TicketsNow, an online ticket portal based in Crystal Lake, Ill., needed to streamline the way its growing volume of content was uploaded to its website. A content management system was in order for the growing business.

“Because it’s important for TicketsNow to provide customers with the best experience possible, we needed a content management system to continually update our site quickly and provide relevant, persuasive and personalized content,” explains Frank Giannantonio, the company’s chief technology officer.

As its name suggests, a content management system (CMS) can best be described as software designed to help companies store, organize, and share content anywhere and anytime via the Web -- be it documents (such as sales materials), artwork (e.g. a company logo) or any other content that requires attention. If your site is anything more than a simple brochure, you may want to consider a CMS to help you manage the adding and updating of pages and sections to your site.

Giannantonio says his company went with CMS technology provider Interwoven, “because it eliminated IT bottlenecks and put the ownership of the site’s content in the hands of the content creators.” Interwoven has nearly 3,700 customers worldwide, including prestigious accounts such as Hilton, British Telecom, and Adidas.

One system, one version of content

One reason why fast-growing companies need to consider a CMS is to make sure that everyone is working from the same version of content -- whether it’s in Microsoft Word or Adobe PhotoShop. Say a company is e-mailing around a press release to staff for approval.  Each executive is editing the copy, adding notes and then sending it onto to someone else to sign off on it. What if somewhere in the process, the wrong version is saved as “final”? The next thing you know, the document -- with incorrect information -- is posted to the website for all the world to see.

“The idea is to streamline the entire system, to provide a single source of truth for managing and delivering information,” says Eben Miller, director of product marketing for Web content management at Interwoven, a Sunnyvale, Calif. CMS vendor. “Content is king, and a CMS owns this content assembly line from creation to management to approval to delivery.”

Tips on choosing a CMS

The following are a few tips on what to look for in a content management system:

  • A CMS must be easy to install, learn and use. “Even a non-technical person should be able to publish content through the system easily,” says Miller.
  • Look for open standards in your CMS. An open platform that integrates to your existing system with creative tools will help your content creators keep your site fresh.
  • A good CMS should work with all popular content creation programs, such as adding the option to “Publish to Web” after clicking on File within Microsoft Word.
  • Find a CMS that has security features for content storage and access.
  • A CMS system can help customers help themselves via the Net instead of using expensive call centers. Using Interwoven’s CMS, British Telecom successfully “e-shifted” more than 12 percent of its call center traffic to the Web for self-service support. For the customer, it means an easier, faster, and more convenient way to find the info they need. A CMS helps the info to be itemized, tagged (with keywords) and implemented into the central database.
  • A CMS should enable multi-channel publishing. The content may be designed for the Web but may evolve into other channels, such as print or wireless.
  • CMS solutions need not be expensive, although it depends on your needs, such as whether it’s for departmental use or for global collaboration. On the flipside, a CMS will help your business be more productive, will cut costs, can help efficiently manage your brand and speed up your time to market for launching new products, services or campaigns. “Companies cannot compete on price and location alone these days,” says Miller. “You need accurate and up-to-date content to compete in today’s world.”
  • And to help a company comply with the growing number of regulations impacting financial reporting, customer privacy and other aspects of business, an IT department needs a CMS that offers a full audit trail for all types of content.