Published February 6, 2020

Author: Tim Hanse
Content management consultant at Crossphase

The Gartner WCM chart is no more. And I’m shocked.

In August of last year, I wrote an article about the value of the Gartner WCM chart, in which I may not have been very supportive about the results. I realise that my opinion isn’t important enough to influence decision making on this chart, so I was surprised to read that Gartner is pulling the plug on the WCM chart last week. I hope it’s not because of me.

When you read the explanation in the article, it sounds quite reasonable. The WCM market has become homogeneous and the traditional approach to Web Content Management for online marketing and communications has become outdated. Customers would benefit more from a Digital Experience Platform (DXP). And fortunately, Gartners continue to test these.

But what has changed on the market? Not much, really. Different parties now often offer the WCM together with DXP. And it’s the DXP that is the biggest challenge for customers.

CMS selection is a maze

I might still say CMS in the subheading, but I obviously mean a DXP. And that’s exactly where the confusion lies. Many organisations in the Netherlands that are now considering a new CMS, are lost in a maze of possibilities. Very fun for me, because then I get to think and advise about what best fits the customer’s needs. But it’s annoying for the customer, because they’re often starting on a long and confusing road, with an unknown end point. In short: it’s quite difficult to distinguish one CMS from another. You often get bogged down in the details, such as hosting, implementation options and additional available modules. And then there’s the question of purchasing versus licensing.

As the name suggests, a DXP is mostly used to manage the online customer experience. In fact, a DXP is a WCM with a lot of extra functionalities. Often, it’s not even one format, but rather a set of products.

For organisations, it has also become more difficult to acquire a new piece of software, because it’s no longer about a pure WCM, but also about the modules that can be included. Comparing them is a lot more difficult.

With this comes the fact that many DXP-sellers also offer (or push) a PaaS-solution, in which the customer creates a successful online experience for their target audience in just one go.

Escape to Open Source

During recent conversations with customers about the acquisition or search for a DXP, I noticed that the list of demands increasingly contains the term ‘open source’. When asked, customers often put forth the idea that open source is cheaper than a ‘closed’ competitor. They usually follow this up with a remark about trying to avoid the vendor lock-in. According to this blog, 62% of the respondents in a questionnaire regarding the usage of open source software say they use open source software to avoid a vendor lock-in.

Over the last 3 to 5 years, the market has gone through so many changes in approach, technique and strategy, that a healthy fear has grown that a vendor lock-in can lead to a stand-still in innovation, because you’d be dependent on the vision of that one vendor.

With open source, the door to the licensing cage appears to remain open, making in-house developers able to adapt to new market developments. So for many organisations, open source is a safe option.

Modular DXP

Due to the fear of missing out, or being stuck with something, selecting a CMS is no longer fun. Of course, it never has been, but now you have to choose between that one enterprise DXP with a fancy module that comes with vendor lock-in, or the cheaper one source, which cost more development time. Or perhaps you have a top 3, in which every item has its own advantages.

After a barrage of demo’s, the team that handles the selection often says that it is difficult. And that it appears to be choosing between the lesser of two evils, rather than finding the best candidate.

“I wish we could get that CMS, with that module from the other supplier, supported by the fancy module of the third party.”

The market is already asking for it, and I’m curious to see whether supply will follow: the modular DXP.

In 2018, Forreseter already announced that the old-fashioned WCM would disappear and make place for an agile CMS. Or at least for an agile way of content management.

The moment appears to be now. Gartner rightfully indicates that a pure WCM can no longer be compared, has become homogeneous and will - I believe - start showing an overview of DXP in the future.

Is that agile DXP the solution for the market’s demands? It is, if we see it as a modular DXP as described in this article: an empty wine rack.

If we see the platform as a framework in which we can place the modules that we need for our online message and the management of the customer experience.

This way, a content marketeer can create a strategy with a clear vision themselves, without having to depend on bigger packages, higher licensing costs and another organisation’s vision.

Sacha accountmanager
Sacha van den Broek
Business Developer

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