java likely won’t want a .NET CMS and vice versa. Can’t disagree there.

The conversation was pretty much dwindling at this point and Tony cut in once again to suggest perhaps it’s a moot point since ‘you’ll never finish your CMS implementation anyway’ – they go on forever.

On that cheery note – it was time for lunch. Good stuff.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 wCubed June 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Obviously, the CM tool you choose matters.  I was at the same session as Jeff at Gilbane.  The area that the panel never really got to is mapping the functionality available in the CM tool to the needs of your users.  From first-hand experience, my company eliminated one contender because the user-interface was too "klunky" — our content authors would never use it.  Infrastructure differences aside, once you’ve got a shortlist of potential players, providing them with some specific use cases to demonstrate on-site will give you a better glimpse into the reality of the tool and its capabilities/interface and whether or not it would work for your users.

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