The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Online Customer Experience (CXM) has just arrived and it reads like a who's who of web content management. Seems there are few WCM vendors who don't make some attempt to support the delivery of a complete online customer experience, but most still have a lot of work to do. Who leads and who challenges? Read on.

WCM Breeds CXM

They all pretty much excel at basic web content publishing, which is why most have moved to the next level -- the customer experience. Forrester defines CXM as:

A set of solutions which enable the management and delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content, offers, products, and service interactions across digitally enabled consumer touchpoints

And while most are working on their solution for CXM, there is still much work to be done. They come from various backgrounds as. Some hail from the world of enterprise content management, like OpenText, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. Others like Adobe, SDL, Autonomy, Alterian and IBM offer CXM stacks. And then there's the list of independents and open source vendors such as Sitecore, Ektron, CoreMedia, GX, Drupal, DotNetNuke, Alfresco and eZ Systems (just to name a few).

Forrester evaluated ten of these WCM vendors against 110 criteria and found that no one vendor offered all the components of a CXM solution. However, that doesn't really matter because most customers are looking for solutions that can integrate with existing solutions already in use (web analytics and CRM software topped the list of apps CXM solutions need to be able to integrate with).

The Components of CXM

According to Forrester there are three primary components of CXM solutions:

  1. Process based solutions for creating experiences: This is where most vendor focus heavily as it includes WCM itself, digital asset management, customer relationship management, e-Commerce, marketing campaign management and a few others.
  2. Delivery Solutions: In addition to a content delivery tier that is often coupled with the Web CMS, delivery solutions include personalization, recommendation engines, search, marketing automation and more.
  3. Customer Intelligence: A/B and multivariate testing, web and social analytics.

In its research Forrester found that there are a number of different initiatives that customers are looking at deploying in the next twelve months. Topping that list is delivery mobile devices, content targeting based on browsing behavior, distribution of content to social networks and analytics in context in the content management system.

The Customer Experience Evaluation

Forrester looking specific elements within the current offering, they looked at the strategic direction of the vendor and at its market presence. Ten vendors, Adobe, Autonomy, Ektron, FatWire, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle, SDL and Sitecore, were selected to be evaluated. Each has a strong track record for web content management, has an extended solution for multi-channel, interactive experiences and are of interest to Forrester clients.

They also had to have a minimum of U$ 25 million in annual revenues.

And the Wave says:

  • SDL and Adobe lead
  • Autonomy, OpenText, FatWire and Sitecore are the immediate competitors
  • Ektron is close
  • IBM, Microsoft and Oracle offer narrower functionality, but differentiators that could make the difference.

Note that just prior to this report arriving, Oracle made its bid to acquire FatWire, which likely will push it up to the competitor level next time around.

The pretty picture:


The Leaders: SDL and Adobe

Part of the value for SDL is its globalization and localization capabilities, along with its support for the print channel. In addition, its Blueprinting technology which supports the creation of multilingual website and multi-brands from a graphical interface is also a plus. What SDL is missing is rich media management (this will likely change since it acquired Calamares), and integration with CXM components like CRM, analytics and testing tools.

Learning Opportunities

Adobe has a very strong WCM and its integrated DAM solution is an added value. Forrester notes that Adobe is challenged with pulling together its various CXM components, including WCM, Omniture's marketing, analytics and testing tools and its desktop Creative Suite. But Adobe is already well underway to do just that with its newly announced Digital Engagement Platform.

The Challengers: Sitecore, FatWire, OpenText, Autonomy

Autonomy does have a broad selection of CXM components including its IDOL search engine, Optimost (testing and optimization) and content publishing and deployment, but its multichannel capabilities are weak and its roadmap for WCM was found lacking.

OpenText challenges with it web experience management platform from Vignette. It's still missing a few things like CRM, testing and optimization, but Forrester says its financially capable to fill those gaps (although its current acquisition focus has been on dynamic case management).

Sitecore is another challenger with a solid set of CXM capabilities in its Customer Engagement Platform. Its marketing and campaign tools are highlighted, but it's missing capabilities for rich media management and library services.

We aren't going to talk about FatWire as they have been acquired by Oracle and it's unlikely you will see it offered as a standalone product outside the Oracle Fusion line.

The Contenders: Ektron, Oracle, IBM

A quick summary: Ektron hasn't yet proven itself in the enterprise space. Once it does, expect to see it more in Forrester's reports as it offers some nice capabilities not found in other WCM platforms. IBM is more about web publishing than web experience, but its integration with its Websphere Portal product is a differentiator. Oracle was evaluated on its Universal Content Management platform (UCM) which is more about document management than web experience. The acquisition of FatWire and integration of that set of CXM components into the Oracle suite will mean Oracle is taking customer experience seriously. We expect to see that happen within the context of WebCenter.

And Microsoft

Now, finally we have Microsoft, but never would I have ever considered SharePoint in the customer experience space. It does have web content management capabilities, but they are very behind pretty much every other WCM vendor. Oddly enough, I don't think there was CXM capability Forrester didn't identify as a weakness. Which really means Microsoft made it here because they are, well, Microsoft. And they do have that great developer community out there to support it. But really, they shouldn't be here at all.

Any Surprises in this New World of Customer Experience?

Not really. This list is a solid one (with the exception of Microsoft), and the capabilities of SDL and Adobe clearly do put them in leadership positions. But keep in mind that there are a number of other alternatives that don't make the list because they don't yet have the revenues or the mindshare of Forrester clients.

What about you? Is Forrester dead on? Head to Forrester for your copy: The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Online Customer Experience (CXM).