How should we categorize the state of web content management (WCM)? On the heels of the publication of the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) for WCM, I asked three leaders in the space — Erik Hartman, Robert Rose and Janus Boye — to share their views.
Take Three: Janus Boye
As founder and managing director at J. Boye, Janus Boye has grown the business from a home-based business in 2003 to a global operation today. He's widely regarded as a expert on managing the web and making the best use of web technologies. Primarily focused on strategy and management, he is writing a book on turning experience into advantage and also writes occasional posts on CMS.
What impact does the MQ have on customer decision making?
Boye: For some customers, particularly the IT driven organizations — though more recently this is extending to marketing driven organizations — the MQ for WCM acts as a shortlist. Having said that, I have certain criticisms of the MQ. In my experience, these criticisms resonate with many of the buyers I speak to.
First, it’s very difficult to do a “horse race style” evaluation of products that, despite all being on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, are really quite different.
The products winning the “horse race” to enter the Magic Quadrant are not necessarily the products that are best suited for every customer case.
Second, despite the hype surrounding the Magic Quadrant, the WCM market (which is itself very difficult to define given all the digital experience buzzwords flying around) is very regionally diverse.
Some vendors are much more popular in their home countries than abroad, others specialize in certain verticals. There are major local differences in the CMS market that the MQ doesn’t necessarily reflect.
The Gartner MQ is a good reference for those looking for a general overview of the CMS market.
But it’s quite clear that beyond being aimed at buyers, the MQ finds an audience in vendors.
It’s no secret that the big analyst firms make a great deal of money consulting to vendors. That doesn’t mean you can pay your way into the report — global reach, revenue criteria and customer cases are all part of the consideration process — but many buyers aren’t aware of the revenue consulting firms generate from vendors.
In my opinion, it’s worth the disclosure.
How does placing in the Quadrant impact vendors?
Boye: It varies. For some vendors, it’s been a very tangible milestone on a good journey — for other vendors, it hasn’t.
I’ve been in the Web Content Management industry for a long time, and I spend all my time on the customer side of the table. What I want to emphasize is that just because a vendor is on the MQ doesn’t mean selecting their product is risk-free.
Do your research, consider local players. And remember that a vendor’s placement in the Magic Quadrant (or lack thereof) does not dictate the success of the customer.
It’s not even the technology, necessarily, that dictates the success of the customer. To a greater extent, that success is dictated by the customer itself and the implementation.
Without a customer that is ready — and typically with the help of experienced consultancies — there’s no guarantee a WCM project will be successful.
Magic Quadrant placement does not guarantee expertise in your market. Given the way Gartner evaluates vendors on the Quadrant, it’s very unlikely that a vendor on the MQ will go bankrupt.
But what happens when a vendor is acquired? Or a new version is released that differs radically from prior versions?
I have clients stuck on old versions of WCM because of the pain associated with upgrading. Even if you've chosen to work with a vendor on the Quadrant, implementation is key.
One of the reasons why Digital Clarity Group is so successful is that they put great emphasis on service providers and implementation partners. They know that you can’t just pick a vendor off the shelf and cross your fingers that all will go well. You need implementation expertise.
Having said this, partners are betting their business on the quality of a vendor’s technology. Inclusion in the MQ is no doubt attractive to partners, and offers a significant boost in extending a vendor’s partner network.
What's the difference between Best of Breed vs. Marketing Suites in the MQ?
Boye: As analysts, a major part of our job is categorization — we try to put things in boxes.
We’ll call something a CMS or a marketing suite or a customer experience platform. Many vendors are talking about digital experience, but the terminology is completely confusing.
More importantly, there’s such variety in the vendors’ focus that it’s not an apples to apples comparison. You can’t necessarily just compare software because it’s in the same Quadrant of a particular analyst firm.
The only right way to select a solution is to have the customers’ requirements as a point of departure. Whether best of breed or a large suite, organizations are investing great amounts of money into this thing we’re calling digital transformation.
Web Content Management is still a young and immature marketplace and to be honest, customers don’t buy cloud or mobile or personalization or any other buzzword. They want digital transformation. Personally, I would argue that customers need to be less strategic about tech decisions and more tactical about business decisions.
How important is foundational technology?
Boye: Whether you use Java or .NET or something else, is becoming less and less relevant. It’s still important for many of the organizations that succeed in their digital endeavors.
It has to do with resources: technical resources, architects, etc. Tech-driven decisions make sense for organizations with specialized in-house teams.
For many customers, however, language is only relevant insofar as the agency implementing the product is concerned. Overall, I would not advise customers to consider programming language ahead of more overarching requirements.
What about Open Source in the Magic Quadrant and its adoption in the enterprise?
Boye: I don’t really see any religious beliefs against open source anymore. I rarely see anyone strongly fighting against it within organizations.
But adoption and entry into the Quadrant are not fully related --there’s revenue criteria, after all, which are difficult to meet without a commercial-open source model.
What will cause future disruption in the MQ?
Boye: It’s difficult to predict the future. But among analysts’ favorite games is the creation of new acronyms.
Digital experience, marketing automation, the list goes on. Then they pull out a new wave or quadrant, and vendors undoubtedly react.
They change their lingo, their marketing and boilerplates to fit around the new terminology.
Rarely do they actually change much at the core of the product. If you look past the analyst pleasing, from a customer perspective, the real innovation and disruption has been in mobile and cloud.
Customers increasingly expect both: mobile-ready and cloud-ready solutions. What’s next? Wearables, Internet of Things, bitcoins, flying cars?
To be in the magic quadrant as a buyer, stay lean and keep learning!
Keeping Up With the Series
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Title image by Mixtribe Photo.