Author: Tim Hanse
Content Management Consultant at Crossphase
Published on 14 August 2019

And I can’t seem to get around it.

Each weekend, my mailbox gets packed to the brim with newsletters about content marketing, content management, and content tech.

And the last two weeks, almost every newsletter has started with “Have a look at the latest report on WCM (web content management) in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant!”

I’ve also noticed a lot of LinkedIn posts by people that have already read it and provide a summary: “IBM is exit!” “SDL has dropped further” or “Sitecore and Adobe are going neck and neck.”

But is this relevant? Is any of it applicable to what we do on a daily basis?

Don’t get me wrong, personally I’m thrilled with the quarterly update from Gartner. I read it attentively. I look at what they have tested and which features they value higher. It also makes me aware of the changes that CMS suppliers have made in terms of vision. All of this is valuable input for the CMS selection procedures that we do for clients.

But the word from Gartner shouldn’t be taken as gospel. There are some drawbacks that you need to take into consideration if you are shopping for a new CMS:

A complete overview?

The quadrant contains a series of well-known CMSystems. But is it a complete overview?

In the latest version, published on 30 July, IBM is nowhere to be found in the quadrant. Remarkable, because they were listed as one of the leaders in the first quarter of this year (published on 11 February 2019). Has IBM’s software become so terrible over the last quarter that they’ve dropped off the map completely?

The answer is ‘No’.

Many existing CMSystems can’t be found on the overview. And that makes sense. Gartner also has a revenue model. And they don’t make a lot of cash from the fee that you as a consumer pay to read their documents. The sponsors of the newsletters you receive take care of that for you. You know, the same sponsors that also send articles with headlines such as “CMS X recognised as a Leader by Gartner” and “CMS Y mentioned by Gartner” into the world.

These companies pay for the privilege of being listed. And no, they don’t bribe Gartner. All the documentation that these companies supply needs analysis. And if you don’t contribute, you won’t make it into the overview. So IBM still supplies a decent CMS!

New candidates

Another striking thing about the Gartner overview is that a lot of well-known names keep recurring. That’s not that strange either, though. It is easier for larger CMS suppliers to provide all the requisite information. I also suspect that this is part of the routine at Gartner: “Third quarter is coming up, let’s send an update to the mailing list.”

Shouldn’t newer systems get a ranking?

Right now, headless CMSystems are all the rage. Unjustly so, if you ask me, but that’s not important right now.

I get a lot of questions about new names in the CMS world that claim to be perfect for managing headless (online) content. I have been hearing clients talk about Contentful and Prismic.io an awful lot recently.

If these are the big contenders on the market, the companies with a lot of growth potential, and they are completely focused headless, shouldn’t these companies be included as well? At least amongst the Challengers?

Headless as the breaking point?

In their most recent report, Gartner says that they primarily see a trend towards hybrid CMSystems. Like they say themselves: Hybrid is the new headless. Most companies want to take part in the headless trend, but still opt for a CMS that is not completely headless but does offer an API.

Seems relatively easy to me, since what they describe is in essence the same thing as a decoupled CMS.

It’s much more interesting to note that Gartner’s competitor, Forrester Wave, already reported that the market for CMSystems was changing rapidly in the 4th quarter of 2018. They predicted that companies would trend towards an Agile CMS, which can be described as a flexible combination of software without Vender Lock-In. They advised CMS suppliers to not push their systems beyond the existing functionalities because a traditional CMS can be part of such an agile approach. And I think they may just turn out to be right. The sounds in the market do seem to confirm that, at least.

Conclusion

So, what should you do with Gartners latest update?

Well, just enjoy reading it. It’s still a good study into Enterprise CMSystems. And also have a look at Forrester Wave.

But do keep in mind that this doesn’t provide you with a complete picture.

Are you in the market for a new CMS? Then read the reports; it certainly won’t hurt to do that. But do keep in mind that selecting a CMS also depends on a lot of other factors, such as pricing, requisite coding knowledge, the online goals of your organisation, the digital maturity of your content team and more. A CMS is only a small factor in a large process.

Because both Gartner and Forrester have rather strict rules regarding sharing their documents without permission, I haven’t linked to either report. But have a look at cmswire.com and cms-connected.com, you can find a link there.

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