Web Content Management vendors are “chasing the idea of digital experience and better engagement,” said Gartner analyst Mick MacComascaigh. 

Most vendors have streamlined their approach to align their trajectory with those customer-centric goals, but the pace of their progress varies, MacComascaigh told CMSWire.

MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy are the authors of Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner's recently released Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, which evaluated vendors that produce software that helps enterprises manage online content.

Nine of them do it best, according to Gartner. The newbies in the leaders category include OpenTextSDL and EPiServer, the latter which merged with longtime Gartner MQ staple Ektron earlier this year. The returning leaders included AdobeSitecoreOracleIBMHP and Acquia.

But what can they do better? CMSWire caught up with the leading vendors to ask about their plans and provide them opportunities to respond to Gartner’s criticism in MQ.

OpenText: Analytics Focused

Adam Howatson, CMO for Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText, said the company is expanding the analytics capabilities of its Web Experience Management (WEM) CMS platform so customers can not just manage their content but derive more value from it.

“Analytics provide insight across entire business flows and allow for increased business process efficiencies, greater brand experience and personalized insight for better and faster decisions,” Howatson said. “Our acquisition of Actuate will allow us to embed meaningful and differentiating analytics and optimization capabilities into OpenText WEM.”

Gartner analysts said OpenText's “mind share and market share are lower than we would expect.”  They also noted a lack of integration interoperability with third-party products and said “presumed out-of-the box features require customization.”

OpenText declined to comment on Gartner's criticism. 

Adobe: Expanding Landscape

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is powered by Java Platform, Standard Edition.

Loni Stark, senior director of strategy and product marketing at San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe, said the company will continue exploring the potential of connected experiences. The value of these experiences will be in connecting digital and physical, she added.

“Our advancements this year have just begun to scratch the surface,” Stark said. “Wearables, connected cars and connected homes are just a few examples of how the landscape continues to expand, and so do the opportunities for marketers. We can’t predict exactly how all of this will play out. However, we can be certain there will be even greater number of screens that need to have content that works in concert to build customer loyalty and optimize impact.”

She cited the introduction of Adobe Experience Manager Screens, “which blend the physical store with the personalization and visualization capabilities of digital. It’s a unified digital experience across websites, mobile apps, and on-site screens. No WCM is relevant without built-in capabilities for creating responsive sites and managing compelling apps — both hybrid and native.”

Gartner analysts complained about the cost of Adobe’s product, which they said is sometimes double that of its competitors. They also noted a “major gap” in sales promises versus implementation realities, and said Adobe lacks strong mid-market appeal.

Adobe officials referred CMSWire to a post on the Adobe blog about how mid-size companies can have fun with AEM. But they declined direct comment on Gartner's criticism. 

EPiServer: Social, Mobile Enhancements

The newly-merged EPiServer and Ektron platform created the Digital Experience Cloud, built on Microsoft .NET and Microsoft Azure.

James Norwood, executive vice president of strategy and the CMO for Stockholm, Sweden-based EPiServer, said the company will deliver its converged release late this year.

“We’re working on some cool social and mobile technology," Norwood told CMSWire. "We have a whole set of commerce capabilities for B2C and B2B we want deliver. We're enhancing our profile and persona store for journey management and targeting, and are working to move from rules-based personalization to algorithmic predictive analytics."

According to Gartner, some customers have noted “lapses in product updates,” higher costs in the Digital Experience Cloud and the fact EPiServer could take better advantage of its relationship with Microsoft. 

But Norwood assured CMSWire “Product updates and service levels have improved post merger."

Some Ektron customers — which merged with EPiServer earlier this year — are not sold on moving to the converged product.

“This is fair,” Norwood said, “since more than 4,000 Ektron customers and 4,000 EPiServer customers won’t all move overnight. But they are moving and the cloud is helping that. We did argue a bit about the pricing comments but they hear what they hear, so you have to accept that. It took us a while to help customers understand what they get for the (Software-as-a-Service) fee and realize what they’re not now having to pay for internally.”

As for Microsoft, Norwood called Gartner’s critique “historical.”

“Since the merger we have been all over Microsoft and have hired in a number of Microsoft people,” he said. “We have been made a global gold managed ISV, something neither Ektron or EPiServer was before and we were one of the biggest exhibitors at the recent (Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference) event in Orlando that attracts 15,000 attendees. It’s a fair caution but it’s one we have in hand so no real concerns for us.”

Acquia: Drupal Support

The lone open-source provider among the leaders, Boston-based Acquia runs on the Drupal 8 system.

Tom Wentworth, CMO for Acquia, told CMSWire Acquia is experiencing the fastest growth in web content management because of innovation.

“The Drupal community, which consists of thousands of developers, produces faster innovation than is possible from legacy vendors,” he said. “Our biggest innovation is the work we’ve done to optimize our platform to help organizations make the move to Drupal 8. We’re helping our customers realize the benefits of Drupal 8, including mobile-first content delivery, a fast and fun authoring experience, RESTful APIs, and much more.”

