Alterian CMS Meme Response

At the beginning of last week a CMS ‘meme’ broke out, where CMS vendor bloggers were challenged to reveal something about their products functionality and then tag other vendors to do similar. Day kicked this off from their developer site using a set of questions posted by Kas Thomas at CMS Watch, In this post, I make a belated Alterian contribution.

Lots of other vendors were soon in, having been tagged. This generated a lot of buzz on Twitter and the CMS blogging community, probably being best documented by Jon Marks on his blog “Jon on Tech”, Irina Guseva’s blog and Julian Wraith’s blog . Day also do a nice job of describing what the meme is all about.

So, I’ll avoid a commentary of what has happened and urge you to visit these blogs for the full story. I share some of the concerns of some of the other vendors – in that basically to describe the CMS software industry as a “broad church” is an understatement and so to try and get a picture of this industry through a few short questions is not going to suit everyone. Vignette put this very well:

It would be great if this meme could start to help all customers understand the broad range of solutions in the big space of WCM applications, and which ones best meet their Web experience needs.

The focus of the questions is on procurement and install, which in our experience (a sentiment shared by plenty of the vendors tagged) is only a small part of why an organisation would choose a vendor. Kas’s original article seems to me, to be focusing on this software as a commodity as a simple service or product who’s procurement should be accessible through the web, he suggests that the web software vendors are out of step with the world in which we sell.

I like Kas’ blog and that has a certain ring to it – but the truth is that implementation of a CMS system is not always about the end result – the website – but actually demands cultural and business process change that does require a much more consultative, solution – in person – sales process and sophisticated post implementation support that may involve multiple parties.

Splitting between the best vendor to fit your CMS needs also takes some thought. As Forrester comment, there is a gap that needs to be bridged between the technical tool set, marketing and the folks that they define as “knowledge and information professionals” – the people that know the stuff you want to get to your audience.

So, user adoption would feature much higher in most projects than how simple the install or software procurement process is.

This business vs technical debate interestingly manifested itself in the decision of where best to respond to this meme, I chose here as I am guessing this audience is more CMS technical focused – but it could have been our new official blog at http://www.this-is-marketing.com. But what would the marketing audience there make of all this techniness? Anyway, I have, as ever digressed…

In agreement with those that have gone before me – to get involved with something like this is a good thing – so, first off, I guess I ought to apologise for our tardiness (a week is a long time in Twitter) and lets get on with the games.

Let me also point out to those that don’t know us – we have two Content Management products aimed at two different markets – detailed here – and our Content Management functionality came by way of the acquisition of Mediasurface (detailed here) and I am going to answer for both products, or editions as we call them.

1. Our software comes with an installer program.

Yes it does.

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.

I think I’d join the others that have answered this with a ‘why is this important’ – but in the spirit of it all – it might not. That would depend on the product and platform you have chosen. If you are implementing our Enterprise edition product for Java delivery on a UNIX box – probably not – if you are implementing on Windows then the pre-requisite software definitely will. If your organization has concerns about rebooting boxes, we or one of partners can host the whole thing for you.

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that.

As a content contributor yes, although some technical administrative functions have not been translated in either product (yet).

4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.

No, although partners do have access to demonstration software and we are pretty reasonable when folks ask for a hosted demo or a POC.

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated “sample web site” and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box.


6. We ship a tutorial.

Both products have detailed in-context help for using the product, for developers we have developer documentation with examples, as well as the example sites.

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface.

No, but that seems pretty neat – the slight problem would be that often first line support is offered by our partners or with an internal team. In the Enterprise product we do have chat functionality, so that you can quickly raise issues with a more experienced user or site administrator.

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install.


9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCM products.

Yes, we are also implementing an integrated web application using to the rest of the Alterian platform – not just the WCM products – to include email and marketing analytics.

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work.

Yes, we have pretty mature, well established WCM sales channel who understand this space, many of our engagements are driven by partners who can also call upon years of experience with both our products and with CMS products in general. The recent acquisition means that we have a whole bunch of new folks to turn into CMS evangelists, but these guys are backed by an incredibly knowledgeable business consulting / pre-sales team.

11. Our software does what we say it does.

Yes – I thought Sitecore’s response to this was interesting – in that if you have a vibrant implementation channel, the onus is on the vendor to stay honest.

12. We don’t charge extra for our SDK.

No, we do not.

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.

Yes, it’s basically a CPU model for Enterprise and a matrix of users and servers for Corporate.

14. We have one price sheet for all customers.

Yes, by product and geography to reflect local markets.

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time.

Yes, I’m here – oh hang on you said ‘top executives’ – our CEO and Marketing VP blogs on www.this-is-marketing.com. Our CTO blogs there too, as well as at Talbot on Technology and is on Twitter – www.twitter.com/mike_talbot

—- Update – been prompted to add this ID: 9c56d0fcf93175d70e1c9b9d188167cf as suggested by Bertrand Delacrétaz to help Google find related pages —-

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14 thoughts on “Alterian CMS Meme Response

  1. Welcome to the party, and thanks for responding. Looking forward to seeing how your products develop (or merge?) in the future.

    And does your answer to #12 mean you do or don’t charge extra for the SDK?

  2. I’m finding this whole “meme” thing quite interesting – gives an idea of what’s out there and who cares about what features. As an English-speaker with only UK-based clients, I never considered the language problems before – will be keeping an eye!

  3. A very thoughtful and well constructed response Ian. Also credit to Jon Marks for his entertaining blog coverage of this. He commented to me in Sweden the other week that he’d love to be a CMS analyst “if only he could write” – I think he’s demonstrated he can do that very well!!!

  4. All – thanks for your comments, sorry to be so tardy in replying – James, you are spot on – Jon Marks blog is a super read.

  5. Very useful information. Thanks for this. You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics.I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

    1. Hi Brad,

      Are you asking me to answer for SDL or for Alterian?

      If it was for SDL – I am too new to do most of the questions justice and an honest answer to 11 won’t come until I have spent more time with customers and understood the experience that they have had. However, the conversations I had prior to joining and the first five days in the job I have been impressed by the focus on customer satisfaction and the stated intention to build that relationship from the foundations of the pre-sale and of course my role is to make sure we can answer 11 with an emphatic yes: “Our software does what we say it does”.

      For Alterian – I answered the question honestly, but it sounds like you have something on your mind. 🙂 I think in the two years since I wrote this, they would admit themselves, that they were slow to deliver on the promise of the acquisition – in terms of delivering an integrated web engagement platform – only now are we seeing this come through in CM7. In any case, I think if you asked me this question two weeks ago, I could have given an opinion – I think today maybe I shall decline, plead the fifth and move onto talking about the weather, the football or something… 😉



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