Feb. 28 2024 10:57 AM

If you’re not buying into enterprise content management, GenAI-enabled search and a customer data platform, you’re not future-fit


In the digital transformation era, what most needs digitization is multiform content. Enterprise content management systems (CMSes) are how that will get done. That market is predicted to grow at CAGR of almost 10% to $37.7 billion by 2026 (MarketsandMarkets.com), so businesses have gotten the memo. If they run on the cloud, so much the better. The following are a few leading SaaS ECM products.

IBM Content Services – IBM offers SaaS, low code, AI-enhanced ECM on the AWS cloud to search, manage, share, govern and collaborate on content without sacrificing IBM’s legendary high-end, robust, production punch. AI extracts insights from unstructured content, and robotic-sped collaboration lets internal and external users elegantly share content with no wait-time to any device. Production workflow with FileNet Content Manager is also available. Management of all file shares and repositories from a single solution permits unified governance.

Microsoft’s OpenText Core – This product is one of several content management services that Microsoft offers. It does relatively simple but inclusive content management tasks. Being on Azure adds certain capabilities and permits it to scale relatively well. Its differentiator is this: It can be accessed from inside Microsoft 365 and leverages tools in Microsoft 365 office apps. It also offers expedited integration with common enterprise apps like SAP and Salesforce.

Microsoft dominates the mid-range. This product lets users manage, share and collaborate on content with ease-of-use. It also features comprehensive governance and no code programming and integration.

Oracle SaaS CMS – Running on AWS and Azure clouds, the Oracle product is headless -- meaning it’s backend-only that accesses a database for storing digital assets where app development happens and where roles and rules for use are granularly defined. Most significantly it’s where publishing occurs – there’s no front-end -- via integration across content, collaboration and design in a single authoring and publishing environment. Developers create, manage but also publish content using predefined building blocks like standard out-of-the-box templates, sample page layouts, etc. or front ends developers customize, whether a website, mobile app, online stores, blogs, etc. This makes the presentation layer more flexible and use-focused than with other types of CMS, so it’s great for organizations that need complete control and flexibility over how content is accessed. However, it requires more work to set up. Of course, it comes with built-in workflows for collaborating with digital assets and a storage hub for assets. It aspires to the high-end. There are a raft of pure-play search specialists out there. Contentful is representative.

Contentful – Running on AWS cloud, this is a pure-play headless SaaS CMS that’s unique because it’s built and functions as a composable environment, offers page-based templated creation so users can more easily add and publish content, and distributes content via APIs to multiple platforms like mobile and desktops with one click. It takes some time to set up, but then is quite powerful and flexible. It’s fine for mid/high-range customers.


Despite popular nomenclature, we do not live in the Information Age – we live in the Data Age. When you want to use your data to market and sell instead of just manage, you’ll need a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP is software that collects and organizes behavioral, demographic and transactional customer data from many channels and sources like CRM, marketing automation tools, e-commerce, etc. to create a unified customer profile that better personalizes and targets marketing, sales and customer service.

CDP is a rip-and-replace solution that replaces Martech and related tech. Though CDP links to other apps, it’s a platform, so customer-related apps sit on it. It’s complicated and a heavy lift and can take months to years and lots of money to deploy. That’s acceptable for large organizations with the requisite capital and resources competing with same. Not so for SMBs. Consider recent findings from a Harris poll: 66% of consumers rate customer experience ahead of price when making a purchase; 37% will go elsewhere absent a good experience. But 63% of marketers admit they struggle to execute personalization. This disconnect leaves consumers pinballing between companies searching for personalized service. In the SMB space this does not have to be the case.

SMBs challenged for capital and resources can now engage with SaaS solutions like the Redpoint SaaS Delivery Option for CDP. This vendor is in the vanguard of what’s an inevitable movement to SaaS CDP. Remember when whale apps like ERP were thought too vast and complex to go SaaS? Vendors resisted it because they made a ton on professional services to install and integrate it. However, with years-long deployment cycles, many “solutions” proved more expensive than expected and outmoded by the time they were finished. Customers did not proffer even withering praise for them. Eventually, these vendors launched SaaS versions of what they previously claimed were apps too largescale and complex to be pared down. So it’s going with CDP.

