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.

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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