of the American Society for Information Science and Technology   Vol. 28, No. 1    October / November 2001


Go to
Bulletin Index

bookstore2Go to the ASIST Bookstore



The Content Management Market: What You Really Need to Know

by Priscilla Emery

Priscilla Emery is associated with e-Nterprise Advisors - Real World Advice for the e-World, located at 102 Colville Drive, Alexandria, VA 22304; phone: 703/329-7250; fax: 703/960-0239; mobile: 703/220-3955; e-mail: pemery@e-nterpriseadvisors.com; www.e-nterpriseadvisors.com

Content management (CM) has been on the short list of initiatives for many organizations the past few years. The proliferation of Web-based content on corporate intranets, extranets and Web pages has provided a daunting array of challenges. Organizations must insure that posted information is relevant, authentic and appropriate. And, if you listen to all the analyst firms the industry numbers would bear this out. According to Gartner, the CM software market should grow to about $6 billion by the year 2003. A little more conservatively but still on the growth curve, IDC estimates that the CM market will be $4.3 billion by the year 2004, a growth of 31% per year. Meta estimates the market to be $10 billion by 2004 and Ovum estimates the sales of software and services to be $13.3 billion by 2004.

Why all these differing forecasts? Well, what numbers come out of a forecast depends largely on how and what you count. The "how" means that if you are only looking at software you will get a vastly different number than if you include services (which in the implementation of some CM products can be significant). The "what" depends on what is considered a CM product. As in any new practice, there has been continuous debate as to what CM actually is. For some people, CM can include anything from creating PowerPoint slides to delivering information on a compact disc. CM covers all aspects of creating and reusing different pieces of a document.

The definition accepted from a technical standpoint has most often been associated with managing components for Web development. It generally focuses on the process of designing, creating, deploying and administering a large quantity of components or objects. However, if one looks at the reality of dealing with multiple content repositories within most large organizations, the issue of CM gets far more complex. Companies are dealing with enterprise-wide challenges, and an expanded definition is now taking hold.

Although AIIM International, a trade and professional association that focuses on this area, defines enterprise CM as the creation, delivery, customization and management of content across the enterprise we will stick to a slightly narrower definition for the purposes of this discussion. Gartner states: "By 2004, leading-edge enterprises will have formal content management (business processes and integrated technology) in place for Web, interenterprise and intraenterprise environments." Some would argue that 2004 is too long to wait. The reality is that CM deals with a complex web of disconnected technologies, repositories and processes that need to work together.

The phalanx of vendors that have entered the market include component managers and suppliers from document management backgrounds (including Documentum, FileNET and Intranet Solutions) and bigger players such as IBM. New tool vendors such as Cytura, FatWire and RedDot Solutions tout their simplicity of use over competitors such as Vignette, BroadVision and Interwoven. And, indeed, they do bring the CM process closer to the actual content creator, which is important. The overall complexity (and political nature) of content and how it is created and managed within an organization can be a deterrent to actually getting relevant content out to the readership. Figure 1 illustrates the way some of these different suppliers are spread out on the document management (DM)/content management (CM) continuum versus the ease-of-use/complexity axis.

Some tools use their own document repositories and their own workflow tools but may need to partner with other companies to provide the broader toolset and architectures of their competitors. Users should look seriously at their document repository requirements before embarking to make sure that the rigorousness of the tools selected provides the rigorousness they need. Simple check-in/check-out facilities do not make for a serious document repository, while data repository management also needs to be examined closely for the ability to synchronize updates effectively with highly complex environments.

These caveats also extend to workflow tools to some degree, but in many cases the "publishing" workflow process is actually the most appropriate process for a CM implementation. Many organizations forget that CM processes are really publication production processes. When you look at the processes at major media centers, in many cases the content is fresh and up-to-date. These guys don't necessarily know how to make money (that's a subject for another discussion), but they do know how to manage the process of managing intellectual assets and leveraging information from one delivery mechanism to another. They didn't always get it at first (and some still don't and economics are changing that) but content should never have to be created and then re-created so that it can be leveraged across different delivery mechanisms.

Each of the DM/CM vendors brings something to the table in terms of the capability to manage certain types of content, but integration across several areas will be a key requirement for most organizations. According to Gartner, several repository areas will need to converge to achieve an integrated CM strategy. These include integrated document management, Web CM, digital asset management and document component management. Such technologies, along with the use of XML-based creation mechanisms, should go a long way to enabling efforts, but the implementation challenges are daunting.

More challenging are the processes involved in managing content. These go beyond technology into the "fun" areas such as who owns the particular sets of content within the organization and who has the right to update them. The politics of content can get interesting, and the issue of knowledge management (KM) then becomes intertwined into the equation of making sure the most knowledgeable source of information is looped into the process of driving certain types of content. Autocategorization technology's roots are in the KM space, and it is just making its way into the CM world.

