Darren Guarnaccia’s Blog

My thoughts on Sitecore, WCM and doing business on the web

A look back at 2009 and the Web Content Management Industry

Posted by dguarnaccia on January 15, 2010

It’s a new year, indeed a new decade, so it seems only appropriate to take a look back at how we got here, in the field of Web Content Management and here at Sitecore.  2009 was a tough year for a lot of companies, and I’m often asked the question “How is Sitecore doing in this economy?” and questions to that effect.  They always seem surprised then I tell them that we’re doing great financially, and while we’re not growing at the breakneck 100% yoy rates that we’ve seen in the past, it’s still healthy, sustainable growth. 

While I think a lot of companies would like to forget about 2009, or in fact the entire decade (we industry vets that survived the first .COM crash wouldn’t mind forgetting it for sure), I’m of a different opinion. To me, 2009 was the year that Web Content management because cool and fun again.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought WCM was a great industry. It consistently grows faster than the rest of the Content management industry by a ratio of 2 to 1, and it’s the technology that refused to be swallowed by the big Enterprise content management suite in the sky.  I remember listening to Gartner Analysts not so long ago predict that Web Content Management would cease to exist as a stand-alone software market. In 2009, Gartner finally reversed their opinion, and promoted Web Content management market back to Magic Quadrant status.  You can read what Gartner has to say about the market in their 2009 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management report.  To me, this was validation of two things: WCM as a category was here to stay and WCM was about to move into its next stage of evolution.  

This next evolution I’m referring to is of course the rise of Online Marketing Suites in Web Content Management platforms. Sitecore shook up the industry by being one of the first movers in the field, but we were quickly followed by a great many vendors who are all trying to catch up.  To me, it only validates our direction. But the real value to me though is that we’re finally focusing on what I’ve always thought really matters.  Instead of fixating on managing, massaging and organization content, we’re now focusing on the business benefits of websites to the organizations that deploy them. Of course you must have good content, but we’ve been stuck in that rut for over 5 years.  In 2009, the Web Content Management Industry has collectively pulled ourselves out of that rut.  In many ways, I feel like the .COM bust set us all back 10 years, and we’re finally moving forward again.

Other trends that I noticed in 2009 was the continued dominance of marketing teams in WCM acquisitions.  Not so long ago, buying a WCM was dominated by the IT group in an organization. Now, I’d wager that the Marketing group has over 60% of the decision-making power in web projects. And this is as it should be.  An organizations website is a business application no different than a CRM system, and should be owned and managed by the business users.  I’ve also noticed that more and more organizations are starting to really see their websites as customer acquisition technologies, not just passive collateral pieces. I’ll talk more about this in my next blog where I discuss future trends, but the economic meltdown has made every company reevaluate everything they do. As someone once said, “Never waste a good crisis”, it’s a great time to reinvent and renew what’s not working well.

So that’s my take on 2009, what do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?  I’d like to hear from you.

One Response to “A look back at 2009 and the Web Content Management Industry”

  1. Scott Liewehr said

    Another great post Darren. I agree wholeheartedly that ’09 marked a turning point wherein the WCM industry may have finally started to focus on business outcomes and audience engagement rather than just making the WCM ways-of-old a little more tolerable as in years past. There are so many tools at our disposal nowadays which, when assembled properly, could allow our resulting websites to intelligently engage our audiences in mind-boggling ways. Yet, until recently, our industry has continued to approach the problem through the lens of circa 2000 with 90% of our enhancements focused on the editorial process, mostly via mere improvements to front end technologies.

    I look forward to your 2010 predictions. I’ve just assembled my own for a Gilbane customer engagement earlier this week, so I plan to write a blog post about it very soon. Let’s compare notes!

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