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C.M.S. Redefined: Cloud. Mobile. Social.

Back in December I participated in a podcast with Alan Shimel from Network World where I was also joined by Kathleen Reidy, Senior Analyst from The 451 Group and Todd Barr, Chief Marketing Officer for Alfresco. The topic of the podcast was “Open Source CMS” but we also talked about “crystal ball” predictions for the CMS market in general for 2011. In the podcast, I mentioned that from DotNetNuke’s perspective, innovation in the Content Management market in the coming years will all be centered around 3 major disruptive industry trends… Cloud, Mobile, and Social. Conveniently, these 3 hot trends redefine the C.M.S. acronym ( special thanks to Cathal Connolly, senior software engineer at DNN Corp, for pointing this out ):  


Based on the influence of cloud, mobile and social, the on-line needs of users and customers have changed significantly in recent years. The days of simple brochure-ware websites targeting traditional browser devices with one-way communication are quickly coming to an end. The web has evolved to become much more sophisticated medium. A business website is no longer a destination; rather, it is a hub of web engagement ( credit to Barb Mosher from CMS Wire for summarizing this so elegantly ).

To help emphasize this point in visual terms which everyone can understand, I constructed a diagram which attempts to identify the complex requirements for a modern business website. I first shared this diagram at the keynote of the DotNetNuke Connections conference in Las Vegas in November 2011, and it received such a good response that I have been using it in most of my conference presentations in 2011…

A business website today needs to cover the basics – it needs to be visually appealing, it needs to have an intuitive information architecture, it needs to provide dynamic, rich, compelling content, it needs to have mechanisms for visitor interaction, it needs to be optimized for speed and responsiveness, and it needs to deliver an excellent experience to traditional browser devices like desktops and laptops.


And to be noticed on the “Open Web”, a business website needs to be optimized for the major search engines. You need to ensure that Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are indexing your latest content on a regular basis to ensure that information related to your products and services is immediately accessible and discoverable by web consumers. In addition, you need be collecting detailed web analytics so that you understand the mechanics of your website and your visitors patterns and behaviors and then utilize this intelligence to drive greater exposure and response. 


However, although SEO is still vitally important to your on-line marketing strategy, ranking highly in the search engines is no longer enough. In recent years, massive social networks have emerged which have hundreds of millions of users who interact with one another and collaborate on-line. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr have massive audiences which you need to find ways to tap into so that you can drive additional eyeballs to your business. Because the “Social Web” behaves much like a gated community and places a much greater emphasis on “context”, search engines are ill-equipped for accessing their content in a meaningful way. Therefore, it requires a completely different strategy to reach their members. You need to ensure that your business is represented as part of these social communities and conversations, because if you are not, your competitors surely will be.


At the same that social networks are experiencing exponential growth, so is the usage of mobile devices. The growth of the “Mobile Web” is being led by the adoption of smart-phones such as iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7. All of these devices include native integration with the web; either through mobile web browsers, or via native mobile apps for accessing specialized products or service. And based on the success of Apple’s iPad over the past year, tablets are the next mobile device to gain mass consumer traction and drive even greater demand for on-line content consumption. Businesses need to understand the different browsing characteristics of these devices and ensure they provide an optimal web experience.


Lastly, in order to deal with the huge demand for web content from the Open, Social, and Mobile Web, sites need to be architected with scalability in mind. This is where the “Cloud” comes into play; elastic infrastructure which can be optimized to adapt to the growing needs of your business. Whether this is Infrastructure-as-a-Service ( IaaS ), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) you need to be aware of the various options available to determine which will allow your business website to scale efficiently and economically.


In my career, I cannot remember a more exciting time for the web software industry. And because Content Management is strategically positioned at the axis of Cloud, Mobile, and Social, we have been presented with amazing opportunities for innovation and growth. The future of DotNetNuke and C.M.S. looks very bright indeed.


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