Future-proofed, streamlined CMS supports newsrooms’ ability to innovate, be sustainable

By Sarah Robins

Livingdocs

Zürich, Switzerland

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When it comes to digitalisation initiatives and adopting new systems, one key question is top of news publishers’ minds: Build or buy?

It is our belief that digital media brands should only build tech if they either cannot buy it or it’s fundamental to their business and outsourcing would create mission-critical delays. However, regardless of the approach a publisher takes, the goal should be the same: to work with sustainable, future-ready technology that enables editors to focus on creating content by providing everything they need without extra fluff or friction.

Media companies should not waste the time or resources building their own CMS when resources exist to help streamline technology like this that aids in efficiency and innovation.
Media companies should not waste the time or resources building their own CMS when resources exist to help streamline technology like this that aids in efficiency and innovation.

When news publishers invest huge amounts of resources and effort into digitalisation initiatives in order to (hopefully) optimise their workflows and content management, the last thing they want is to end up with a technology that cannot adapt with the times, effectively rendering itself obsolete.

It is crucial media companies work with a content management system that not only offers modern industry-specific features, but is also both robust and flexible enough to handle innovation and ongoing evolution. Moreover, it should be able to do so without becoming so bulky that it slows operations down, or requiring that the systems slate be wiped clean every time a change is needed.

To be sure, technology cannot remain static lest it risk presenting more of a hindrance than a help; no news publisher wants to go through the trouble of replacing a new content management system (CMS) after only a few years due to its inability to evolve seamlessly. And in an industry that is continually reassessing and rebuilding business models, the regular replacement approach is unnecessarily intensive from a resource perspective.

It should be noted that, in the highly dynamic digital media landscape, it isn’t hard to fall behind in the innovation race. Technology is evolving at an exponentially rapid rate, so media companies cannot afford to work with products that cannot keep up. In order to remain innovative, a product must be streamlined, flexible, and sustainable.

Over-customisation is not a sustainable solution, as it means a greater number of moving parts. This, in turn, leads to unnecessary density as well as more dependencies and contingencies which open the door for problems to arise.

Rather than constantly adding things on top of a system, companies should look to a CMS that is consciously updated on a regular basis with fresh features and functionalities — as well as deprecations when a better solution to a problem is found — so the product can remain as streamlined and adaptable as possible without creating bottlenecks in a newsroom’s operations.

This is why it is mission critical to have a lean content management system wherein all the elements are continuously curated for optimal efficiency, relevance, and effectiveness.

The product handling content management must be clearly defined and diversified with true value add so publishers can create world-class journalism. Indeed, adopting a CMS that is developed and “edited” intentionally in response to actual needs and proven technological potential is a strong, straightforward strategy to remain future-proof without wasting unnecessary resources.

For instance, when it comes to adding value while staying ahead in the innovation game, one cannot ignore the burning topic in today’s digital media world: Artificial Intelligence, particularly GenAI. In this context, a CMS can incorporate features supporting these developments without overcomplicating the interface or compromising the integrity and effectiveness of the product.

One way this can be achieved is by making use of generative AI or any other system to implement machine-based “collaborators” to support journalists in doing certain designated work, bringing more flexibility to a newsroom’s workflows. This approach demonstrates consciously keeping up with the evolution of technology rather than being left behind or, conversely, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.

On the other hand, a CMS should be flexible enough that outdated features are easily deprecated and replaced with better, more streamlined solutions.

How to ensure this?

Work with a dedicated team driven to build a product that genuinely makes a positive impact through a process of close exchange and co-creation with news publisher clients. This team should proactively assesses the relevance and effectiveness of core functionalities through self-motivated innovation and ongoing dialogue with customers to ensure the product is responding to actual industry needs articulated by the players themselves.

For example, if news publishers express the desire to reduce clicks in their workflow, the developers behind the CMS should take this into account when they assess their current set of features, uncovering where they could remove unnecessary steps to make a process simpler and faster.

If users need more flexibility configuring dashboards, the team behind the CMS should consider how to enhance this experience. For example, they could implement different filters and columns along with the ability to organise them in the main navigation rather than a separate bar.

Having a streamlined CMS also allows for faster rollouts and greater scalability without incident. Moreover, the leaner the system, the more likely it can be integrated easily into an existing ecosystem. Having a system that is flexible enough to integrate and complement existing integrations of other trusted solutions in the ecosystem is a strong advantage.

Plus, most editors would say a cumbersome CMS is not pleasant to work with and often creates friction in their workflows. Rather, they would prefer to work with a product that is clean and straightforward, supporting their work rather than throwing wrenches into it.

No matter whether news publishers choose to build or buy a new CMS, they must choose a product that can keep up with the evolution with technology without having a negative impact on the processes it should support in the first place.

Focusing on CMS flexibility in the long term will maximise conscious growth potential in both the product itself and the end product it helps produce, while minimising the risk of needing to replace the system and spend unnecessary resources. By rolling out a content management system that is lean, sustainable, and adaptable, news publishers can be confident that their newsroom workflows will be optimised from the moment of the go-live far into the future.

About Sarah Robins

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