In the market for a new CMS? Check this checklist

So you’re in the market for a new CMS or coming to WAN-IFRA’s Expo to investigate possible solutions. What are the most critical questions you should be asking vendors? Industry veteran Luc Rademakers specialises in ROI of content production so we tapped him for some advice.

by Dean Roper | September 10, 2018

WAN-IFRA: If you were to advise a media executive who was coming to WAN-IFRA’s Expo (9-11 October in Berlin) with the intent of investigating a publishing solution or CMS that might form the basis of the company’s multimedia publishing activities, what would be some of your top questions to that exec?

Luc Rademakers: Before investigating CMS, I would recommend that they make clear what their digital future will look like, and, specifically, what are the goals or targets with their publishing activities. How will you need to serve your existing market and what new markets or customer profiles are you looking at?

Does your organization still have a silo content management (workflow) and do you want to change that? How multi-channel are you? Do you foresee an investment in other channels, other countries, other languages, in niche audicences?

Do you want to position the company between the elite of innovators, discovering new paths in a customer-centric approach, including, for example, contextual video or the newest technologies anticipating customers’ needs?

If short video is still a battle to produce, to publish and to distribute, put it in the centre of your strategy.

Focus on strong client engagement that will create stronger data management and bring important added value.

Do you have a sense that this is a phase or time in which newsrooms are indeed looking for new solutions… if so, why?

Organisational transformation needs to be supported by state-of-the-art CMS. Digitising processes and client contacts are key for sales success and news impact. Publishing houses will be digital. Tamedia in Switzerland, for example, has been running an ambitious programme to become a forerunner in digital media enterprises. Most established running CMS are broadcast focussed: one message for one audience. These days, CMS need to collect and distribute information in real time, in different formats, on any device. So yes, newsrooms are definitely looking for agile solutions to connect content and information with users at any moment, wherever they might be, or when they have a need for information. Newsrooms do realise that a CMS following the habits of the individual news customer is crucial to stay relevant in the attention competition with Facebook, YouTube, Google and other content providers.

What are some of the key demands from publishers today for a modern CMS?

  • First: security. Newsrooms will more than ever use different files and formats, different software solutions, different public networks… The probability that your CMS will become a target for hacking, viruses, crashes, ransom ware, etc., increases. One single, unsafe handling in your production journey can at any moment cause damage to your systems. That’s why publishers need to invest sufficiently in effective risk management solutions, in performant disaster recovery and in reliable business continuity management. In budget rounds, it’s never a good idea to cut costs in security systems.
  • Second: UX. Modern CMS need to be efficient, specifically in saving time. Newsrooms need to focus on producing relevant content, not on technical issues in generating, publishing and distributing content. Make routine tasks automated or, at least, simple and more efficient.
  • Third: agility. A client-centric-oriented newsroom management solution will make use of different formats, codecs and protocols. You need a CMS that facilitates the communication process between content acquisition, contribution, production, planning, publication, archiving, communication and administration.
    Newsrooms that are technologically savvy and be able to handle different formats of information will have an undeniable competitive advantage: in video, audio, text, graphics, web, social media, radio, television, storage, etc.

How does (digital) paid content impact all this, generally-speaking…?

The time laps between consuming information and paying for it needs to be shortened to an absolute minimum.

Sending an email or, I’m not joking, a letter by post to ask if your reader or potential reader would like to consider a paid digital subscription is more outdated than we think it is.

How to become the first in line when your client has an urgent need for information, or a compelling question for a financial transaction? Financial institutions are facing the same issues as the newspaper business: how to become the preferred partner of your client’s cell phone and his/hers personal data management?

Your access to paid content needs to operate as a sort of information passport. Convenience will be crucial to maximise client engagement and to optimise the billing process. Speed, agility, customer orientation go hand in hand, both with the content and the business side.

In business processes, cloud-based storage and software will reduce costs and will offer more comfort to the user. Smart software, with voice and face recognition, will create more convenience in offering adapted content, sales modules and payment processes. You should be prepared for that. We’re not talking about science fiction. There still are some moral and technical issues to tackle; however, we better get used to the idea that digitised genetic-based access to personal financial data will create dramatically more user convenience.

What has the plethora of (stand-alone) analytics tools and solutions available meant to both publisher considerations and CMS development?

I’ve always been a persistent defender of introducing KPIs in newsrooms. What a terrible idea to produce content without knowing in detail if your work will be mentioned and appreciated once published. Most publishers introduced several analytic tools – not all of them were valuable in journalistic impact measurement or in news ROI calculations.

My advice: simplify and clean up your KPIs and try to find out which analytic tool has a considerable added value for your specific news brand. Do not over-analyse and do not exhaust your staff with details that, at their best, just deliver small, detailed progress.

Integrate analytics that have a real impact on your results. Make them user-friendly and clear, so that your newsroom will be able to assimilate them almost automatically.

How is AI playing a role in CMS?

AI will fundamentally change the interaction between news production and news consumption. AI is very promising for the newspaper business. Even more than in most other industries, in-depth knowledge of your client behaviour, needs and feelings is key in shaping a successful path and a strong relationship with your brand. Newspapers should embrace the AI opportunities.

In the decision process for a CMS investment, AI is a yield calculation with an open end. How fast AI will affect your client relationship? What agility level do you, as a news production company, need to achieve to stay relevant in the AI era? In the relationship between news and users, agility is of more importance than solid perfection.

Luc Rademakers is a management consultant with broad experience leading media transformation in executive roles for print, television, radio and digital. He is Managing Director at KOGO Associated Partners. KOGO’s expertise is auditing the ROI of content production. Luc is a member of the Global Advisory Team at WAN-IFRA.

Share via
Copy link