There are well over 100 vendors who currently claim to offer Web CM and knowledge management products and expertise. Although there should be a shakeout in this market this year with some significant mergers and acquisitions, new players keep emerging on a weekly basis. The players that will feel the effects of the shakeout the most will probably be Vignette and BroadVision, which have heavy client bases focused on the dot.com world. These larger players in the segment have scaled back some of their operations to be more in line with the reality of the market. Others, such as eBT, will not survive.

This ever-changing market landscape, along with the morphing evaluation criteria for CM implementations, can make it difficult for any organization to make the "right" decision about which product to select for its CM efforts. What follows is a general positioning of some of the different players in the CM market (not a comprehensive list but some examples of the different alternatives out there) and an informal guideline as to what to look out for when evaluating vendor alternatives.

What to Look For: It's Not Just Features and Functions

      Although features and functions should always be included in any evaluation of a technology product, other factors should also be examined as well. These include the following:


  • Is the product licensing consistent with your organization's budget and objectives? Pricing by server can be costly depending on your current Web architecture. Per client pricing can also add up unless the vendor's pricing scales down depending on volume.
  • Are modules that you really need priced separately? Is the product so modular that you end up paying for every module?
     How much customization and integration will the product require and how much will that add to the cost? The CM systems integration market has been a lucrative one for a good reason. Some products, Vignette for example, require a good deal of custom code and integration support in order to fully implement the product. These costs can add up.
  • How much is the cost of training and how much of it will users and administrators need? At the very least administrators and developers require training but even the most "usable" product may require initial training for users.


  • How many installations does the vendor have under its belt? Having lots of references doesn't always guarantee that the vendor will be a good fit, and having too few may not be an issue either if the product is new. But, if it is a mature product the reference list should be fairly broad and accessible.
  • Are the references in your industry doing the same things? CM applications are not created equal. Some implementations require lots of database integration and personalization and others are focused on distributed content development. Look for references that solve your problems.


  • Is training offered by the vendor or by an outsourced group? Outsourcing isn't necessarily a bad thing, but is one group accountable to the other for the quality and scope of the training?
  • Is there a hotline for support? Is there an extra charge for this service?
  • What is actually included in the maintenance agreement?


  • How long has the vendor been in business? Number of years in business alone is not a barometer for longevity, but it gives you a sense of experience level.
  • What are the vendor's financials and/or what entities are investing in the company? This information is very important. You need to know that the vendor has the resources to support you in the long term and will not be out of business.


  • Does the vendor's long-term strategy mesh with your organization's long-term vision? Change is a reality and products will change over time. You need to understand whether product changes that are envisioned are in line with your company's future reality.
  • Do they even have a vision? If they don't, run the other way.

Features and Functions:

  •   How usable is the product for non-technical content providers? Usability for non-technical content providers is a definite requirement in enterprises that have disbursed and limited resources for developing and reviewing what goes on the site.
  •    Are templates available for the design and management of content? Templates should be available, but the product should provide flexibility for variations of design.
  •   Does the product use its own repository and how rigorous are its check-in/check-out procedures? These vary from product to product and only you know what is consistent with your organization's needs and culture. On one hand, if the procedures are too rigorous or unforgiving you may have a revolt among users on your hands. On the other hand, if your industry demands a very strict adherence to different levels of access and versioning of content, the product you pick should be able to support that.
  •   If your organization needs to provide personalized content to viewers, does the product provide categorization facilities, profiling capabilities and other personalization features? These features might not be necessary for all sites, but personalization does add to the "stickiness" of the site.
  •   Does the product provide for performance management issues? Dynamic content development can add to the network and CPU overhead involved in managing a website. How well does the vendor handle this issue?
  •   Are the platforms supported consistent with the ones you already use in house? This includes not just the types of platform, such as operating systems (Windows NT, Sun, AIX, etc.) and databases (Oracle, Sybase, etc.), but also the release and version levels. Will you have to make an upgrade or will the vendor?
  •   Does the vendor support XML and Java-based architectures? If so, to what level? Being XML-based can mean a lot of things from just being able to read the tags to having a completely XML-based repository. The same can be said for Java support of varying degrees. Are these degrees consistent with your requirements?

CM Players: A Quick View of the Landscape

Among the major players in the CM marketplace are BroadVision, eprise, FileNET, IntraNet Solutions, Interwoven, Vignette, Cytura and FatWire. Each is described in more detail below.


    • Comprehensive product suite
    • CM portion is Interleaf product

BroadVision was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Redwood City, California. It has about 2,300 employees and acquired Interleaf about a year ago. According to the vendor, it develops and delivers an integrated suite of packaged applications for personalized enterprise portals. Most of BroadVision's modules and products are geared to e-commerce applications but, BroadVision One-to-One™ Enterprise is an application foundation for deploying and managing personalized e-business applications, and BroadVision One-to-One™ Publishing, is a tool for creating, publishing, updating and versioning a company's electronic assets.