Redpoint offers CDP for personalized experience via a single customer view at scale with best-in-class security and availability SLAs. It comes with pre-configured marketing channels including SMS, social, email, direct mail and more for omnichannel engagement. It also delivers dynamic content on digital channels like websites and landing pages and provides campaign templates for a series of preconfigured customer journeys from hello to cross-sell and retention. Running on Microsoft Azure cloud gives it scale as well as advanced authentication, encryption and monitoring for data, accounts and identities. Its web user interface surfaces voluminous customer descriptors – name, address, email, social profiles and key metrics like lifetime customer value, behavioral data and marketing and transaction history – all to enable next-best-action wherever in the customer journey. Because it’s SaaS, Redpoint deployment and time to value are fast.

The Search Wars

You probably don’t think about search much because it’s so common and embedded in everything, but Google changed reality. Without Google search, you’d be living in a much more labor-intensive era. Now that Microsoft has invested billions into OpenAI and used it to create its Generative AI-based CoPilot program, Google’s 98% market share might drop a few percentage points in the short term.

Google’s launch of Bard – its first attempt to compete with CoPilot, and more specifically Bing search in CoPilot – was underwhelming. Google’s now offering its Search Generative Experience that lets you pose questions and get answers with follow-up questions – as with Bing – to do deeper search. Longer term, however, expect CoPilot to steal more market share. It is interlarded through Microsoft 365 and will boom in that ubiquitous legacy platform. Google’s antitrust trial may also turn out bad for the company. All these factors might turn the search wars in Microsoft’s favor.

Enterprise Search Specialists

The latest technology behind specialized search-only products may confound you. What you care about is results, though, not what happens behind your device’s screen. So I will not speak of tech here, save in general terms.

Algolia – With 71+ data centers in 17 regions around the world this product is virtual, scalable, with a 99.999% uptime SLA, so bulletproof, and with average retrieval times of <50 milliseconds has Olympian speed. But retrieval speed is probably not the differentiator it once was, especially if a percentage of its hits are junk. Can you tell if an engine is .0001% faster than its competitors? Not if you’re human. You care if it’s up to par as a standalone offering and affordable.

If an SMB – the sweet spot for SaaS – can save thousands a month on a SaaS search product for .001% less speed, it’ll probably take it, providing relevance is good. If it’s buying an app or platform with search of that speed and it’s got 1000 users searching simultaneously all day long using the product in which the engine is embedded, then its big concern is bandwidth. Can the SaaS software provider deliver speeds over its network from its data centers to deliver on its SLA to satisfy the customer’s simultaneous users? That’s why the clout of the search product’s partners and its reference accounts are critical.

Insight Engines

Though search is overlooked too often, it makes a big difference – Almost everywhere. It allows faster operations and time to product and speedier, more focused marketing. Speed, however, can be misleading. Getting bad data fast is a losing strategy. Speed now in search is table stakes. Relevance is the differentiator.

Which brings us to insight engines – they’re all about relevance. According to Gartner, they’re search engines that define content according to type and derive from it data that can be indexed for query, extraction and use via a range of touchpoints. They provide richer indexes, more complex queries, elaborated relevancy methods and multiple touchpoints.

Insight engines search and are enhanced with ML and often NLP to yield data in content that hits relate to. Even if the user writes less effective queries, the engine is smarter than the user and still does pretty effective search.

These products deliver more than meaningful content – they’re also optimally relevant so they extrapolate novel insights. They pull data from content for people and information from content for machines to discover knowledge the user does not even know to request. Touchpoints are the loci of data in content, whether in internal apps, platforms or externally on websites, product catalogues, etc. – anywhere search searches.

Lucidworks’ Springboard SaaS excels in e-commerce, retail, customer support and internal knowledge base use cases for insight delivery for customers and employees. It can search, browse and personalize – the first for internal knowledge bases and building product pages, the second for external web searches, the third for customer support and searching for a product in e-com and retail product catalogues. Lucidworks understands customer intent so customers get instantaneous product recommendations for personalized experiences throughout the CX journey to yield merchandisers (called “searchandisers”) more revenue for less effort. It also scales as needed for peak and off-peak shopping periods.

Suffice it to say, just about any IIM product can come in a SaaS version. SMBs can expect fast deployment, lower costs and great benefits when they take advantage of SaaS.

John Harney is President of SaaSWatch, a SaaS consultancy and IT journalism service where for over 30 years he’s consulted and reported on SaaS business strategies, technology and use cases and intelligent information management across all markets. He’s particularly focused on technologies related to Cloud, SaaS, AI and Content Services. You can reach him at 240.877.5019 and jharney583@gmail.com.

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