August 2009
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What has the Ministry of Magic Quadrants got against me?

I went into a restaurant
Lookin’ for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book

So, Web Content Management has progressed from a Gartner MarketScope in 2008 to a Magic Quadrant in 2009. I’m normally quite a fan of Gartner, and was fortunate enough to hear Mick MacComascaigh (the lead WCM Analyst)  give a great presentation at a recent event. We even had a nice chat about WCM Maturity Models afterward. However, I’ve got to say that it’s quite difficult not to treat this research as a giant advert for Oracle. To start, here it is:

Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM Aug 2009

Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM Aug 2009

Who Is It For?

I think the introduction to the research is interesting. It starts by listing who would benefit from it:

This Magic Quadrant will help CIOs, and business and IT leaders that are analyzing their Web strategies to assess whether they have the right WCM offering to support them.

This seems to list everyone except the people that are actually going to use the thing and, as a result, seems to place very little weight on the things I care most about: usability for the editors and a warm fuzzy feeling for the developers. The report is far more concerned about market share, geographical penetration and long term company prospects. History shows us that a typical WCM implementation have an average lifespan of only three years. Is this because the buyers aren’t thinking about long term CIO/Business/IT issues? Or is it because the world changes fast and we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads too much about things too far in the future?

CMS Watch had something to say about the report, mainly around the fact that it is too high level and strategic, and tends to ignore the “nitty gritty” details that can be so important. CMS Wire also talk about it here but they seem more happy with the whole thing.

As an aside, I also don’t necessarily think that a large stable company always leads to a large stable product. Just look at all the recent acquisition activity. The road map for some of the big boys is far from clear and some well established products might start to fester due to lack of R&D investment.

Gartner vs Forrester

So, how much to the two big analyst firms agree? Let’s have a look at the Forrester Wave from a couple of months ago:

Forrester Wave WCM - June 2009

The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management For External Sites Q2 2009

So they do agree on a most things. Both have Autonomy/Interwoven and SDL Tridion in the Leader area. Fatwire, Open Text (pre-Vignette acquisition) and Day are all up there. Microsoft is struggling on both, although Forrester prefer their strategy while Gartner prefer their current offering. IBM, Vignette and EMC are also put into the same ballpark.

Gartner covers a few more vendors. The three smaller .NET vendors (Ektron, SiteCore and EPiServer) all make the grade. I’d have expected to see the EPiServer dot in almost the same place as SiteCore as, in my experience, the two always come extremely close in all evaluations I’ve seen. I’d have put them both ahead of Ektron, but maybe that’s just me. I guess EPiServer are only just starting their US invasion which might have penalised them a bit.

The two reports also agree on not including Open Source vendors for various reasons. Quite a few people in the blogosphere are upset about this. The cynical amongst you might think that this is because Open Source vendors don’t pay analysts as much to include them on reports, but this couldn’t possibly be anything to do with it.

But What About Oracle?

Aaah, yes. The anomaly. Oracle UCM nee Stellent comes first in the Gartner report while a distant tie sixth in the Forrester one. Oracle is going mental about this on Twitter and any other advertising channels it can find. The research cites Oracle’s strengths as the ability to integrate with other Oracle products, including their CRM system. I’m not a fan of these so-called “tighter integrations” which are diametrically opposed to my view of loosely-coupled separation of concerns. Sounds like Gartner want Oracle UCM to become a monolith which reaches far beyond the boundaries of what I’d define as Web Content Management. Interestingly, Gartner’s three leaders are all vendors more traditionally associated with ECM. Price doesn’t seem to be a factor at all in the quadrant.

For the very observant among you, note that all the URLs to Gartner’s public “sponsored” research contain /oracle/, not just this one. So I wouldn’t get hung up on that – I presume it’s the platform they use? [UPDATE: See the comment about this below]

Niche Players: Good News and Bad News

Here’s the good news. Gartner advises that maybe a Niche Player is good for you:

Gartner advises organizations against simply selecting vendors that appear in the Leaders quadrant. All selections should be buyer-specific, and vendors from the Challengers, Niche Players or Visionaries quadrants could be better matches for your business goals and solution requirements.

Here’s the bad news. I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to look at a Niche player according to Gartner’s metrics. They have no ability to execute, and no complete vision. Sound like a bunch of losers. In fact, in my view it’s probably better not to be on this MQ at all than to be a niche player. You’ll save yourself a bunch of money, and a bunch of bad publicity. Nstein tweeted happily about being included on the quadrant for the first time. On the other hand, I’d be furious if I was an established vendor like Alterian and got stuck in the bottom right. So, a question to all you vendors – would you rather be on this as a Niche Player, or not on it at all?

Note that in the MarketScope from 2008, both IBM and MediaSurface (Alterian) were “Cautions”. IBM have progressed safely into the Challenger zone while I’m not sure exactly what they’ve done in the last 12 months to get there. And poor Alterian seem like the victims here, being penalised primarily, it seems, for having more than one WCMS product. Now while this can be confusing, they certainly aren’t the only vendor in this position.

I’ve decided I certainly prefer the research that doesn’t rank the vendors and serve as self-fulfilling marketing for the vendors that do well. The strengths/weaknesses listed are really high level and vague, so you need to take a leap of faith. This kind of advertorial isn’t for me, I’m afraid. Maybe if Gartner published the complex calculations (and they are complex) that go on behind the scenes I’d trust it more.

So Why Trust Me?

Well, I’m Head of Development for the company that came first in the most recent Forrester Wave™: European Interactive Agencies — Web Design Capabilities. What more proof do you need?

Arthur Weasley: This is very, very peculiar. It seems as if your hearing is to be in front of the entire Wizengamot.
Harry Potter: I don’t understand. What has the Ministry of Magic got against me?

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1,570 comments to What has the Ministry of Magic Quadrants got against me?