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Analyzing the 2013 Forrester Wave on WCM

wave left

With a copy of the new Forrester Wave™ on Web Content Management in hand this morning, I captured my reactions to the results, and to the changes since the last Wave™ in 2011. There were a few upward shifts (Adobe, Sitecore, Oracle), more downward movements (SDL, HP, OpenText, Ektron), as well as Acquia making its first appearance , and IBM and Microsoft holding tight to pretty much the same spot they held last time.  Here are a few other notable observations:

  • Big Dawg: Adobe gets the top rating. No surprise there. You can’t swing a stick without hitting a CMO or CIO who’s singing Adobe’s praises after having recently invested in the product. It’s hot, and deserves a lot of praise. To be fair, though, they’re still missing some key pieces of the digital experience, such as Marketing Automation, eCommerce, CRM hooks, etc. Plus, some of their capabilities with metadata management and taxonomies pose challenges for a future full of dynamic, content-driven, personalized experiences. We agree they deserve a top billing, but we’re not sure they’re quite so far out in front.
  • Most Improved: Oracle gets this award according to the Forrester analysts. Clearly, this movement is due to the FatWire acquisition, among others (Endeca, Vitrue, etc.). On the 2011 Wave, Oracle was represented by its UCM product (formerly Stellent). FatWire (now called WebCenter Sites) had been acquired at the time the 2011 report was published, but the product was still reviewed separately given the timing. So, even though Oracle has been quiet lately, this shift passes our sniff test. Interestingly, Oracle is not rated as highly this year as FatWire alone was in 2011. (Note the two arrows on the modified version of the chart).
  • Lost the Most Ground: SDL seems to have fallen out of favor with Forrester. Or maybe the new criteria passed them by? We felt they were too heavily favored in the last couple editions of the report, but we don’t think they deserve to drop this much. They have certainly improved since the last Wave, especially given their redesigned user experience and their very smart acquisition of Alterian, the latter of which nicely addressed Forrester’s 2011 criticisms about their need for analytics and social. They also have some key advantages with globalization that are more and more relevant, and Fredhopper targeting/personalization is pretty cool. Issues? Sure. But the largest negative shift on the Strategy axis doesn’t seem warranted.
  • The Move They Didn’t Make: We don’t think anyone within the industry would have disagreed had they would have moved Ektron off into the Risky Bets category. There has been a lot going on up there in Nashua, mostly related to people/partners/clients fleeing the scene, yet not much in the way of proactive communications from management on the subject. We’ve been defenders of theirs because the product is still fine. In fact, it has improved. However, they still haven’t won over the favor of their past-maligned partner universe. For a company that has cast off its professional services group in favor of a focus on product, this spells trouble. Also, it’s funny that Ektron moved up into the Leader’s Quadrant (highest rating) in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, while dropping to the near-lowest rating with Forrester. It’s obvious who’s more in-touch. Ahem.
  • Interesting Note: Oracle is greyed out on all 2013 Waves so far across all categories. Evidently this means that they do not actively participate in the Wave review process. (Note that Forrester says at the beginning of this report that they “examined” 10 vendors and “interviewed” 9 of them.) Why are they in hiding?
  • Interesting Note 2: Forrester has no idea what to do with Acquia. Acquia has lobbied to be in the Wave for a while, but we’re not so sure that was such a good idea given their placement. With a focus on hosting and services on the Drupal open source platform, they don’t fit into the neatly-packaged Forrester mold. For that matter, neither does WordPress, and each has more installs than all the others combined. But that’s another story. Most interesting however, is that Acquia is very focused on re-emphasizing their Enterprise Drupal Gardens SaaS-play product, yet it’s not even mentioned here. So they are a product company, but only their services are noted. Either way, bravo for being the first open source representative.
  • “Duh”: Microsoft continues to linger around as a Contender with no movement at all in this space. Whatever makes them happy…

Other points of interest:

