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Analysts agree that web content management (WCM) technologies remain at the core of delivering digital customer experiences. Gartner in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management (fee required), released July 30, confirmed this.

“WCM is more important than ever for digital transformation and optimization, so there is increasing pressure to 'get it right this time round,'” Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM authors Mick MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy wrote in their report. “The WCM industry is quickly evolving in response to the imperatives of customer experience strategies, which include digital transformation and continuous optimization using, for example, AI.” The Gartner researchers found native WCM capabilities are expanding and integrating with other digital experience platform (DXP) technologies.  

What else is hot in WCM and what's changed in the past year? We caught up with some representatives of the vendors in the Gartner report to get their take on the state of content management.

Related Article: Sitecore and Adobe Share the Crown in Gartner's WCM Magic Quadrant

Microservices, API Expansion

Just as Gartner has noted in the past for WCM, microservices, cloud delivery and APIs continue to support WCM development. Haresh Kumar, director of strategy and product marketing for mobile and connected experiences at Gartner WCM leader Adobe, told CMSWire the critical criteria for experience management generally remains the same, but the priority for certain areas has shifted. "This year," he said, "we’re seeing increased emphasis on cloud delivery and microservices architecture. The industry is rapidly shifting to a cloud-first solution that eliminates the bulk of the hardware management, application maintenance and scaling complexities. With increased focus on microservices architecture, the industry is converging to API-first systems with high ease of usability, as opposed to API-only systems."

Michael Gerard, chief marketing officer of Gartner WCM visionary e-Spirit, noted no WCM vendor can fulfill all technology needs. The best vendors, he said, offer flexibility of deployment options, out-of-the-box APIs and deep integrations with key technology partners.

Personalization, Analytics Become Ever Important

Kumar said he's seen increased demands on WCM to manage multi-channel experiences across organizations and use cases. Delivering content across channels is becoming table stakes, but WCM is playing a more central role in the integration of personalization and customer analytics on a company's digital business path. "While the importance of personalization and analytics was recognized in the past, we agree with Gartner's view that both are now fundamental elements in delivering relevant digital experiences," Kumar said. "WCM must evolve to include the tight integration of robust experience optimization and insights as first-class capabilities within the solution." Kumar noted the continuing influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered technologies to help personalization and analytics.

Related Article: Personalized Marketing: Where We Are in 2018

Addressing Needs of Business Users

Historically, marketing technology was the domain of IT, Gerard said. Those days are long gone, and a tight partnership between IT, marketing technologies and business users is required for successful digital transformation, he added. "Gartner is clear regarding the importance of this factor for WCM vendor success," Gerard said. 

Kumar said Gartner's view that a holistic system that allows even closer collaboration amongst marketing and IT teams makes sense. Marketers are executing content marketing across new channels like IoT, home assistants like such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa, Single Page Applications (SPAs), or even touch points the brand doesn't own like social media. "To address this spectrum of channels," Kumar said, "it's crucial for organizations to provide systems that can support both marketing and IT teams’ requirements and workflows that minimize delays in experience delivery." 

Kumar cited the example of using low-code or zero-code environments to access content via APIs for headless delivery.

Related Article: 5 Things to Consider Before Abandoning Your Current WCM System

Partners Still Reality 

There is a general drive from the analyst community for WCM to increase in complexity, including the push for a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), all-in-one solution provider in the future, according to Gerard. "This direction certainly makes sense as part of a maturing vendor landscape," he said. "However, execution of this vision by vendors and their customers will take time." 

For now, successful WCM deployment requires not only good WCM software, but the existence of a solid set of partners that can deploy the WCM vendors’ solution on time and within budget, Gerard added. 

Related Article: Investigating the Cost, Integration and Other Realities of Digital Experience Platforms

Pricing Still an Issue

Gartner in its rating of vendors cited a lack of transparency in some vendors' pricing. "As much as companies need to digitally transform their organizations, they are still held to budget and timing restrictions," Gerard said. "Gartner is clear in its assessment that many vendors must better clarify pricing/budget and time to market expectations for their customers." Further, WCM vendors and their partners need to better collaborate on time to market for their customers.

Adobe, Sitecore Lead Pack Again

As for the leaders in Gartner's Magic Quadrant, it remained much the same. Adobe and Sitecore sat on top of the pack of fellow Leaders Episerver, AcquiaOracle, IBM, OpenText and BloomReach. OpenText got out of the Challengers quadrant where it sat the past two years and vaulted back into the Leaders zone for the first time since 2015. The lone change from last year's Leaders quadrant is the addition of OpenText.