My last article explored some issues in content delivery to wireless devices. Of course, content delivery is only half the picture. One of the prerequisites for good device-independent content delivery is having your content stored in a device-neutral form. To do this, especially on a commercial scale, you need to employ content management.
What Is Content Management?
Like any other industry buzzword, the term content management tends to change its meaning depending on what someone is trying to sell you. Content management is a collection of technologies and practices that allow you to manipulate, catalog, store, and transform content effectively. But content management doesn't exist for its own sakeyou employ content management to solve business problems.
Content management is not a productyou can't buy it in a box. So-called content management system boxed solutions (and I'm not naming any names) are toolkits that give you a set of software components with which you can put together a content management solution that meets your needs. Many of these come with wizards and other interfaces that give you some ability to configure them without writing code, but make no mistake: Building a content management system that meets your business needs is a software development task. Requirements gathering, analysis, design, data modeling, and yes, writing code are all essential.
As a consultant, I've often been asked, "What content management system should we buy?" This is a naïve question, predicated on the idea that content management is a commodity product. Content management is not dishsoap. Content management is about gaining an understanding of how content flows through your enterprise, and then harnessing this understanding to improve efficiency (reduce costs and timeframe) and develop new distribution channels for that content (increase revenue). The way to do this is through careful analysis of your content business processes and development of a solution customized to your needs.
If implementing content management costs more than you save, or more than you anticipate making, you've done something wrong.