  • Note that Forrester is now using the acronym “DX”, for Digital Experience, to emphasize that the domain of all these technologies pertains only to the digital side of the customer experience. It’s a valid alteration, addressing one of the biggest critiques of CXM, aside from unnecessarily creating the duplicate acronym when “CEM” already existed for a decade, of course. Ah well, it’s only a matter of time before someone introduces “DXM”. Oh wait, I think we just did…
  • Sitecore’s Current Offering rating (Y axis) declined slightly, even though they’ve had a few major releases since the 2011 Wave. The Forrester analysts (Stephen Powers and David Aponovich, two great guys, by the way) want to see integration hooks and notable interoperability given this ever-changing, heterogeneous, digital world we now live in. Stephen, at least, tends to favor the decoupled, best-of-breed vendors these days and Sitecore is one of the few covered that doesn’t fit the bill. At Digital Clarity Group, we understand their point academically. But in our experience many of the best-of-breed products are sitting on the shelf, with hardly a line of integration code written and without a strong enough business case to get them pushed out front-and-center with customers. It’s interesting however, that Forrester moved Sitecore to the right on the Strategy axis. This could have to do with Sitecore’s commerce play, but it also could be a sign of confusion on Forrester’s part. Especially considering that Sitecore has made the largest left-to-right move on the Strategy axis (next to Oracle, but that was because of their acquisitions mentioned above). All others lost ground. Perplexing.
  • It’s interesting that Adobe’s new suite-like, iPad-ready interface didn’t affect its vertical placement. It’s likely that it was too late to be considered, but integration (UI and architectural) was one of the biggest knocks against it in the past. They’ve done a very nice job pulling the products together – at least as far as the user interface goes. (DCG analyst Tim Walters analyzed Magnolia’s similar “appified” interface in a recent blog post.)
  • OpenText – We think the paragraph description about OpenText in the report is pretty valid (OTEX hasn’t made many digital experience moves, and their messaging isn’t aligned with the needs of marketers). It will be interesting to see if OpenText begins to change their Enterprise Information Management messaging given the new executives on board. On the other hand, marketers aren’t the only buyers out there. EIM may still resonate with IT, and rightly so. Could be a nice differentiator for them. Forrester correctly notes the point that OTEX, a company that’s never shied away from acquisitions in the past, is falling behind on the customer experience side of things. We may want tostay tuned on this point. We don’t have inside information, but we suspect the team in Waterloo has something up its sleeve.
  • IBM – We don’t understand this rating, or lack of movement, at all. IBM has been a bit of punching bag for those of us focused on the WCM space for quite some time – and rightly so. It lagged in its offering and sold into large enterprises based on its brand reputation and its enterprise-level agreements. However, as the analysts rightly note, they have made some pretty significant leaps with regards to the product and its strategy. IBM also most certainly offers a number of best-of-breed products in the DX rainbow, such as Coremetrics, Unica, WebSphere Portal, etc. Are they well-integrated? Well, maybe not so much. But, that hasn’t stopped Forrester from giving credit to similar-sized vendors in the past without much notable integration. It’s not that we think the rating is inaccurate; rather, we think it doesn’t appropriately reflect some pretty notable strides made by the formerly sleeping giant.
  • HP – How they are given credit for such a strong Strategy is difficult to understand. Really? HP, which wishes it never bought Autonomy in the first place (which, in turn, hadn’t done much of anything to make Interwoven any more relevant than when it bought it in 2009) has just as good of a forward-looking strategy as SDL ,and nearly as good as Sitecore? Scratching our heads on that one.

One great thing we should point out is the transparency in Forrester’s ratings. Paying customers have the ability to download a corresponding spreadsheet, and they can re-prioritize the business needs used in the report according to their own, thereby repositioning the vendors on the chart in accordance to their own needs. The chart that’s released and viewed by the masses each year makes huge assumptions about organizational needs. There’s about a 99% chance they won’t match yours.

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