Last week I was proud to be voted onto the board at CM Pros, to join a pretty new board under the presidency of Scott Liewehr to take this respected community of practice organisation forward. It’s something we’ve been talking about for six months or so and  one look at the industry heavy weights that have been there before gives me an idea of the responsibility ahead for all of us and these are exciting and challenging times for both membership organisations and the discipline of content management.

You may know CM Pros as the LinkedIn group that has almost 13,000 members and a vibrant discussion board – that really gives you an idea of the breadth of this industry and the folks that describe themselves as Content Management Professionals – although how many wearing the LinkedIn badge are actually members?

I make that last point, not to be churlish but it gives you an idea of the challenges ahead for CMPros – how do you make a membership organisation relevant, post this social media revolution?

I am a member of various loosely structured and sometimes transient tribes and communities, powered by social media and a common interest or need to get something done. How do we engage this crowd, beyond a badge on our LinkedIn profiles – to  marshal this incredible resource and improve our industry?

Yes, improve our industry.

Pull up a bar stool between two CMS practitioners and you are moments away from a possibly heated discussion on the definition of CMS, what software tool is and what isn’t a CMS, the business value of a CMS and possibly the relevance of the latest standards.

Depending on who’s history you are reading – the web focused CMS industry has only it’s 15th birthday this year, if we gauge it by product shipped (Vignette Story Server / Interwoven)  then it’s probably only 12 or 13. I say web focused, as of course comparative granddaddy Documentum had been managing documents since 1990 (but I don’t think we called it CMS back then – did we?).

Anyway, I’ll have to come back to this in future posts – who owns the term CMS? Could get myself into trouble here, leave that for another day…

Back to CMPros – you see we have a young vibrant industry working through puberty – but it’s also an enterprise staple, a necessity – intrinsically linked to the success of just about any decent sized business, charity or government organisation.

Fewer of us make stuff anymore, we are knowledge workers or brokers – content is our currency.  Yet, despite that “enterpriseness” and some vendor consolidation – we haven’t reached the definition and commoditization of say ERP systems.

All of this and loads and loads of other discussion points I could throw up means that now is an exciting and important time for a community of practice organisation. It’s a rallying call, the voice of the practitioner must be heard alongside the well funded, loud voices of the vendors and analysts – and CMPros is a a platform to facilitate this.

Not just on how we shape this industry, the vision for tomorrow, or what we call the damn thing – but to help educate and guide the folks that look to CMS Professionals for help.

A former CMPros director Lisa Welchman wrote a great call to action on this: And Still We Rise: The Professionalization of the Web Vocation and I recommend you give it a read.

Whilst, unlike Lisa,  I can’t earnestly call upon such stirring analogies as US civil rights, I hope this post gives you an idea of what I think CM Pros is for, the challenges we see ahead of us and I hope motivate you to join and participate.