This may surprise regular visitors to my site, but I'm an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal. Why is it surprising for some that I read the WSJ? Well, probably because after all the links and excerpts to stories I have provided from CMS Report, this is the very first time I have ever mentioned an article from the WSJ in one of my blog posts. The sad truth is that about every article found at WSJ.com can only be fully read if you are a subscriber of the online newspaper. I have wanted to avoid frustrating readers the issues with providing a link to an article they can't access unless they're ready to hand over their credit card. However, increasingly the WSJ has included articles in their newspaper related to how information technology can improve collaboration and business processes. After reading so many good articles in the WSJ, it's difficult for me to not share some excerpts from those articles.
A recent article found in the WSJ focused on Microsoft's Sharepoint software, "Microsoft Embeds Sleeper in Business Software". The article provides discussion on how content and collaboration management software is providing solutions that were once difficult to achieve for many organizations. What I found interesting, is that the author, Robert A. Gugh, is not blinded by Microsoft products and is well aware of the alternative applications. Some of those alternatives even include some well-known open source applications.
Now a host of new "collaboration" software is letting them use corporate networks to more easily work on the same documents at the same time and accomplish any number of tasks that groups or teams do together. Workers using collaboration software, for instance, could have a particular document like a spreadsheet on their respective screens simultaneously, with all having access to the material while talking to one another over a videoconference.
To do that, companies need to install a mix of software running behind the scenes that ties together PCs, databases, email systems and other programs businesses use. Many businesses, to their surprise, are finding that Microsoft anticipated that demand and has already sold them SharePoint before they even knew they needed it.
SharePoint is now Microsoft's contender in an emerging battle over collaboration software with companies from a cross section of the technology industry including Oracle Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., IBM, EMC Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Google Inc. and lesser-known players such as Zimbra Inc., Alfresco Software Inc., the Plone Foundation and Socialtext Inc. Each company has its own approach to collaborative software market, but "all want to be central to it," says Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at researcher Burton Group.
Microsoft is on the right track by introducing new collaboration features on their Windows servers. However, I'll argue that for those propriety and open source CMS applications that have already been out there for awhile, there is a whole lot of work that still needs to be done. Luring new customers is going to take more than just introducing new features into your CMS. The fact is there are customers that don't even know much about the most basic features in a CMS. This is the time to make sure you introduce your products to those less familiar with the concept of collaboration and content management.
I sense a new wave of CMS newbies coming our way. These new customers possibly lack the IT background we have all comfortably dealt with in the past. Instead the new customers are wearing suits, ties, and likely come from an organization without a huge IT staff. Those of us that have become acquainted and content with content management systems over the past few years likely have taken that experience for granted. We have quickly forgotten that there are small and large businesses out there being introduced to the CMS for the very first time. This WSJ hopefully should serve as a reminder that for many folks in the business world the CMS is just beginning to make the headlines and entering the mainstream radar scope.