Content management vendors should court interactive agencies who have their own content mangement solutions

This isn’t really new information. As Web Content Management and Enterprise Content Management vendors have seen buying power shift to marketing departments that no longer want IT involved in every decision they make, content management vendors have tried to establish relationships with agencies to take advantage of their direct influence on marketing departments. The question always seems to be which agencies to go after. I was looking at Rockfish Interactive the other day. As a full-service design agency, I expected them to have a set of partners they work with for content management, blogging, etc. Instead, they wrote their own. Sounds like the perfect partner for a WCM/ECM vendor partner to me.

Fifteen years ago, I had to develop my own rudimentary content management system in Perl because there was no real WCM solution. Vignette came out with StoryServer and I drooled, but could not afford it. I have implemented a couple of open source systems along the way and ended up working at Vignette last year. What occurs to me is that companies like Rockfish are right to build their own solutions that fit their specific needs. Implementing solutions from Vignette or Interwoven on project-level bases is cumbersome and expensive, and for smaller companies the overhead of managing these solutions might be daunting. However, small companies grow and their needs grow with them. When the in-house solution cannot handle the scale, a well-positioned partner can step in.

Then again, look at some of the Rockfish clients. These are large organizations that presumably have content management systems scattered throughout, but promotional microsites are often easier to deploy without using a full-scale WCM/ECM solution. A partnership might provide an opportunity for the agency to introduce an enterprise scale WCM/ECM solution that can prove agile enough to handle both small, ad-hoc projects as well as large formal projects.

The best thing about working with agencies who have homegrown CMS is that they “get it.” They have the ability to sell content management to their clients, so the relationship is not simply a referral or a passed lead. They can hand over a qualified prospect ready to see a demo. I wish all engagements started that way.

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  1. #1 by Kenny Tomlin on February 18th, 2009 - 7:10 pm

    Interesting article and perspective. Thank you for highlighting our agency. I thought I would add a little commentary from the inside.

    I made the decision when starting Rockfish that we would develop our own Content Management Software for a few reasons:

    1) We are a technology driven digital agency. Our programmers outnumber our creative’s 3 to 1. We love getting our hands dirty with the code.

    2) We wanted complete control and flexibility. We have never had to say “the software can’t do it.” Our CMS has been deployed numerous times for both small and large companies, and each time it’s custom tailored to their exact needs. You would be surprised how scalable and robust our CMS is. You may also be surprised by some of the custom functionality we have developed for a client that you wouldn’t find in even a full-scale CMS.

    3) We want form and function to compliment each other. Our sites are hopefully as easy to manage as they are to browse. I think it is every bit as important that a digital agency architect the back-end experience for their client as it is the front-end for the sites audience.

    I do know that there are a lot of great CMS products on the market. We have worked with some on projects where the client already had a relationship or preference. However, at Rockfish we have found that owning our own technologies has been a competitive advantage for us and has allowed our team to support our clients needs, regardless of how unique they may be. By the way, most of the craziest requirements we have created didn’t come from the IT department or our users, but from their legal department.

    Thanks again for the great posting and insight.

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