What’s the future of CMS?

janus-boye-frankfurt-cms-marketplace-yesterdayWhile I’ve worked with content management systems in various roles since 1999, I was still humbled when the friendly organisers of the 2017 Umbraco Festival in Germany, asked me to present on the future of CMS.

Upon rehearsing I found that the vast majority of my Future of CMS slides covered the past and the current marketplace. To my defense, it is difficult predicting the future and the marketplace is still quite confusing, even to me.

One of my initial points is that the role of the CMS has fundamentally shifted. CMS used to be considered required to build a website and as such CMS vendors saw themselves as the center of the digital universe – providers of a web operating system. This has changed and to put things in perspective, try to find CMS in the crowded MarTech landscape by Scott Brinker.

With agile, cloud, experience journeys and marketing automation already beginning to feel old, below are my 5 key points for what lies ahead:

1) Privacy & security, incl GDPR

In Europe, we can thank the EU politicians for getting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed and finally and firmly establishing privacy on the agenda for any one responsible for websites.  Alongside security which has been absent from both vendor roadmaps , privacy represents a huge challenge for customers and a similar huge opportunity for vendors.

Customers expect their digital platform to be able to help them ensure both privacy and security are taken good care of and I’m already seeing innovative vendors making moves in this direction.

As a customer, I need validation and reporting that shows me what data I’m collecting, that enables me to forget customers, and that makes sure my website is not a hackers paradise.

For more on this topic read this article by Tim Walters, Principal Strategist and Privacy Lead at The Content AdvisorySeven Things Marketers Need To Know About The New Data Protection Rules.

2) Artificial intelligence

Almost exactly a year ago, Google made the public announcement to say AI-first as a follow up to their much misunderstood “mobile-first mantra about 5 years ago. This means that artificial intelligence is built in from the get go in Google solutions. 

Similarly IBM Watson, the supercomputer which combines AI with sophisticated analytical software, has played a huge role redefining IBM as a company. 

In the CMS space, customers expect much smarter content platforms. Today what they get, is basically the dumb and old form-based systems from the late 90’s with an updated design and some nifty usability hacks.

As a customer, I would like recommendations on what content I’m missing on my site, built-in analytics and why not offer my website visitors (aka the customers) AI functionality on the site?

3) Next level SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) has been big business for a while and while CMS vendors have been busy doing other things, they’ve left an increasing piece of the cake for digital marketing agencies.

Yesterday, today and in the foreseeable future SEO is all about being found on Google. Whether we like it or not, that’s where the customer journey starts and if we are not found on the first page of Google, your competitor gets the business.

WordPress has been among the leaders when it comes to SEO improvements inside the system, but to reach the next level, including for complex e-business sites, much more work is required.

For more on this prediction, read:

4) Be where users are

One of the key changes in consumer behavior is that your website is no longer the center of the universe. It really never was and today customers are interacting with you and your organisation on numerous channels. To name a few: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, custom apps and the list continues. And the list will grow longer in the foreseeable future. 

Content management systems were built for websites. And that’s the problem.  

Today smart customers sees the website as one of several planets in the digital solar system and they have understood the need to be where their users are. Customers  expect that a modern digital platform can assist them in working across platforms, re-using and re-purposing relevant content, combining metrics and delivering a great user experience on the platform of choice for the user.

5) Think business development

Clearly the days of brochure websites are behind us. Well, to be fair, they are not really as many new brochure websites are being created every single day using content management systems built for the age of the digital brochures.

GEA is a German-based large, complex and global engineering firm and I’m impressed at how Head of Online Mikkel Andersen and his team have taken their website from essentially a brochure to a B2B lead generation engine.

If you are working in B2C, thinking digital business development is probably not a new thing, but you don’t get much help from your usual CMS vendor.

There is plenty of room for improvement to make it easier out-of-the-box to capture leads, increase conversions and to do business.

Business development has been a big theme at recent J. Boye group meetings, where I’ve written this post on the topic: How to think about business development

What do you see in the future of CMS?

Do you agree or disagree with my predictions? Feel free to leave a comment below, also if I missed something.

3 thoughts on “What’s the future of CMS?

  1. Hi Janus, thanks for sharing. We at CoreMedia believe that Content matters and agree with all 5 of your key points for the future of content management. There are 2 aspects that you don’t mention explicitly but that are related: 1) massive automation and 2) openness & adaptability

    1) Massive Automation
    The complexity of communicating on a global scale, in various channels and an increasing number of platforms, using many different languages, in a personalised way, and always fresh and different is staggering. It will only increase. The only chance that I see for enterprises to handle this challenge is massive automation. Organisations will need a content platform that automates many of the tasks that are done manually today. Fortunately, sophisticated content platforms plus A.I. can deliver a factor of 1000 and more in productivity for many tasks. However, it will take a deep understanding of content to leverage A.I.

    2) Openness & Adaptability
    It took the telephone 74 years to reach 100 million users. Facebook did it in less than 4 years. PokemonGo in 1 month. We live in a massively networked world and it shows. Speed of change and complexity increase exponentially. Marketeers should get ready to succeed in a world where a new platform pops up out of nowhere and reaches 100 million users in a week, and not much later in a single day. The massively networked world we’ve created is a very different world than the one we think it is. Some more background on this: https://medium.com/@heartnsoul/things-are-getting-crazier-here-is-the-reason-why-8881dfc37da9

    To survive in such an environment, organisations have to be much more agile. They have to leverage new opportunities within days. To do this, they need a strategic content platform that enables them to do that. It has to be open and adaptable with powerful domain model that enables flexible new uses of exiting content. Content that is programmable and can be easily turned into various micro-experiences for platforms we did’t even knew about a week earlier.

    These are the scenarios that we at CoreMedia aim for with our Digital Experience Platform.


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