What Is Right for You? CMS, ECMS or WCMS

The term “content management” is difficult to pin down. There are many differences between content types and management purposes, which in turn has spawned different terminologies that muddy the water for marketers in terms of which to use and how to use it.

Before you can determine the benefits of each content management system, you have to understand how the terms and systems intersect, overlap and diverge. Those terms and systems include Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS), Web Content Management System (WCMS) and a Content Management System (CMS). While past blogs have covered the basic CMS, ECMS and WCMS similarities and differences, a lot has changed in recent years. To talk about the evolution of content management systems, its best to restate the basics between the three different software platforms.

  • Content Management System

A CMS is seen as the forerunner of the ECMS and covers the organization, control and use of primarily structured content like database records, as well as video and audio files.

  • Enterprise Content Management System

Enterprise Content Management System refers to an enterprise’s overarching document and Content Management process. Functions such as rights and role management and the ability to integrate other systems such as WCMS, Document Management Systems (DMS) and archives make ECMS a powerful and profitable communication tool.

  • Web Content Management System

A web content management system (WCMS) is seen as a subset of an ECMS and is differentiated by its focus on web content. This software-based tool set provides a way to author, manage and maintain digital information on a website without prior knowledge of web programming or markup languages.

Similarities and Differences of CMS, EMS and WCMS

These terms are often used interchangeably, however a Web Content Management System (WCMS) is a subtype that focuses on the handling of web content. In contrast, a CMS can be used with all output media, including print documents.

The crux of the matter: Content Management covers the entire life cycle, from the creation to the archiving of content (including documents, images, texts, etc.).

Both the CMS and WCMS provide:

  • Editing and MS Office integration,
  • Library services
  • Metadata management
  • Editorial or approval workflows
  • Identical content copy storage for in-progress work or live environment/staging content
  • website snapshots and content preservation
  • Web and mobile device content delivery

The WCMS provides many of these features and adds the following:

  • Records retention and disposal
  • Enterprise-wide workflows for business processes
  • Eliminates content duplication by enabling storage hardware integration
  • Digital asset preservation and archiving
  • Content delivery to a desktop client, printer, another system or a different software as well as the web or mobile device

For many years, ECMS focused on managing content within an enterprise (like managing the lifecycle of content) while WCMS focused on content management for users outside of an enterprise. With many of these needs requiring integration of processes in a multichannel world, siloes between systems became a huge headache, which led to the more recent evolution of CMS.

CMS Evolution

Content management is changing as businesses have embraced the need for a multichannel approach to the customer experience. As social, mobile, the Cloud and AI have begun to converge, marketers need unified tools that can make the most of this convergence in an agile and adaptable way. As a consequence, CMS has evolved to become an integrated content services platform that makes the most of the Cloud by providing improved scalability and performance at a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

This evolution has been driven by the need to enable easy multi-channel content delivery across multiple devices. Moreover, these systems are leveraging AI for deep learning and personalization by automating the process of image and video tagging. They are further able to use the increased audience insights for content personalization and monetization. This shift to AI and machine learning capabilities are driving context marketing by making it easier to handle structured and unstructured content, which in turn leads to a more predictive and accurate way to deliver content.

Today, a granular view as well as manipulation of content is critical to all of the multichannel interactions that customers may choose at any given time. This has given rise to the headless CMS with stateless APIs for content services access and delivery in the Cloud for publishing on any channel.

The ability to gather data from any source or channel is what drives personalization and contextual marketing as businesses can reach potential customers any place and time with the right message. Marketing automation tools can now enable omnichannel email campaigns. Leading solutions are now capable of cross-platform integration with numerous other platforms such as CRM and ERP, among others.

Ultimately, these modular solutions provide integrated views of all customer and prospective customer data to create personalized fulfillment journeys based on intent, history and context. They integrate with back-end systems for catalogue and inventory management, tracking and shipping across multiple stores and warehouse locations and more. This enables marketing and sales to test content, promotions, campaigns and other customer interaction scenarios to remove any friction and maximize effectiveness.

The pursuit of contextual digital experiences has spawned CMS systems that deliver all of the functions of CMS, WCMS and ECMS in a unified platform. This means functions like Digital Asset Management (DAM), Personalization, Testing & Targeting, Portals, Consumer Analytics, Site Search (and others) are now sub-systems or features rather than individual software programs. These modular platforms, like Sitecore, make it easier for businesses to make decisions about needed features by providing scalability that grows with the business as need change over time.

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