Companies are turning to a new crop of tools—content management systems—for help with managing content assets.
- By Clara Parkes
The first bloom is off the e-commerce rose, and companies are at a turning point. Their systems are breaking down from the weight of what it truly means to do business on the Internet. The burden does not stem from standard business practices, but from the fundamental challenge of managing content assets.
Companies either must try to rework existing systems or turn to a new crop of tools for help. These tools, commonly known as content management systems, offer great promise. [See "Get Your Content Under Control!"Ed.]
Content management systems manage all of a company's information assets, from text to images, video, databases and application code. The systems provide such features as workflow, version control, metadata management, templated content creation, XML-based data storage, and the ability to customize almost any facet of your Web site's look and feel without needing to touch the underlying information.
AMR Research estimates that b-to-b sales will reach $580 billion by the end of 2001 before jumping to $5.7 trillion by the end of 2004. Although acquisitions and closures still shake the content management market segment, getting a handle on content is still your best bet for securing the future of e-business.
The Major Players: Content Management Systems Scorecard
Technology consulting firm Forrester Research conducted hands-on tests of the most popular content management systems and reported the results in its eBusiness TechRankings. The tests indicate how products perform across several attributes: capabilities, integration, performance architecture, reliability, security, customer support, momentum and cost.
Below are the content management systems rankings as of June 2001. To put the list in context, we've also included the rankings from December 2000.
| June 2001 Rank ||Product ||December 2000 Rank |
Documentum 4i 4.2
Vignette V/5 Suite 5.5
Open Market Content Server 3.1
FileNET Panagon WS 3.1,
CS 5.1, WP 4.1
Interwoven TeamSite 4.5
IntraNet Solutions Xpedio 4.0
Eprise Participant Server 3.0
Gauss Interprise VIP 53
NCompass Labs Resolution 3.1
Starbase eXpressroom 2.0
(acquired worldweb.net technology, which was ranked at 11)
|Source: Forrester's eBusiness TechRankings |
Trends: Going Global
Giga Information Group estimates that by 2005, more than half of the Internet's users will be non-English speakers. This makes it critical that companies be able to globalize their content and adopt strategies for non-English-speaking audiences.
Content management systems drive this by facilitating a distributed approach to content creation while maintaining centralized management. In a recent Giga report, Kathleen Hall and Connie Moore explain that this is the best approach for balancing a centralized control and local responsiveness "so that content is adapted to local marketing initiatives, local languages and local culture, without diluting global brands and corporate messages."
The key ingredient for globalized content and collaborative business is an adherence to standards. In particular, industry experts predict that XML will be as pervasive as Java, especially in the areas of content syndication, b-to-b and wireless.
XML enables companies to exchange content in a consistent format. According to a recent report by Forrester Research, "Content management products must support XML and Java standards in particular. Proprietaryor absent-object models and messaging formats slow down a firms' path to launch."
Long-Term Viability: Surviving the Shakedown
In the last six months alone, we've seen significant movement in the content management market. Most of the stir has been created by large companies acquiring smaller companies to gain entry into the content management market.
Most industry experts agree that this acquire-to-enter approach is not a sign of weakness. Forrester Research insists that partnering is best for creation, publishing and delivery factors. "To help firms build scalable Web sites," says a recent Forrester report, "content management products should focus on design, and integrate with supporting technologies."
The High Cost of Control
High costs remain a barrier to widespread adoption of content management systems. Initial product costs alone are only a small portion of the overall cost of implemention.
According to the Giga Information Group, the average licensing fee for a high-end Web content management system is $500,000. An average price for a midrange system is $300,000. Once the cost for systems integration services is added, a typical midrange implementation could be $1 million.
However, Giga also estimates that a company with $500 million in annual revenues stands to save $5,270,000 over a three-year period by implementing a content management system.
