A couple days ago my jaw dropped when I read CMS Watch's article, "Do you need an ECMS, WCMS, or Portal?". Last week, Deane Barker of Blend Interactive and Gadgetopia had mentioned how he was uncomfortable seeing enterprise content management systems and Web content management systems lumped together in the same comparison article. I responded to him that the boundaries between the two information systems do seem to get blurrier and blurrier all the time. In the CMS Watch article, Tony Byrne writes, "Sometimes it's hard to know. The lines between all content technology families are notoriously blurry."
It would seem to me that as we continue on this Web 2.0 journey where content is being mashed together...the management systems themselves are going through their own sort of mash-up. However, Tony Byrne's article emphasizes that indeed while these management systems can overlap one another there are still distinctions between the two. If you're more interested in publishing a WCMS will fit you just fine, but if you're needing to focus more on business process then an ECMS must be looked at.
So which management system is for you, ECMS, WCMS, or Portal? That really is a decision you need to make for yourself, but I think after you read the article you'll find the answers to your questions a little easier to find.
We strongly counsel taking a business approach that solves your most pressing needs first. Distill the core of your business problem or opportunity, then build from there. The reality is that these three different types of products do fairly specific things, and tend to address different problems. By understanding what you're trying to accomplish, you can better identify the types of technology you may -- or may not -- need. That's why we take a scenario-based approach to our research (c.f., WCM and Portals).
This is great stuff from CMS Watch and probably why they get paid for the thousands of dollars they get for their research. The article is also a reminder to me why I won't be quiting my daytime job for CMSReport.com anytime soon. There are definitely smarter people out there than me, but hopefully you all know by now...I like it that way.