Since we published “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Digital Customer Experience, Q2 2013,” we’ve been talking about our findings with our clients, who frequently ask, “How does WCM Wave research apply to me, and how can I properly evaluate the products in the market based on our needs?” 

The answer (without irony): “It depends.” Requirements vary and will affect your path to a solution. Reaching a solid decision can be challenging. 

So to help our clients get the most benefit from Forrester’s 2013 WCM Wave, here’s some additional guidance based on what works and how you can get the most out of our WCM Wave report.

  • The report is quantitative and based on research and data, not just opinion. We reviewed 10 solutions — Adobe, Acquia, Ektron, HP Autonomy, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle, SDL, and Sitecore — across more than 100 criteria, viewed lengthy product demos, and interviewed dozens of end users. Our WCM Wave Excel spreadsheet selection tool (under “Tools & Templates”) contains 1,000 data points plus analysis; we assess product capabilities and apply weighted scores, with Forrester’s enterprise clients’ requirements in mind; the placement of vendors on the Wave graphic is computed directly from that data. This tool is the heart of the analysis, and it’s why it takes us months to complete one of these reports. We’ve created base weightings based on input and feedback from all our clients, but you can use the Excel tool to customize a report based on your dependencies, requirements, and priorities.
  • Changes since the 2011 WCM Wave make direct comparisons with previous placements risky. WCM is a dynamic market that changes constantly. Product ownership, software capabilities, and customer demands change. We’re in an era where buyers place a high value on WCM solutions that support digital customer experience. We’ve accounted for this in our 2013 Wave by adding new categories or more heavily weighting specific categories, such as digital experience criteria like content targeting for personalization and mobile presentation. Bottom line: We’re evaluating differently this year, so vendor placements on the 2013 Wave graphic (and their movements compared with the 2011 graphic) don’t compute. Another example: In 2011, we highlighted Oracle UCM, which was Oracle’s WCM for digital experience. It’s been replaced by Oracle WebCenter Sites (formerly Fatwire) for 2013. So by comparing the 2011 and 2013 Wave graphics, you could easily misinterpret the significance of Oracle’s movement. Don’t fall into the trap of simply comparing dots from past and current reports to gauge momentum; instead, dive into the spreadsheet tool.
  • Inclusion and scoring is based on demonstrated use, not just potential. We include products that large companies (Forrester clients or similar to Forrester clients) use as the primary WCM products for delivering rich experiences to customers in the online channel. We see many interesting and capable products in the WCM market, but they must have achieved success with clients like ours in order to be included in the report. A vendor can develop great WCM features to outgun the competition — but we look for and measure successful use by clients. Until then, we’re not impressed or compelled to put much scoring power behind the capability. 
  • Strategy takes into account historical success and potential for continued success. Our scoring and rankings take into account past, present, and predictive future of these products based on fact-based research and our applied analysis. We measure the past via such metrics as the installed base of customers and examples of enterprise-class implementations, the present by current revenues, market momentum, and agency partnerships, and the future by the quality of the product road map and vision.

This leads to perhaps the most relevant and dynamic lesson for anyone leveraging the WCM Wave to support a software decision: Selecting a new WCM is a daunting challenge, and this will be your foundational digital experience platform for the next several years. Your business depends on it — make it count.

It’s possible for WCM decision-makers to exist in a vacuum — to march through a WCM investigation, create a shortlist, and make a “final call” on a new solution based on your observations or the data you have on hand. But that’s not a practice we’d advise. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of selecting a vendor based purely on an opinion.

Instead, leverage comprehensive research and analysis and combine it with your own deep knowledge and context of your organization's requirements, capabilities, strategic priorities, and digital experience goals. Be sure to make use of the data available in our spreadsheet selection tool by downloading it here, and feel free to get in touch with us if you need further help. And stay tuned: Stephen and I will appear in a Forrester videocast later this month, where we will dive deeper into our analysis and how you can use this report to achieve your goals.