Monday, 25 April 2016

eCommerce & Content Management: More Important than Ever

content management system company

Introduction:
It feels old-fashioned to write the word "e-Commerce,” but the reality is that billions of dollars in business has moved to the Web. While some people may still be shell-shocked by the dot.com fallout, a significant part of business process happens using the Internet as infrastructure. And while the better-known retail e-Commerce ventures (amazon.com, ebay.com) and e-Commerce solution providers are perhaps the biggest players in some people’s minds, they actually make up a small piece of the e-Commerce pie; far more e-Commerce is done between businesses. 
The electronic messages themselves—purchase orders, invoices, and quotes— represent some of the “content” of e-Commerce given by content management system company. Such messages, and the security and transaction apparatus applicable to them, are challenging pieces to the e-Commerce puzzle. The transaction itself, though, is just one step in a lengthy process that begins with a prospective customer researching some kind of requirement, and continues through the marketing and selling process, the transaction itself, follow-on customer support, customer relationship management, and, later, up-selling and cross-selling.
Gilbane Report readers will know the next point to be made, and that is that content is closely tied to all of these processes, and so content management plays a fundamental role in Internet-based commerce. We have worked closely with many large companies that have been automating how content is used in design, manufacturing, sales and marketing, logistics, and customer support. These are areas of intense focus for many companies now, and the platforms and systems to support content management are growing more powerful and more functional all the time.
It is, of course, obvious why content management is fundamental to e-Commerce: Commerce involves intensive communication at all phases of the process, and e-Commerce solution provider requires that much of the communication happen automatically and online. When the products are complex, the content is correspondingly voluminous and complex, increasing the benefits of content management technology.

In fact, the challenge of content management is even more complex. Content management supports all kinds of business processes—research and development, design, manufacturing, marketing and sales, customer support, maintenance, and supplies. There is an important leverage point at the nexus of business processes and the content that supports these processes because of the intimate relationship between content and business process at all points in the buying and selling process, and others have tried to articulate this in various ways. Forrester terms this transactional content, and Gilbane Report colleagues Mary LaPlante and Bill Zoellick have offered a helpful definition:
"Transactional content can be defined as shared information that drives business-to-business processes. It is the content that flows through the commerce chain, initiating and automating processes such as procurement, order management, supply chain planning, and product support. Transactional content is shared in the sense that it is exchanged among partners, suppliers, customers and distributors who each can contribute to it."
Transactional Content Management Challenges:
Because of these constraints, the content management market continues to broaden, and the offerings continue to widen. There are many tiers in the Web content management marketplace:
  • Enterprise solutions, examples of which include Vignette, Documentum, Interwoven, and Stellent.
  • Mid-level solutions, examples of which include Red Dot and Percussion.
  • Small business solutions, examples of which include offerings from Microsoft, Ektron, and others.
  • Open source solutions, examples of which cover the wide range of markets.
  • Hosted solutions such as those from Atomz and CrownPeak.
Many manufacturing companies are small and mid-sized businesses whose technology needs span both information technology and the process technology for their core business. Because of this, not every small company can develop its own sophisticated Web presence. As a result, industrial search engines such as ThomasNet, GlobalSpec, and Kellysearch have emerged to fill an important market need. 
Conclusion:
The manufacturing marketplace is a large and active marketplace that is driven by e-Commerce solution providers where content management has a vital role to play. However, many manufacturing companies are small- and medium-sized businesses, where IT is only one kind of investment competing for capital. 
Because of these structural constraints, content management is not always the highest priority for these companies, even though they clearly need, at minimum, Web content management to support marketing and sales efforts. Moreover, many of the content management offerings are priced well beyond what these companies would be willing to spend. The enterprise solutions really are only for the biggest organizations, and even companies that sell mid-market content management solutions will tell you that they are selling to the Global 2000. This leaves many companies—indeed, most manufacturing companies—out of the target market for many content management technologies.
Article Summary:
The main driver behind EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) when it emerged in the mid-nineties was the need to integrate content and transactions for e-Commerce. The revolutionary benefits of e-Commerce that were promised assumed that back-office marketing, product data, inventory, and transaction systems were all integrated and kept up-to-date, but the industry’s dirty little secret was that such integration either didn’t exist, or was extremely fragile and unreliable. When e-Commerce actually worked like it was supposed to, it was almost prohibitively expensive.

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