Web content management staying strong in recession

But many companies aren't satisfied with their implementations, according to a Forrester report

While IT managers are looking to cut costs during the recession, most aren't looking for savings in Web content management, according to a recent Forrester Research study.

Seventy-two percent of the survey's 261 respondents said they planned to increase WCM deployments or usage this year, even as many also expressed dissatisfaction with how their projects have turned out. Nineteen percent said their implementations would remain the same, and just 3 percent planned to cut back.

Respondents cited improved customer service and cost savings as top reasons for pursuing WCM.

Wind River, which sells tools and services for optimizing device software, spends about US$800 on each customer-service case fielded by its call center, said CIO Scott Fenton. Wind River's per-case costs are so high due to the nature of its business, according to Fenton.

"Our products are very sophisticated. You're not calling Microsoft trying to figure out how to bold or underline a word," he said. A support case tends to involve multiple conversations that "can take hours or even days, particularly if we have to get development involved. The embedded space is not a simple place."

To drive more customers to its Web portal for solutions, thereby driving down call-center costs, the Alameda, California, company "completely revamped" its portal with Oracle's WebCenter Suite and Universal Content Management software. Oracle competes in the WCM market with IBM, EMC, Open Text and a range of smaller companies, such as Alfresco.

The Wind River portal contains the company's technical manuals, technology tips and downloads. Customer satisfaction by percentage for the portal has gone from the "mid-40s to the high 80s," and the number of clicks it takes users to find information per has been cut in half, according to Fenton.

However, it's a "little too early to tell" exactly how much money Wind River is saving on support calls due to the system, which went live several months ago, Fenton said: "We'd like to give it a couple more months so we have more data to look at:"

The project's success was aided by a "perfect storm" of needs both internally and among customers, Fenton said. And from the beginning, it also had strong sponsorship at the executive level, which was key, he added.

While WebCenter "is not a 'portal in a box," Wind River completed the development work in about six months, a period Fenton considers "a very, very short time to market. If you do all the right steps, it doesn't need to be an 18 to 24-month project."

But Forrester's report suggests that Wind River's experience is not the rule.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their implementation. Some 39 percent had a neutral response, and 29 percent reported being satisfied or very satisfied.

Most blamed internal issues, such as a "lack of alignment between IT and the business," for the problems. Only 16 percent cited issues with professional services supplied by the vendor or a systems integrator.

But WCM software itself didn't fare so well. Thirty-six percent said the product they chose didn't live up to their initial expectations, and nearly half will likely consider alternative options before starting another project, according to the report.

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