Monthly Archives: June 2011

Why does a connector between ECM and WCM make sense?

A straightforward view on the question for people confused by too many CM based acronyms out there.

Last week we announced at Nuxeo, jointly with our friends from Hippo, that we teamed to offer integration software enabling a connection between Nuxeo Open Source Document Management system and the Hippo Web Content Management and portal solution. I won’t comment too much on the technology side and the standards behind this connector, but rather would like to give a quick insight on why that makes sense in my opinion.

One could indeed question this, and we do talk to many people as they explore and evaluate technologies, who are not really clear on what is usually meant by the Enterprise Content Management and Web Content Management terms.

To add to the potential confusion, the promise of many ECM and WCM vendors is often to offer some sort of 360° approach so that all stakeholders in the organization involved in the process of delivering or managing information can use the same tool — theirs — from the very early phases of working on the core of the content to the final ones of making it available to your audience on your online channels. Newcomers to the fantastic world of Content Management might be very interested in this vision! And this can only be more attractive when large vendors are offering both ECM and WCM in their portfolio, often branded as part of a unified suite, (but sometimes coming from totally different products that may not necessarily be communicating well with one another…)

So why do we make connectors between ECM and WCM, and why do we keep having vendors specialized in one or the other? To me, if we had one explanation to give, it would certainly be a very pragmatic one, simply looking at how people use content management solutions on the ground.

So let’s forget about the promises of marketing collateral and let’s look at how things are out there in the real world! Things are indeed slightly different, WCM is very much focused on building an online presence, and requires a pretty good understanding of what is a website, how we engage with visitors on that website, and what are the goals, rules and best practices to follow to make the best of this web channel (branding, information, lead generation, sales …). In short, it is very close to online marketing. This means that WCM solutions are used most often by Communication and Marketing departments, or departments dedicated to Online Content if we are talking of a pure Media or Content company. That is where they find users who adopt them!

In the same real world, document management and ECM solutions are not as strong in the areas mentioned above, simply because it is not in their DNA! They were not born and raised in a world where we speak online conversion, engagement, interactivity, A/B testing, zoning and SEO … but in a world where we speak collaboration, documents, capture, records, workflow, storage, information retrieval, document versioning. This makes them solutions used more widely in the organization, usually by all sort of users, more or less the same ones that are using Office suites; but never touching the specifics of “how” you will place and direct this content on the online stage!

Take a very simple organization, let’s say a small business with around 80 employees. Even in such a small business, in most cases, the WCM solution will be used only by a few people in the Communication or Marketing department, plus may be a few others from the management team. On the other hand, there is a high chance that the company has a unified document repository, managed through an Intranet application or directly from Office, and used by all to keep a repository of documents and information alive and available to the whole company. Do we really need to look at how this looks like in larger enterprises?

Users and usage are not the same, and if you want a pragmatic way to bring content from the company internal repository to the company online presence, without creating revolutions, you have very few options: let your Communication and Marketing team do the work manually (with a risk of losing control of versions, duplicating content… and have a very unhappy webmaster) OR you can bridge the WCM and ECM applications, changing as little as possible the way users interact with them!

In summary, different usage, different users, very little in common beside the C & the M; a connector between your favorite WCM and your favorite ECM solutions will enable you to keep your users in charge of the Websites, while working in a tool that is good for that (and keeping them happy!), and will let anyone in your organization prepare content that could potentially be taken on the big stage of the Web with no effort and simple control!

I would of course love to hear other opinions or stories about the marriage between ECM and WCM, but one thing is sure, at Nuxeo we know where our focus is, and while we make a strong platform (Nuxeo Enterprise Platform) that can be use to develop many types of content-driven applications, we are happy to connect our Document Management solution with Hippo WCM, as well as with other solutions, whether they be WCM, WEM, CRM, ERP, PLM or some other acronym!