This week I was asked to speak the Triple i conference aimed predominately at CIO’s, of which there was a good attendance, from some large private and public sector organizations.

I was asked to talk about website proliferation; a subject that one would have thought had been pretty much covered by many who would have gone before me on this. But, it’s still a business pain that is capturing the attention of the information and IT leaders.

People want to be published and the ease for internal business users or part time semi-technical staff to quickly generate simple internal websites, blogs or to share and collaborate on content ideas is fanning the flames of a fire that never really died down and IT is struggling to control.

The new versions of Microsoft SharePoint, especially the (WSS) stuff you get for free on Windows Server 2003, is an excellent example of a product that is creeping under the radar of IT, proliferating content silos throughout these organizations. You also still can’t underestimate the amount of content that is still being shuffled around and stored by e-mail.

In addition the audience for these organizations is growing ever more sophisticated, demanding content to be delivered in a variety of different ways and on a variety of devices. We have a customer (Astra Zeneca) who while promoting their global brands and products have an initial plan to roll out over 250 websites.

Organizations are using separate URLs to personalize their message, AstraZeneca will, around one product, create a lifestyle site to help you manage your condition, information sites for healthcare workers and promotional sites in geographies (like the US) where they are allowed to advertise directly to patients and consumers. This is done globally, with each site having to adhere to the regulatory regime of the territory. It adds up to a lot of sites.

In my presentation I looked at how to overcome this, how to avoid the natural reaction to wall everything in and tame this raging beast, but to build a technical environment that enables and encourages it. The IT pain is around the support of tools, of some half backed solution built by an intern suddenly becoming business critical – the pain isn’t the amount of content or the number of authors.