To boldly go where they have gone before

  • 7-Mar-2008

Web CMS vendor SDL Tridion has opened a new office in Germany, almost eight years to the date after their first attempt. Which prompts the question: why would it be so hard for a Dutch software vendor to do business with their immediate neighbors, especially because outside our narrow realm of content management, ties between the two countries are very close?

Tridion's new digs in "Internationale Stadt" Mülheim an der Ruhr may not present as fancy a location as say, the Amsterdam or New York offices, but at least it's in the heart of commercial Germany. Tridion has certainly come a long way since their first offering, "DialogServer," and since the company's second foray into the North America seems to have started off much more successfully than its first try, the time might be right to give Germany another go.

But after visiting conferences in both North America. and Europe, I find it odd to see that while the web certainly has a global reach, most content management products -- and many best practices -- clearly do not. The U.S. still thinks the World Series is, well, the World Series. To be sure, there's some cross-pollination among Northern European countries (the U.K., Scandinavia, and The Netherlands); I meet a lot of the people I see in that region across the Atlantic, as well. It's not uncommon to have Australians make the long trip to participate, and I certainly know there's no shortage of content management expertise in India.

But there are still some big divides. Are they governed primarily by the fact that English isn't the world-wide lingua franca we tend to think it is? My experience in the relative micro-cosmos of Europe certainly suggests this. The German-speaking regions, content technology customers and suppliers alike more or less stick to their boundaries, as do the French, Spanish and Italian communities. Occasionally, we find out about a vendor that has "quietly" been building a very capable product (such as Nuxeo or Exalead). And there's certainly evidence that customers in Italy and beyond are dealing with much the same problems as anyone else.

Of course, I'm aware that this represents my very Dutch point of view. But the CMS Watch Reports are read around the world, which is why I'd love to hear more about what everyone's up to -- mail me and set the record straight. Is there more than open source in Italy? Got an exciting enterprise search implementation going in Nairobi? Let me know!

In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see whether Tridion will manage to convince the world there's more than tulips and windmills to The Netherlands. Some concepts translate well, but it's time to put the theory to the test: is content management a transcultural process, and can a system bridge the divide?

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