Searching for that elusive vertical-specific CMS

Recently, Gartner published its 2014 review of Content Management Systems. Despite the excitement, there were no real surprises. Adobe and Sitecore sit atop their perspective technologies (Java and .NET) while the rest of the field stacks up behind them. Having been a solution architect for so many years I have had plenty of experience with both and I am a big fan.

Adobe has continued to invest into Apache technologies, which renders its architecture both robust and powerful. You will be hard pressed to find another CMS with as many OOTB features, engines, capabilities and controls. And with its newest version, 6.0, Adobe Experience Manager now has a wide set of new features that should make it a very attractive choice for a customer. These features are highlighted by the new mobile app integration with PhoneGap and the new repository architecture with Apache Jackrabbit.

If other products’ evolution are baby steps, Sitecore’s baby steps are giant leaps. With both 7.5 and 8.0 being released this year (reported), new features are becoming a habit. Massive investments in a new UI, marketing and eCommerce solutions, Sitecore has quickly became the “it” solution for .NET customers. That evolution has been capped by the honor of the top pick for “completeness of vision” by Gartner.

Off course these two products are “pricier” than most of the remaining CMS options, but as with everything else in life: “if you want quality, you have to pay for it.” You can get much cheaper products (although total cost of ownership balances that out to some degree) but how much functionality is available Out Of The Box and requires costly customization?

While I am a big believer that technology should be picked to solve a problem and most leading CMS vendors have a niche of some sorts, I will most likely recommend Adobe or Sitecore to anyone looking for a robust enterprise CMS. However, the question I frequently get asked by my clients about these (and other) tools is: What specific functionality does this solution have for my business? I usually pivot to how they can implement and utilize the many features that come OOTB with these solutions, but more often than not I know I didn’t answer the question.

If I am working with a financial institution, they expect charts, calculators, tickers and financial tools. If I am working with a media organization, they expect guides, calendars, blogs, articles and slideshows. If I am working with an insurance company, they expect search, planning and quote modules. Some of these features are available with a select number of CMS tools and some might be doable with a customization or implementation of a tool. However none of the top CMS vendors provide an end-to-end solution for these (and other verticals) where minimal customization and implementation has to be done to accomplish a standard solution. In fact, such a tool should help organizations understand how the rest of the industry attacks certain challenges and should adopt to do the same.

Organizations look for products that they can sell to their decision makers and end-users (authors and editors) without having to spend an arm and a leg customizing an already expensive solution. They look to CMS leaders to set the standard for the industry by providing creative answers to long-standing problems, not play catch-up with half-baked solutions to quiet critics.

I don’t know if the goal is to create separate CMS tools for each vertical or perhaps bundle up a set of features and make them available, but the CMS industry owes its customers an answer.

Ali A. Alkhafaji

Director of Technology, CEM and Mobile North America Practice Head (Insurance & Healthcare), Virtusa. Ali has been working in the Customer Experience Management world for over 10 years, where he has developed a breadth of knowledge and experience in WCM, Mobile, Social, Digital, Marketing, eCommerce, Portal, Document Management and UX technologies. Recently, Ali has focused on the Insurance and Healthcare industries, his clients include Fortune 500 companies. His responsibilities range from business development, workshops, product selection and partner strategies to technical oversight and delivering creative solutions. He has also started a number of Virtusa initiatives that focus on enhancing and accelerating implementations while serving as true Virtusa differentiators. On the academic end, Ali has spent the past 8 years teaching and conducting research. Currently, Ali is finalizing his PhD dissertation on Artificial Intelligence at DePaul University.

More Posts