When it comes to selecting the best-fit Web Content Management (WCM) software, a great deal of confusion continues to haunt vendors and buyers alike. Industry analysts have done little to make this any easier. It's time to move beyond Web CMS.

Much of this confusion is courtesy of the industry perpetuating these mistakes:

  • Frequently lumping together disparate offerings that target clearly separate customer segments and customer needs
  • Failing to segment WCM offerings into solution categories, such as Web Experience Management (WEM) for Enterprise, basic web publishing for internal business processes/intranet, mid-market solutions for e-commerce, and so on
  • Persisting with the pointless notion that WCM is a functional subset of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), especially in light of the speciousness of the ECM platform; such a notion is even more off-target when considering WEM solutions
  • While understanding that WEM solutions are directly tied to interactive/digital marketing initiatives, analyst reports and benchmarks fail to use this understanding as an essential tenet of such reports

Analysts, writers and bloggers have continued to produce a large body of work on various aspects of the "ECM platform", as well as covering the questionable meaning of the term ECM and the many limitations of trying to shove a lot of capabilities into an "ECM container".

There are a fair number of industry writers who agree that there is no such thing as a comprehensive single Enterprise CMS platform. Within the debate of what belongs to ECM, WCM has been clumsily tacked on as a sub-component of ECM -- with very little credible basis for doing so, especially in light of the evolution of WCM offerings in recent years.

Meanwhile, it has been mainly the customers who have helped to propel the WCM industry into providing the sorts of capabilities that are really needed for external-facing websites. So a significant segment of the overall WCM market has evolved into Web Experience Management (WEM), for which a much larger solution ecosystem has come together.

[Editor's Note: CMSWire uses WEM to mean "Web Engagement Management", but we do not feel there is a significant difference between the two choices of nomenclature. For our take on the composition of WEM, see What is Web Engagement Management?]

Most Web Experience Management platforms have little to do with basic content management or basic web publishing (à la WordPress and TypePad), and even less to do with the so-called ECM platform.

Understanding how to provide a platform for excellent web marketing initiatives has very little in common with understanding how to set up internal business processes for audit and governance requirements -- goals which are largely the object of an Enterprise CMS project. Metrics for successful web marketing initiatives have no meaning for ECM initiatives, but are essential for determining best approaches to engaging and converting visitors into customers.

Social media / Web 2.0 have become important partners for WEM websites. These technologies and practices draw-in, engage and re-engage customers. In-bound marketing is highly dependent on quality and interesting content that is provided through a variety of social media that lead back to a particular website.

A more complete WEM solution description includes:

  • Understanding of solutions for B2B, B2C web/marketing initiatives
  • Sophisticated digital / interactive marketing strategies
  • External-facing web presence
  • Website essential to corporate business strategy
  • Ecosystem of ancillary tools to complete end-to-end solution for customer objectives
  • Savvy use of social media, well-integrated into website and marketing plans
  • Alignment with interactive/digital agencies

Related article: The 5 Pillars of Web Engagement Management

WEM Solution Ecosystem and Market Sizing

Another problem that has arisen is the seeming inability of major industry analysts to properly size the WCM, or WEM, market. There is also little evidence of analysts attempting to size the WEM ecosystem market potential in any tangible manner.

To be able to compare and assess WEM vendors, it is essential to define the ecosystem and its corresponding market size composite. Better market definition will result in better vendor benchmarks, instead of assessing a jumble of disparate vendors leading to disjointed "comparisons".

More and more single vendors are offering most, if not all, of the components of the WEM ecosystem as the end-to-end solution. Again, this solution segment has gone well beyond "web content management".

So a Web Experience Management solution is really a composite of several "markets":

  • WCM solution suite, with usability both for business users and IT personnel (includes behind-the-scenes "content management", workflow, design tools, and so on)
  • Enterprise-quality portal / presentation management
  • Recommendations-like technology for social search and personalization
  • Web analytics / testing / content monetizing tools
  • Rich media and video content management (monetizing components as appropriate)
  • Social collaboration / social marketing capabilities
  • Extensive integration / interoperability capabilities at several levels of the enterprise infrastructure

If we considered WEM as a composite of the overall solution ecosystem, then we could arrive at a better understanding of the overall market size -- tallying up the market forecasts for all or most of the components listed above to derive the comprehensive market potential.

It"s not unreasonable to look at the overall ecosystem market size, since many WEM vendors supply most of the solution components, and have active partnerships with vendors that supply the remaining components. The overall solution ecosystem becomes compellingly relevant when taking the customer"s point-of-view for the desired end-to-end solution.

Other approaches could be to come at it from the point of view of Interactive Marketing spend, or from looking at web site spend budgeted by companies with global web presences. For example, we could estimate the slice that the WEM ecosystem can command from these markets. For instance, Forrester data on website spend for 2009 shows some very substantial budget forecasts for large companies with a global web presence.

