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Published on February 26th, 2008 | by Rahel Bailie

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Caveat emptor – cautions when choosing a CMS

A couple of years ago, I was ambushed by an IT manager who called me into a meeting and put me head-to-head with a Gartner Group CMS analyst whose agenda seemed to be to discredit me as a CMS consultant. The idea was that the Gartner Group analyst would criticize the CMS choices on my short list for my client, and recommend other software from their “magic quadrant”. About half-way through the meeting – when the Gartner analyst had tried to discredit the three mid-tier Component Content Management solutions in favour of one super-pricey uber-software package that everyone has a horror story about (I don’t need to name them; everyone knows who I’m talking about) and a Web Content Management package – I had my suspicions about the subtext. The idea was to push the uber-software, whether the client needed it or not, because it was the closest thing they had in their client portfolio. Right near the end of the meeting, when the topic of XML came up – I strongly suggested that XML structuring was the only way to go for all their technical content – the analyst suggested that the only content management system that would do was – wait for it – MarkLogic. (If you’re not up on the players in this market space, MarkLogic isn’t even a content management system!) I was so stunned that I wandered out of the meeting without calling her on it, thinking that there must have been some buy-out that I hadn’t heard about it. But when I got back to my desk, I checked online, and MarkLogic was still a great XML content server to be used with content management systems. I’d won, but it was a hollow victory.

Trying to explain this dynamic to potential clients sometimes falls on deaf ears. Their IT group or management often insists that any software not recommended by whichever analyst firm they subscribe to isn’t worth looking at. So it was refreshing to reach John Lovett’s article about the inner working of what he calls the “pay for praise” business model of industry analysts. In fact, the only completely vendor-neutral group of industry analysts in the content management sector is CMS Watch. There are better ways to choose a CMS than by downloading the responsibility to an outside agency whose loyalties are to its clients – the vendors.


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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,



One Response to Caveat emptor – cautions when choosing a CMS

  1. Pingback: CMS selection practices need maturation | Intentional Design Inc.

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