Research Director, IDC’s Digital Experience Strategies program
An organization’s online digital presence is a mission-critical component of the resilient digital enterprise that requires flexibility in delivering content and services at scale. From its inception, the content management system (CMS) was designed to create and manage web, mobile web, and other HTML browser-based experiences. Since then, content management systems have evolved to publish content into app experiences on mobile, IoT, and other connected devices. The shift to accommodate a variety of content owners, web developers, modular cloud-based architectures, and content services has expanded the software options beyond traditional web content management (WCM) platforms to include new headless and open source alternatives.
In its simplest form, a CMS is used to manage and deploy content. Users can create, edit, delete and, most importantly, publish content (e.g., images, videos, forms, templates, pages, component, product assets) to various endpoints. For many organizations, a basic set of CMS capabilities and a straightforward approach for publishing information to a website is all they need. In other cases, a more robust digital experience platform that incorporates add-ons of ecommerce, marketing campaign tools, or customer data platforms is on the table. In either case, content is the core to reimagining what it means to exist within the digital economy.
Content for persuasive digital experiences, especially on brand and consumer websites, varies widely from product information and support installation guides to corporate information across investor relations, legal, HR, and other departments. The traditional waterfall method to “create then publish” content has morphed into an iterative process that empowers marketing teams to build, test, and publish content in shorter cycles and at their own pace. That additional speed is measured by the responsiveness of the organization’s website and the amount of time it takes to launch a new online initiative.
Rising customer expectations and the economic challenges of the pandemic had organizations pivoting their business to a fully digital system practically overnight. As consumers turned to the online version of their favorite brands, people sought a holistic digital experience that was highly personalized, completely connected, and based on empathetic relationships. The website became more than just an informational landing page or a shopping site. From retailers to restaurants, educational institutions, and government offices, every organization relied on its online presence to communicate, educate, and fulfill requests on an unprecedented scale across a hyperconnected digital environment.
During this evaluation, IDC interviewed various companies, creative agencies, and systems integrators that shared some of their common challenges in dealing with antiquated systems:
As businesses head into recovery, forward-looking organizations are reviewing the investments and changes made during the pandemic era. They are codifying any changes that will endure and making sure that they can not only ensure business resiliency but also lay a foundation for future growth, innovation, and agility. There is a renewed focus on customer experience, which is improved with the adoption of personalized, automated, and transformed digital experiences. Other trends of note include:
Each CMS category can be characterized by the level of control and technical skill needed at the content, design, and administration layers. Small to midsize businesses or independent departments wanting to outsource website operations will find that SaaS-templated website builders require little to no technical skills and provide simplicity in creating a page quickly. Hosted website solutions cater to the open source community, offering ease of operations in the cloud by applying controls across three tiers (web operations, web development, and content management) for better resource and data isolation, utilization, and optimization. Large enterprises with heavy transactional activities or multiple data sources will find that a traditional WCM platform offers the broadest set of capabilities and integrations to other applications. Finally, the most developer-intensive solution, headless CMS, is a good fit for organizations that need a fully customized front-end delivery and have strong development skills in place.
Modern CMSs orient toward a content powerhouse that offers codeless content creation (drag-and-drop authoring and administration, intelligent content recommendations, roles/usage-based templates), presentation design freedom, automated decision-driven workflow, and scalable edge delivery. Architectural elements of consideration include:
Content management systems are evolving, in terms of advanced functionality and a shift to cloud-native, microservice architectures. As organizations refine their cloud strategy, buyers have a choice of CMS technology options that cater to the needs of the business — whether it is with a single-stack application or a developer-savvy headless open source system. The modern CMS is designed to get business users up and running quickly and effectively streamline the content processes and deliver personalized experiences faster.
For buyers with a cloud-first strategy, CMS applications should provide a solid return on investment that benefits from cloud elasticity and scaled performance that align with business goals. The vendor should provide the services and support to get you up and running quickly and continue to monitor your progress to success. Training and continuous education should be available as guided tutorials, hands-on training, and a community for self-help. The need to deliver more engaging digital experiences will demand more of the content management systems in the coming years. IDC advises technology buyers to look for the following when selecting a vendor:
This section briefly explains IDC’s key observations resulting in a vendor’s position in the IDC MarketScape. While every vendor is evaluated against each of the criteria outlined in the Appendix, the description here provides a summary of each vendor’s strengths and challenges.
