Industry Insights

Gartner Reveals Critical Capabilities for WCM

Last October, as you may recall, Gartner published its annual report, The Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Here, at CMS-connected, hot on the heels of the report, we discussed how much those little dots have migrated around this year, the new kids on the block, who lost ground on their competitors, and who jumped from one category to another over the past year alongside the top vendors’ executives’ exclusive commentary on the report. But today we will discuss the Magic Quadrant’s companion report published by Gartner; Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for Web Content Management

The Magic Quadrant assesses the WCM vendors with respect to their ability to execute in the market and their vision. This Critical Capabilities document assesses the vendors in terms of their WCM platforms’ functional capabilities to support the following five use cases:

  • Digital Marketing Effectiveness 
  • Contextualization of Delivered Experiences 
  • Digital Commerce 
  • Digital Workplace Initiatives 
  • Composite Content Applications 

When it comes to the critical capabilities, Garner revealed the critical capabilities for web content management, including usability, interoperability, engagement analytics, mobility/multichannel, content delivery, personalization, architecture, and cloud capabilities. 

Digital Marketing Effectiveness 

When assessing vendors for this particular use case, what Gartner looked for was how their WCM capabilities support marketers in expanding and improving their success with their digital marketing strategies. In recent years, most WCM vendors have shifted focus to entice digital marketing leaders rather than the IT departments. Today, when you look at the providers’ new releases, it seems very obvious that they all are beefing up their digital marketing capabilities by leveraging the latest technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. For instance, last month we sat down with Mark Raymond, Territory Sales Manager at Kentico, to inquire about the new Kentico 10 marketing capabilities as Kentico saw the struggle was within the campaign process. To ease that pain point, the vendor has made a trench of enhancements to its Campaign Management Module with the new release. You can watch the full interview here

If we paddle back to Gartner’s report, it is cited that enterprises find Acquia's marketing geared primarily toward the digital marketing effectiveness use case whereas the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm states that Crownpeak Web Experience Management is ahead of the WCM market in exploiting the cloud's potential for larger web and digital marketing efforts. On the other hand, even though Progress' Digital Experience Cloud delivers the unique value of a cloud-based offering that complements WCM and intends appeal to marketers more, it still has been very popular in the IT departments of midsize enterprises. However, the vendor introduced very compelling marketing features with the Sitefinity 10.0 beta version. In fact, hot on the heels of the new release, CMS-Connected reached out to Dale Young, Manager Sitefinity Sales & Channels, to inquire about what is paramount about Sitefinity 10. In the interview, he encapsulated the improvements that will excite developers as well as marketers. 

Gartner claimed in its most recent MQ for WCM: “More than most WCM vendors, Sitecore is fostering and learning from innovation by its customers, partners and the market as a whole.”  I certainly agree with this statement. The version 7 had been about technical upgrades, the vendor altered its focus based on the feedback and the market evolution and now, the version 8 is all about usability and business user experience. Sitecore XP 8.2 builds on the core functionality and usability of the newly designed Experience Platform 8 and introduces key tools to help its growing customer base quickly take advantage of crucial digital marketing capabilities. According to Gartner, the Sitecore Business Optimization Services team directly benefits customers that are aiming for digital marketing and business leadership while employing the Sitecore platform.

Contextualization of Delivered Experiences 

For this use case, Gartner assessed the vendors based on their WCM capabilities to support the preparation, management, and delivery of contextualized, engaging experiences. Before discussing the comments that strike most for this particular case, first, I would like to talk about what drives contextualization. 

Visitors increasingly expect a customized digital experience regardless of who they are, where they’re located, or what device they’re using. For content providers, this now means that relevant, meaningful content has to be identified and served on demand in order to respond to each, unique customer situation. To do so, changing the way of content publishing alone is not sufficient. The whole process of managing and orchestrating content should evolve. Therefore, the demand for personalized and contextualized experiences is driving WCM vendors to adopt stronger, more tightly integrated personalization capabilities. To satiate the obvious interest, many vendors today, provide very viable personalization solutions either through acquisitions and strong partnership or from building the capabilities in-house. 

In recognition of the demand, Episerver, for instance, acquired Peerius, a provider of intelligent omnichannel personalization in the cloud, and Optivo, a provider of omnichannel campaign management and customer intelligence solutions. The company didn’t waste any time putting these new technologies to use, and shortly after, they introduced three additions to their Omnichannel Personalization Suite. In the exclusive interview to CMS-Connected, James Norwood, Executive Vice President of Strategy and CMO at Episerver, explained the new offerings and what they mean for the future of personalization and omnichannel. On top of that, when I asked him what the next capabilities are that we should expect to see from Episerver in the near future, he replied:  “We are currently building out our omnichannel campaign management solution by making significant investments in event-triggering, visual segmentation and targeting, and cross-channel orchestration workflow. As we further incorporate and leverage these capabilities, you can expect to see customized and programmatic campaigns that use data-driven approaches within the web, social, mobile, contact center, print, apps and more and that adapt to specific customer behavior in real time.” You can read the full interview here. As a result, Gartner’s analysts Mick MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy has praised the vendor’s efforts with these words in the report: “While Episerver Digital Experience Cloud is absolutely appropriate for all use cases, it will appeal especially to those whose focus is on digital marketing effectiveness and delivering highly contextualized experiences.” 

