When the website was a less transactional channel, banks had less site--and fewer functions--to manage. As they grew into workhorses of corporate operations, websites gained the complexity of moving parts, and took on such specialty roles as customer service channel, intranet gateway, and e-business venue.
Now, everyone that manages your site, or lands there, has certain expectations and wants snap results--without static. It's little wonder, then, that automation supplied by content management systems is coming to seem a must, almost a decade past their introduction.
At very least, the "CM" toolset has become a "must think about carefully" item in the quest to generate a website worthy of buzz.
Forrester recently surveyed 55 IT decision makers in large corporations, finding that a third of the group were dissatisfied with their current website deployments. Poor usability for content contributors was identified as the primary reason. A quick search online will turn up numerous blog comments on the "difficulty of content management," or "why content management projects tend to fail."
Why do they? "Many organizations are just getting started with content management systems--many users are struggling through their first projects," says Tony Byrne, founder and editor of CMS Watch, a newsletter that reports on content management trends and technologies.
Meanwhile, the field is beyond crowded, with about 2,000 vendors featuring products in this area, so it makes sense that the RFP process is fraught with angst. There are content managment systems that focus broadly on the enterprise, and others that are aimed only at the internet.
As it turns out, there are more details around what needs to be done to create a great website than you'd think. According to a white paper on the subject authored by Step Two Designs, Sydney, Australia, key requirements might include an integrated authoring environment, the ability to separate content from presentation (in order to publish in multiple formats), multi-user authoring, and content re-using.
A step beyond HTML
Prior to a few years ago, the technology used to be tricky to work with and required non-technical users to master HTML, notes Rolf Kraus, director of business development, Sitecore, San Rafael, Calif. Then a new wave of competitors entered the fray. "Our technology is built on the .NET platform and uses XML, a page description language, and XXLTs, which style the page," he explains.
"Our content is separate from the presentation layer, so non-technical people can work with the application the way they would work with a Word document," he explains. The only difference is that users have to fill out a few additional fields of information.
"Then the rendering engine places the document up on a page in accordance with style-sheet designations," Kraus says. While this aspect of web work has been simplified, Kraus doesn't try to kid anybody that working with content management is entirely easy. "What's challenging about these projects is getting everyone in agreement over what type of new system to use and getting system requirements hammered out preinstallation," Kraus explains.
The loan department, for example, would need different content than the wealth management division. The schedule of content update, the workflow, the number of users that need to interact with a given document, all of these will affect requirements.
Keeping it simple--yet useful
CM is becoming more of an issue as businesses grapple with IT simplification and control on the one hand and adding capability on the other, writes Forrester analyst Kyle McNabb, who reviewed vendors that include ECM/Documentum, FatWire, and Interwoven as well as Percussion Software, Stellent, Tridion, and Vignette.
In early April, when ABABJ contacted McNabb, he was attending Forrester's IT Forum, …