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Q&A: Digital Experience Platform Wave 2017

Mark Grannan
Senior Analyst
October 5, 2017

Two weeks ago my colleague Ted Schadler and I published our Wave on the Digital Experience Platform market (link) and an accompanying trends report (link). We’re grateful to all those** who contributed.

While our analysis speaks (mostly) for itself, I want to tackle a few questions that have been popping up. I have cherry picked three to highlight:

  • Q: You wrote that easy integration stomps best-of-breed based priorities, and then you elevate the largest portfolio vendors (Oracle, IBM, SAP Hybris, and Adobe) to Leaders and Strong Performers. Most of them built their portfolio by acquisition of best-of-breed competitors. So which is it?
  • A: I have said it before, but I will say it again: easy integration is redefining best of breed, such that these two are not mutually exclusive. Secondly, Ted made a great comment a few weeks back when asked “Are you looking for Native integration or Native product?”, to which Ted answered “Yes.” Some have had trouble grokking this concept, so let me clarify: if a vendor can showcase a best-of-breed product that is natively built (or refactored) to integrate seamlessly with their broader portfolio, then they’ve achieved the best of both worlds. Clients receive best-in-class tools with little to no integration challenges.

 

  • Q: What is the difference between the web CMS category and digital experience platform?
  • A: Web CMS is critical for developing, managing and optimizing web, mobile, and other content-based experiences. However, many tools also tackle this mandate.  So, while it’s an important part of the Current Offering of our evaluation, based on weightings it nets out to only 7.5% of the overall score. Secondly, web CMS has evolved in line with the broader digital experience portfolio evolution. Whereas some critics considered web CMS solutions ‘bloated’ a few years ago, we think times have changed. API-first architecture and cloud deployments are reshaping the packaging of digital capabilities into more granular tools that can be assembled on demand.

 

  • Q: What are you really telling customers to do? Buy all from one vendor or assemble a loosely coupled set of API-first solutions?
  • A: We see different patterns emerge for different use cases. I will outline two. First, large, global manufacturing organizations are increasingly embracing centralization as a core part of their digital transformation. “Technology is global, content is local” is a theme. In these cases, CRM and ERP investments along with strong procurement standards will heavily influence digital experience decisions. Ergo, the large single-vendor suite.

    Conversely, organizations that want to leverage digital as a means to accelerate their customer engagement see large bundles of packaged software as too slow, expensive and out-of-touch with their needs. Savvy leaders demand support for cross-channel, cross-journey assets – namely customer data and digital content – but see the investment as an extension of a functional need (e.g. customer service) and they likely don’t have the remit for a holistic platform architecture. Ergo, the loosely coupled API-centric architecture.

I hope to keep this dialogue around use-cases going. If you have questions or comments on our digital experience platform research, we’d love to engage on an inquiry or at an event down the road.

**I want to thank the 14 vendors, and over 50 references who participated. These vendor teams spent many hours and days prepping for our evaluation, while their client and partner references gave us an unvarnished view of the current state. Secondly, I want to acknowledge that we stood on the shoulders of our colleagues’ Waves from which we inherited scores to make this research possible.

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