BroadVision's installed base is over 1,062 and it has customers in financial services, retail, utilities, industrial supplies, travel, automotive services and high-tech manufacturing.

Its chief rivals are considered to be Allaire, Open Market and Vignette. According to some pundits, BroadVision made a somewhat lame technology decision by not adopting Java technology soon enough in the development cycle and that is making it tougher for it to compete with new rivals.

Technology partners include Documentum, Interwoven, H-P, Pegasystems and Tumbleweed, among lots of others. Consulting partners include Accenture, CSC, Cambridge Technology Partners, KPMG, Organic, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sema Group.


    Not a lot of installations at this point.

  •   Considered to be a highly usable product.

eprise was founded as Novalink in 1992 and became eprise in 1997. Headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts, the company does have an international presence at this point. Although it only has about 40 installations, it has developed a reputation for being highly usable and relatively easy to install.


    • Reasonably solid financial background
    • Has always tried to take applications focus

FileNET's latest mantra is that it provides "The Substance Behind eBusiness™." Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, the company markets its products in more than 90 countries through its own global sales, professional services and support organizations, as well as via its ValueNET® Partner network of resellers, system integrators and application developers.

According to the company its new Panagon eProcess Services product family enables it to offer an e-business platform that provides a competitive advantage by linking customers, business partners, suppliers and employees through the Web. FileNET plans to announce major product initiatives in both the e-business infrastructure and e-applications markets in 2001.

The company also recently released Acenza, an initiative to deliver e-business applications that leverage its core Panagon technology. All Acenza applications will automate core front-office and back-office business processes and systems, externalize these business processes to the Web, and create and manage associated electronic content utilizing the latest Panagon technology.

Still it is the Panagon product that is the baseline platform that FileNET offers for Web CM. FileNET partners with Vignette, Interwoven and BroadVision to provide extensions to its CM product which is really based on handling a compound document architecture.

Intranet Solutions

    • Ahead of the game with regard to wireless architectures
    • Well architected for the Web
    • Financially strong

Intranet Solutions, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was one of the first document management products that was initially architected for the Web. The company has more than 1,500 customers worldwide. The company has more than 400 employees, offices throughout the United States and international offices in London, Amsterdam and Australia.

The company has been announcing new releases of its Xpedio product almost every few months so the product is now up to release 5.0.

Xpedio 4.5 provided enhancements to Xpedio's two primary components (Xpedio Content Server and Xpedio Content Publisher) and included two new components, Xpedio Dynamic Converter and Xpedio Content Categorizer. Xpedio Dynamic Converter is based on dynamic conversion technology from the Information Exchange Division, which IntraNet Solutions acquired in July 2000. With this product site developers have the option of converting and delivering Web content from the native source to HTML dynamically upon user request, as opposed to publishing all content to the Web site at the same time. Xpedio Content Categorizer allows content to be automatically, rather than manually, categorized and tagged when input by individuals or in a batch process. This feature is useful when there is a large amount of content to be entered or when the source content changes frequently. The Xpedio Content Publisher enables users to publish content to WML standards that are specific to mobile phone microbrowsers.

Xpedio Content Server is built upon a three-tier architecture consisting of a Java-based server, which runs on Microsoft Windows NT, Linux and Sun Solaris platforms and communicates through HTTP and CGI. Content is stored in its native format in the Xpedio Content Server repository. Metadata or information about the content is stored in an SQL database. Xpedio Content Server ships with a runtime version of Microsoft Access, but users can use Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle or Sybase as the underlying database.


    • Team approach to CM
    • Global view of distribution
    • Knowledge of scripting is sometimes still needed to use tools

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with 968 employees, Interwoven develops and maintains big Web sites for big clients. The company specializes in software that lets users contribute content to Web sites simultaneously.

Its closest rivals are considered to be Allaire and Vignette. Interwoven and IBM have been working together to provide Web CM software integration, formally known as Interwoven TeamXpress for Multiplatforms V1.1, WebSphere Edition. It is also one of the few new CM players that is profitable.

Interwoven also recently announced the release of TeamXML software, its XML repository, and Interwoven OpenSyndicate, the latest addition to its content distribution product suite. TeamXML allows customers to migrate individual Web assets, or even components of assets, to XML as circumstances dictate.


    • Excellent name recognition
    • Comprehensive product suite and strategy
    • Complicated, proprietary language for implementation

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Vignette Corp. was founded in 1995. The company had about 1,468 employees worldwide as of November 2000, but confirmed recently that it has cut about 450 jobs, or 15% of its workforce, to reduce operating costs. It will also consolidate certain facilities and is thinking about closing offices. Vignette expects the reorganization to result in about $100 million in savings over the next year.

