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Web Content Management (WCM) systems selection is increasingly becoming a joint effort between IT and business, but not all organizations are fully on board giving each side an equal share.

Irina Guseva, senior director and analyst for Gartner for WCM and Digital Experience Platforms (DXP), shared those insights in the Gartner Market Guide for Web Content Management released this month. More organizations need to get on that train — the one that’s on the track of giving IT and business an equal share of the WCM technology selection process — according to Guseva. But she recognizes it still remains a challenge. Although about one-third of enterprises have adopted an integrated business and IT strategy, about 54% or enterprises create a separate IT strategy, according to Gartner research.

“Since the beginning of the WCM era, it’s been a continuous challenge to bring IT and business together in these selections,” Guseva told CMSWire. “Even if IT is driving the project, business needs to be part of it starting from requirements gathering all the way through the POC and hands-on testing of software.”

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Is Eliminating IT, Business Silos the Answer?

IT or business can be the owner of WCM. That doesn’t matter so much, according to Guseva. But the most successful WCM selection processes happen when each side’s given an equal opportunity to participate, avoiding disappointments and increasing adoption.

Not all view marketing and IT getting an equal share as critical. Only 16% said IT and marketing should jointly lead such projects in a survey by Digital Clarity Group, "Digital Experience Platforms: Buyer Trends, Preferences, and Strategies." WCM is a key component of DXP technology. That survey also found 40% of the respondents say the C-Suite drives the DX strategy while involving all business units. Further, 31% of respondents say DX technology is primarily an IT issue.

Eliminating silos between IT and business in WCM selection should always be the goal, according to Scot Gillespie, vice president and general manager of Arc Publishing, a WCM platform and Washington Post product. Gillespie comes from an IT background, serving in roles as CTO of the Washington Post and engineering roles at Grainger. “Marketing and engineering are critical organizations, but if you just eliminate silos between IT and the business, those are the ones that are going to be the most successful,” Gillespie said. “What happens, which is what Gartner obviously is recognizing, is you have this split. You have marketing teams that are being pitched by vendors in the market, and they want to select a tool that's going to be good for them, not taking into consideration the IT aspects of it, which is how you end up with all these different kinds of technologies that exist within an enterprise.”

IT will have separate decision makers looking for things like scale and other requirements that fit their needs such as infrastructure. “And they've got their engineering hat on, but not the business and the consumer hat,” Gillespie said. “And so, in general, I think just breaking down those barriers are paramount to companies especially today with the demand and the pressure brands are under in reaching their audience, reaching their internal employees. It's really important that those silos get broken down. It can manifest itself in waste, in inconsistent production, in overhead of supporting these systems, and we see it with all of our customers.”

Increasing Trust and Adoption

Gillespie said his WCM platform sees a mix of buyers between IT and business. It depends, he said, on how the organization is structured and “where the problems lie.” “We do have business stakeholders that come to us and then we'll engage with the engineering teams, or we have the engineering teams come to us and we'll ask to engage with the business stakeholders,” Gillespie said. “Because we want to make sure that this is successful for the business as a whole. And so we always try to make sure to interact with and get some feedback from the other key constituents in the organization, while still trying to move as quickly as possible. What we find is the adoption is much higher when they're all part of the process from the beginning.”

Expect some tradeoffs between each side of the business, but work together to meet the greater business needs of the organization, he added. Coming from the engineering world, Gillespie knows that engineering may tend to be skeptical of a solution if they didn’t build it themselves or be part of the selection process. “So if you can bring them together as part of that you're going to have a lot fewer barriers or hoops to jump through for the organization to be successful in getting back to publishing as a business,” Gillespie said.

Related Article: Why Did Gartner Kill the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant?

IT’s Role in the WCM Selection Process

The feature/function commodity in the WCM space makes it a technological buy, among other factors, according to Guseva. IT is still needed, even more so than ever, when it comes to security and ensuring scalability, proper SLAs and elasticity of the WCM environment.

“Many contracts,” she said, “are negotiated and signed by procurement only, but need to involve IT in order to properly size the buy for not only today, but for three to five years from now, whether it’s page views, or number of instances, or number of server calls, or levels of uptime guarantee, or security checks, etc. IT ideally should be running POCs to prove the points above and to ensure they’re avoiding overbuying or underbuying and having to soon pay overages.”

Especially in this era, the digital demands are very high, and many organizations are experiencing higher traffic and higher customer demands when it comes to the brand’s ability to deliver content and experiences on many channels and modalities, Guseva added. “My grocery store, for example, still doesn’t have a digital commerce storefront, or a mobile app or a system for curbside pickup,” she said. “Guess, where I am shopping? Not there.”

What Should Marketing’s Role Be?

WCM functionality is now mainly table stakes, Guseva said, and every vendor can check the boxes for multi-site management, publish buttons, CRM integration, in-context editing, template management, page creation and other features marketers typically need from a CMS.

“What’s more important is usability,” she said, "and yet another reason why when IT and business work together on a WCM system selection, it usually turns out to be more successful. IT, obviously, cannot evaluate usability from the point of view of non-technical users. And every team is different, with different levels of prior CMS exposure, ability to learn new skills and paradigms, processes they have in place already. Another important point here is to look at CMS from the enterprise architecture perspective, and not in a silo, as it needs to fit very seamlessly into the overall landscape of adjacent marketing technologies that are already in place.”

Change Management Is Paramount

Change management remains of paramount importance in this arena because WCM touches on practically all lines of business and departments in the organization, according to Guseva. “Planning, onboarding, cross-organizational buy-in, proper partner/SI (system integrator) selection, training that’s not cookie cutter, but for your specific implementation, and a three- to five-year roadmap are some of the things that need to happen to ensure success of the WCM selection, implementation and adoption.”