“A unified platform for content, community and commerce.”

“A complete set of integrated solutions helps you maximize and measure your impact in more ways than ever before.”

“Everything you need to deliver unique and personal customer experiences.”

Unified. Complete. Everything you need. These quotes are pulled directly from the marketing materials of some of the biggest players in the digital experience delivery space. One piece of software that addresses all of your company’s needs in delivering top-of-the-line customer experience. Sound too good to be true?

Yeah. We thought so too.

Vendors are piecing together discrete capabilities to form what we at Forrester call digital experience delivery platforms, which aim to manage, deliver, measure, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint. Vendors from content, commerce, and marketing backgrounds are playing in this space, and Forrester clients increasingly mention them together when considering a vendor to act as their delivery backbone (a year ago, we certainly wouldn’t have heard IBM and hybris mentioned in the same inquiry for non-transactional needs, as we did recently).

In “The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Delivery Platforms, Q3 2014,” we pull back the curtains on 13 of these platforms to see how vendors are faring in their journey to provide an integrated and comprehensive solution. To be clear: this report is not trying to measure end-to-end solutions. That's not what our clients want. Instead, clients tell us they want these products serve as a backbone for delivery, but also integrate with third-party products in order to leverage best-of-breed functionality they have already resourced.

The result? These platforms are still early in their maturity. The content, marketing, and marketing functionality of many of these various offerings are solid on their own. But the integration to knit this functionality together – and access the data needed for personalization and customer insights – is often a work in progress. This isn’t just our call. The customers we referenced as part of this research are revealing:

  • "Our end goal is a common user interface for everything end-to-end. Currently [the vendors support] only the first third of the journey.” – Product manager at a software company
  • “[The vendor] tends to cobble things together”– Web director at an insurance company
  • “Their integration is good. And we’re working hard to make it even better!” – Technology manager at a manufacturing company

A handful of vendors are further along in the unification process than others. But customer references, a key part of our evaluation, were middling at best, and that prevented any vendors from landing in the “leader” section. Each vendor has distinct strengths and weaknesses. A vendor with a best-of-breed WCM product may not nail the nuances of an established eCommerce platform, and vice versa. But they've started down the road to providing better digital experience support.

Click here to access the report and here for Wave Excel Tool, which readers can use to customize weightings according to your needs. We’d also love to hear from you on how well these products support you, and where they need improvement.

This blog post was co-authored by Steven Kesler, Senior Research Associate.