Content Management Tools Fail

Web content management tools often fail to live up to their promise, according to a report released Wednesday by Jupiter Research (owned by the same corporation as this publication).

“Today, more than 60 percent of companies that have deployed Web content management solutions still find themselves manually updating their sites,” wrote analyst Matthew Berk.

“Overcomplicated, end-to-end packages can as much as quintuple site operational costs over human labor alternatives. Unfortunately, the breadth of many vendors’ all too-inclusive ‘silver-bullet solution’ vision has left these companies struggling with platform lock-in, overengineered site infrastructures, exorbitant technical maintenance costs, and per-business-user costs averaging as much as $25,000 per year.”

The report found the bulk of companies surveyed felt they overspent on content management platforms, and the tools in those platforms are under-deployed. Sixty-one percent of the surveyed companies said they still rely on manual processes to update their Web sites.

One media company spent over a year and $250,000 working its content management package into its site production process.

“The company recently realized that its content had little structure to speak of, and that because it had not made a strict separation between content and presentation, the company’s broader needs for reusing content elsewhere were effectively blocked,” Berk wrote.

“When basic needs are met, site operators are better equipped to support organic growth of their content asset base over time, allowing for reuse, a reduction in technical maintenance costs, and flexibility to evolve the look, feel, and functionality of a site without having to reengineer its content.”

In addition, a recent Jupiter Executive Survey showed close to half of the respondents felt their deployments of content management platforms “barely scratched the surface of the functionality they originally licensed.”

Of just under 100 companies surveyed, the report found in 2003, only 27 percent of companies surveyed planned to continue using their Web content management systems as they do now. Forty-six percent said they would try to expand their existing platforms. Close to one-third (27 percent) said they had so many problems they would build another system from scratch.

Another problem found is the core requirements of content management (such as support for workflow, lending structure to content, and facilitating reuse) turn out to be far from the minds of platform purchasers, the report said. In addition, vendors’ customers tend to inflate their expectations of how the system will perform.

The report found companies might be better off relying on their content management packages for just the basics. For example,”(o)rganizations should not look to content management systems to publish pages. Instead, site operators should leave this task to the application server or page templating language of choice (e.g., .asp or .jsp).”

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