After a thorough evaluation of Optimizely’s strategy and capabilities, IDC has positioned the company in the Leaders category within this 2021 IDC MarketScape of content management systems for persuasive digital experiences.
Optimizely is a private company established in 1994 and is headquartered in New York, New York. Optimizely offers the CMS under the product name of Optimizely Content Cloud. Quick facts about Optimizely:
Consider Optimizely when you are a midmarket to large enterprise invested in the.NET stack and seek an enterprise-grade CMS with AI/ML automation and content intelligence.
“Consider Optimizely when you are a midmarket to large enterprise invested in the.NET stack and seek an enterprise-grade CMS with AI/ML automation and content intelligence.”
The vendor inclusion list for this document was designed to accurately depict the vendors that are most representative of any given cloud-based content management system buyer’s selection list. Vendors were then surveyed and further investigated to ensure that the offerings qualified with both capabilities and strategies related to the CMS market.
Critical to this research effort was for the vendor to meet the inclusion criteria. Any vendor participating in this IDC MarketScape had to showcase that it met the following:
For the purposes of this analysis, IDC divided potential key measures for success into two primary categories: capabilities and strategies.
Positioning on the y-axis reflects the vendor’s current capabilities and menu of services and how well aligned the vendor is to customer needs. The capabilities category focuses on the capabilities of the company and product today, here and now. Under this category, IDC analysts will look at how well a vendor is building/delivering capabilities that enable it to execute its chosen strategy in the market.
Positioning on the x-axis, or strategies axis, indicates how well the vendor’s future strategy aligns with what customers will require in three to five years. The strategies category focuses on high-level decisions and underlying assumptions about offerings, customer segments, and business and go-to-market plans for the next three to five years.
The size of the individual vendor markers in the IDC MarketScape represents the market share of each individual vendor within the specific market segment being assessed. For this IDC MarketScape, vendor size was determined by IDC’s 2021 Software Tracker and validated by each vendor on their revenue in the market. For details regarding the vendors and size of the CCM market, see Worldwide Persuasive Content Management Applications Market Shares, 2020: Market Leaders Shift as Cloud-Based Solutions Gain Traction (IDC #US46252521, May 2021).
IDC MarketScape criteria selection, weightings, and vendor scores represent well-researched IDC judgment about the market and specific vendors. IDC analysts tailor the range of standard characteristics by which vendors are measured through structured discussions, surveys, and interviews with market leaders, participants, and end users. Market weightings are based on user interviews, buyer surveys, and the input of IDC experts in each market. IDC analysts base individual vendor scores, and ultimately vendor positions on the IDC MarketScape, on detailed surveys and interviews with the vendors, publicly available information, and end-user experiences in an effort to provide an accurate and consistent assessment of each vendor’s characteristics, behavior, and capability.
Digital experience applications curate, manage, publish, and deliver editorial, image, rich media, and product content for omni-channel experiences including websites, mobile apps, social networks, digital signs, IoT apps, and conversational interfaces. IDC categorizes persuasive content management software into four website solution commercial packages:
CMS solutions can be either open source or commercial with an architecture that can be characterized by how the front-end presentation and delivery connects to the back-end content engine. IDC identifies the CMS architectures in this document in the following ways:
CMS solutions can also be deployed on premises or in multiple cloud configurations. IDC defines its cloud taxonomy with the following:
Worldwide Persuasive Content Management Applications Forecast, 2021–2025 (IDC #US46252421, May 2021)
Worldwide Persuasive Content Management Applications Market Shares, 2020: Market Leaders Shift as Cloud-Based Solutions Gain Traction (IDC #US46252521, May 2021)
IDC’s Worldwide Software Taxonomy, 2021 (IDC #US47588620, April 2021)
Delivering Multichannel Digital Customer Experiences: Shifting Preference for Interlocking Cloud Technologies (IDC #US46252321, March 2021)