Over the years, I've told people that CMS Report is a side business. While I would never become rich from this blog, I've been lucky enough to have been able to put a little extra cash in my wallet from this website's ad revenue. In truth, what has actually sustained CMS Report is not money but my passion for information systems. I absolutely love this magical process where people, hardware, software, and infrastructure come together to improve the business or organization. A decade ago, I could find no better example of information systems in the real world than the content management system. I decided to write about CMSs and created a blog and website to host those articles. After spending ten years as this site's founder, editor, and primary writer I've decided it is time for me to move on to some new challenges.
What an amazing and crazy ride this has been for someone that started his career as a meteorologist and now works full time in government IT. This was supposed to be a one year exercise for feeding my hunger to learn more about CMSs. Instead, this became a ten year project that tapped into a community of developers, marketers, analysts, founders, executives, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. It has been a joy to have met so many creative, smart, and hardworking people through this website. I received more than I gave. But in the past few years, my passion to write only about CMS topics has diminished and I'm not happy that my articles lack the shine they once had. After considerable thought, I've decided it's time for me to pass the torch to another.
I do not know when it exactly happened, but a number of years ago I decided to become a pacifist. I am a pacifist that is in the war of open source versus proprietary. In my opinion, the debate over licensing and software development processes is only mildly interesting as it is the quality of the end product that matters to me most. I walk the fine line of being an advocate for open source and a defender of proprietary software. Admittedly I've confused a lot of people that have chosen to take sides in this war. However, there is always room for reasonable civil discussions of any topic when new data and new perspective is given. This is perhaps why within the past week I enjoyed reading a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Acquia that shows the value of open source without necessarily attacking the value of proprietary software.
The independent study conducted by Forrester is titled “Is It Time To Consider Open Source WCM For Digital Experience?”. Given that the study is being promoted by Acquia, an open source Drupal company, it shouldn't be surprising to you that this paper highlights the benefits of open source web content management systems (WCM). However, the author of the paper does this in way that that doesn't also dismiss the value of proprietary systems. This paper is an invitation with business reasons given for IT shops that for one reason or another remain proprietary to start considering using open source solutions. That soft sell in my opinion will win over more customers than the doomsday ideologies we often hear from both open source and proprietary proponents.
A few days ago, I received an early copy of a press release announcing the launch of Digital Clarity Group (DCG). DCG is an advisory and analyst company geared toward helping business leaders navigate "digital transformation" in their organizations. To the best of my knowledge, I have never recommend a particular consulting or analyst company on any of my blogs. I'd like to set new precedence and tell you why I think if you're a business leader you should consider hiring analysts from DCG to help you and your company face the upcoming technological challenges that have just started to surface.
I don't know about you, but many of the consultants and analysts that I've met along the way often intimidate me more than they educate me. This is a profession in my opinion with too many "experts" that like to use big words and often deliver complicated business strategies that are often nearly impossible to implement operationally. I know there are a number of CIOs, CMOs, CTOs, and COOs that secretly agree with me and wonder if the analysts they hired could have been a little bit clearer on the message that needs to be brought back to their own companies. This is where the folks from the Digital Clarity Group come in as they too recognize that analyst need to do a better job in providing clear, forward-thinking, actionable advice to their clients.
Yesterday, the Argus Leader announced that they will be moving toward a subscription model for their online content. Readers no longer will be able to visit ArgusLeader.com and expect to be able to read all the content for free. I didn't visit the website too often, but I'll miss the freedom to come and go as I please without being an online subscriber.
By now, most of us and have seen this paywall subscription model being offered by various news sources. Until recently, subscriptions were required from some larger print publications but rarely were part of the local or regional online news ecosystem. When a paper from a relatively small city such as Sioux Falls, SD moves in this direction it isn't difficult to acknowledge this as the trend we'll be seeing followed by more newspapers in the coming years. The move toward a subscription model was inevitable, as research as shown time and time again that publications haven't seen the same revenue through online advertising as they once did in the print media world of yesterday.
Revenue from online ads for niche sites like mine that have little overhead is enough. But real publications producing high quality content on a wider scope have genuine revenue concerns when providing you their content. Randell Beck of the Argus Leader acknowledged this in Sunday's edition of this paper.
One of the coolest things about CMS Expo 2011 was the opportunity to see five open source CMS "founders" together in one room. On the conference stage were Dries Buytaert (Drupal), Andrew Eddie (Joomla), Sigurd Magnusson (SilverStripe), Shaun Walker (DotNetNuke), and Per Ploug-Hansen (Umbraco).
Most people in the content management world will acknowledge that seeing these five guys together in the same room is a rare event. What you may not know is that for many of these open source leaders this event was the first time they have ever met one another.
We tend to focus so much of our time on our own projects that we lose sight of what is taking place outside of our own bubble. The benefits of open source projects getting to know one another better has me thinking a lot lately about the "The Strength of Weak Ties" and the importance of getting to know your competition.
It was five years ago that I posted in programmer tradition at CMS Report, "hello world". At the time, I expected CMSReport.com to be around for only a couple years which was more than enough time for it to fulfill my purpose. At the time, I had an academic interest in information systems and found that Web-based content management systems were a nice way to put theoretical ideas into practical know-how. This site focused on content management systems in hopes of meeting the few other people out there that shared my interests in CMS.
In that first post, I actually wrote more than "hello world". The full title of the article was "Hello World, New Version". The phrase "new version" was in reference to CMSReport.com not being the first site I created to focus on the CMS. A couple years earlier, I had tried to start up a website called WebCMS Forum. The online forum was intended to be a "place for those with a passion for web-based applications such as portals, blogs, and forums". I spent a lot of time and money on that site, but in the end few visitors joined in as members to talk about content management systems with me. If Twitter had existed back then I would have easily tweeted "WebCMS Forum RIP #failed".
