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CMS trends to watch (or you’ll be left behind)

Di Mace

June 28th, 2021

Written by

Di Mace


Product Management


Competition in a world that’s so online, has never been tougher. And the bar for content experiences is being reset higher, with every digital visit. 

But you’d already know that… there are high expectations for publishers to create innovative content, and a low threshold for error, so competition is fierce. Every time you see something different, you want it, and often users are demanding you to create your own version. Tomorrow. Which makes for the perfect storm of pressure on both your Content Management System (CMS) and your development team – to handle the break-neck speed of change. 

However, the reality is that it doesn’t matter who takes the next, first or last step in the CMS race, or provides the latest great experience. Why? Because regardless of who made the move, once it’s been made and adopted, every publisher (and CMS) has to provide the same capability. Right now. If you don’t, you’re left behind. 

So, what are the CMS trends to watch? 

CMSs arrived close behind the birth of the internet. They started with simple, static text-only based blogs and have since evolved into today’s complex WYSIWYG rich text editors with advanced rich media embedding capabilities. Content is no longer simply bolditalicize or underline.

The global CMS market continues to grow

It’s not an overstatement, that we’re dealing with more information than ever before, and the vast majority is in digital format. The market stats raise the stakes, in keeping up with that growth.

According to a report released by Zion Market Research, the global content management software market was valued at approximately USD 35,903 million in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 123,500 million by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 16.7% between 2019 and 2026.

The report states: “The exponential growth in digital content across various enterprises is one of the major factors likely to fuel the growth of the content management software market globally over the forecast time period. Businesses across different industries are going through digital revolutions due to the various benefits of digital content, such as better customer relationships, innovations in products and services, cost savings, and enhanced decision-making capabilities.” 

It’s also important to consider the global web content management (WCM) market, which includes related tools such as content analytics, digital asset management, and editing tools.

In 2017, the WCM industry was valued at around $4.8 billion and is expected to reach over $11 billion by 2023, amounting to a CAGR of 15%. 

With that report now a few years old, who knows what the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had on industry growth, with more rapid digital transformation happening globally.

While CMS remains the most significant portion of the industry, web experience management solutions make up a growing portion of the market. Key factors that impact the CMS industry's growth include an increase in demand for digital marketing solutions, a growing digital retail sector, and increasing consumer demand for omnichannel experiences.

The five forces shaping CMS use and development

According to a report released by Forrester Research in April 2021, the five trends shaping content services, their usage and new capability developments are: 

  1. The increased adoption of intelligent content services, like AI and machine learning (ML)
  2. The rising need to support post-pandemic flex work 
  3. Growing support for making external stakeholders’ participants in essential processes
  4. Renewed interest in knowledge management
  5. The emerging future of documents. 

Given these forces play across a few areas, it seems likely that everything to do with content and business documentation, can anticipate massive, fast changes.  

It also means that your CMS should ideally keep your content sorted, sharp, and adaptable. Its centralized storage system must maintain your data and assets in a structure that’s organized, yet easily accessible. That’s especially important for industries that are undergoing digital transformation – like healthcare, banking, and insurance. 

At its best, your content management software should also enable greater workplace collaboration – through the integration and management of company documentation and digital assets – by widening access and breaking down the traditionally siloed approaches to information hoarding. 

The growing importance of CMS across companies

Ten or 15 years ago, the biggest IT challenge for most companies was delivering a great web experience. That's no longer true. It’s now said that when it comes to enterprise knowledge, 80% of it is scattered across siloed and disparate information repositories.  

The challenge ahead is understanding how to get the most value out of your unstructured information. The answer? An adaptive CMS that’s sophisticated enough to unravel the complexity, but is easy for your editors, writers, knowledge experts to use, and developers to build.

A great CMS allows for continual innovation, extensions and improvements

It answers the changing expectations of customer (and content) experience and widens the opportunities for interaction and collaboration. To achieve that, there’s tremendous pressure within companies to transform their content (both internal and external facing) so that it’s more accessible on more devices, to accelerate their time to market and build an infinite loop of brand purchase, love and loyalty – without raising their costs. Sounds like a tough call.

Perhaps looking back at those five trends can give you some answers.

The CMS trends to watch

1. Intelligent content services = automated responses

Companies continue to automate functionalities to help reduce costs and the time associated with certain workflows. The rise of AI has meant that chatbots, voice search, and other forms of artificial intelligence are everyday experiences and as our needs change, their availability and flexibility will likewise alter. AI and ML are also being used for content marketing tasks such as analysis, optimization and A/B testing. But most companies still can’t keep up so better tools to plan, schedule and execute their content will be needed. 

2. Post-pandemic flex work = intuitive interface

Flex or remote-based teams won’t necessarily have a breadth or depth of experience with CMSs, and you want them to hit the ground running. Therefore a simple, intuitive interface that makes sense for everyone – not just the digital mavens – is essential. Editing tools should be easy-to-find or delivered via user-friendly actions like drag-and-drop functionality. While additional features such as spell checkingclean copy-paste and @mentions, all deliver more efficient workflows and increased productivity.

3. Device agnostic = better personalization

Ideally, your team shouldn’t need in-depth coding experience to use the CMS. Instead, it should have a simple WYSIWYG rich text editor (what-you-see-is-what-you-get), so they can preview content before publishing. If you plan to personalize your content, look for a CMS that allows your team to preview how it will appear to different audiences, on their favored platforms and individual devices. An added bonus is the ability to export the content – for internal sharing, approval and review – prior to publishing.

4. Knowledge management = accurate standardization

Once upon a time, the trend was to decentralize a company’s archives – different departments used different systems and had different protocols for updates, compliance and communication. Companies are now centralizing their archiving solutions – especially in compliance-related work areas – thereby ensuring that important information is standardized and centralized. That means information silos are now passe and are instead replaced by improved interdepartmental accuracy and faster workflows.

5. Future of documents = accessibility

Some analysts estimate that knowledge workers spend up to 30% of their time searching for information. That’s a lot of lost productivity. Traditionally considered boring, document management is finally getting its moment in the sunshine. With the explosion of knowledge workers come increased importance on managing information – so that teams can competitively perform their jobs – and a better understanding of how efficient document management directly impacts profits and performance.

Keeping up with the ever-changing digital universe is hard. It’s constantly evolving. 

While there are hundreds of CMS products, what works for one organization may not deliver the same value for another, especially given the possible differences in culture, growth trajectory and business requirements. 

The best advice is to find a CMS that deeply considers your content creation and development teams, by making their jobs easier without unnecessary workarounds or learning new skills.

The right CMS makes it intuitive for them to succeed.

byDi Mace

Messaging strategist and copywriter whose passion lies in working with brands like Tiny, that have deep-seated values and embrace the power of their story. She gets a kick out of solving problems, loves learning new things and making stuff, every day. When she’s not thinking through clever copy lines or clarifying value propositions, she’s knitting amazing socks for everyone she knows.

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