Not long ago, digital marketers lived by the rule “Content is king!”
Today, what matters is what you do with that content and your digital channels. In 2013, digital experience (DX) is king, so it’s imperative that you deliver interactions that are personal, contextual, and multichannel. We’re talking websites, mobile, social, email, and kiosks — with Google Glass and more coming soon.
Firms need the right technology in place so IT and marketing pros can deliver on this big vision if they intend to differentiate via digital. But let’s be frank: This is a complex challenge, and many companies are a long way from solving it.
Our report provides IT, business, and marketing pros a deep look at 10 providers of web content management (WCM) solutions — Adobe Systems, Acquia, Ektron, HP Autonomy, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle, SDL, and Sitecore. We analyzed solutions across 100 criteria, reviewed extensive product demos, and spoke with dozens of WCM vendor customers. We heard the good, the bad, and the ugly of WCM use in the field. And, for the first time, Forrester’s WCM Wave looks at an open source platform (Drupal), through the lens of Acquia, a for-profit company that supports Drupal.
This is a co-authored blog post by Forrester Analysts David Aponovich and Michael Facemire.
Corporations and brands are jumping through hoops (and spending lots of money) to build and support mobile customer experiences. It has us asking: Where are the web content management (WCM) vendors in all of this?
The answer that applies to many: Missing in action.
Here is a group of tech vendors whose R&D and acquisitions have been incredibly focused on enabling digital experiences and helping marketers and brands connect with customers online.
Yet many web content management vendors serving enterprise and midmarket clients still lack a fully baked mobile solution for back-end developers or their marketing counterparts, or even a road map that considers the place for mobile and cross-channel experiences in their content management and future digital experience ecosystems (think: interactive TV, point-of-sale digital, even interactive goggles, or whatever new channels emerge). Clients are jumping in completely, and they’re looking for the best tools, solutions, and services to make a successful leap. They’re looking right at you, vendors.
Here’s what they see: Not every WCM vendor today is adept or positioned to offer deep mobile solutions.
Vendors lacking this power and capacity to support mobile initiatives will face challenges as specific WCM competitors answer this need. And here’s the other rub: non-WCM tools and techniques are gaining momentum and serving as the path of least resistance for companies that need, today, to get mobile with their content, sites, and experiences, preferably without redeveloping from scratch.
In a recent post, I shot down the myth that you can predict the ratio between web content management license cost and implementation services. (You can read the post here, but the summary is: There is no standard ratio. Like snowflakes, every WCM implementation and digital experience project has its own unique … personality, and cost. It’s not only about the technology.)
But for any application development professional who sources and implements these systems and strategies, you (or your friends in marketing) will inevitably get put on the spot by the person holding the wallet. Their question, “What’s this going to cost us, all-in?” is hard to answer. And no exec wants to hear, “I don’t know.”
We can provide a recipe for turning this question in a productive discussion that lets budget holders understand the Great Unknowns that accompany digital projects.
Costs can balloon for many reasons on a WCM or DX project. Below are just a few reasons in the form of questions. Use them early on in the project/process to educate key stakeholders on the true costs of WCM- or digital-related work – the levers that get pushed and pulled, affecting cost, timeline, and outcomes. It may be your best defense when the money people start asking questions.
Who’s leading your WCM- or digital experience-related services? Will you spend internal IT staff time or money on external agency partners getting something built?
There isn’t a sole, singular step companies and brands must follow to deliver engaging digital customer experiences. Website, mobile, social? Video streaming, content targeting, effective email campaigns, smarter analytics? Yes, please. And more of it.
Your challenge is finding the right mix (and prioritizing what makes sense) to make digital experience initiatives successful.
So let’s stipulate that in order differentiate with digital, you’ve got to consider what will get you there and establish priorities for your next budget cycle or next wave of strategic investment.
Although your priorities may vary, it’s instructive to see what other companies are investing in for better digital experiences.
You can get a clear view of this in recently available Forrester Research survey data. Earlier this year, Forrester surveyed 170 web content management professionals in a variety of industries asking for responses on what they have deployed, or plan to deploy in the next 12 months, to support online experiences.
Mobile content delivery, video streaming, email tools, and content targeting are high on the list of capabilities or near-term focus to serve digital experience requirements, according to respondents.
It’s important to note that even though we targeted our survey at WCM professionals, this does not mean they intend to source these capabilities from their existing WCM vendor. Many web content management software providers have done great work to retool their solutions to include many of the piece-parts that go into supporting digital experiences.
What’s the correct ratio of web content management software license price to implementation cost?
Clients frequently ask us some variation of the ratio question. As they try to do more with digital, they realize this stuff gets complex and costly pretty quickly.
The answer to their ratio question is: It depends. I can’t endorse a standard ratio of software to services because I don’t believe one exists. For very modest projects, might you expect to spend two dollars on services for every one dollar in software? It’s possible. But I’ve seen it more commonly grow to five-, six-, or ten-fold (occasionally more), as projects like these have long tentacles that reach beyond just software. The cost of software? That’s table stakes. WCM vendors may whisper sweet nothings in your ear about how easy it is to implement; I say ask someone who’s done it before with that product – and get them to be specific about ‘what’ was done as part of their project.
The more urgent question is whether you can keep your eye on the prize, focusing perceptions at your organization on the value of the total solution you’re trying to create. Although WCM technology may occupy the spotlight and serve as an integral part of the total solution, there’s usually a lot more to consider. The scope and cost estimate of your initiative may make executives’ eyebrows pop up. But what really should make their eyes pop is fairly assessing the opportunity cost of not tackling the initiative in a way that reflects the importance of the digital channel to your business.
