June 2009
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Mostly Sane: Econsultancy CMS Survey Report

I got my dark sunglasses,
I’m carryin’ for good luck my black tooth.
Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’,
I just might tell you the truth.
- OUTLAW BLUES

Just looked at the Econsultancy CMS Survey Report 2009. It’s a great survey, and the results make interesting reading. There were over 800 respondents, with just over half representing customers, and most of others being CMS Vendors or implementers. There is a good spread of company sizes and business sectors. Most of the vendors/agencies are quite small with 90% of them having less than 100 employees. I’m not going to include any of the graphs or anything from the report as I’d probably end up in the same place as the Pirate Bay dudes. If you want to see them, you’ll need to buy the report yourself (£150) or download the free sample. The report was carried out in association with Squiz.net.

I wasn’t that surprised by most of the findings. The thing that struck me most was how well Customers and Agencies agree. The report kindly separates out the responses from the customers and suppliers, and I didn’t see many fundamental differences at all. This must be good news for the industry if everyone has basically the same world view. However, this does beg the question – if the companies and the agencies think in the same way, why are some parts of the process often like medieval torture?

squizeconsultancyThe three questions that did yield significant differences:

  • Why CMS projects fail – One notable difference was the scoring behind “CMS technology limitations”. Behind ease of use, customers cited this as the second most common cause of failure, with 44% selecting it. The agencies, however, had it as only the sixth biggest reason with only 25% selecting it. Of course I’m with the agencies, here. The customers often confuse the core technology with bad requirements or a poor implementation.
  • Downsides of current CMS – Here, 47% of the customers cited “Lack of support for Web 2.0 functionality”. The agencies didn’t swallow the Web 2.0 buzzword hype quite as badly and it came in second, with slightly less. The agencies had “Not intuitive to use” as the major drawback (64%) while only 39% of the customers thought this. Maybe the customers are easier to please than the agencies. I’d have expected more customers than agencies to complain about ease of use.
  • Are your clients planning to spend more or less on CMS in the next 12 months – An interesting difference here. It seems that the agencies and vendors don’t trust the clients to spend what they think they’ll spend. The customers think they’re going to spend more, the suppliers think they’ll spend less. Not too surprising.

Some other interesting observations:

  • The average lifespan for a CMS system in the survey is about three years. That’s about what I would expect, although most customers would be horrified if you told them that. I am assuming that average “Length of time of CMS usage” for the current CMS equates roughly to average lifespan, but I think that’s probably fair. Janus Boye also thinks three years is about right.
  • More customers prefer best-of-breed supplier with focus on a specific capability than a one-stop-shop solution covering the entire CMS space. This is even more true for the larger companies. Paradoxically, most of the big CMS vendors are trying to offer the one-shop-shop solution. Maybe they haven’t done their research – seems to be a supply/demand mismatch going on here.
  • There was one result which surprised (nay, horrified) me. About half the customers wanted the implementation services from the CMS Vendors. No wonder so many vendor Professional Services teams rake in the cash. I’m very skeptical of this approach. I’m not particularly fond of vendors with a large PS arm that compete directly with their own partner network. And I hate vendors that claim to be partner channel only, but slip in the sneaky implementation when they think the partners aren’t looking. We’re watching you – don’t you go starting that vendor-partner dance again.
  • Only 10% of customers want to do the implementation themselves. That’s good, and a sign of a more mature customer that has been burned in the past. Most customer IT teams don’t have much experience with the newly selected CMS, and the first time you implement a system is invariably a bit of a balls up. As Willy once said: Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Surveys Rock

Surveys Rock

Finally, I’m pleased to report that according to the survey, CMS customers are happy. In fact, they’re even happier than the agencies think they are. Maybe they are just whining to us to get discounts and freebies! The CMS’s are split into 4 categories here: Community Open Source, Supported Open Source, and Proprietary Specialist CMS Vendors, Proprietary “Household name” vendors such as Microsoft or Oracle. The last group gets the worst results in the customer satisfaction survey. The others all come out quite close with less than 20% of the customers and agencies giving them a Poor or Very Poor. 80% of CMS implementations are Okay or better. About half are Good or Excellent. All in all, it sounds like a happy customer base. Woot \o/.

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6 comments to Mostly Sane: Econsultancy CMS Survey Report

  • This is a great write up of the report – lots of food for thought. We’re running a panel debate on the future of Web Content Management on 2nd July with Econsultancy, Gartner and the World Health Organisation. You should come along and have your say – it’s free to attend and you can sign up at: http://tr.im/ni7s

    • Fear not. I’ve signed up already! While you’re here, can I ask you a question to which I should probably know the answer, but don’t. What is the Squiz partner model? Do you guys do the implementations, does your partner network do them, or is it a bit of both? I presume you do all the product support to get some ££££.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Hi Jon. Glad to see you signed up for the event. Did someone say Squiz Partnership Model??? That sounds like a question for me. We have a number of partners that we work for ranging from Project Managers that use us as their technical partner – through to tech companies that use us as an on demand resource. Each of our partnerships is worked out in a bespoke way to fit the partners requirements so that we compliment their internal skills and resources. As you know our CMS “MySource Matrix” is open source so we don’t make our ££££ from license fees. Instead:

    - We offer pre-sale/ sales support for partners.
    - We offer training for our partners (this can go as high as training to develop for MySource Matrix)
    - Squiz don’t do management consultancy or write content, so we often find that we are brought into projects by our partners once the project requirements have been thought through
    - Designs can be done by us or they are provided by the partner, which we then put through our Mashable Design process in order to create complete design consistency throughout the CMS
    - We offer all integration services that are required using a transparent costing model
    - We usually find that the deeper integration work (i.e. integration with other systems or bespoke development) is undertaken by us
    - All of our partners use us for service level agreements on systems this gives a version of MySource Matrix with a warranty, upgrades, backups and sys admin
    - We offer ongoing support for the partner or end- client via prepaid service packs (support is timed to the minute and accessible via our client-extranet)
    - We offer end-client training as needed

    This approach allows companies to get involved in projects without having to ‘staff-up’ internally (or grab a bunch of free-lancers at the last minute!). Or partners simply use us as ‘burst capacity’ on projects that they are running if they have a great deal of work on. Also, it allows our partners to have the confidence that ‘help is at hand’ should it be needed.

    Obviously this is a very different approach to the proprietary vendor partnership model as our business model means that we are a services business. So – having written a very long answer to your question, the short version is “it is a bit of both”

  • Just a thought on why customers are easier to please regarding your ‘not intuitive to use’ comment. If you’re going from a home-grown or older CMS to something new, it’s almost certainly going to be better. For me, I nearly wet myself at the idea of getting a real CMS versus how I currently post. Sigh. One day. A boy can dream.

    Excellent summary of the report. Now I don’t have to find and read it. Nice.

    • Very good point. I’d not thought about it like that but, thinking about it now, you’re 100% correct. It’s actually amazing what some customers think is great compared to the horror-shows they had before. Maybe one day you too can have a CMS! Chase the dream.

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