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The phrase "content management" refers to a broad and somewhat elusive concept in the intranet community. In this article, we "get our hands around" the concept by examining its real meaning and purpose.

What is Content Management, Really?

Content management, simply stated, is the process of sharing information vital to an organization. Likewise, intranet content management involves sharing information using the private computer networks and associated software of intranets (or extranets) as a primary communication tool. In today's "information society," where the total quantity of data and the pace of communication continue to increase, the goal of effective content management continues to gain importance.

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In one sense, content management processes existed well before intranets or computer technology were developed. Interesting pieces of information were methodically shared within organizations through -- among other things -- memorandums, ledger books, or telegrams. As computers proliferated, "document management" processes were developed to control versioning and access to electronic documents specifically. In the computer industry today, however, the term "content management" refers to computer-based data management generally and in particular to content models centered on Web publishing and Web technology standards.

One modern form of content management system takes a Webmaster-centered approach. This approach dedicates the time of appointed individuals to the task of manually reviewing, sometimes re-formatting (typically in HTML), and releasing content and supporting software to a Web site. This approach may be satisfactory for some intranets, but in general, the expectations and technology of intranets have evolved in recent years to an extent that makes this approach much less appealing.

Today a number of vendors offer software implementations of content management systems that attempt to alleviate "Webmaster bottleneck" by automating menial tasks and otherwise distributing workload. Such products include most or all of the following key features:

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