(This article was originally published in WAN-IFRA’s research report, “Trends in CMS,” published in December. It is EidosMedia’s vision of today’s CMS. The technology provider supported the report, which was largely based on a global survey of news media and system experts.)
Not long ago most CMS users could visualise their workspace as being physically located in the server stacks behind the newsroom.
Nowadays many of them would find it harder to say where or what it was.
Two developments have driven this disappearance – one accidental, the other part of a wider trend.
Exodus of the editorial staff
The first was the rush to remote working that followed the onset of the pandemic two years ago. CMS suppliers like Eidosmedia suddenly found massive demand for their mobile-deployable client apps as newsrooms emptied from Canada to Asia-Pacific (1).
Many of those news teams are still in remote working mode. As one of the responses to the report survey indicates, a majority of respondents expect more than half their staff to continue to work outside the newsroom in the future.
Recreating collaborative space
The experience was an acid test for remote working solutions: in particular, it showed the vital importance of effective planning and collaborating tools.
It turns out that there are features of the physical office environment that remote working apps often struggle to reproduce.
One of these is the effortless collaboration between teams, the easy sharing of screens and paper documents, casual chats and shouts across the office.
Deprived of these informal channels, remote working risks becoming an isolating, disjointed process. Chats and emails fail to provide the ‘glue’ that efficient teamwork requires.
“… a remote workspace that replicates the effectiveness of a well-managed newsroom or office”
When whole teams ejected from the newsroom began using Eidosmedia Swing remote working apps, the value of the shared planning space and teamwork channels became apparent: each team member has their tasks and materials at their fingertips. The progress and state of play of each item and news product is immediately visible.
The ideal distributed CMS
Adopting these tools, users of Swing remote apps found themselves working in something approaching the ideal distributed CMS: a remote workspace that replicates the effectiveness of a well-managed newsroom or office.
Exodus of the infrastructure
The second development involved the physical hosting of the CMS. That, too, has moved out of the newsroom into an imprecisely located ‘cloud’.
Over half of Eidosmedia’s customers have taken this step so far and most of the rest plan to do so shortly.
Behind the migration lie a number of factors from cost savings (estimated at between 20% and 40%) to enhanced security and disaster recovery (major concerns for many users at the moment).
But another response from the survey points to an even more important long-term benefit: nearly half the respondents identified their biggest CMS challenge as “Implementation of new features takes too long and impacts our go-to-market.”
Local CMS deployments tend to lag behind new product releases because users are understandably reluctant to face the disruption that a local upgrade may entail.
A cloud deployment, on the other hand, can be updated constantly and invisibly in the background, ensuring that the operation benefits from the latest features and enhancements without impacting everyday operations.
A testbed for new tools
Another important benefit of a cloud-based CMS is the possibility of using it as a testbed for innovation.
Many innovative tools (often themselves cloud-based) are becoming available to journalists and editorial staff. A lot of them make use of the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, not to replace the work of authors and editors, but to make it more productive by taking care of repetitive and routine tasks.
A cloud-hosted platform provides a risk-free environment where innovative tools can be tried out and quickly integrated or discarded, without interfering with day-to-day operations.
“… a risk-free environment where innovative tools can be tried out and quickly integrated or discarded”
AI-assisted editorial and layout
Examples of such tools currently being integrated into Eidosmedia’s platforms include automatic tagging of stories and images, auto-generation of summaries and powerful semantic search functions.
For print editions, AI-guided creation of page layouts is a promising area, while intelligent analysis of reader behaviour and preferences can enhance the important process of content monetization and subscription management.
By allowing the interactions between readers and content to be analysed and optimized, the AI-enabled CMS can make a decisive contribution to the productivity and sustainability of the whole news operation.