The Friday Interview: Tom Skinner, pTools

25 May 2007

This week’s interviewee is Tom Skinner (pictured), CEO of Dublin-based pTools, which provides the content system powering the Irish Stock Exchange and Taoiseach’s department websites.

Do Irish businesses understand and are they deploying content management technologies?

Yes and yes. Companies in general would have been questioning any spend on software to manage their internal and external websites at the end of the dotcom boom. Now it’s a non-question.

It is integral to businesses across a number of areas. It’s not just about efficiency and cost, content management is a de facto part of any website and an absolute essential for an intranet.

There was a time when people saw content management systems (CMS) as a side project to the company website. Now it is the central facet of any website being built.

When did you realise there was an opportunity in content management?

We were fairly late to the internet party and by the time we’d arrived in 1998 there were web firms already employing over 30 people and capturing large segments of the market.

We started doing sub-contract work and built the product as we went along and ever since then we’ve been touting the content management message.

What kind of companies are looking at content management?

There is no specific type of company, you could say every company.

Companies we talk to have identified their need and the scope of the internal or external website.

We’re not niched and we’ve worked with sports clubs, police forces, financial services providers, property firms and central government.

All of these organisations are driven by the critical nature of their content and getting it right. If you’re a corporate or a small business the consequences of not managing your company’s content output could be quite serious.

What are the critical content management issues firms encounter?

Really it’s the need to have a well-managed workflow. But also in order to meet compliance requirements a CMS can be integral to ensuring a good audit trail.

Content used to be something that dressed up a website but today Irish businesses are seeing managing their information assets as vital to workflow, internally and externally.

What major changes to the internet have you witnessed?

I personally see mobile content as an enormous wave about to crash from a consumer perspective but it could take a while for it to impact business information.

One of the most interesting developments is the onset of really simple syndication (RSS) feeds. There’s a whole new way of consuming information.
The idea of going to an individual site to consume information is changing. Information will be pushed out to multiple sites.

This has already been happening in the travel industry – when you’re looking for a deal you don’t go to all the sites of individual hotels, instead you go to a site that gives you all the hotels in one place.

By John Kennedy

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