This article in Folio about CMSes and DAMs reads like a primer for magazine-based web publishing. It’s a bit dumbed down for those of us in the industry, who’ve been having this exact conversation since, oh, 2006. But that’s precisely why this quote from Time Inc. CIO Mitch Klaif is so hilarious (and hilariously sad). “Time is currently evaluating CMS platforms that offer ‘create once, publish many’ capabilities, but Klaif notes that it is too early to know if these can meet Time’s multi-channel needs.”
It’s too early to know and the company is evaluating CMSes? Interesting spin. Here’s what’s actually going on: Time Inc. uses outdated technology that was created in 1997. I’ll say that again, in all caps: NINETEEN NINETY-SEVEN. They rely heavily on a CMS that was built in 2002. So in web years, that translates to, what, around 50 or 75 years behind the times? Consider that the company that makes the CMS Time Inc. uses doesn’t even exist anymore.
So it’s more than a little disingenuous to claim that “it’s too early to know.” They know, it’s just that what they know is either, “We don’t have a strategy except to keep maintaining this ridiculously outmoded tech that doesn’t even use languages recognized these days and for which the runway is quickly vanishing under our wheels” or “We’re scrambling to find a solution that won’t leave us in this exact same position five years hence, except no one on our tech team is remotely bold or forward thinking, so we have no clue.”
As for the rest of the article, I certainly agree that a CMS or DAM environment that makes assets “smarter” is desirable…and has yet to be built. Letting publishers “easily find and use relevant content — not only based on the article’s specifics, but also on the asset’s relevance to a particular platform” and allowing “access only to assets for which sufficient rights were secured” are both awesome ideas. But no one in publishing does this well.
I’ll grant that media tech — heck, all of tech — is constantly evolving, and often in unpredictable ways, and getting digital rights from writers and photographers is its own hell. But after all these years, no turnkey solution has yet been built. It simply does not exist, and it likely will not until actual technologists take an interest in what publishing is doing and the particular challenges the industry faces. But they probably won’t, because (have you heard?) the media industry is dying, and it’s unable to monetize itself, let alone create forward-thinking systems.
Apparently at Hearst, “Our plan is to have a system where, no matter where content is created, we’ll be able to store it in such a way that it can be easily used on any platform.” Really, is that your plan? Do you plan to do that? How about less “planning,” less “it’s too early” and more doing, building, iterating, testing, shipping code? The time is now; in fact, the time was years ago.
[Disclosure: I used to work at Time Inc.]