Forrester says web content management is about a lot more than plain o'web publishing. It's about creating digital experiences and here's a look at which vendors are hitting the mark in Forrester's latest wave report.

The report, "The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management For Digital Customer Experience, Q2 2013", takes an in depth look at the 10 WCM vendors Forrester identifies as the "most significant providers in this category." 

The key to this list of top ten is understanding that we are way past the days of web content management 1.0, when it was simply critical to be able to easily create and edit content for websites. Today's top WCM vendors don't even call themselves "WCM" vendors. They are digital customer experience creators (add in Customer Experience or Web Experience here as well).

What sets Adobe, Acquia, Ektron, HP Autonomy, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle, SDL and Sitecore apart is their approach to providing a set of tools and capabilities to manage multichannel digital experiences.

But before we tell you their stories, we need to tell you this story:

3 Categories of Digital Experience Solutions

Forrester breaks digital experience solutions down into three categories:

  1. Tools and repositories that support nontechnical people who need to manage experiences (so things such as WCM, digital asset management (DAM), product catalog management, workflow, campaign management, marketing resource management, and desktop authoring tools.)
  2. Tools to enable the delivery interactive multichannel experiences (so things such as search, personalization, recommendation engines, adserving systems, integrated IDEs, identification and authorization).
  3. Tools to support success of these experiences. Here Forrester is talking about testing and measuring tools.

Is the WCM Suite Dead?

This year, Forrester has identified that "integration", not "suite", is the key term when thinking about digital experiences this year. And in fact, all the vendors who made the Wave tout integration with other complementary tools (Sitecore being the exception to the Suite vs Best of Breed approach).

The reality is that many organizations have made significant investments in tools, and many do take a "best of breed" approach to what tools they use. So they are looking for solutions/platforms that play nice with complementary solutions that will enable them to deliver the best digital experiences they can.

This is not to say that WCM vendors aren't adding new capabilities to their core content management capabilities -- they are. Things like personalization, marketing automation, analytics, these are on many a feature check list for today's web content management solutions. It simply means one solution can't necessarily do it all, and the ability to integrate other solutions (CRM, DAM, marketing automation, analytics, etc...) is a key requirement for success.

The point here is that WCM providers who build on open standards, offer pre-built integrations and develop key partnerships can offer differentiation in a market that is full of alternatives.

Customer Experience Management Platform Anyone?

Not every customer experience solution is the same. The players fall intro different categories:

  • The WCM platform players: The Oracle, Adobe, SDL and IBM of the WCM market offer breadth and depth of capabilities.
  • Legacy WCM: These are the vendors that have been around forever and have a strong customer base (HP Autonomy and OpenText fit here). They have a solid WCM offering and have expanded with additional capabilities.
  • The WCM Specialists: Forrester calls these players "WCM plus DX innovation" and refers to Sitecore, Ektron specifically for this report, but also Bridgeline Digital, Percussion, CrownPeak, CoreMedia and others. 
  • WCM Open Source: In many cases the digital experience capabilities of many open source vendors aren't as advanced as commercial alternatives, but there are use cases where they make viable options. Acquia made this Wave, but Forrester also notes other open source alternatives such as DotNetNuke, eZ Systems, Jahia and others.

The Forrester Wave List for WCM

When you look at this list of 10 vendors, you know you've seen them here before. They are all regulars on the Wave list. But there's a reason for that. They don't sit still. They all constantly evaluate the marketplace, listen to what their customers want and strive to deliver the right technology for the right business case.

They also all have at least US$ 35 million in revenues, and target customers with US$ 1 billion in revenues.

At a glance, Adobe leads the way with breath and momentum, but both Sitecore and SDL are ardently working on digital experience strategies. OpenText, Oracle and HP offer competitive options for their own install bases. IBM has made some nice improvements to its WCM platform and now offers a number of DX features, and Ektron, Microsoft and Acquia are on their way.

Stay tuned for more details on each vendors position in the Wave for web content management for DX experiences tomorrow.