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Acquia Rides the Forrester Wave

Today is a big milestone for Acquia, as we were placed in the 2013 Forrester Wave for Web Content Management for Digital Customer Experience. Acquia was named a Contender, and the only open source representative. Placement in the Forrester Wave validates Acquia’s rapid growth. Acquia was founded in late 2007, and is a much younger company than the others covered by Forrester. We’re thrilled!

Here’s what Forrester had to say about Acquia:

Given its alternative pricing model and some organizations’ poor experiences with proprietary solutions, Acquia could prove to be an interesting player.

Interesting indeed! After reading the entire 2013 Wave, what sticks out most to me is how Acquia and Forrester share the same vision for integrated digital experiences. Here’s what Forrester says in the Wave:

WCM buyers should seek solutions that are built on open standards and have pre-built integrations and partnerships with proven, mature best-of-breed applications for DX and online engagement efforts rather than all-in-one suites.

Yes! I’ve been watching Web Content Management vendors like Sitecore, Adobe, Oracle, and IBM attempt to buy (or build) everything-but-the-kitchen-sink into their products in order to try and win a feature war that customers don’t care about. Customers don’t want all-in-one suites, they want the flexibility to pick the right blend of technologies for their needs, and make sure these technologies are tightly integrated.

This is where Drupal and Open Source win.

Proprietary vendors simply cannot innovate as fast as an active open source community like Drupal and worse, they have very little interest in creating an open ecosystem of digital marketing technologies. Adobe wants to sell you its “Marketing Cloud”. Sitecore wants you to buy it’s “Customer Engagement Platform.” IBM wants you to buy its “Customer Experience Suite.” And Oracle wants you to buy, well, everything. But you probably want to use what you already have. Your existing analytics products... Your marketing automation system... Your CRM... etc. And even if you did want to buy a big vendor “suite,” you would have a difficult time justifying the huge (read: millions) up-front license costs that often come with them.

Selecting Drupal is a bet on freedom. Not just freedom from the huge “suite” license costs imposed by proprietary vendors, but more importantly freedom to innovate by building your digital strategy on whatever the right mix of technologies is for your business - not what Adobe, IBM, and Oracle *think* you need. Acquia is building an ecosystem of cloud-based marketing technologies to help marketers easily integrate with other digital marketing technologies. We’ll have more to announce on this topic shortly through a new partner program we’re launching.

Lastly, I think this year’s Forrester Wave captures the continued demise of the legacy proprietary web content management systems like HP/Autonomy/Interwoven, OpenText/Vignette/RedDot, Oracle/Fatwire, etc. If you’re stuck with one of these legacy platforms, now is the perfect time to switch, freeing yourself from the poor usability and mysterious product roadmaps of these former leaders.


Posted on by Jeremy (not verified).

What people seem to overlook with Adobe (and, yes I'm biased - I work for them) is that each solution in the Marketing Cloud stands alone, and does so well. Adobe Target, for example, recently was named as a leader in Forrester's Wave for Online Testing. The solutions are well integrated though, so if you want to buy them all, and of course we want you to, then it's a simple task to make them work together.

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

Yes, all Adobe products work independently, but they aren't sold that way in the Web Content Management market. It makes sense for Adobe to bundle everything together, but that strategy ignores the vast majority of companies who don't need (or can't afford) the Marketing Cloud product portfolio.

Posted on by Jeremy (not verified).

Yes, we do tell/sell the integrated story, particularly in WCM space, but people still buy the solutions separately. Usually it's because they have something in place already, or because they already have one of our solutions, but not always. Sometimes their requirements (or budget) just don't fit the broader offering. In that case all we're doing is making them aware of the possibilities for the future. We would never try to force people to buy more than they want to buy, apart from anything it's a waste of our own resources.

I know of other vendors who will discount or bundle other parts of their broad solution just to get it in the door. I'm aware that we do that at Adobe.

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

> We would never try to force people to buy more than they want to buy, apart from anything it's a waste of our own resources.

I think your customers and prospects are hearing something different from your sales and marketing teams. Loni Stark recently admitted that the average Adobe Experience Management deal is a $2.2m project w/ software and services http://tv.adobe.com/watch/the-power-of-the-digital-self/loni-star k/.

I think Adobe is falling into the classic "Innovators Dilema" trap e.g. designing for the high end of the market while disruptive vendors like Acquia provide a better solution + economics for real world customer requirements. Time will tell.

Thanks for commenting, and best of luck!

Posted on by Jeremy (not verified).

I suppose I should caveat this by stating that I only really have European exposure, and from what I've seen the market here is different to the US.

Anyway, thank you, and likewise :)

Posted on by Anonymous (not verified).

>Lastly, I think this year’s Forrester Wave captures the continued demise of the legacy proprietary web content management systems like HP/Autonomy/Interwoven, OpenText/Vignette/RedDot, Oracle/Fatwire, etc.

---> any reason why you did not include Sitecore in that list? Just wondering if you consider it a different animal than the proprietary WCMS listed above.

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

Sitecore is indeed a different animal. The products I mentioned have a codebase that goes back 10-15 years, and those products need a complete overhaul that isn't going to happen. Sitecore is certainly far more modern than the 1st generation proprietary products. The challenge Sitecore faces is trying to expand too quickly beyond its core competency of WCMS. I view Sitecore like I view going to a buffet in Las Vegas... I can get lots of different things in one place, but none of them will be very good :)

Posted on by Bill Winett.

Just finished reading the paper. Congratulations on being included.

With that said, looks like you have a long way to go to convince Forrester of Drupal/Acquia's value. Figure 3 shows Acquia as bringing up the rear in terms of strategy and current offering.

I don't have access to the paper's underlying data, so I don't know exactly what led them to the placement in Figure 3, and I am left with the question as to whether Forrester got it right.

One of Forrester's "Key Takeaways", on page 1 of their paper, is that "integration remains the cornerstone of (most) successful WCM" (later, they have a whole section titled "WCM Isn't A Suite Story, It's An Integration Story"). But then in the rest of the paper they focus on the completeness of each competitor's product, rather than on its ability to integrate with other products/services. Did they get confused about what's important? Did they change their minds mid-stream? If they believe completeness is more important than ability to integrate, I can understand the Figure. But if they really believe the ability to integrate is "key", is it realistic to think Drupal is lagging in either strategy or current offering?

Posted on by Tom Wentworth.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, and agreed that we have work to do to continue to educate Forrester.

You make an excellent point about integration - a clear strength of Drupal. Forrester does score vendors who have a "suite" approach higher, even though they recommend the integration strategy throughout the Wave and the rest of their research.

We're on the verge of announcing a new technology partner program that will help bring visibility to Drupal's integration strengths with other marketing technologies. I believe this will help our position with Forrester in the future.

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