The intense work by companies and brands to deliver stellar digital experiences (DXes) has been exciting to witness. This isn’t just incremental change for most organizations; it’s transformational. (Think: Outside In, a new book by two Forrester colleagues.)
But these things don’t just happen. It’s not magic. It takes significant planning and commitment across silos: Execs establish a mandate. Digital strategists and marketing pros set direction. User experience and design pros translate the vision. The same goes for marketers and content strategists.
Application developers, meanwhile, must choose and implement the right tools and technology to support DX initiatives. It isn’t easy figuring out what to prioritize (hello, internal politics), where to source solutions (suite vs. best-of-breed?), and how to roll out new capabilities to eager users.
In my research focus area, web content management (WCM), solution vendors have tried to fill the gaps and deliver DX features by building on their own platform or partnering with third-party providers.
Where are organizations investing to support digital customer experiences? Forrester asked 170 WCM leaders earlier this year and their answers, charted below, provide a snapshot of their current status and foreshadow near-term DX investments.
Mobile delivery, video streaming, email tools, and content targeting are high on the list of capabilities or near-term focus to serve digital experience requirements, according to respondents.
It’s amazing how quickly the world of digital experiences is changing technology, and vice-versa. I’ve covered web content management (WCM) since I joined Forrester in 2006, and that particular market has changed quite in a bit, due in large part to the disruptions caused by digital experiences. These days, many more stakeholders participate in the WCM decision-making process, traditional technology decision-makers can no longer afford to make technology decisions in a silo, and key WCM players are refining and expanding their strategies. I’ll tackle this in more depth with Ron Rogowski next month at our Forum in Orlando but, if you’re a digital experience (DX) decision-maker, you should keep in mind:
· Don’t hold your breath for a true DX suite. Though some of the vendors are promising integrated suites that contain content management, commerce, analytics, optimization, etc., none has best-of-breed offerings in all of these areas. And even if one were available, haven’t you already made too many investments to do yet another rip-and-replace? Some of the vendor strategies remind me of the great promises of the all-encompassing enterprise content management suite (remember how that turned out)?
As I recently celebrated my fifth anniversary as a Forrester analyst, I reflected on how my coverage area has changed. For the past five years I've covered the web content management (WCM) market. This has been a healthy market, and I still get plenty of interest from my clients on this topic.
But the context of that interest has changed markedly, particularly over the past year. When clients used to ask about WCM, they wanted to know about WCM and WCM only. But these days, they ask about WCM in the context of other technologies supporting customer experience, such as commerce, CRM, and analytics. Our clients have reached a logical conclusion: WCM isn't the end-all-be-all for digital experiences but instead is one piece of the customer experience management (CXM) puzzle.
And the market will continue to evolve in 2012. In particular:
Watch for an avalanche of acquisitions, both big and small. Though larger vendors have multiple pieces of the CXM puzzle, no one has yet put together a complete portfolio. Vendors are still missing some critical pieces, such as rich media management (IBM), commerce (Adobe), and testing and optimization (Oracle, SDL). Watch for the CXM vendors to compete to fill these gaps. High-reaching best-of-breed WCMs such as Sitecore may not remain independent for long.
Contextualization will become the byword. Forget complicated business rules and template schemes. Technology to contextually adapt customer experiences based on user segment, browsing behavior, locale, and device will be high priority. Vendors will make strides so that customers can increasingly take an "automate + optimize" approach: automating contextualization for most experiences and manually optimizing it for a few high-profile experiences, such as home pages.
I love reading newspapers, and I have a 45-minute train ride to work and that’s perfect for newspaper reading. But the newspaper box at the train station has eaten more than its fair share of my pocket change even when I do have quarters (which is almost never) . And I’m too lazy to get out of my nice warm car on cold mornings and pick up a paper at a convenience store. So these days, I’ve been reading newspaper content on my mobile device of choice (a painfully slow Blackberry).
I’ve noticed a few things about mobile newspaper web sites. First of all, they’re not that great, at least not the ones for the two major Boston papers. They don’t seem to be optimized for the Blackberry. Unnecessary photos slow things down. Navigation is difficult. And the section landing pages don’t always match the print version; for example, sometimes the top story in the sports section is a stale one from two days ago. However, the content’s free – for now - so I guess I can’t kick.
But it made me realize how challenging manage multiple online experiences has become. My colleagues Josh Bernoff and Shar VanBoskirk wrote a great piece about the “splinternet”, which discusses how our online experiences are splintering across multiple devices and touch points. Content and collaboration pros supporting Web content management (WCM) implementations are in for a battle to support mobile Web sites. After speaking with a number of clients about this, the biggest concerns are around:
I still get a lot of client inquiries on “Web content management.” In fact, the past few months have been the busiest I’ve had since I joined Forrester almost four years ago. Many clients are investing in technology for their online, public-facing initiatives, and we’ve been having some great conversations about what technologies will best fit their needs.
But those technologies include a lot more than just “Web content management.”
In fact, I was recently working with a client on what was purportedly a “WCM” selection project and what struck me was how relatively few requirements actually had to do with traditional content management. Instead, the client wanted to talk about things like content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing, social media, and mobile. That goes way beyond just managing content, doesn’t it?
The best-of-breed WCM vendors have understood this for several years, focusing a good chunk of their development efforts on the actual delivery of content, and how to engage customers, partners, and prospects in the online channel. And the big boys — notably Microsoft and IBM — are getting into the act as well, repositioning and repackaging products and enhancing them with additional modules and adjacent technologies to support engagement.