Interactive Marketing Spend

WCM seen as online marketing (WEM): by 2012, Forrester expects the U.S. interactive market to grow to $59 billion with a recession, or $61 billion if there is no recession.
Forrester, "US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007 To 2012"

Website Spend

Of the overall budget for website spend in 2009:

  • U.S. Large companies -- domestic-only website average spend $2.2M
  • Global companies average $3.5M for international sites

Forrester, "2009 Web Site Spending Trends", Feb. 2009

Passing Glances at WEM Market Recognition by Industry Analysts

Two industry analysts have expressed clearer views of the transformation of WCM to WEM for external-facing websites: Kathleen Reidy of 451 Group, and Mick MacComascaigh of Gartner.

Oddly, neither analyst has followed through on these better definitions in subsequent reports or benchmarks, and generally continue to perpetuate the misleading usage of WCM as a subset of Enterprise Content Management (ECM).

Kathleen Reidy in ECM deconstructs to TCM, IG and WCM? (January 2009):

"I think the "ECM" moniker may be nearing the end of its usefulness now (if it was ever apt or useful in the first place).

"WCM has already splintered off as it became clear that web content is really not just another type of content to be managed by a central repository. Today WCM is more about online marketing...

Gartner"s Mick MacComascaigh, Marketscope for "Web Content Management 2008":

The WCM market commands revenue of approximately $750 million (for 2007/2008).

But with analytics, social community and interactivity, personalization, media and digital asset management (DAM), and in some cases e-forms and localization, to be counted as part of the new "marketing machines," the worldwide WCM market is poised to grow substantially as customer engagement becomes an even greater priority.

Viewing WEM (WCM) as a Subset ECM Produces Questionable Benchmark Reports

Gartner views WCM as a subset of the ECM market. In one of its most non-focused Magic Quadrants, the Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management 2009, the over-large team of analysts involved with creating this "benchmark" chose not to recognize that WCM is now mostly Web Experience Management as it relates to real world customer needs and use.

Instead the Gartner team chose to continue an agenda for maintaining ECM as the over-arching parent for WCM, relegating WCM to a minor role, while totally ignoring the WCM morph into WEM.

In terms of market size, Gartner persists in looking at a very limited definition of WCM to perform the calculation:

The WCM market commands revenue of approximately $750 million. With an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% between 2007 and 2012, it is growing faster than the overall ECM market. As a result, worldwide expenditure on WCM accounted for over a quarter of the ECM market in 2007 (it represented just over a fifth in 2004).

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for 2009 comes up with the dubious positioning of Oracle (news, site) as the Leader of web content management -- a company that does little in support of external-facing customer-oriented business websites, digital/interactive marketing, customer-facing social capabilities, and the conversion of visitors to customers. If WEM had been used as the proper market segment, a more realistic and useful benchmark would have been produced (of which Oracle would not have been the Leader).

Comparing the Gartner WCM benchmark to the Forrester Wave of 2009, an even greater confusion arises: Gartner"s Oracle Leader-designate is 6th in line to the "throne" in the Forrester benchmark. To make things even muddier, the top 3 leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant are big traditional Enterprise CMS players, and are not leaders for WCM, and especially not for WEM.

The Forrester Wave for WCM for External Websites 2009 gets top props for coming the closest to characterizing WCM as Web Experience Management for "online marketing".

Forrester"s better understanding of the WCM / WEM market undoubtedly derives from its practices for interactive/digital marketing and customer experience. Forrester does not try to take a heavy-weight ECM vendor who is actually weak in WCM and fob off that vendor as a Leader in WCM/WEM.

In general, IDC market reports (non-commissioned) stay very high level when considering web content management. For instance, IDC produces an annual "content management" market report with sizing, vendor shares, and market forecasts, but it is a big container of "everything content management".

However, IDC is beginning to understand the importance of interactive marketing to corporate web presences, with added coverage of social media and digital marketing, although separate from coverage of content management and rich media management.

The Real Story Group's (formerly CMS Watch) Web CMS Report 2010 is at least segmenting WCM solutions relative to potential customer needs:

  • Complex Enterprise Platforms
  • Upper-Range Platforms
  • Mid-Range Platforms
  • Mid-Range Products
  • Simpler Products

But even this segmentation can present ambiguities and overlaps, relative to the capabilities and requirements under consideration in the report.

Most Analysts Have Failed Us

The whole point is to take a real world approach to what is actually going on with WEM solutions to better help customers make purchase decisions and to better understand the total revenue potential for vendors with WEM offerings via an ecosystem perspective.

Most analysts have failed, to date, to do a better job for WEM definitions, market sizing and -- more importantly -- to produce meaningful benchmark reports with useful "apples to apples" comparisons, instead of the current comparisons of apples, oranges, walnuts and elephants.

It is well past due for analysts to take WEM out of the "ECM platform" and recognize WEM as a separate and very different solution set that has little to do with the constructs of ECM.

Final Comment

Another questionable parameter of Gartner and Forrester in their respective benchmark reports is using a vendor"s overall market presence for all of the products that it sells (not just its market presence as related to the WCM segment) as a weighting factor. This skews results against pure play vendors and inflates the actual success of larger corporate vendors regarding the specific market covered by the benchmark report.

None of the large vendors like Oracle or Microsoft sell tons of focused WCM/WEM solutions as suggested by the market presence shown by the Gartner and Forrester WCM benchmarks. As such, the current offerings of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Open Text (pre-acquisition of Vignette) are not the stuff of leader-quality solutions for WCM / WEM.