Online Engagement: An Integration Play?

I still get a lot of client inquiries on “Web content management.” In fact, the past few months have been the busiest I’ve had since I joined Forrester almost four years ago. Many clients are investing in technology for their online, public-facing initiatives, and we’ve been having some great conversations about what technologies will best fit their needs.

But those technologies include a lot more than just “Web content management.”

In fact, I was recently working with a client on what was purportedly a “WCM” selection project and what struck me was how relatively few requirements actually had to do with traditional content management. Instead, the client wanted to talk about things like content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing, social media, and mobile. That goes way beyond just managing content, doesn’t it?

The best-of-breed WCM vendors have understood this for several years, focusing a good chunk of their development efforts on the actual delivery of content, and how to engage customers, partners, and prospects in the online channel. And the big boys — notably Microsoft and IBM — are getting into the act as well, repositioning and repackaging products and enhancing them with additional modules and adjacent technologies to support engagement.

The vendors in this space aren’t necessarily offering all the pieces of the engagement stack; so integration — at least currently — needs to big a major part of an organization's strategy. No one vendor currently offers all of the many technologies needed in a single suite. And even if they did, most large organizations simply can’t afford to rip out all their technologies to go with the offerings from a single vendor. So integration has become an important fact of life. In fact, one client told me, after a requirements review, “This is really all about integration, isn’t it?” Certainly it’s a big part of it right now, and the quality of those integrations will increasingly be a differentiator for the offerings in this space. Others, though, insist that a suite approach is the way to go in the long term (kind of reminds me of the old ECM arguments).

Definitely keep an eye on the old WCM space. Some may call it engagement, or Web experience, or plain old customer experience. But whatever you call it, it’s an exciting time to be involved in this market. I’ll be speaking more about how organizations are strategizing around engagement technologies during my keynote at our first Content and Collaboration Forum next month. You can find out more about the event here.


Don't roll your own


You hightlight a very important aspect of WCM - Integration is key. In addition to reasons you mentioned, I would like to add that there are a lot of free/open/lightweight services available in the Cloud ecosystem that can be integrated into an existing WCM. So for e.g. if your WCM strategy calls for Idea Bank, check out the ones that available in the Cloud, they tend to have excellent integration. Don't roll you own.


I agree with the comparison

I agree with the comparison to the ECM arguments of the past. I wrote about it recently on my blog Like CMIS for ECM, I suspect someday we'll begin to see standards emerge for data interchange between web engagement ecosystem components.

I am in agreement with your

I am in agreement with your position. It is also a natural progression and maturity of the importance and ROI of digital/online presence for your customers. Most WCM companies are repackaging their acquired companies, but are not there yet. Also, some WCM systems have better SEO best practices embedded in their solution than others. I have yet to see a well integrated suite that functions as desired and is low cost in maintenance.

Stephen, Seems you've hit the


Seems you've hit the Bulls-eye for me! WCM has essentially moved to WCCCM - Web Content, Community and Collaboration management. Not only this, the consumer behavious itself has shifted. Today, we not only want access to information but we want it fast and on various mediums.. be it mobile, iPADs or on PDAs of the world! Content targetting and user profiling and very important needs for marketing teams in any organisation and having users connect with each other via social collaboration provides them an alternate and significant area of growth.. The market has moved way beyond the traditional Web publishing approach and now, the focus is also on how well the product supports an organisation's overall Interactive marketing strategy..