The Gartner analysts also spoke highly of Oracle's WebCenter Sites as it provides comprehensive support for the scenarios that generate the most demand in the WCM market, such as digital marketing effectiveness and delivery of contextualized experiences, according to Gartner. 

In this use case, to me, Acquia also deserves kudos as the vendor recently made some powerful enhancements to Acquia Lift which is Acquia’s SaaS solution for creating personalized and contextual digital experiences. They basically took a few steps back and re-imagined the platform, which was initially launched in 2014. With the new capabilities, content in Acquia Lift can be selected for the right display format in addition to the right audience. The platform also allows users to reuse their existing content and configurations already set up for their Drupal site. For developers, in a CMS-Connected exclusive interview, Dries Buytaert, Co-founder and CTO at Acquia, said that they focused on a lot of integration to make the platform much more flexible and easier to integrate with other technologies. In this regard, the latest version of Acquia Lift can be installed on any Drupal or non-Drupal website through a simple JavaScript tag, meaning whether users are working with a legacy system, a JavaScript application, a decoupled Drupal build with custom front end, or a non-Drupal commerce site, they can be integrated with Acquia Lift as it became a multi-platform solution.

Digital Commerce 

In the scope of this use case, as the name implies, Gartner inquired the WCM capabilities to support multiple digital commerce scenarios. Once just a tool for putting up content and images on websites, the online content management system is no longer just for getting the content out, it now plays an influential role in the brand experience. Therefore, a couple of years ago, almost every major WCM vendor got its foot in the door of the commerce world, mostly, through an acquisition of e-commerce platform providers. Today, having some e-commerce capabilities is not good enough, though. For this reason, we see more and more content management system providers rebuilding their experience platforms around a commerce engine because, in today’s world, commerce and digital experience must go hand in hand. 

Sitecore, for instance, in January, unveiled a new major version of its flagship Sitecore Commerce product. With the new release, the vendor aims at helping merchandisers and marketers deliver an end-to-end consumer shopping experience catered to each shopper, resulting in customer loyalty and leveraged business performance. To investigate more about what this new release means for the future of commerce, we reached out to Nate Barad, Director of Product Strategy at Sitecore. He said that the major issue Sitecore addressed with the new release was the gap between commerce and content. To do so, the vendor added two prominent offerings to its platform; native personalization and native optimization. 

In the report, when it comes to the commerce capabilities, Gartner cited that FirstSpirit lacks some of the marketing-friendly usability featured by other products, but it is a worthy complement to marketing, e-commerce and portal offerings adjacent to WCM. The research firm also touched upon the benefits of CoreMedia’s partnership with IBM as it allows the vendor to demonstrate high interoperability, particularly for digital commerce solutions. Lastly, according to the report, Episerver's overall offering is also compelling for those involved in building out digital commerce solutions. 

Digital Workplace Initiatives

In this category, the WCM capabilities to support digital workplace initiatives, including intranets, extranets, and other collaborative efforts matter the most to the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm. In terms of the digital workplace initiatives use case, Sitecore scored the highest rank, and it’s followed by Adobe, Acquia, Episerver, Crownpeak, and so on. 

Composite Content Applications 

To be ranked high in this category, the vendors are expected to have the WCM capabilities to enable third-party and custom-made applications to interact with and consume content in the WCM repository. Today’s leader vendors must offer integration with other business applications and content repositories. 

Traditional content management systems are rigid when it comes to adding new delivery formats, like a mobile app or web-based application, developed outside of the CMS platform into the website as these platforms take care of the entire web experience. However, today, while developers are looking for maximum front-end flexibility, content creators do not want to be concerned about how every single front-end displays content. This emerging demand drove many WCM vendors to adopt the headless CMS approach. 

In the Gartner’s report, Automattic's platform is cited as a particularly good option for "headless" contexts, where the focus is on composite content applications, and where the core capabilities are combined with adjacent platforms such as portals or digital commerce platforms. On the other hand, in its Magic Quadrant report, the research firm stated that IBM’s many technical features and options for integration are often a burden for organizations with relatively simple WCM requirements but IBM Web Content Manager is tightly integrated into its sophisticated portal platform, IBM WebSphere Portal. 

Lastly, to embrace a best-of-breed strategy and focus on integration with third-party solutions, for example, SDL has sold off some of its campaign and e-commerce capabilities. 


As Gartner puts, making interoperability a key differentiator. Buyers now demand a comprehensive interface with their company’s entire information ecosystem such as inventory systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and more. Therefore, Gartner suggests the vendors aim for the "best match" rather than simply the "best product." For the buyers, I recommend them not underestimating to project what can change in the next couple of years so the platform that you will choose wouldn’t become obsolete as your business ramps up. As Forrester’s Senior Analyst Mark Grannan suggested, during the CMS-Connected interview “Leverage your market research; leverage us [Forrester], leverage CMS-Connected. Leverage until you make sure that you are as fully informed as you can be. You need to understand what your options are on the market, before getting convinced by CMS vendors.” It is very common with buyers to experience their initial selection failing to anticipate the emerging demand for their digital business down the road. 

Venus Tamturk

Venus Tamturk

Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.

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