Forrester gave top ratings to Adobe, Acquia and Episerver in a just released Wave that emphasizes the cloud and headless deployments, as well as integrations with best-of-breed products.

The heavy weighting on headless, modularization, APIs and micro-services strategy pushed Acquia and Episerver into the leaderboard for the first time, where they joined perennial leader Adobe – the top ranked platform.

3 Strong Performers

Forrester's view of the market hurt Sitecore, which slipped from a leader last year to a strong performer in the Wave released today. Sitecore was also rated a strong performer in 2013 and 2011.

However it helped boost Hippo — which San Francisco-based BloomReach acquired in October — into its first Wave for WCM. 

Hippo and SDL, like Sitecore, were also named strong performers.

Forrester analyst Mark Grannan, a CMSWire DX Summit speaker, was lead author on the report. Stephen Powers, Danielle Geoffroy, Ted Schadler, Martin Gill, Allison Cazalet and Peggy Dostie also contributed to the Forrester Wave for WCM (fee charged).

Forrester researched, analyzed and scored 15 WCM platforms. In addition to Acquia, Adobe, Episerver, Hippo and Sitecore, analysts rated OpenText Teamsite, IBMe-SpiritProgress SoftwareOracleJahiaCrownpeak and Magnolia. OpenText WEM was the lone challenger.

Forrester's view of the WCM market differs significantly from that of competing analyst firm Gartner. In its latest Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management last September, Gartner named six leaders: Adobe, Acquia, Episerver, IBM, Oracle and Sitecore. 

Forrester Favors PaaS Deployments

Forrester rankings and research show a preference for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) deployments, which provide application development and deployment tools abstracted from the underlying cloud infrastructure on which they run your apps.

Platforms that incorporated this strategy scored highly for strategy in Forrester’s 2017 report.

Hippo led the way with a perfect 5.0, the top rating. Acquia scored 4.0. Episerver, Crownpeak and SDL all earned 3.0. Adobe and Sitecore each earned 1.0 — a weak rating.

Forrester analysts noted:

  • Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Sites’ only option is a managed-hosted flavor of PaaS
  • Sitecore’s historic gap is a “lack of a cloud strategy.” However, Forrester analysts noted Sitecore will add native Azure-managed services in 2017, an issue it addressed in its November product release (but too late for evaluation in this Wave.)

Open-Source Makes Waves

Analysts from both Forrester and Gartner have shown faith in the open-source WCM model in recent reports. 

Learning Opportunities

Acquia, which offers a commercial service supporting open source Drupal, was a strong performer in Forrester’s 2015 WCM Wave two years ago and is now a leader. Acquia’s landed in the leaders category back to back in 2014 and 2015 in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web CMS — and again in July of 2016, Gartner’s latest report on the WCM vendor industry. 

Hippo, an open-source, Java-based Web CMS, jumped from a niche player to a visionary in Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant report. 

Changing Landscape

How marketers and analysts view Web CMS platforms has changed a bit in the last four years. 

Take a look at Forrester’s requirements for WCM offerings in 2013: 1) content management; 2) websites and layout; 3) globalization and localization; 4) content targeting; 5) multichannel; 6) social and community controls; 7) publishing and deployment; and 8) measurement.

And now in 2017: Content structure and metadata, experience management features for practitioners, technical product architecture and packaged extensions.

Buyers must have smart content, targeted experiences and agile operations, which all translates to contextual digital experiences, according to Forrester analysts.

The key differentiators today, according to the analysts? Semantic content, APIs cloud and marketing.

Qualifications for Inclusion

Forrester included 25 criteria for inclusion in this report. It identified 15, which had to meet these qualifications:

  • Current Forbes 1000 cite them as customer-facing or partner-facing web platform
  • Vendors routinely are asked about by Forrester clients
  • Enterprise customers and local operations in at least two major world regions for at least the past year
  • Three enterprise, current customers willing to share experiences
  • Regional or global partner/implementers that have supported enterprise-level deployments in the past year