by Mark Grannan and Ted Schadler (click to see his post)

The market for digital experience software is rapidly expanding — as in thousands of vendors in the market – and it’s also converging on a core set of six core capabilities led by content, customer data, marketing, and commerce.

We call this convergence a digital experience platform: software to manage, deliver, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint. The cloud, RESTful integration, the relentless demands of digital customers — and the very high cost of product integration — are driving this convergence.

So should enterprise organizations take a best-of-breed or suite approach for digital customer experience (DX) software? The answer is, at least for now, “yes.” Or rather, it depends on your specific needs.

In our second round of the Digital Experience Platform Wave, completed in Q4 2015, we sharpened our criteria around both core capabilities and portfolio integration and extensibility.

We then strapped in on for 13 weeks of research to find out which vendor — Acquia, Adobe, Demandware, EPiServer, IBM, Oracle, SAP hybris, Salesforce, SDL, and Sitecore — best balances these two agendas. Our Forrester Wave evaluates products then tests the value by interviewing at least three customers to find out their experiences.

The conclusion? No one vendor has both full functionality to own the entire digital experience and solid integration/ extensibility:

  • Oracle, IBM and SAP hybris follow the philosophy of “more = better.”  However, their cloud strategies may redeem them.
  • Acquia, Demandware, and Sitecore have built most of their stack organically and therefore offer a more tightly knit set of capabilities.
  • SDL and EPiServer made bets to refactor applications and integrate in the Cloud, and they’re building momentum as a result.
  • Salesforce remains an odd-duck with no core commerce or content, but strengths in marketing, sales and service anchor the new bets on PaaS, which is gaining steam.
  • Adobe is out in front with their marketing approach on their core services strategy to unify components across their portfolios (e.g. UI, permissioning, content, etc.), although skeptics may see the garden walls rising higher.

Each organization will have to decide for themselves on balancing best-of-breed point products and portfolio integration and extensibility. Some examples indicate the boundaries of suite versus best-of-breed:

  • For an omnichannel retailer, integration between marketing and commerce drives success online and in the store. Winner: Tight integration between two best-of-breed products, one for marketing and one for commerce.
  • For a life sciences company, content re-use is hugely important because they distribute scientific measurements across their site. That pushed them to use a single content repository across the entire digital experience. Winner: best of breed content management system.
  • For large, multinational organizations that federate branding and marketing, integrated service — digital and account manager — may be the most important to ensure continuity across brands. Winner: suite built around the current  CRM platform.


As we step back from our research, two things are clear: 1.) the DX platform market is nascent, but it’s moving fast, 2.) DX’s cloud evolution is pushing it even faster, to the point of self-disruption.