Matt Jones Matt Jones | 28 Sep 2015

Where have the ‘Challengers’ gone?

One of the striking things about the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCMS in 2015 is that the ‘Challengers’ square is completely blank. The trick here is not to take things too literally…. Platforms in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant compete with Visionaries and Niche Players too. What is interesting is that the Leaders quadrant has become so competitive. Buyers in this segment tend to be making very large investments which is reflected in the size of companies buying from the leading vendors (including many FTSE 100 companies).

From a web-technology perspective it is very interesting (to us at least!) is that Sitecore is the only platform which is built on .Net which competes in the leading pack. We find that many larger businesses have a mandate on coding languages which can be used in their organisation and we suspect that this will mean (as the report states) that Sitecore will remain a go-to platform Enterprise .Net technology decision makers. We are also expecting to see Episerver included in more Enterprise level pitches now that they have moved from the Visionaries to a Leaders segment. We suspect that the lower end of the .Net Enterprise deal space will be incredibly competitive with Sitefinity, Episerver and Sitecore all likely to be included in £100K to £200K projects (including service fees). Our opinion is that .Net projects below £100K, where price is more of a factor, may well shortlist Sitefinity with vendors not included in the quadrant such as Kentico or Umbraco.

Where are Ektron and Telerik?

They haven't actually gone anywhere...

Episerver and Ektron merged at the beginning of 2015. This is an interesting move as both products used to compete regularly with Sitecore for Enterprise .Net deals. The process of bringing Episerver and Ektron under one umbrella is a complicated one. The two products had very different strengths and weaknesses but the signs are there that a partnership could work well for both parties and provide a more serious .Net threat to Sitecore.

Telerik Sitefinity is now shown under ‘Progress’ which acquired Sitefinity CMS as part of its Telerik takeover late last year. Progress has already given fresh direction for Sitefinity which, in my opinion, had lacked a focus on the data side. The Digital Experience Cloud (DEC) has gained traction this year and helped Sitefinity to compete in pitches where web personalisation and marketing automation are bigger decision making factors. It is a very different product to Sitecore DMS or the Episerver Digital Marketing Platform. However, by being separate to the main CMS it offers an alternative way of managing data intelligently and clearly which I think works really well. I think this shift, alongside an amended roadmap which already includes integrated translation services, is the major reason for a small but important improvement in the position of Progress (Telerik). Most importantly it makes Sitefinity a more realistic option for a number of Enterprise deals, especially those with a strong emphasis on ease of use in the back end and with budgetary limitations.

Who's missing from the party?

Entry to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CMS isn’t a high priority for all CMS vendors. Indeed some vendors, such as open source platforms like Umbraco, Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal would be severely hampered in achieving a position in the quadrant due to the absence of a large corporate structure and turnover. Kentico is another system (albeit licensed) which falls into this category of not being large enough for consideration in terms of turnover and market share.

Our attitude is that technology decisions should be fundamentally led by business and user requirements. This is more important than whether it is accredited by Gartner. It is difficult to put forward a business case that a licensed platform is necessary on typical brochureware non-integrated websites and this applies even to large organisations. Our clients, Toys R Us and Irwin Mitchell solicitors, have used Umbraco to get simple sites up and running quickly. Interestingly some of the open source players such as Drupal and uCommerce (the eCommerce arm of Umbraco) do have relationships with Gartner listed companies. This only goes to show that you shouldn’t limit your technology choices to platforms singled out by Gartner.

Decision making factors for technology buyers in the next 12 months

We would advise any organisation that the potential to integrate with other business systems must be high on their evaluation criteria. Interconnected web platforms are becoming much more critical to remaining competitive. They give us the ability to optimise web revenue performance through improved engagement and retargeting and integration allows us to optimise inefficient business process (E.G. order management and fulfillment). Most importantly, we are seeing that integration of web platforms is enabling businesses to offer much better user experience. This can in some cases (E.G. Uber) fundamentally change online business models which have held for years. A secondary consideration we think should be at the forefront of technology buyers minds is the real cost of old/bad technology. For many people the cost of legacy systems to a business are just what seem like expensive upgrade and fix fees. This is not the case. We think that legacy systems are best judged against the following criteria:

Criteria / ProblemWhat this means for you...
Mobile: Legacy Web platform cannot be optimised for mobile usersPenalties from Google. This means that your share of organic traffic on mobile devices will be severely diminished. This could mean thousands of potential customers do not find your website which probably means hundreds of lost sales or leads each month.
Personalisation: Web platform cannot personalise content for different usersThere is a glass ceiling on what you can expect to achieve. It is really difficult to maximise conversion rates with a website which tries to support conversations with a range of users simultaneously.
Integration: Web platform will not integrate with other systemsYou fail to collect intelligence & fail to generate efficiencies. This makes it impossible for business leaders to make sensible business decisions and limits your ability to grow profitably.
Stability: Platform is unstable and regularly experiences downtime.Lost sales and lost brand reputation. This can have an enormous impact on revenue, profitability and customer loyalty.
Efficiency: It takes ages to make content updatesPoor utilisation of marketing / sales teams. This effectively means you are running your business with the handbrake on; limiting creativity and frequency of your external comms.
Speed: Legacy platform runs slowly which leads to complaints from customersCost = missed online sales + cost of handling sales through paid staff + reduction in customer loyalty due to having to sit on phone queues.

MPISES - It’s not a snappy anagram but we know it works!

These problems can be easily missed in a large organisation leading to missed sales opportunities, reduced profitability and an increasing commitment to marketing and advertising whilst producing the same result. So we would always advise customers who are considering retaining legacy technology to consider the real opportunity cost, not just the 20% higher fee for upgrades.