Content Management Isn't What You Think It Is

February 24, 2009

Posted in Higher Ed.

Content management means a lot of different things. Consider these:

  • HR policies that need to get updated and revised
  • Video content that is consistently tagged with appropriate metadata, that feeds to multiple delivery channels
  • Institutional information such as award winners or past presidents that might be displayed on a website
  • Descriptive copy for a program that appears on a dozen websites linking back to the program’s website
  • A student record that lives for years and is accessed by dozens of departments and services on campus

These are all different pieces of content. And not all of them are intended for display on the web. Some are internal and need to be locked down. Other content may be used for a print or television ad. It may be ported to a completely different medium or used in unforeseen ways.

This all falls under the guise of “content management.” Sometimes this is described as institutional or enterprise content management. There are subsets, too. Digital asset management (DAM) is a popular term for what creative agencies might use. Document management and Customer Relationship or Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) systems are common, too.

As always, content management systems are a HUGE topic in higher ed. But I find most of these conversations revolve around web content management. I call Conductor, our home-brewed CMS, a “web CMS,” or a wCMS. With all the acronym soup, why not throw another one in there to distinguish ourselves?

These CMSes all deal with “content” of a sort. But this is bigger than any one of those. And it’s kind of daunting.


I believe this is NOT a technology issue: it’s a process issue. We should be technology-agnostic. Technology changes and you can’t predict the future. You’re likely to be stuck with a solution for a long time. So by adopting the right process, policies, and culture, the technology and tool should support whatever growth and changes may come later.

Do you have any experience with this level of content management? Abstract, enterprise-wide, and infinitely flexible? How about a failed attempt?