With such high prices, it may come as no surprise to learn that content management vendors are among the few vendors who are currently turning a profit. In February 2001, Documentum was named by Investor's Business Daily (IBD) as one of the 10 most profitable companies in the e-commerce economy. With the recent acquisition of NCompass Labs by Microsoft, expect to see product costs shift downward as Microsoft introduces lower-priced competition.
|Content Management Vendors |
|Vendor ||Product ||Platform ||Estimated |
|Data Store ||Scripting ||Notable Features |
|BroadVision Inc. |
Redwood City, Calif.
|Documentum Inc. |
|Documentum 4i Ebusiness Edition ||Windows NT, 2000 ||Starts at $250,000 for large implementations |
| Oracle, Sybase, Informix, MS SQL Server ||Proprietary Visual Basic flavor, DocBasic ||Uses XML to store and manage data. Workflow features ensure proper revisioning and approval. |
|Eprise Corp. |
|Eprise Participant Server ||Solaris, Windows NT, 2000 || $70,000 base ||MS SQL Server, Oracle ||Java, Java Beans, COM/DCOM ||Integrates with client software such as Microsoft Word and ODBC database servers for both inexperienced and technical users. |
|FileNET Corp. |
Costa Mesa, Calif.
|Panagon Content Services 5.1 ||Windows 9x, NT, 2000 ||Average $200,000 ||Oracle, MS SQL Server ||Details not available ||Designed primarily for processing and storing images. |
|Gauss Interprise AG |
|VIP ContentManager ||Windows NT, 2000, Solaris ||Starts around $52,000 ||Oracle, Sybase, DB2, Informix, MS SQL Server ||Java ||Java-based system uses applets for end user interface. |
|Hummingbird Ltd. |
North York, Ontario
|InterWoven Inc. |
|TeamSite 5.0 ||Solaris, Windows 9x, NT, 2000, MacOS ||Starts at $100,000 |
|Relational databases, including Oracle, MS SQL Server |
| IntraNet Solutions Inc. |
Eden Prairie, Minn.
|Xpedio 4.0 ||Java Application Servers on Windows, Solaris, Linux ||Average $199,000 ||MS Access, MS SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase ||Template-based ||Browser-based content management system enables a variety of Web-centric standards including HTML, PDF, XML and WML. Offers document management features in addition to Web server updating. |
|Mediasurface plc |
|Mediasurface 3.5 ||Solaris, Linux, Windows NT ||Begins at $50,000 ||Oracle ||Java |
|A mid-level content management system for both Unix- and and Windows-based Java application servers. Can provideservers. Can providecontent delivery as well as management. |
|Merant plc |
|PVCS Content Manager ||PVCS Content Manager ||Begins at $100,000 ||Oracle, DB2, Informix, Sybase, MS SQL Server ||Java ||Formerly NetObjects Collage, PVCS Content Manager provides services for creating e-commerce sites, as well as brochure sites. |
|Microsoft Corp. |
|Content Management Server 2001 ||Windows 2000 ||$39,901 per CPU ||MS SQL Server, Oracle ||COM+ ||Acquired from Ncompass, Content Management Server provides tight integration for Microsoft server environments. Future versions will reflect Redmonds .NET strategy. |
|NextPage Inc. |
|NXT 3 e-content platform ||Windows NT, 2000, Solaris Forthcoming ||Begins around $85,000 for 250 users ||ODBC-compliant databases, including Oracle, MS SQL Server ||XML Templates || Peer-to-peer architecture allows data distributed throughout the enterprise to be accessed from a single location. |
|Content Server Enterprise Edition ||Solaris, IBM WebSphere, BEA Web Logic, Windows NT ||$23,000 per CPU ||Java ||N/A ||Content management applicationfor Java-based application based application servers. Integrates with business intelligence products such as ERP, CRM and data warehouses. |
|Vignette V/5 Content Management Server ||Solaris, Windows NT, 2000 ||$125,000 base ||Oracle, Sybase ||TCL ||High-end Web development and production environment. Allows administrators to create custom applications to suit enterprise needs. |
|Day Interactive Holding |
Basel, Switzerland daynetwork.com
|AG Communiqué ||Solaris, Windows NT ||Details not available ||Java, Java Beans ||Details not available ||Collects structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources, including legacy systems. Does not require a metadata layer, unlike most CM systems. |