Gartner cautioned that Acquia’s platform may be more expensive than some companies believe when they seek an open-source provider. It also cited a “complexity” that may be too much for some mid-market Web CMS seekers. The uncertainty of the timing of the Drupal 8 release concerned some potential customers. Drupal 8 has not yet been officially released.

“We took Gartner’s comments about Drupal 8 very seriously,” Wentworth said, “and that’s why we launched full support for Drupal 8 in the Acquia Platform so customers can get started immediately.”

Sitecore: Full Customer Lifecycle

Copenhagen-based Sitecore plans to release Sitecore Experience 8.1 in the fall with a more robust commerce product. It is also expanding its email offering.

“We are adding new features and products to the platform, meeting with customers and learning how our product is being used,” said Beth Torrie, vice president of strategic engagement at Sitecore. “Sitecore (Web CMS) enables marketers to create, deliver and optimize unique digital experiences with their prospects and customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle.”

Sitecore is built on Microsoft .NET 4.5 technologies.

Gartner noted Sitecore customers showed concern over multiple price increases over the past year. The company’s cloud offering is “minimal” compared to competitors, and Gartner also noted “communication difficulties and a compromised customer experience during selection cycles.”

Sitecore declined to comment on Gartner's criticism. 

IBM: IT Development

Gary Dolsen, vice president of IBM Digital Experience in IBM Systems group, said the Armonk, N.Y.-based company plans to innovate in the areas of Web CMS with:

  • More line of business tooling advances to support two speed IT development
  • Content management tooling specifically to support native mobile app development and omni-channel delivery
  • More types of managed PaaS offerings as well as specific SaaS solutions for WCM
  • Integration of lightweight multi-tenant cloud offerings into web developer composition environments like IBM Bluemix
  • Further integration with business process engines to enable online business transformation and self-service innovation, not just site building
  • Further integration with business rules engines to provide deep business-centric personalization (i.e., experience-wide personalization based on life events)

Customers sometimes perceived complexity and high costs when looking at IBM’s Digital Experience Cloud, according to Gartner. IBM’s Web Content Manager, Gartner also noted, has almost “exclusive appeal to “IBM shops.”

IBM declined to comment on Gartner's criticism. 

SDL: Machine Learning

Dom LeBlond, senior vice president of product management at Maidenhead, England-based SDL, told CMSWire SDL is focused on helping companies bring the world to their brand through continued innovation.

“At our Innovate conference series this year, we showcased how brands will be able to rapidly orchestrate interactions based on global insights across the entire customer journey,” LeBlond said. “We also highlighted our investment in machine learning powered experiences. These innovations will power a new generation of intelligent systems that automate many processes that are done manually today -- thus enabling brands to deliver hyper-relevant experiences more effectively than ever before, with ease.”

SDL Web supports both .Net and Java environments and includes an advanced set of REST services for service-oriented architectures.

SDL has not done well forming “consistent, long-term alliances” to extend its brand, Gartner reported. Recent reorganization and marketing efforts are still a “work in progress” and needs to get better at sales.

“SDL has put in place a number of transformational changes and new strategies in marketing, partnerships and sales, the three areas that Gartner calls out in SDL’s cautions,” LeBlond told CMSWire. “The significant investments we have made in these areas are starting to pay off and we are continuing to improve. We are focused on turning these areas into strengths and feel that we are well on our way to achieving this.”

HP: Personalization Plans

Sunil Menon, head of product management at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard, said the company’s Web CMS offering HP TeamSite has decoupled architecture supports any runtime technology — Java, .NET, PHP, etc. The TeamSite platform is a primarily Java-based application with a free-standing server based on C/C++

“We’re excited to continue to drive transformation in the market and address future and growing needs,” Menon said. “Our innovation plans include: real-time personalization, expanding multichannel capabilities for emerging channels like augmented reality and the Internet of Things, enhanced mobile application development support, and advanced image analysis and rich media management."

Menon added HP is working on optimizing the marketers’ "workflow" for campaign planning and execution by "building newer and more efficient ways to exchange data and content between applications in the ecosystem."

TeamSite’s user interface and richness of features are unfavorable versus others, Gartner noted. It needs to regain it reputation for “leading-edge innovation with regard to its core WCM capabilites” if wants to compete.

“We pride ourselves on our continued innovation strategy and the redesign of TeamSite’s interface to make it modern and easy to use,” Menon said. “HP is heavily invested in the continued success of TeamSite. We continue to put resources into development, marketing, and sales strategies to strengthen and expand our market presence. We continue to form strategic partnerships that support the entire digital marketing lifecycle, so that customers can choose comprehensive solutions that meet their business needs.”

Oracle: More Testing

Erik Kingham, spokesperson for Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle, said WebCenter Sites powers Oracle’s web content management platform.

A new release in 2015 will include integrated A/B and multivariate testing and federated visitor profiling service, which enables site personalization based on multiple profile databases, support for single-page applications, developer support to streamline implementation and more, he promised.

Oracle’s suite approach can be “overwhelming” in terms of cost and complexity especially when factoring in acquisitions and integrations, Gartner noted. Complexity and poor usability turn off some customers, Gartner officials added.

Oracle declined to comment on Gartner's criticism. 

Title image by davide ragusa.