Content and Containers (Part 2)

Jan 28

I have a content management problem. You see, I’m moving from one city to another, so am knee-deep in a hard core retention and disposition decision cycle. What to move, what to trash, what to accession to the local good-will store, and what can be permanent retention as fixtures with the house sale. To help with a process that could take a couple of months, I’ve rented a storage unit, to slowly move some household items from the old city to the new city.

I found a great self-storage facility by searching online. Modern, secure, controlled temperature and humidity, 24-hr access, centrally located. I was sold after some comparison research – even before getting the price quote. The prices weren’t posted online, but I got the information I needed pretty quickly with a couple of e-mail exchanges. As I signed the contract, I discussed this with the sales rep. He admitted they were really torn as to whether they should post their prices on the website. They wanted to sell themselves on quality of service and facility, not only the price point, and worried that posting prices would mean people only looked at cost instead of overall ‘value’. I saw his point, but there’s no reason why their current website content couldn’t be structured in a way that naturally flowed from advantages and value, to pricing for the self-selecting, interested prospects. Maybe a couple of clicks deeper, after the interest had been piqued.

And then I got to thinking about ECM pricing… a topic that does get debated on a semi-regular basis.

Content management technology at its core is being commoditized – a vast array of old and new companies offering very similar functionality, though for different architectures and use cases. For the content application buyer with a clear picture of needs and requirements, a high degree of self-service is desirable. Including an understanding and pricing and support/services programs. ┬áCustomers with a less defined set of needs and requirements will lean on vendors more – for better or worse – to help define a technology and business selection criteria. It may even be called a “solution sale”.

Now… my storage unit guy was a solution sales thinker. He asked the right questions about what I planned to do, why I needed the space, and recommended extras I may want to consider in time (premium wine cellar space, packing materials, wardrobe containers). I’ll probably end up buying some of those frills when I need them.

But what if my storage unit guy was a typical ECM sales person?… Is this what would happen next?

Of course, none of this will happen. That would be crazy, wouldn’t it. But it kind of makes you wonder how the digital content management and storage vendors can get away with fuzziness and imprecision on pricing when the physical storage companies can’t.