Looking back at it now, I'm convinced CMS Report is a success because of my experience from failing so miserably with WebCMS Forum. Previously, I had tried to build a site for others to express their passion and obsession for their favorite content management systems. Here at CMSReport.com, I took the opposite approach and built the site for the sole purpose to talk about my passion for content management systems. It was a crazy idea to put my opinions at the center of CMS discussions as even now I do not consider myself an expert in content management systems. It was only by circumstance that I later realized people are attracted to other passionate people that ask questions and are willing to go at great lengths to find the answers. If you're looking for the facts you go to Wikipedia but if you're also looking for great discussion from people asking the same questions as you are; it is the blogs you seek.
What are the enterprise trends in content management? This past month, I've given a lot of thought on the evolution of content management and social media in large organizations. Perhaps the amount of time I've recently spent on the plane traveling both coasts of the United States gave me too much reflecting time on this subject. Most of us understand the impact Enterprise 2.0 has had on enterprise content management, yet I feel like we're missing pieces to the puzzle. Luckily, there are a lot of smart people out there giving us clues to what the current enterprise trends are with content management.
I had the privilege to sit on a panel of CMS experts at this year's DrupalCon conference in San Francisco. The topic was focused on enterprise trends in both content management as well as social media. Besides myself the panel included Bryan House, Acquia, Joe Bachana, DPCI, and moderator Jacob Morgan, Chess Media Group. The session was part of the business track of the Drupal conference and I was quite pleased a large number of people in the audience were looking fot not just Drupal solutions but any business solutions they could take back to their company.
Five years ago, my wife and I had a dream. Together, we wanted to start a blog called "Like that Idea" and so we registered the domain LikethatIdea.com. The idea for the WordPress blog was to have a site where we could identify and review neat ideas which we thought others would like to read about. The ideas came in the form of products, books, movies, services, and interesting article that we read ourselves. In the end though, we ran out of ideas to write about and the site never really took off.
By the time many of you read this post, Like that Idea will be never more. I'm currently working on wiping the site off the server. It's time to say goodbye to one of the few joint Internet projects that my wife and I worked on together. Instead, we'll use the time to work on our own personal projects as well as working jointly on the biggest project of our lifetime, our family.
Below the fold is a post I couldn't help but transfer from LikethatIdea.com over to this site. Thinking back at this moment in time still puts a smile on my face.
Rita McGrath at Harvard Business Review has written a blog post on why she hates micropayments. Micropayments are financial transactions involving very small sums of money (see Wikipedia). For online publishing, a small fee would allow you to view the content for a certain period of time or for a certain number of articles.
Personally, I'm not sold on the concept of micropayments for content which is probably why I was lured to Ms. McGrath's article in the first place.
The idea has been around a long time — at least since the mid-to-late 90s — with both supporters and detractors weighing in. Millions have been lost by companies seeking to capitalize on streams of micropayments, almost all of which eventually crashed and burned. Myself, when confronted with a request to chip in 99 cents for a one-time glimpse at an article or $2.99 for a week's worth (as some of my local newspapers are doing) — well, I close that window and go away.
The author of the article discusses further the importance for any payment system adopted to consider "how the payment link of customers' consumption chains fits into their total experience". Micropayment systems have a tall order in that they need to be seamless, transparent, and achieve inevitability. Even grimmer for publishers, it's not only the micropayment experience that needs to be improved but also the non-micropayment systems too.
For the past few years, I've paid a yearly subscription to the Wall Street Journal for the print publication and the online subscription. With my yearly renewal coming up very soon, I've decided to discontinue my online subscription to the WSJ. Why would I do that? There are some very basic reasons to why I'm dropping WSJ.com. I rarely find myself reading the online content of the WSJ. I either already read the stories in the print version of the WSJ or I have found myself already familiar with the news story because I read a similar story posted elsewhere online. Stopping by the WSJ.com, unlike CNN or FoxNews, never became a daily ritual for me.
There has been a lot of articles written lately on Rupert Murdoch's latest comments regarding the need to charge online readers for the content they access to the business model The Wall Street Journal utilizes. Murdoch recently announced that additional News Corp's newspapers would be charging users access to their online content.
Speaking on a conference call as News Corporation announced a 47 percent slide in quarterly profits to $755 million, Murdoch said the current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed.
"We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning," the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said.
"We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders... The current days of the Internet will soon be over."
That pay for content business model that Murdoch wishes to spread to the the rest of the News Corp holdings has worked pretty well for the WSJ. Yearly subscription to WSJ.com is around $100 and the business news site recently introduced a cheaper micro-payment system. Deane Barker recently pointed out this story on his Gadgetopia blog. Barker points out that this business model could possibly work for additional online news sources, but Murdoch needs "another big player on the bandwagon, and he might kick the snowball off the hill. Gannet? New York Times Company?". Barker's point is that for News Corp's subscription model to work, access to news content needs to be limited at other places online too. In my opinion, a fight against free online content is a war that has already been lost.
As a subscriber to the WSJ in both print and online content, I do see paid online subscriptions working for niche news sites. I however have serious doubts that the model can work for general news. People are willing to pay and only pay for content they can get nowhere else online. The news articles found in the WSJ is unique content and since its also content of value, I'm willing to pay for it. However, reporting general news is a much different game. Even if the majority of newspapers started charging access to their content it only takes one newspaper willing to offer that same story for free to break the pay for access model.