I've covered the Forrester Wave for Web Content Management, looked at the Leaders and the Strong Performers and talked about the WCM market's evolution overall. This last piece looks at the contenders and asks a question that I expect many might be asking.

The WCM Contenders

All the faces in Forrester's latest WCM Wave are familiar. We talk about them regularly, and they are very well known names in the content management industry. The Contenders are no different, they aren't "up and comers", at least not in my opinion, so what keeps them from hitting the top of the list?

Let's start with that elephant, shall we?

WCM Contender: Microsoft

Just the sheer size of Microsoft SharePoint deployments put it on the Wave. It's everywhere, and it's used in many different ways (good and bad). But does it have the chops to be a relevant web content management system? That depends.

Want an intranet? You have that option with SharePoint. It's a decent fit there, especially with the way intranets have evolved. You have your basic content management, solid search, and you have a nice set of collaboration and social networking features (we're talking SharePoint 2013 here).

But what it lacks according to Forrester: multisite localization, multichannel deployments, multilingual support, and analytics and measurement, is what keeps it from being a viable internet website option for an organization of any size and global presence. Forrester does acknowledge that SharePoint does have some nice abilities to get content in and out in a custom format -- but that alone does not propel today's digital presence.

Now I know there are people out there using SharePoint for public-facing websites and there are more than a ton of developers who will sing its praises for this usage model. But today, we aren't talking about pure web content management 101, and we have yet to really see SharePoint offer the integrations necessary to move to that next all important step.

WCM Contender: IBM

IBM has made some significant updates to its web content management platform last year and it has been working on its digital marketing offerings through its Smarter Commerce initiatives. Improvements in usability and personalization aside (both features that Forrester notes as key improvements), what keeps IBM on the list is the integration with all the other tools needed to manage digital experiences (portal, e-commerce, analytics, marketing enablement). But what keeps it down in the Contenders list? 

Forrester points to the need for strong agency partnerships, something IBM may not have. Add to that, most customers are still not using the marketing tools as much as the web content management capabilities. While I know that IBM has a strong presence in external websites, especially with commerce-enabled sites, I suspect that the bulk of its customers may still be on the internal side -- which is where we hear most of the news coming out of IBM.

WCM Contender: Ektron

Ektron is no where near the size of Microsoft or IBM, but there have been big innovations from this WCM vendor over the last couple of years that have propelled it into the limelight. Its Digital Experience Hub (DXH) has enabled Ektron to integrate with a number of third party providers for marketing capabilities. Ektron also recently released the latest version of its web content management platform.

Forrester notes that Ektron seems to be used for in departmental or product-specific websites, saying that very few organizations they spoke with use it in an enterprise-level capacity. What's also not helping Ektron are all the rumor swirling around the company itself, including discord with its partner channel. 

WCM Contender: Acquia

It's interesting to see Acquia in the WCM Wave, because it doesn't exactly own the web content management platform that gets it on this list. Acquia layers a number of enterprise level commercial services on-top of the well-known Drupal, open source CMS. But Drupal does have a vibrant community and a large number of add-ons that support digital marketing. 

Forrester indicates that Acquia is weaker than the commercial offerings when it comes to digital marketing, but for orgs who don't need all the functionality, or expect to do a lot of customization, Acquia is a potential fit.

Let's Talk WCM & Integration

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I don't want to leave our look at Forrester's Wave for WCM without talking for a minute about the integration requirement. Forrester points to integration as critical for a successful WCM vendor. I don't argue that. But what's interesting to note in a lot of these vendor cases, the integration is for primarily their own complementary tools. 

So we can talk about the "suite" being dead, but I'm wondering if our definition of "suite" is simply changing. Many WCM vendors have adopted the "customer experience" point of view and acknowledge that they need to have more than web content management. Which means that many are building -- or acquiring -- complementary technologies.

These complementary technologies can work with the WCM, typically through open standards, or they can work separately (sometimes). But with a suite, you have similar capability -- use it all, or only one or two elements of it. The difference is really in how you pay or what you pay for up-front -- although I don't believe that with the suite approach you always have to pay for the things you don't want.

So I ask again, is the suite dead? Or have we really just changed our definition of it? How many vendors seek to offer integrations at a larger scale -- without having a partnership with the other technology vendor in place and not their own complementary technologies? Let the organization plug 'in play depending on "best of breed", "best of need", or simply "what I already invested in". Are we aiming for that? Or am I being unrealistic?

Image Courtesy of alphaspirit (Shutterstock)