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Reflections on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management

Earlier this week, Gartner released its annual Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Spoiler alert: Acquia is a Leader for the sixth year in a row. More on that later. 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the report, first authored by Mick MacComascaigh back in 2009 and now authored by Irina Guseva in conjunction with Mick. In the great circle that is the web content management industry, Irina wrote about the first version of the report while she was a reporter at CMSWire. Here’s what the Magic Quadrant looked like in 2009:

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management 2009

Back then, Gartner noted four trends in the web content management market. All are still relevant 10 years later, especially open source CMS, which went on to dominate CMS. 

  • Better product usability for non-techies
  • Growing open source CMS popularity, albeit occupying less than 4% of the market
  • Growing interest in SaaS CMS
  • Personalized, contextualized and targeted content delivery

Looking at the evolution of the Leader quadrant over the years, it feels unusually volatile to me compared to other mature markets that Gartner covers. All the WCM Leaders from 2009 still exist in some form, but all have taken a turn for the worse over the years, either through acquisitions or apathy. All the Challengers willingly exited the WCM market. Many companies disappeared completely.

Of the 15 vendors in the 2009 WCM MQ, only a few have continued to advance over the years.

Acquia first entered the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant a few years later in 2012 as a Visionary. Back then, Gartner had two main cautions about Acquia:

  • Acquia lags behind in terms of deep marketing-oriented capabilities. Although it has a good foundation, it has only relatively recently directed its road map more determinedly toward the needs and ambitions of online channel optimization (OCO).
  • Acquia needs to invest more strategically and determinedly in the partner ecosystem around Drupal.

Yeah, Gartner was right about both. So we took Gartner’s feedback to heart and invested in both areas, resulting in becoming a Leader for the first time in 2014. And now in six years later in 2019, we’ve cemented our position at the top of the Magic Quadrant. I think we would have placed even higher had our Mautic acquisition completed just a bit earlier. 

You can read the full 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management on acquia.com. 

What’s next for the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant?

I wonder how much longer the Web Content Management MQ will continue to exist? I’d guess another year for sure, but after that, I’m not so sure. Ten years ago, organizations bought web content management mainly to improve the operational efficiency of their web production process. Maybe they wanted a product that was easier for authors to use, or maybe they wanted better content governance processes. The conversation was rarely about how to grow faster and get more value from your website. For example, Mick MacComascaigh at Gartner wrote about the importance of personalization 10 years ago but organizations just weren’t ready for it. 

But they are now. That’s why I think digital experience platforms are the future of web content management.

I’ll be honest that I fought against the idea of a digital experience platform for a long time, but I now believe, more than ever, that an open digital experience platform needs to exist. Over the long term, delivering exceptional digital experiences will be among the only ways for companies to compete and win.

Tom Wentworth

SVP Product Marketing Acquia