Firmware spreads CMS cheer

Firmware spreads CMS cheer

The hardest part about content management is getting the products to market, according to Marius Coomans, managing director of FirmwareDesign.

"The IT business is still very much about moving boxes," he said. "Not just hardware, but software as well. But these products have to be truly integrated and the challenge is to help the customer incorporate it into their existing business systems."

Last month, Firmware ran a series of seminars in Sydney and Melbourne with content management solutions (CMS) company Ektron, to demonstrate how the software can be integrated into existing and new Web sites and intranets. Ektron's eWebEditPro software is a browser-based editing tool that has been licensed by some of the leading CMS companies, such as Vignette, Interwoven and Macromedia, and allows users to create edit or add content in compliant HTML using an interface that is similar to Microsoft Word. Rather than compete with the big players, Ektron's product suite is aimed at the small-to-medium sector.

"High-end content management only covers a thin band in the pyramid," said Ektron CEO and president Bill Rogers, who was in Australia for the seminars. "But there are hundreds of millions of Web pages out there. The content problem is that it is getting bigger by the day because the Web is the cheapest way to market products and services. You need a management process around that, but at the same time you have homegrown systems that are getting into more sophisticated issues."

Ektron's product automates the process of getting content back to the dynamic Web server, bringing the process back to those who produce it rather than the IT department. It also helps stop issues such as accidental publishing and IT bottlenecks. Under the system, the Web site becomes the user interface, with approval processes and stylistic controls that can be incorporated to maintain the consistency of both the content and style.

The Department of Treasury and Finance of Western Australia recently chose the system over 96 other candidates. The company's success in Australia has been largely due to having FirmwareDesign as a distribution partner, he said. "There is no way we could be in Australia without Firmware. They have taken the products and they understand how a developer would customise it."

Firmware's Coomans said developers must also consider the cultural issues of the company in terms of business management when implementing these sorts of solutions. "We understand how to get these products to market, and we work to help developers work more like integrators in that respect," he said.

Ektron believes Web CMS can:

- Reduce maintenance costs by one-third

- Reduce labour costs for content authoring and design by one-half- Reduce the risk of publishing erroneous, out-of-date content- Increase revenues and profits through increased sales

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