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What’s Next For Content Management Systems

Can content management systems help marketers upgrade the relevance of their content? Is the shift from content management to digital experience management a substantive step forward or alluring semantics?

To help sort out the shifting landscape, I asked Michael Sullivan, CEO of the digital experience firm Acquia, for his thoughts.

Paul Talbot: One would think it’s fairly straightforward to give users the content they want. Is it?

Michael Sullivan: It’s true that serving up a specific piece of content is not difficult. But that assumes that you know the user’s interests, you know which content is relevant, and that you know how to engage them through the right communications channel.  Each of these things bring a lot of complexity.

To be successful, you need technology to build user profiles by correlating a variety of different data points from many different systems.  You also need to be able to organize, and understand, content and have the intelligence to match this up with user profiles.

Easier said than done.

Talbot: When marketers try to line up their CMS with what they believe people want, what gets in the way of good decision making?

Sullivan: There are a number of challenges brands face when trying to deliver content online to customers and prospective customers.  Acquia actually surveyed marketers last year about some of these challenges.  We found that nearly three-fourths of marketers globally feel like technology has made it harder, not easier, to offer customers personalized experiences - with 83 percent saying that customer data lives in silos.

Ultimately, marketers are investing in technology to improve the digital experience for customers - to create efficiencies with automation, to better personalize content, etc.

However, there are so many disparate technologies that often are closed systems and do not connect.  As a result, data lives in silos.  So, despite this investment in technology, it’s becoming a barrier to digital experience, not an enabler.

Brands don’t have a holistic view of each customer and they can’t react in real-time or be nimble with their campaigns due to the limitations of their technology, including rigid, closed platforms and an inability to share and integrate data.

Having an open CMS that is easily integrated with other systems is critical. Content should be easily served up to any other system. Scale, security and accessibility are also often overlooked but are increasingly important for marketers to consider. 

 Talbot: What present CMS innovations should we be keeping an eye on?

Sullivan: Organizations should be keeping an eye on the broader shift from CMS to digital experience management (DXM), new digital channels outside of the website, as well as open architectures.

Ultimately, web-centric technologies like CMS are giving way to solutions that help organizations manage digital experiences across multiple channels.  Consumers and business buyers alike expect dynamic experiences that integrate with other channels beyond the website, including emerging mediums like voice.  Solutions that deliver the right content to all of these channels will be in increasing demand.

Talbot: What meaningful lessons have been learned about personalizing content?

Sullivan: Serving up the wrong content can be really frustrating for users which means that personalization should be top of mind for all brands.  Accuracy is extremely important for delivering truly personalized experiences.  Brands need to be able to measure and track results and make quick adjustments if needed.  

Talbot: What’s the next leap for CMS? What’s holding back the next significant breakthrough?

Sullivan: Future content management systems are likely to include technology that has been traditionally procured separately. 

We expect to see B2B and B2C brands of all industries learn from the successful businesses who are competing based on experience, like Shake Shack and StitchFix.

This will become the battleground for winning or losing with customers.  Personalization needs to go beyond knowing someone’s name and truly understanding customers to be helpful and valuable, driving long-term loyalty.

Talbot: Any other thoughts on the future of content management systems you’d like to share?

Sullivan: Content management is a vital component of delivering better digital customer experience.  It provides both scale and governance for ensuring the right content is delivered at the right time and channel.  Yet the industry is quickly changing, as demand for more agile and flexible solutions grow.

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