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Gilbane Conference Boston: Web Management for the Enterprise
Review by Daniel P. Dern
 ISBN/ITEM#: dpd101203
Date: 03 December 2010

Links: GIlbane Boston Conference Site /

The Gilbane Conference held in Boston November 30 through December 2, 2010 brought a mix of enterprise and web content management tool vendors, and others, for those looking to better wrangle their content. Here's a report on the exhibitor area, and some related thoughts.

Unlike the huge, sprawling technology trade shows mostly of yesteryear (other than the annual Consumer Electronics Show in La Vegas), the Gilbane Conference that took place in Boston this week (November 30 through December 2, 2010) is one the newer-ish, smaller, focused-turf events, small enough fit in a piece of a hotel... but with enough speakers and sessions to justify interested attendees and pertinent exhibitors to come from out of town.

The Gilbane Conference's turf is content management for enterprise and web, an area I'm still getting up to speed on. (I did a two-part feature (Part 1, Part 2) on Joomla! extensions and best practices back in September, but that's barely scratching the surface of things. And given that I've got a web site in need of an overhaul, content that needs to be added/pointed to just about daily these days, plus blogs, photos, and other multimedia, it's an issue I've got a personal interest in, as well as professional.)

Content management systems are intended to help businesses and other organizations -- and, in some cases, even individuals -- manage the growing amount and range of info-stuff that wants be not just stored, but made available either internally or externally. "Stuff" includes documents, presentations, audio, video, photos, images, slide shows... and, increasingly, Web 2.0-type content like comments, Tweets.

Ernest Lilley, NAESP Director of Technology (not to mention TechRevu Sr. Editor) observes, "Organizations no longer ave a web site, they have a web -- or Internet presence, in which content needs to be refreshed, added, and managed, including content from employees, business partners, and even comments from individuals. Plus there's all the internal information that has to be managed. This means tools, goals, and a constant effort to manage content across all streams to support the organization's mission. New Media has matured to the point where it's absorbed much of 'old' media, and where one stops and the other begins is no longer discernible."

According to the event's web page, topics covered in sessions or by exhibitors included:

  • Web Content Management (WCM)
  • Content Globalization
  • Enterprise Social Software
  • Enterprise Mobile Content
  • Authoring & Publishing
  • SharePoint
  • XML & XBRL
  • Enterprise & Site Search
  • Semantic Technologies
  • Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Since I'm local, I had the time to poke my head in briefly at the event -- I didn't get to any of the sessions, but did a brisk walk through the exhibitors, chatting with each long enough to get a sense of who they were, what they did, and what size and piece of the market (enterprise, SMB, SOHO) they aimed at.

And indeed, the vendors weren't just for content management per se. There were at least two XML editors, several translation/localization vendors, a few web presence developers or advisers.

Here's some notes on exhibitors, based on my chats and/or literature I picked up:

AOE MEdia's Typo3 is an Open-Source enterprise CMS which, according to their literature is running sites for companies including Cisco webex, Thomas Cook, Lufthansa, T-Mobile, Konica Minolta, Ford and GE.

Alterian Content Manager v7 is for managing "online presence" -- not just web sites, but also social media and more, and used via a desktop client or a browser-based web client. Features include a work-flow engine (e.g., for sign-offs), "fade-down" to let you know what parts of a page you can/can't edit, a to-do list... and content creation can be done using Microsoft Word saving to Alterian's Content Repository.

Percussion CM1, built on the company's CM System enterprise management web content platform, has a browser-based drag-and-drop UI that "makes it possible for businesses to create, launch and maintain sophisticated websites with no development required." Organizations using Percussion web content management software include Hotwire, the American Museum of Natural History, Princess Cruises, Salary.com, and Tivo. And if I recall correctly, while CM1 is being used by enterprises, it's usable even by single-user organizations like me -- time permitting, I'll see if I can confirm that.

Crown Peak is a SaaS web content management system -- good for the install-averse.

Kapow Software claims that their Kapow Content Migration can cut the time, cost and pain to migrate content from one system to a CMS ("from any system to any content management system," their literature boasts). For companies that already have content (like me) that they want to be in a content management system, that typically means work, whether it's hand-coding HTML, or cutting and pasting, or writing scripts; Kapow cites examples on how they've saved customers lots of time and money.

XML editing tools on display included Crowell Solutions' RocketSled, "a fully-functional XML editor that works completely without Microsoft Word."

One of the more distinctive vendors was Congree Language Technologies, whose Authoring Assistance for Professionals software -- if I recall correctly what the booth person said -- is "like spell/grammar/style check on steroids." It's not just about spelling, but also about suggesting/enforcing consistent word choice, which in turn can reduce translation costs, improve web search results, and more.

For many -- possibly including me -- it's entirely possible that blog-level tools like WordPress may be all the CMS/WCMS we need. But if your company needs more content management horsepower -- or associated capabilities -- there's an interesting bunch of choices out there.

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