In The Rush To Mobile, Where Are The Web Content Management Vendors?

This is a co-authored blog post by Forrester Analysts David Aponovich and Michael Facemire.

Corporations and brands are jumping through hoops (and spending lots of money) to build and support mobile customer experiences. It has us asking: Where are the web content management (WCM) vendors in all of this?

The answer that applies to many: Missing in action.

Here is a group of tech vendors whose R&D and acquisitions have been incredibly focused on enabling digital experiences and helping marketers and brands connect with customers online.

Yet many web content management vendors serving enterprise and midmarket clients still lack a fully baked mobile solution for back-end developers or their marketing counterparts, or even a road map that considers the place for mobile and cross-channel experiences in their content management and future digital experience ecosystems (think: interactive TV, point-of-sale digital, even interactive goggles, or whatever new channels emerge). Clients are jumping in completely, and they’re looking for the best tools, solutions, and services to make a successful leap. They’re looking right at you, vendors.

Here’s what they see: Not every WCM vendor today is adept or positioned to offer deep mobile solutions.

Vendors lacking this power and capacity to support mobile initiatives will face challenges as specific WCM competitors answer this need. And here’s the other rub: non-WCM tools and techniques are gaining momentum and serving as the path of least resistance for companies that need, today, to get mobile with their content, sites, and experiences, preferably without redeveloping from scratch.

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SWISS Provides Content In Context To Enhance In-Flight Experience

Whenever I fly, I’m an inveterate gawker — geographically speaking.  

Getting a window seat on a cloudless day is like getting a ticket to a great performance. At 35,000 feet you’re witness to a world playing out in miniature — cities and villages, mountains and deserts, even the occasional crop circle.

The mind wanders: What exactly am I looking at? I see the interstate highway built to bypass that little farm town in Kansas, or is it Oklahoma? I know I’m flying from Point A to B, but what I really want to know is: what’s down there? (And, how much longer will it take to get to my destination?)

Last week I flew Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) to Boston from Zurich returning from a client workshop. The experience was a vivid lesson in how an airline (core mission: get me home safely) is using content, creatively and in context, to provide a relevant and engaging customer experience in flight.

SWISS’s secret? The seat-back video screens don’t just play on-demand movies and TV shows (itself a big plus on an 8.5-hour flight). They deliver real-time mapping showing what we’re flying over; arrows mark the flight path like a “heads-up display” in some autos, along with content and photos of tourist hot spots on the ground.

At the same time, it shows the speed the plane is traveling, the altitude, and the distance and time remaining in the flight.

This isn’t brand-new technology. However, the marriage of technology, data and interface into a meaningful user experience by SWISS pushes this into bonus territory for me.

Here’s what I like about it:

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WCM And Digital Experience Projects: Like Snowflakes, Each A Little Different

In a recent post, I shot down the myth that you can predict the ratio between web content management license cost and implementation services. (You can read the post here, but the summary is: There is no standard ratio. Like snowflakes, every WCM implementation and digital experience project has its own unique … personality, and cost. It’s not only about the technology.)

But for any application development professional who sources and implements these systems and strategies, you (or your friends in marketing) will inevitably get put on the spot by the person holding the wallet. Their question, “What’s this going to cost us, all-in?” is hard to answer. And no exec wants to hear, “I don’t know.”

We can provide a recipe for turning this question in a productive discussion that lets budget holders understand the Great Unknowns that accompany digital projects.   

Costs can balloon for many reasons on a WCM or DX project. Below are just a few reasons in the form of questions. Use them early on in the project/process to educate key stakeholders on the true costs of WCM- or digital-related work – the levers that get pushed and pulled, affecting cost, timeline, and outcomes. It may be your best defense when the money people start asking questions.

  • Who’s leading your WCM- or digital experience-related services? Will you spend internal IT staff time or money on external agency partners getting something built?
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