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Huge Gains and Minor Losses in the Forrester Wave™ for WCM

Forrester released their 2016 Forrester Wave™ report for Web Content Management Systems (WCM), bringing about some incredibly dramatic shifts in how key Brightfind content management system (CMS) partners Sitecore and Episerver are placed. This post will contain some analysis of the report as well as some opinion regarding the results of this report.


Episerver has been in the Leadership Quadrant for WCM from Gartner for the past two years (following their merger with Ektron); however, in their initial evaluation with Forrester they were merely placed as a Contender. This year saw Episerver taking a bit more market presence, yet a very dramatic leap upward and to the right, leaping over the Strong Performers category entirely to be placed the Leaders category. Of those noted in this post, Episerver’s shift is the most dramatic.

Of note from the report are Episerver content management system’s extensibility and architecture, which Forrester says keeps pace with developer expectations. Episerver is not only keeping pace with, but also pushing ahead of expectations in user experience testing and personalization features, which are frequently requested among Brightfind’s customer base. We believe this is likely due, at least in part, to Episerver’s newly launched A/B testing toolset (which would have been in beta at the time of the evaluation) as well as Episerver’s recent acquisition of Peerius - a leading, cloud-based provider of intelligent and omnichannel personalization.

References for Episerver also noted that Episerver’s integration strategy, which follow an add-on ecosystem approach, are a strength over Episerver’s competitors. At Brightfind, we agree, and are making the most of this extensible, best-of-breed methodology for our customers through our own integration efforts between Episerver and AMS systems.


Sitecore has had a strong history with the Forrester Wave report, having been rather consistently placed as a Leader. This year, Sitecore moved enough to the left (lower in Strategy) to drop out of the Leaders category and into Strong Performers. Sitecore has previously been in this category in 2013 and 2011, according to an article from CMS Wire, and we expect them to return to Leader status in 2017 as Sitecore works diligently to bolster their cloud capabilities. 

With their most recent release came the Sitecore eXperience Accelerator, which we’re excited about at Brightfind as it can greatly improve the authoring experience and speed at which new content can be generated, seemed also to be a welcome addition with the analyst firm. We expect to see many more improvements to this feature—some rounding of the edges.

Regardless of Sitecore’s slight move to the left, they remain a vendor-of-choice for enterprise organizations as well as .NET developers who love the control and flexibility Sitecore offers. In this regard, Forrester still refers to Sitecore as a “strong fit” for organizations who “need a feature-rich, enterprise-scale CMS.” We agree.

With their focus on improving some of their marketing components (eXperience Database, et al), their ongoing efforts to smooth out the authoring experience, and their vision for cloud deployments, we fully expect Sitecore to return to the Leaders field in the next report. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: Sitecore will not sit idle.

Others of Note

There were a couple of shifts that are also worth mentioning, from our perspective: Acquia and Adobe. While Brightfind designs on these platforms, we do not implement these technologies (Drupal/PHP on Acquia’s side, Java on Adobe’s).  We do like to keep a healthy view on the marketplace and these days it’s difficult to have a CMS conversation and not talk about Acquia or Adobe--the 800 pound gorilla in the room.


It seems like only a few years ago that Acquia was more upstart than start-up, but this year has seen them (not unexpectedly) placed as a Leader on Forrester’s report. Though Drupal without add-ons is generally not very usable for most organizations, the cloud solution they’ve built on and around Drupal is admittedly well thought out and there are elements of their work that any other vendor could certainly take to hear.

They’ve decoupled Drupal and are relying more on APIs, which should help the add-ons they develop be more future-proof against Drupal upgrades (a lesson learned from the dramatic changes between Drupal 7 and 8?).

The one complaint we hold is not with Forrester’s representation or assessment of Acquia, but rather the reporting on what Acquia is and does. Such reports often create a more direct than is necessarily accurate link between Acquia and open source. While Drupal is open source, Acquia’s products and support for the platform are far more proprietary in nature.


It doesn’t quite feel like Adobe has ever not been a leader in analyst reports. They carry clout with the brand name, of course, but also because they offer some intelligence that isn’t provided out of the box (but can be achieved via integrations in a best-of-breed model) by any other vendor. They also offer enterprise-class solutions in every category where others offer solutions that are more “good-enough-of-breed.”

Adobe is still growing their product suite in both breadth and depth, often through acquisitions (for example: Livefyre and Neolane). But that’s par for the course under Adobe’s label, as they’re known for acquisitions of companies like Macromedia (Flash, Dreamweaver) and Omniture (marketing and analytics)--their two largest acquisitions where the value is known.

That being said, Forrester does point out that Adobe is not making as much use of the benefits a cloud solution can provide, so there’s clearly more to be done. Regardless, there was a slight increase in market share and vision, but a slight but noticeable decrease in their current offering, which means others are definitely catching up.

Analyst reports can vary greatly between firms and, as we’ve seen, even from year to year, and much can depend on the research and viewpoint of the primary author (Forrester’s author changed from last year’s report to this). This year, Forrester is putting more weight onto the importance of cloud. It’s also worth noting, however, that this isn’t merely swayed by opinion, but by the research Forrester does with their customers. Cloud is important in this year’s report no doubt largely because Forrester’s customers view it as important.

Final Thoughts

Here at Brightfind, we don’t disagree, though the work we do and the vendors we work with still fully support on-premises hosting. Major new initiatives seem to go through a certain lifecycle:

  1. Criticism - bordering on scoffing at the new strategy
  2. Investigation - learning what it’s really about
  3. Conversation - inquiring as to whether it’s really worth it
  4. Adoption - often starting with a partial adoption or small test and working into full support of the strategy

We saw this happen with “Big Data” (the term has become rather passé, but not the strategy) and we’re seeing it happen on a similar track with cloud adoption. More conversations with our own customers involve more focus on both the benefits and use of data as well as the benefits and costs (or savings) of a cloud deployment.

If you have not yet viewed it, Episerver is offering a complimentary copy of the full 2016 Forrester Wave™ report 
 to friends of Brightfind. If you would like to know more about how we view the results of this report or how we strategize around these platforms for our customers, please reach out to me.

James Stout

Written by James Stout