Both traditional brick-and-mortar firms and startup dot.coms use Vignette's software to create and manage online customer relationships. Vignette will most likely see erosion of its dot.com customer base in the next year. And, although Vignette dominates the pure-play Web CM market, BroadVision, Interwoven and Open Market are its toughest competition.

From a technical standpoint, although rigorous, its V/5 product line has become very complicated for most users to understand and incorporate into their organizations. Compared to newer players in the market, such as FatWire and Cytura, the software looks like a 4GL (fourth generation programming language) rather than an easy-to-use tool.

Vignette has developed a new packaged application aimed at financial service companies wanting to establish and maintain online relationships between their advisors and clients. The Financial Advisor Suite was developed in conjunction with the Accenture Global Financial Services practice and with input from other financial services firms. Vignette claims the suite helps advisors take an active role in extending their firms' online presence, serve more clients efficiently, save money and increase client satisfaction and asset retention.


    • Fairly easy to use content creation and update
    • Focused mainly in the healthcare market
    • Small installed base

Cytura was founded in 1998. With about 65 employees, Cytura 3.0 uses an XML-based platform in such a way that non-technical users such as marketers and administrators can create, manage and update content without IT staff support. The following are among the key features of Cytura 3.0:

  • What the company calls Extreme Personalization — companies can personalize content to the word level, update content in real-time and build out syndicated communities across multiple languages. An entire article, sentence or paragraph can be personalized depending on the site user's age, location, interests, relationship, language preferences, etc.
  • Rapid Syndication of New Communities – Companies can deploy new communities across multiple languages and syndicate sites as their needs grow. Various communities can use the same layouts, content and images or can be modified for a completely different scheme based on the community requirements.
  • Use of Open Standards and Ease of Integration – Cytura uses open standards such as XML, XHTML and Java, providing a flexible platform that can integrate with an existing IT infrastructure and third-party applications without custom coding or scripting.

The product uses a 3-tier architecture and can run well in a SQL Server or Oracle database environment.


    • Considered easy to use and install
    • Relatively new player to marketplace

Founded in 1996, FatWire provides what it calls dynamic CM (dCM) software. FatWire's flagship product, UpdateEngine5, is an "E-Business Assembly System" that enables rapid deployment of enterprise-level Web sites, thereby shortening time to market and increasing revenues. A completely database-driven platform, UpdateEngine is 100% Java based.

The overall objective behind UpdateEngine is to focus on the business user and to allow content to get on the site without technical intervention. The product offers a template, collaborative workflow (the vendor's own), preview capabilities and rollback capabilities. The product also supports version control and check-in/check-on features (again using its own repository manager). Its user interface was actually designed by cognitive psychologists. So, why is this different from everything else? Well, for one thing, the user can graphically define the site while Java tools define the business logic behind the site. While Interwoven and Documentum offer page-based architectures and Vignette and BroadVision are sometimes perceived as glorified 4GLs (i.e., you have to learn the language), FatWire can use the graphic elements to define not just look but also business process.

FatWire views UpdateEngine as a way for organizations to dynamically create vertically-oriented B2B (business-to-business) sites or tracks within their own sites and is looking to partner with outside organizations to bring in the vertical expertise in such areas as financial services. Of course, this comes at a price, which is why FatWire is focusing on the Fortune 1000 marketplace.

The Market Is Growing, but Watch Out for the Dead Ones

The market for CM products is definitely heated up, which has made it ripe for many vendors to jump on the bandwagon to offer products to this sector. The bandwagon effect increases competition and tends to make it difficult to differentiate among the players. This situation, along with the current economic slowdown, produces a market ripe for consolidation and/or fallout.

A case in point, is eBusiness Technologies (eBT), a company that was not a newcomer to the CM world. Previously known as Electronic Book Technologies, the company has been around for about 10 years and has its roots in SGML tools and development, making its leap to XML a logical move. Its flagship product, Dynabase, has over 80 installations and its new product, engenda, which was introduced in the summer of 2000, is based on Dynabase. engenda is meant to manage the workflow process in a CM environment – a process that is both collaborative and project oriented.

So what's wrong with this picture? eBT is liquidating the company at this time. The engenda product, along with eBT's other intellectual assets, are presently up for sale.

This situation illustrates what can happen to a vendor in this market. Buyers should be aware of all aspects of a vendor's background before making a CM decision. Features and functions are definitely important but need to be balanced with an honest assessment of the vendor's overall viability in the marketplace.

How to Order

ASIST Home Page

American Society for Information Science and Technology
8555 16th Street, Suite 850, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
Tel. 301-495-0900, Fax: 301-495-0810 | E-mail:

Copyright 2001, American Society for Information Science and Technology