The Social CMS Dilemma: Will they lead with Community or Publishing Features?

Apparently, a chord was struck in this recent post “Social Software: Here come the CMS Vendors“. In summary, the post indicuates that CMS vendors are sniffing the community space, and the comments lit up (you should read them) with vendors from both camps indicating this discussions are happening behind the curtains and hands are extending across the aisle. I also am getting more briefing requests from traditional CMS vendors, who are anxious to get my take on the many options I listed out.

There’s a few interesting discussions that spiraled off the post, and I’d like to highlight some of the interesting ones, there’s an interesting story developing, these stories segue nicely into each other.

Some enterprises may not be ready for social
First of all, Larry at ZDnet quickly picks up and covers the post: “Content management software vendors eye social networking“, and suggests that acquisitions (option two) for CMS vendors makes since. Larry adds a very important caveat, some organizations and members (internal or external) may not adopt social behaviors. Our social technographic research indicates that’s very much the truth, before any brand decide to use these tools, they should start with member behavior, we’ve already made some of this data available for free. Primarily, the main behavior is ‘joiner’ although depending on the deployment, it could also be ‘creator, critic,’ and certainly ‘spectator’

Some CMS vendors may not be ready for open
To echo that very fine point, Steve, in his thought provoking post “Social Publishing Systems: What about We, the Participants?” asks if “we” are ready to take on more social websites, he then also turns the discussion toward the vendors, and asks if they are prepared to accept open technologies despite that they are from rigid command and control legacies. Steve asks: “Will they embrace OpenSocial? OpenID? Will a focused, open source Drupal vendor like Acquia” When you think about it, CMS systems are designed for management (control) of content and publishing. Social software, which may have guardrails, tends to focus on sharing, connecting, learning, and self-expression in a very large sandbox. Most brands will need both.

Existing fragmented social implementations to be a challenge
EMC’s Len Devanna adds more to the conversation “Social Software and CMS“, as you may know, Documentum, a CMS vendor was acquired by EMC a few years back, and makes sense for this IT behemoth. Naturally, social software has creeped into the employee base (a groundswell) even at this IT vendor shop and Len points out the need for both a mixture of social and CMS systems. The question remains: at what point to they integrate? Where will social stop and CMS begin? Len is out here in CA, and I look forward to seeing him more often to discuss this issue.

Some features will be bolted on
We think highly of the 451Group, (read comments) and their post confirms it “Social (Web) content management” they’ve been watching this from the CMS perspective for some time (and I’ve been watching from the white label sonet) and they suggested that some companies like Vignette and Clickability are further along than realized. It’s difficult to tell how truly robust some of those features are from those landing pages, but compared to the some of the advanced features I’m seeing out of other players, they could be ‘bolt on social’ features added to a platform, rather than a truly social experience. I’m quite positive a debate in our industry over ‘core social platform’ vs ‘bolt on social features’ will take place, I plan to participate.

The Big Question: Will they lead with Community or Publishing Features?
Thinking forward, this really is the crux of the issue that each vendor and industry will have to answer. What will CMS and White Label vendors lead with? Social features or Publishing Features?

  • Are brands going to be satisfied with CMS systems that “bolt on” social features such as ratings, comments, and discussion boards that are added to existing CMS modules?
  • Or, will they want fully robust community platforms with extensive profiles, people matching, discussion monitoring, member created on the fly modules that integrate CMS publishing modules?
  • Will CMS vendors “bolt on” these social features, or offer truly robust community platforms that integrate CMS features
  • As I get closer to this space, I’ll develop my answer, (read Tony’s at the CMS watch) but in the meantime, let’s hash it out in the comments below.

    I’ve started some probes on where we could host a community not-for-profit meet & greet at a neutral location in Silicon Valley in a few months, stay tuned. Or, if you have a venue (you can’t be one of these vendors) and can hold a day event, please let me know via email.