Let’s play the CMS vendor match game!

During our web content management selection work, invariably we get asked, “How many CMS systems exist in the world?” It’s a very Zen-like question, kind of like asking, “How many stars are up in the sky?” The honest answer to both questions is: many, and each one is a little different from the other.

But you wouldn’t necessarily know listening to vendors “differentiate” their wares or articulate their product advantage. Trust us when we say there are limitless differences among the hundreds (nay, thousands) of CMS platforms — commercial, open source, SaaS, pick your poison.  (Our CMS Fit Factors is one tool we use to help discern what’s right for our clients.)

But take the upcoming 2011 Gilbane Boston content management conference this week. CMS is a hot commodity right now. The stage is set. Forty vendors under one roof. A conference filled with potential buyers looking for a new CMS.

Surely with all this competition, vendors would be working hard to stand out from the crowd. To be a little different.

Not really. CMS is a follow-the-herd business. Products may differ greatly. Yet vendors (at least in the way they choose to define themselves) still find it hard to break free from the pack and tell the world what really makes them special. Cliches abound. (Try this: Go up to the first three CMS booths you see at any show and ask to hear their elevator pitch. Tell me if you don’t hear the same answer three ways. You can try this on the home page of any CMS vendor website, too.)

So the CMS world is a lot like the folks in Garrison Keillor’s fictional town of Lake Wobegon — where all the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average. In CMS Land, everyone’s a “leader”.

So to have fun, I gathered key positioning statements from 10 vendors at Gilbane. I scrubbed the company names, leaving the guessing game to the CMS Myth readers.

Here’s the deal: The first person to identify in the Comments section, in order of 1 to 10, which vendors’ lines these are will win something barely worth the effort. If no one gets it by the end of the week, I’ll follow up with a post that includes the vendor names.

If you’d rather not play, then comment below on this: What are the words and phrases you’re most sick of hearing from content management companies. What words have been so overused they’re meaningless. What advice do you have? And yes, they’re listening.

OK, here are the vendor descriptions, scrubbed of identifiers. Have at it:

  • [Company] is a leading SaaS provider of Web Content Management (WCM) solutions to enterprise clients in media, entertainment/education and consumer packaged goods
  • [Company] is the leading open platform for social content management.
  • [Company] provides Web Content Management (WCM) software that helps businesses increase traffic, drive conversion, and improve social interaction.
  • [Company], an enterprise software company and leader in enterprise content management, helps organizations manage and gain the true value of their business content.
  • [Company] redefines how organizations engage with their customers online, powering experiences that can sense and adapt to a customer’s needs to increase revenue and customer lifetime value and satisfaction.
  • [Company] is the leader in Global Information Management.
  • [Company] offers an enterprise-level, open source J2EE/Java web content management system — providing large organizations a rapid development platform for both commercial-grade and multi-tenant content driven web applications.
  • [Company] is a leader in Web content management software and solutions.
  • [Company] helps companies manage and access information, protect sensitive data, share knowledge, optimize collaboration and reduce operational costs through its Content Management and Portal technologies.
  • [Company] provides enterprise Web Content Management Systems (WCMS) and solutions to medium and large sized organisations throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle-East.

And if you’re at the Gilbane conference, look us up. I’ll be there, along with Jeff Cram and John Eckman, both of whom will be speaking/Mythbusting on Thursday at 2 pm (in separate sessions).

Jeff Cram: One Project, Three Strategies: What Teams Need to Know About Design, Development and Content Strategies for Content-driven Initiatives, with Seth Gottleib and Rahel Bailie.

John Eckman: What is the Proper Scope of a CMS?

About the Author
David Aponovich

A former 'CMS Insider,' David is relentlessly focused on the gap between vendor speak and customer adoption. In addition to keeping a keen eye on industry trends, he works with clients on the cultural and process implications of CMS that are so often overlooked. David wrote for the CMS Myth during his time working at Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design).

More articles from David Aponovich


One response… read them below or add one.

  1. David Clark says:

    Excellent post! It’s always a challenge getting software vendors to cut down on the “happy talk,” even during tightly scripted demo sessions.

    We covered similar vendor gaffes in our article Demo Crime Files.

    As for your list:

    1. EndPlay
    2. Alfresco
    3. Percussion
    4. OpenText
    5. Sitecore
    6. SDL
    7. dotCMS
    8. Ektron
    9. Hippo

    Kind regards,

    David Clark
    Managing Editor
    Technology Evaluation Centers

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