For any organization, evaluating the web content management market is a daunting undertaking, given the complexity of today's WCM solutions and the number of vendors in the space. Being able to draw on third-party analysis, like research firm Gartner's Magic Quadrant, can provide marketers and IT professionals with much-needed guidance. It's our view that gaining a good initial understanding of exactly what the Magic Quadrant is will make it clear how the research can help in your WCM search.

Companies may come to third-party analysis very early on in their WCM evaluation and then use the research as a guide throughout the entire process. In effect, our view is that the analysis may help kick start an internal discussion about the need for a WCM solution. Alternatively, we feel that organizations may turn to a resource like the Magic Quadrant for specific help, for instance, in drawing up a WCM vendor long list or in narrowing down a long list to a vendor shortlist.

Some organizations may not have performed a WCM evaluation for many years and so they are also seeking insight into what today's market looks like versus when they last investigated the marketplace. Other companies are eager to check if their market knowledge matches with overall industry analysis or to assist them in justifying their approach to WCM and their choice of a vendor to their C-suite.

What Does the Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Represent?

From our perspective, the best way to approach the Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management is as a snapshot in time examining both the market and vendor offerings.

The report includes an overview description of the WCM market and recent trends as well as explanations for how Gartner defines WCM, the two axes of the Magic Quadrant graphic - completeness of vision along the horizontal axis and ability to execute along the vertical axis - and the four different quadrants - Niche Players, Challengers, Visionaries and Leaders.

We believe that you can think of the two axes of the Magic Quadrant from a time perspective. So, in our view, the ability to execute vertical axis indicates what WCM vendors currently offer customers today in terms of their products and services, while the completeness of vision refers more to tomorrow or the future in terms of those same categories.

Assess and Understand Your Organization's Specific WCM Needs

Before starting on a WCM evaluation, make sure your organization has gained a full understanding of its own particular requirements.

Some companies, early on in evaluations, have issues because they've not taken the time to dig into and uncover the specific context in which they plan to use a new WCM. Instead, such organizations tend to end up with a series of undifferentiated requirements which may often reflect commoditized aspects of today's WCM market and so not prove helpful in drawing any kind of meaningful vendor comparisons.

Buying a WCM isn't something to be considered in isolation. Your evaluation is not simply a matter of comparing features and knowing it's going to fit your environment. Don't overlook the broader context.

For some organizations, their planned investment in WCM is part of their digital experience platform (DXP) or their broader solution landscape with the goal of increasing marketing effectiveness or digital commerce effectiveness or driving customer efficiency.

It's therefore critical that organizations consider how their WCM investment will sit alongside adjacent technologies. For example, if you're choosing a WCM to fit behind a digital commerce engine, which will do most of the heavy lifting, you don't need the best WCM.

Learning Opportunities

Focus on the Best WCM Fit for Your Company

We suggest looking at the Magic Quadrant in its entirety at the very start of a WCM evaluation process to become familiar with the way in which Gartner is defining the market and evaluating the vendors. Then, we feel that you can see how your goals, needs and circumstances match up with the Magic Quadrant's definitions and evaluations.

What we think you're really looking for is the WCM which is the best match for your organization, which may not be the best overall WCM. With WCM, it's a vendor-led market, where some market vendors may offer capabilities that organizations find it difficult to derive value from. In part, this may be because companies don't have the people and processes in place necessary to take full advantage of those capabilities.

Commonly, organizations may accidentally overbuy WCM. They go for the best in the market, and perhaps five to seven years later, they're still not using all the WCM's bells and whistles.

You Need to Do Your Due Diligence to Understand the Entirety of the Magic Quadrant

In our view, there's a reason why Gartner used the term "Cautions" alongside "Strengths" instead of "Weaknesses" when profiling different WCM vendors. We feel that it's therefore important that organizations do their own due diligence in fully digesting the Magic Quadrant. Where Gartner in its holistic MQ analysis may effectively mark a WCM vendor down for its limited geographical reach or its small partner ecosystem, those “Cautions” may not be negatives for an organization in a particular region of the world or one that’s willing to use its own professional services to support its WCM investment.

Conclusion: How to Factor the Magic Quadrant into Your Web Content Management Decision Making Process

In terms of best practices relating to the Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, we suggest that you think about using the research to accompany your organization throughout your entire evaluation journey.

Early on, we assert that you become familiar with Gartner's assessment of the market and keep referring to it and check your own priorities. To us, this focus will help in ensuring that organizations come up with differentiators that tie directly to their own specific WCM needs.

We feel that the ultimate goal is to end up with a WCM solution that's the best current and long-term fit for your organization and which will enable you to realize successful business outcomes.

Download a complimentary copy of the report, courtesy of Crownpeak.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.