Skip to content

Validating your CMS decision with Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester

Two people in a meeting

What does all this mean? Do I need to spend $10K on reports?

The summer and autumn are frequently the months when time permits for client-side marketers and IT staff to start looking for a new CMS.

Readers of this article have probably come to the same conclusion as many people who have gone before them… What does all this mean? Do I need to spend $10k on reports?

The answer is no. In this article, we look at what these reports tell you and how they shouldn’t be used in isolation from your real requirements.

Which reports are there for people looking to buy a CMS?

CMS connected is a good outlet for keeping an eye on new Gartner and Forrester releases.

There are lots. Gartner has three that might be worth you considering:

    1. Digital Commerce
    2. Web Content Management
    3. Digital Experience Platforms (DXP)


They’ve all got their individual nuances, but they follow the same pattern. The double axis of ability to execute and completeness of vision splits into four quadrants, with the leaders sitting in the one with the best capability in both areas.

The biggest change in recent years has been transparency from the user base on how these are rated by users. Again this can be subjective, but still gives good insight and a level of validation from an end user’s perspective. The screenshot and link below are really useful in getting a feel for what these pieces of software are like to work with, and the value they can bring to a business.

If you’re looking at Forrester the main report is enterprise content management. This is slightly more affordable at $499.

These reports are slightly easier to follow and provide a solid foundation for formulating informed decisions about your content management needs and strategy going forward.

Should I only buy from the leaders?

Maybe? Maybe not? From our experience, a range of factors will no doubt influence the decision-making process. Nine times out of ten available budgets will have a strong influencing factor. The leading vendor's licensing models are not cheap and also not very transparent. Licensing costs can quickly stretch from five-figure to six-figure sums. Typical project delivery and build out budgets are usually a multiple of 3 to 5 times licensing fees or higher, depending on the level of customization and integration to third-party systems required.

Also, some of the leading platforms do not provide a complete holistic offering and require you to utilize third-party approved products for advanced marketing or e-commerce needs. So if it’s important for your organisation to have a one-stop-shop and one centralized digital platform then you can remove the players that rely on third-party partners to offer a complete offering.

Choosing the right CMS also depends on how naturally your business requirements fit with the functionality available from the CMS vendor. A lot of the leading vendors offer advanced digital marketing and personalization functionality that most clients never use or do not have the available internal resources to manage and maintain.

Also over the last few years, there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the enterprise Content Management System (eWCM) space for one reason or another. Some have been marriages of convenience or consolidation in specific markets, industries and of clients. However, not all have been successful and some clients have been left to make tough decisions as support is withdrawn for their incumbent CMS platform. Obviously, the main reason is to push them onto the chosen survivor CMS of the new marriage or merger.

TOP TIP: What we would advise is that you buy from companies that are on the up or in established positions rather than organisations on the way down. There is a horrible tendency for struggling software companies to get swallowed up in badly planned mergers and acquisitions. The people who tend to suffer in this situation are the end clients who are stuck with a platform for a further 5 years.

How Gartner and Forrester rank suppliers

Another point to consider when choosing suppliers is, that the criteria for placing software companies in the quadrant might not be as interesting to end clients as it is to the Gartner and Forrester auditors.

Part of their decision process revolves around company revenues, global reach and strategic vision with an ability to execute it. There is also a substantial period of courtship and relationship building. Sometimes the company or vendor that tells the best story and has deep pockets funded by VCs, end up in positions that they really should not be in.

Another thing which is completely omitted is the wider development community and conversely any barriers to becoming official partners (which could denote quality).

Taking the WCMS quadrant as an example, Squizz is a CMS which does all of its own development. Conversely, Sitecore and Kentico are both entirely reliant on their partner community for using their software to build live projects (and it costs lots of money to get developers certified and buy licences). If you can foresee a situation where you might want to keep your CMS but ditch your agency, this shouldn’t be ignored without due consideration.

TOP TIP: Pick a partner and a platform in tandem. If they’ve got the experience of delivering the custom functionality you need from within the platform you should be in safe hands.

Are Gartner and Forrester a good thing?

Yes! They cause constant innovation and push CMS vendors to make sure that they invest in their platforms and marketing. The platforms are also constantly evolving via feedback from vetted delivery partners and the extended partner ecosystem.

They also highlight new trends. For CMS, one of the largest ones is the new development of Content as a Service which is bringing Gather and others to the attention of clients and development agencies. The benefit of this approach is that content and presentation are completely separated, which allows for more design freedom and less effort in spinning up beautiful looking websites. There will inevitably be a quadrant or wave on this soon.

Interested in learning more? Then why not get in touch to have a one-to-one session with one of our experts?

For more interesting insights, please visit our latest insights.


Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest i3 and industry news, through our monthly newsletter.