One of the most important changes in the world of content management systems over the last few years has been the movement of ownership from IT to business and marketing. put on a great one-day conference about web content management at Australia House in London yesterday which featured a presentation from Mick MacComascaigh, Gartner’s lead analyst for web content management.

Companies are continuing to invest in CMS through the recession because the right web content management (WCM) platform can help to drive competive advantage, helping with both customer acquisition and retention, according to Gartner.

MacComascaigh described how WCM has now become the ‘fulcrum’ around which other business technologies should pivot. Organisations should now expect to see a return on investment in ‘6-8 months’ or else they should be asking questions.

He said that, to remain immune from budget cuts, those responsible for CMS need to turn it into a profit centre by measuring returns properly and making sure that senior business stakeholders recognise the value.

My own presentation in the afternoon was based on our CMS Survey Report which was produced in association with Squiz and found that companies are investing heavily in CMS implementation.

I covered the extent to which companies are measuring ROI from CMS by assessing benefits including increased traffic, better conversion rates, reduced IT costs, faster time to market, increased business automation and greater customer engagement. There are still far too many companies who are not measuring any of these things.

The conference also included an engaging presentation from David Barrett, web platform manager at the World Health Organisation who talked about their use of Squiz’s supported open source MySource Matrix platform. 

There was some debate around the advantages of open source versus proprietary software but the feeling on the ground was that most crucially, and irrespective of underlying technology, you need a system which meets business requirements and delivers ROI. Effective support and implementation, whether from a vendor or third party, is also fundamental.

There was also a fascinating talk by David Hawking of Funnelback, an Australian internet and enterprise search
company. Squiz announced during the day that they had acquired the company which was spun out from the Commonwealth Scientific and Research

Squiz MD John-Paul Syriatowicz said: “I
believe 2010 will herald a fundamental shift in the content
management systems and search marketplace as clients and
vendors realise the two are inseparable. Trying to treat them as
discrete solutions simply doesn’t work.”