The Forrester report on CMS launched at the end of January 2017 has certainly raised a few eyebrows. It is the first report for a long time that places Sitecore CMS outside of a ‘leaders’ quadrant.
Whilst Gartner and Forrester are good overall barometers of the bleeding edge of CMS the reality is that most website platforms are chosen outside of the elite group of systems shortlisted for review. That said, the narrative around how they describe the marketplace is important. If you needed any evidence of this look no further than the article written by Petr Palas (owner and CEO of Kentico CMS) which went to press hours after the Forrester report. He talks about the emerging trend of headless cloud based CMS, a far cry from the physical platforms which still dominated the market even a few years ago.
So what does this all mean for marketing people rebuilding their websites?
Well actually quite a lot. Even if you’re not selecting a platform from the quadrant you are likely to see that the quadrant will lead more general trends in the lower and mid markets. This is simply due to open source and smaller licenced platforms evolving in line with the trends of vendor owned platforms. This has happened before with multi-lingual and SEO features, responsive design and with personalisation of web content.
The latest market leading trend of moving to a fully cloud based model is a reflection of the increasingly integrated nature of modern digital infrastructures. The cloud and better documented and open API’s has made it much easier to achieve closer technical integration.
Lot’s of the content traditionally served from a CMS is now fed from live feeds which ultimately leads people to question:
What is the CMS actually there for?
The answer to that is in most cases the role of a CMS is significantly less than it was two or three years ago.
CMS doing less = move towards open source?
Not necessarily. Although we’ve seen a surge in people looking for open source solutions using Wordpress, Drupal and Umbraco we’re yet to be convinced.
While open source communities boast a huge amount of connectors for other systems it’s often the case that they have quite specific use cases. If bespoke development is required the flexibility of cloud based licence platforms such as Kentico or a new Content as a Service (CaaS) provider such as Contentful might allow you to develop a better solution faster than if you are adapting a community developed plugin or module in a system like Wordpress.
What other benefits does CaaS offer?
Lightweight non technical systems make it easier to dramatically change your look and feel whilst keeping your content in one place. This is because the CaaS works just like any other feed that is embedded into a website via an API. The website front end code sits separately meaning that when you update designs the front end developer is not hampered by CMS templates.
The second major advantage is that separation of content means that you don’t have to wait for the website build to be completed before you start adding content. This process can start immediately.
Finally there is the argument that the CaaS model removes the need for annual upgrades as the system is continually updated for all users through the year. Whilst this is true (and potentially a very good thing) this doesn’t guarantee that the days of painful upgrades are over. For example of your CaaS platform is integrated with a non-cloud based system it might be that issues are less severe but more frequent.
So are Sitecore doomed?!
No. Their platform remains, in our view, very well positioned when it comes to large scale implementations involving high volumes of traffic, publishing workflows, website personalisation and deep integrations with CRM partners such as MS Dynamics.
The same applies to the other licenced and physically installed platforms. CaaS is a great thing for people who have a relatively tight view of their Content Management needs but for Microsoft based businesses with complex business rules the installed versions of Sitefinity, Kentico, Episerver and Sitecore are likely to remain popular. That said, at the lower end of the mid-market (for people who just ‘want a better than average website’) competition is already much more fierce.
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