2009 Web CMS Report by CMS Watch
It’s that time of the year again. It’s time to shop for those shiny and new 2009 Lamborghini models, as well as for the new 2009 Web CMS report from CMS Watch. The Lamborghini of Web CMS researchers, CMS Watch works diligently every year interviewing customers, vendors, partners and all sorts of other people on the CMS street to get the skinny on the Web CMS ecosphere and to give selected vendors an A or a D, depending on how well they did during 2008. Brace yourselves and read on…Joking aside, it is very exciting to see many Web CMS vendors being evaluated and dissected. Now in version 15, this report provides information on more than forty web content management products and identifies current best practices.

The SharePoint Tale

Many of the vendors were trying to break free from the SharePoint curse. But the results have been mixed, according to new research from CMS Watch. "Although many customers avoid SharePoint for Web CMS projects, they may still adopt it heavily for document collaboration -- therefore they have to figure out how to integrate documents with web publishing systems, especially on Intranets," said CMS Watch Analyst, Jarrod Gingras. Many Web CMS vendors -- including FatWire and Immediacy -- have responded to MOSS with a myriad of SharePoint "connectors" to enable Web publishers to work better with SharePoint's repositories. We must note, though, that all these connectors are different in scope and functionality. "A prudent customer comes to the table with specific requirements and test plans here," explained CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne.

Highlights of the 2009 Web CMS Report Findings

Brace yourself, here’s what’s shaking on the CMS world as discovered by CMS Watch: * .NET-based CMS suppliers are thriving. In addition to Sitecore, Ektron, GOSS and others, CMS Watch has begun coverage of Telerik and the open source DotNetNuke platform. * More CMS vendors focus on interactivity management and dynamic page delivery, while customers still report challenges deploying SEO-friendly URLs and accessible code. CMS end-users also want a better search experience to keep productivity high. This doesn’t, however, mean, that all vendors offer the up-to-par, search-friendly solutions. But, seriously, SEO-support should be and already is a de rigueur thing. * Some CMS vendors are renewing their emphasis on vertical industry solutions. Especially, large ECM vendors, who “frequently cannot compete effectively on their Web CMS technology alone," commented CMS Watch Analyst, Kas Thomas. A good example here would be Vignette Media -- a solution designed specifically for the TME verticals. Ingeniux and PaperThin focus on the education industry. * A few vendors have managed to break free from the pack and establish themselves in new markets by offering a combination of product features and marketing strategy that happens to hit (the ever so elusive) sweet spot. * The Web 2.0 rush to add social micro-applications and AJAX-driven interfaces has, for many, destroyed their R&D cycles. * All CMS tools seem to be selling well, even though some vendors have not had any product releases or upgrades at all this year. * The search piece of CMS is rapidly evolving. Personalization and profiling is at its heights, with more and more customers asking for this feature.

Crisis-Mode CMS Vendors

As we have mentioned several times throughout the year, many CMS vendors are struggling, trying to figure out how to be different in the over-crowded market. Kasman Thomas, a CMS Watch analyst, gives a bit of an insight into the making of the 2009 report, as well as on the WCM vendors’ “identity-crisis mode.” Some of those vendors -- like FatWire, Percussion and Interwoven -- managed to figure out a strategy to achieve differentiation with more focus on personalization, user-driven content and Web analytics. For a short while, there was a rush to cram community-oriented or "social software" functionality (wikis, blogs, ratings, tagging, etc.) into Web CMS products. But the race seems to be pretty much over. That makes sense. Some vendors didn’t even bother getting involved into the Web 2.0 rush. At the same time, to stay trendy, they did seminars and while papers on how to be social and Web 2.0-ready. Large ECM-oriented vendors seem to be at risk. Some of these players are putting renewed effort into selling domain-specific solutions packages. Open Text works hard to come up with as many SharePoint solutions as humanely possible.

What Will the Future Bring?

SaaS-based CMS models are the red-hot, next new thing. Or not... The next year should tell us which vendors can really deliver on the promises of SaaS, as CMSWatch's Thomas points out. It will also be interesting to see how smaller vendors make it through the next year -- especially, in the U.S. with its economy in the dumps. European vendors like EPiServer may not have the same challenges though. Feature-wise, many vendors don’t seem to know what to do next -- now, that we’re over the Web 2.0 revolution. New and “improved” interfaces seem to be “the thing” for now.

Final Thoughts

While not exactly the CMS Bible, the report comes pretty darn close to it. It is definitely something folks choosing a CMS should consider (with a critical eye) as part of their research initiatives. Christmas will be here before you know it, and the (hefty, 800-plus-pages) 2009 Web CMS report makes an excellent stocking stuffer (just don’t print it out). The full report -- in Global and European editions -- is available for purchase starting at US$ 975.00 on CMS Watch.