A content manager’s many hats

CMSWire’s recent article The Seven Hats Content Managers Will Wear in 2012 drives home a point that I have been making a lot recently. It’s the point that inspired me to take a full-time job with Lionbridge to scale the Global Marketing Operations offering. Engaging audiences with content is hard work and it doesn’t matter that your CMS makes it easy to edit web pages. As the article describes, a modern content manager is a content collector, a context controller, an eavesdropper, a concierge, a right-brain thinker, a number cruncher, and a bodyguard. And that is just to manage a site in one language. For a global site, you might as well add “international (wo)man of mystery” to that list.

One thing you realize after years of content management consulting is that the tools play a relatively small role in a company’s ability to maintain an excellent digital presence. Skills, process, and commitment play a much larger role. If you don’t have those, no technology is going to help you.

Recently I appeared on a CMS-Connected and we talked a lot about web engagement. I mentioned that the market, as a whole, failed to get sufficient value from the content production functionality of upper tier WCM platforms. Most customers didn’t have the process, skills, and commitment to fully leverage workflow and other content management functionality. As a result, many found themselves owning 6 million dollar wysiwyg editors. CMS vendors has responded by shifting the value over to the delivery side with functionality like personalization, multivariate testing, and analytics.

One thing that I wished I said on the show was that, unless customers increase their people commitment (time, skills, and process) to managing their websites, the upper tier CMS vendors won’t achieve value on the delivery side either. So far, I am finding that most customers are under-utilizing these advanced marketing features that were so important in their platform buying decision. If only they had more hats…

If your company runs a website (and what company doesn’t?), I want you to take the web manager out to lunch. You will probably learn that he is overworked and would love to be doing so much more but limitations of time and skills prevent it. You may hear will hear that the CMS didn’t really remove the webmaster bottleneck and all of his time is spent chasing down and posting content. He might confess his embarrassment from how bad the site looks on mobile devices. In short, the web manager has his hands full just getting content on the site and can’t even think about maximizing the reach and effectiveness of the website.

If you hear these signals, your organization probably has a lot of growth to do before it can fully realize the benefits that web engagement functionality promises. You need to acquire some more hats before you go software shopping.