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Acquia a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management

Last week, Gartner unveiled the 2013 edition of its yearly Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Gartner Magic Quadrants are evaluations of vendors in a specific market. As a refresher, 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.

Gartner continues to evaluate this market based on the vendor’s ability to meet the changing needs of companies looking to get more results for their digital strategies. Gartner calls this process online channel optimization. “Enterprises strive for ever-greater business impact from their online presence, demanding more from Web content management than it has traditionally delivered. Here, we assess how well WCM vendors are responding, providing insights for buyers and those reviewing their existing applications.

Gartner scores each vendor, resulting in the placement of the vendor into one of four quadrants: Leaders, Challenges, Visionaries, and Niche Players.

For the 2nd year in a row, Acquia has been identified as a strongly positioned Visionary. For 2013, Acquia moved up in both Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision, moving closer to the Leader quadrant.

Here’s a summary of what Gartner had to say about Acquia:

1. “Acquia has a good reputation among users for providing services for Drupal, one of the most popular large-scale open-source software (OSS) WCM platforms.“

2. “Acquia's management team consists of some of the original lead developers of Drupal, as well as veterans of the WCM market. Acquia understands enterprise requirements and has maintained a strong relationship with the broader Drupal developer and user community.”

3. “Acquia has a rare opportunity to help enterprises with their broader online channel strategy, as it has a social software offering (Acquia Commons) and a WCM offering.”

As one of the “veterans of the WCM market” referenced by Gartner in their comments, I’m slightly disappointed by where Acquia is placed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Looking at the Web Content Management market broadly, I see three categories of vendors:

  • Marketing Suites and Clouds: Adobe and Sitecore are attempting to build or acquire a number of technologies in an attempt to become a one-stop-shop for digital marketing.
  • Technology Stacks: Oracle, IBM, HP, OpenText, and Microsoft continue to position their broad product portfolios to CIOs, where WCM is often just included for free by the vendors to sell other related products. For example, Oracle does this when selling their eCommerce solutions.
  • Integrated digital experiences: Acquia’s approach to this market is to provide an integrated cloud platform for Content, Community, and Commerce, to remove the traditional barriers to creating exceptional digital experiences.

My specific issue with the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM is that the technology stack vendors have inflated positions due to their Ability to Execute score. Vendors like Oracle, OpenText, and HP obviously have the financial means to succeed in this market, but still, they aren’t. They are living off existing customer relationships and brand recognition in the WCM market. I can’t remember the last time I heard of a company looking at Fatwire, Vignette, or TeamSite for a new WCM project.

How can you lead a market where you aren’t acquiring new customers and are rapidly losing market share?

While Acquia’s position as a Visionary is a great validation of the rapid adoption of Drupal in the Enterprise, I can’t get past the reality that Drupal is winning against dominating these legacy platforms. The State of Georgia is saving millions after moving from Vignette to Drupal. Flight Centre in Australia couldn’t upgrade their legacy IBM platform and is moving 60 sites into Drupal.

Gartner's mathematical formula for Ability to Execute seems to show a strong bias towards big enterprise software companies with traditional software licensing models. But the reality in the WCM market is that Drupal is experiencing significantly faster growth in the Enterprise than any of the Leaders. Gartner needs to re-consider their ranking formulas in light of the growth of new business models employed by companies like Acquia and products like Drupal which don't easily fit into previous models.

Until that happens, I encourage everyone to follow Gartner's advice, and include Visionaries like Acquia in your WCM selection process: "Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings."

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