Jun 25, 2014

The interview series of CMS experts continues. In the following interview Janus Boye, the founder of CMS Expert Group Europe, talks about the history, present and future of CMSs. This interview took place in Leipzig, Germany, where the CMS Expert Group Europe had its latest meeting.

In the interview Janus also talks about the future of the Web as he sees it, and what are currently the hot topics within his network.

Janus is also the founder and managing director of J. Boye, a consulting and networking company that was founded in 2003. J. Boye organizes expert groups and seminars in Europe and the US, and currently employs around 20 people. J. Boye is headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark.

Where did the content management industry start and why?

For me the industry that felt the pain of content management first was media companies, and I still follow and admire them in what they do. From a terminology point of view, I’m pretty sure that Bob Boiko was the man to coin the term ‘content management system‘. That term became the industry term somewhere around 2001.

The whole original idea of talking about content was to move away from pages, to start talking about content types, blocks and other elements that could be put together. But even today people talk about pages, so even though this has been a fun ride, I’d say we are only halfway there as an industry. I had expected that customers would learn faster.

Have there been any major milestones during your career?

One shift has definitely been the move from IT to communications and then from communications to marketing. Ownership on the client side has transferred from IT to the marketing people. IT and communications are still involved, but now marketing has inherited the web.

Marketing just doesn’t know what to do with it yet. 🙂

The second milestone has been the advent of the mobile web. I don’t believe there is a thing called ‘mobile web’, but I realize it’s a big change. The best is that now everyone is building an open web instead of platform-specific or browser-specific solutions. In this way the fragmented mobile market has been a really good thing for the web.

The third milestone in the CMS space in the last 15 years has been the progress in usability. We often forget this, but if you look at systems we had 15 years ago and the systems we have now, there is a huge difference. I just look at WordPress and see we have come a long way in 15 years. The work of content producers is so much easier today than it was before. Naturally this doesn’t apply to all vendors, but there are many who still keep innovating also in the usability realm, like Magnolia or Typo3.

What is especially hard today, and what is easy?

One of the things that have improved a lot is integrations. Years ago when you wanted to do integrations you needed a portal or some other complex software system. Integrations are now much easier. You can also tie in data from external sources easily.

There is certainly a difference between Europe and the US when it comes to the concept of web experience management. In the US it is a very real thing. In Europe we are still dipping our toes in the water when it comes to digital experiences.

For me it comes down to the challenge with old organizations. If you take a new technology, whether it’s Sitecore, EPiServer, Drupal or WordPress, and throw it at an old organization, what tends to come out of it is just an expensive old organization. Only now are customers beginning to understand that maybe we need to change the old organizations to really be successful.

One thing that has totally exploded this year and is very much below the radar is good old extranets. “How can we build networked organizations?” “How can I collaborate with my customers?”

There is a lot happening with extranets. And we don’t have a market for off-the-shelf extranets. And there are some deep pockets behind these initiatives.

Where are CMSs and the web heading in your view?

Marketing has inherited the web, and the jury is still out on that one. What will they do to our baby? Websites are generally becoming marketing sites.

I believe the market will continue to innovate. Analysts have always predicted that the market will consolidate, but it hasn’t happened. SharePoint hasn’t won it all, Sitecore hasn’t won it all —not even in Denmark.

I think right now, for the first time, management is getting the web. They understand that they need to understand digital, they need to understand the web. Many industries are really being turned upside down. Management is now willing to invest in resources. Time will tell what it ends up with.

I think Churchill had a good way of putting it. “This is not the beginning of the end, this is the end of the beginning.”

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