Content Management Systems (CMS) are any method of organizing electronic information. With the rise of the internet, the phrase was adopted as a catch-all to describe a wide range of systems that allowed users to create, edit, manage and publish website content.
Although in the early 1990's people were able to update some type of online content with products from both Microsoft and Lotus, the earliest example of a pure Content Management Tool came from Vignette with StoryServer around 1996. The next few years saw many CMS packages being released from the likes of Documentum, Interwoven and Broadvision.
Between 2000 and 2005, the sector went through a massive wave of merger and acquisitions leaving a number of users unsupported after packages were abandoned and difficulties as packages were merged.
By 2007 there were 3 types of Content Management System:
1) Software Editing
These systems deal with the editing on a local machine or network and then rely on publishing to upload the new content to the website. Typically these offline systems require installation of software before editing can be undertaken.
2) Online Editing
These systems typically require no software installation, giving flexibility to edit on any machine as long as a user has password access. Online content management systems can be very simple such as Wiki's through to sophisticated CMS editor functions such as Vx.
3) Hybrid Systems
Hybrid systems allow users to edit content online through an online editing system, but allow for "checking out" of content to work away from the system before the content is put back into the online editor.
2008 and the future …
Content management systems have become extremely sophisticated allowing users to manage and manipulate text, images, documents, audio, video and animations.
New developments have brought the concepts behind Content Management Systems (non technical or design staff managing their websites) into other fields of the marketing mix. A number of systems have integrated email marketing functionality into their CMS, allowing tracking between the email and website functions.
Cutting edge systems have begun to bring the offline into the content management platform. Print materials, PDFs and other offline communications are now being managed through CMS systems in a similar way to websites and emails.