Selecting a Web Content Management Platform: Finding the Right Fit

One component of digital leadership is to select software that empowers you to deliver online experiences that keeps visitors coming back for more.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management has just been released, and the results revealed that for the fifth year in a row, Episerver was ranked in the visionaries’ quadrant along with other key players in the space. We are proud of our inclusion in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and recognize the lengthy requirements and consideration that goes into its creation. But, we’re also acutely aware that the Quadrant does not tell the whole story for every business.

Successfully evaluating and buying a platform to power your web and mobile channel is essentially about finding the right fit. At a high level this comes down to a three step process. You need to think about 1) the process that your organization needs, 2) the people who operate that process, and finally 3) the technology that implements or automates the process.

We have seen some organizations pick technology first – typically at a high cost, followed by a challenging exercise to get the right results. On the other hand, we have seen organizations who think about their process and business needs first, and then talk to people with experience (such as Gartner) and use the quadrant as one data point out of many. The latter are often able to select technology that is a better fit, and have an easier path to good results.

Here, I would also suggest that you take advantage of your IT department. While some marketers might argue that the processes in IT are long or even “anti-agile,” there is a point in carefully considering a platform that needs to support you for years to come. The other week I had a discussion with a CIO at a large online retailer, who talked about the trend of business users buying more technology. She highlighted the processes that IT uses when evaluating software are not well understood by her colleagues in marketing, yet those same processes have taken a lot of cost and risk out of technology decision making processes for many years.

How to relate to the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner looks at WCM vendors against two sets of criteria:

  • Ability to Execute measures how well a vendor sells and supports its WCM products and services globally.
  • Completeness of Vision focuses on the vendor's potential and points to its future chance of success.

Given that the quadrant includes software for huge variety of customers, you need to think carefully about the needs of your business before you begin the selection process. For instance, large enterprises might have different needs than smaller companies, and may also be willing to absorb much higher upfront costs in order to get a platform that will cater to a very broad set of needs.

It’s also important to understand how the analysis is conducted. Generally speaking, the process is straightforward:

  1. Gartner ask vendors to state their claims about product capabilities and features that add business value.
  2. Gartner works through their client base, the Global 3000, to validate those claims.

And that second step is key – the Gartner client base is typically larger enterprise organizations, which often do not include thriving mid-size businesses that can’t spend big bucks on analyst relations. The results in the quadrant might make perfect sense for the Global 3000, but when it comes to your business, it may be more valuable to evaluate against different criteria.

One aspect that is often overlooked is if the software you are about to purchase is meant to support a vast number of legacy business processes, or if your business is pursuing digital leadership, with higher demands on the ability to rapidly implement, evaluate and adjust. 

Finally, I would like to mention that there is no ”one size fits all” solution. Consider how Gartner itself perform the advisory process: Gartner asks a lot of questions about business goals as well as technology ecosystem before making a recommendation. I would suggest that you apply the same rigor to your selection process, even if you are in a rush to select technology.

Taking a stand for a future we do not know

The internet moves incredibly fast, and we support our customers by staying current with the pace of technology growth. We do so guided by the vision that our business users should be able to execute rapidly, always experiment with new marketing ideas and learn and act from the results. We are convinced that the digital leaders of tomorrow will be those who are able to outpace the competition by trying more ideas and constantly iterating on those that work.

We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished in the digital marketing and e-commerce space – and especially how we are becoming the choice both for companies in the mid-market – and amongst the Global 3000. These are companies who are trying to outsmart the competition by moving at a faster pace.

To build software for the digital leaders of tomorrow, we rely on some very simple ideas:

  • Usability is not a checkbox feature but an important differentiator that will empower fast moving companies to outpace their competition.
  • A best-of-breed approach is the most effective way for companies to deliver on all digital needs.
  • Embracing the value of speed and continuously delivering incremental improvements as the only future proof way to meet the evolving needs of the connected consumer.

I had a conversation with an Episerver customer recently, a marketing technologist at a global Pharma company, who very succinctly described why they selected Episerver. The economics of their content management and ecommerce solution was a big differentiator. They viewed the platform as an affordable, capable solution that could be implemented as fit-for-purpose, today. A flexible, open-ended solution was another point of difference in their selection process. This customer explained that he doesn’t know what’s coming next in technology – none of us do! But, they’re in a position today to quickly adapt to future changes.

The Episerver customer base is stronger than ever. Our solid and expansive network of 750 global partners is helping to cement our ability to provide a visionary platform to digital leaders who wish to create lasting business results. As our business continues to grow, we look forward to providing solutions that our customers never even knew they needed and continuing to be one step-ahead of industry trends.

Bob Egner

 

Download the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report