web cms, Inside Acquia's Gartner Ascension, Web CMS' Next Road Trip

The verdict's been in a while now regarding Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Systems.

The question now is where does the space go from here? Where's the innovation in 2015?

The convergence of content, community and commerce will continue to fuel innovation, the CMO of one of Gartner's leaders told CMSWire.

"Open platforms will unify these pieces into one cohesive customer experience, where content-driven brand stories will seamlessly integrate with commerce portals on sites," Tom Wentworth, CMO of Gartner leader Acquia, told CMSWire.

The proliferation of digital experiences will continue to become more contextually relevant, Wentworth also said, because marketers will "break down silos of data to paint a more complete picture of what a customer wants and needs at a specific time and place."

A longtime Web CMS user, meanwhile, said he hopes vendors will make a deep dive into analytics capabilities in the coming year.

Acquia's Leap

Acquia was arguably the biggest news in this round of Gartner's Web CMS rankings. The Burlington, Mass.-based provider made a big leap, from "visionary" to "leader" and gets to hang with the big boys like Adobe, Sitecore, HP, Oracle and IBM. Each were fellow leaders. It's not as if Acquia came out of the blue, however.

But why Acquia as a leader? And why now?

"Companies are moving away from the traditional marketing suite and opting for solutions that provide greater overall value," Wentworth said. "WCM used to be just a way to build websites, but now it’s the foundation of any company’s broader digital strategy. It’s becoming more important to use platforms like Acquia that offer value for the entire digital team -- from marketers and merchandisers to developers. The growth of open platforms and technologies have eclipsed proprietary WCM vendors like (Gartner challenger) SDL and (Gartner visionary) Ektron, because they offer greater agility and connectivity across the entire engagement ecosystem."

Acquia, Wentworth added, is an open source solution that can move at the speed of the web.

"Unlike proprietary vendors," he added, "Acquia enables companies to move quickly and work together in integrated teams. Today’s companies need to be fully, seamlessly integrated and have one flexible solution that can cater to all their digital experience needs, and that is exactly what Acquia provides."

SDL, Ektron Strengths

Gartner, it should be noted, did cite strengths for the companies Wentworth called out. SDL delivers a more coherent, cohesive message in its customer experience management and Gartner lauded its Customer Experience Cloud.

SDL's combination of WCM and marketing-related assets — such as real-time analytics of a customer walk through — across different channels to improve personalization and its central console or dashboard drew praise from Gartner.

Ektron, meanwhile, scored points for an "accurate understanding of not just WCM, but the broader context in which WCM offerings are being selected." And its SaaS model allows "greater flexibility in addressing its older client base, as well as more complex enterprise-class organizations with more leading edge, aspirational strategic objectives." Ektron's "agility" helps its cause with the mid-market audience.

Adobe Fan

Per usual, Adobe and its Experience Manager CMS gained major kudos from Gartner in this MQ. Among fellow leaders, it ranked first in "ability to execute" and second behind Sitecore in "completeness of vision." 

Ali A. Alkhafaji, associate director of technology at Westborough, Mass.-based Virtusa, is his company's chief architect and practice head of Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and has also worked on projects in Sitecore (Certified Developer and DMS), Umbraco, EPiServer, and SDL.

His "leaders" would be Adobe, Sitecore, SDL, OpenText, Oracle, Ektron and EPiServer. Gartner's actual "leaders" were Adobe, Sitecore, HP, Oracle, IBM and Acquia.

"I think Adobe's solution gets the edge because of its investment and infrastructure on Apache technologies like Sling, Jackrabbit, Solr and Cordova, a new integration for mobile apps," Alkhafaji said. "These investments insure that AEM will always maintain robustness while taking advantage of these technologies."

Alkhafaji is not on board with Gartner's pick of Sitecore over Adobe in the "completeness of vision."

"Hard to approve of that," the user of each technology said.

Vendor Mind Change

Vendors, Alkhafaji said, on a general scale need to start thinking verticals and segments and begin providing powerful solutions and specific features that cater to those.

"Mobile is an ever evolving field so vendors need to stop creating built-in functionality for today's mobile approaches because they quickly become obsolete," he said. "Rather, vendors should create adaptable solutions that make it easy to implement mobile strategies."

Alkhafaji said analytics should be the next big push for vendors. 

"The reason I say analytics -- hopefully more than just wishful thinking -- is because analytics capabilities are minimal even within the leaders like Adobe, Sitecore," he said. "Segmentation and personalized delivery should be established at the component/module level and not some half-baked integration layer over the solution. Personalized content -- especially through omnichannel delivery -- has never been more important than now and organizations are beginning to demand these features be made available as part of the core products and not simply integrated though SiteCatalyst or WebTrends."

Title image by Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock.