Forrester's latest Wave for Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) emphasized vendors' "breadth of the portfolio and quality of integration." 

Providers that do well in each area bring digital experience practitioners the "best of both worlds," Forrester senior analyst Mark Grannan told CMSWire in an interview this week. 

Grannan wrote the report with colleague Ted Schadler, the third of its kind since 2014.

“There are very much two axes here at least: one is the breadth of the portfolio and the other is quality of integration,” Grannan said. “In theory if you can do both well, that’s the best of both worlds. So we absolutely tried to spread the field and showcase the differences based on those two axes."

Major Vendor Shift

Forrester's views on the digital experience toolset led to some major changes from the last DXP Wave, published in 2015:

  • Oracle was named leader, displacing Adobe
  • Adobe moved to a strong performer
  • Acquia and Sitecore dropped from strong performers to contenders
  • OpenText worked its way back in as a challenger after being dismissed in 2015
  • Challengers Magento and Liferay and contenders Sprinklr and BloomReach made their debuts
  • Salesforce earned highest marks for strategy, compared to Acquia last time
  • Oracle earned the highest marks for current offering, compared to Adobe last time.

Forrester’s intent in its 2017 DXP Wave to “showcase the breadth of the portfolio and the cohesion of the products in the portfolio,” as stated in the report, drew some response from DX vendors.

Adobe: Partnerships Not Credited

One of them was Adobe, the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor that led the first two DXP Waves and often lands in the leader spot in its Wave for Web Content Management.

Adobe lacks a native commerce and service offering (instead relying on partners) and scored zeros from Forrester in those departments. Forrester rates vendor capabilities on a scale of zero to five (five being strongest).

Oracle, the new leader, has native commerce (4.20, second behind SAP Hybris' 4.80) and service offerings (first with Salesforce at 5.0).

“Adobe is proud to have held leadership positions in past reports," an Adobe spokesperson said in a statement shared with CMSWire. "As happens often, Forrester evolved the criteria of the report and this ultimately impacted Adobe’s position.”

Forrester shifted the focus to native solutions versus capabilities via integrations, according to the Adobe spokesperson, and “Adobe wasn’t given credit for its broad set of partnerships with CRM, commerce, customer service and public cloud platforms providers.”

Adobe won the content (4.75) and customer data (5.0) categories in the 2017 DXP Wave.

“However,” Adobe officials added, “even with the shift in focus, Adobe continued to score ahead of 10 other companies that participated in the report, and is called out as being ‘best in class in content, marketing, and customer data management functionality.’”

Forrester: DX Wave Focus Unchanged

Headshot of Mark Grannan
Mark Grannan

Asked to respond to Adobe’s statement, Forrester’s Grannan said all vendors in the DXP Wave were only given credit for native capabilities in Forrester’s “current offering” software criteria. 

However, that was also the case in the last DXP Wave in 2015, Grannan said. Adobe was the lone leader in that 2015 Wave. Forrester gave “partial credit” for partnerships in the 2014 Wave, Grannan said.

“The nature of tech partnerships is slippery, and honestly we’ve attempted to represent the needs of our enterprise clients who felt that they may have been burned in the past when those relationships didn’t hold up over time,” Grannan told CMSWire. “Secondly, we gave credit to those vendors who do maintain healthy ecosystems within the strategy (Forrester rates vendors on current offering and strategy) by looking at their services partnering network. So, it cuts both ways.”

Forrester’s evaluation in the 2017 DXP Wave did evolve, Grannan said, but, "we didn’t change the focus of the evaluation. It’s still about quality of an integrated portfolio to serve digital experiences for the customer across any point in the journey. So that’s held true ever since we launched this body of research.”

Acquia: Best-of-Breed Works

Headshot of Chris Stone
Chris Stone

Lacking native capabilities also hurt Acquia, which, like Adobe, received zeros in service and commerce. 

Forrester lauded the Boston-based provider for strengths in open source Drupal and cloud roots, but cited its weaknesses due to a lack of marketingautomation, commerce, service and data management.

This comes back to Forrester's attention to "breadth of portfolio." In a complementary report released with the DXP Wave last week — “Digital Experience Platform Trends, 2017” (fee required) — Forrester's Grannan and Schadler reported native solutions are the “logical answer.” 

"Native solutions that have been live for 18 months will win over pure best-of-breeds for existing clients," they wrote.

Christopher Stone, chief product officer for Acquia, said teams in the past would build websites and manage digital experiences using tools from a single product suite. 

“The market has long since matured and the DXP suite mentality no longer computes,” he said. “All of our customers use a wide range of technology, and they look first and foremost for platforms that accommodate best-of-breed CRM, marketing automation or analytics tools.”

Learning Opportunities

DXP platforms should serve as an architecture for customized solutions, “not a product suite,” Stone added, “that locks you in without catering to your unique needs.”

BloomReach: Open, Intelligent, Versatile

headshot of Kevin Cochrane
Kevin Cochrane

Kevin Cochrane, CMO of Mountain View, Calif.-based BloomReach, also defended the best-of-breed approach BloomReach supports. BloomReach also scored zeros in commerce and service.

CMOs, he said, have an entire application portfolio of various different systems supporting marketing, sales, service and other functions, which includes decades of enterprise software and applications they won’t just throw away and start from scratch.

We believe digital experience platforms really are an integration play to unify customer data, unify the customer experiences and to provision into one engagement across people resources, application resources, content resources, services resources," Cochrane said. "If you’re an enterprise, are you going to stay with every line of business function from one vendor? We don’t know if that’s where CIOs are today or if they have the capability to do that.”

BloomReach supports open, intelligent and versatile approaches that integrate data, content and enterprise applications, Cochrane added.

Oracle: CX a Big Picture Story

Des Cahill headshot
Des Cahill

Des Cahill, vice president and head CX evangelist at Redwood Shores, Calif-based Oracle, said Oracle's ascension into the Forrester leaderboard reflects the "large investments and progress we’ve made in building the Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud Suite."

In the Cloud 1.0 era, IT struggled wiring disparate clouds together so marketing data flowed to sales and sales data flowed to service. 

“It turned out to be as difficult as wiring together data flows from on-premises apps from different vendors,” he said.

Today, organizations look at CX more holistically and strategically. 

“Each line of business needs to drive app strategy, but IT is a key stakeholder, too, as apps and services must integrate together and data has to flow to all parts of the organization,” Cahill told CMSWire. “At Oracle, we feel any organization looking at CX in a more strategic and considered manner is going to favor the completeness, integration and depth of the CX Cloud Suite to help in their business transformation by incorporating innovations, applications and services from Oracle to help them deliver better customer experiences.”

Oracle supports connected data (social, third party, first party, IoT, behavioral, product, back-office) and helps customers apply connected intelligence to that data, Cahill added.

Episerver: Nascent, Maturing Market

James Norwood headshot
James Norwood

James Norwood, chief marketing officer for Stockholm-based Episerver, called the DXP market “nascent yet maturing at the same time.”

Eighteen months ago, he said, no one came to Episerver asking for a complete DXP including all of the key areas, but that is changing, and fast. 

“They’re still not necessarily calling it a DXP but that’s what they want,” Norwood said, “and we’ve started to sell the entire Episerver Digital Experience Cloud PaaS to organizations all in one go.”

Norwood said Episerver was honored to be included in the 2017 DXP Wave “since you need to have a fairly broad, coherent and consistent offering to make it in, and to be recognized for that is testimony to our execution. First time around, you just needed a strategy and some components, this time round you need an actual DXP.”

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