No liftoff for SaaS Web CMS

Every few years, someone declares one type of Web Content Management (CMS) software on the verge of "liftoff," to take over the entire space. Early last decade, people tried to convince me that open source was going to dominate the world "by 2005."

In recent years, the drumbeat has been for SaaS-based WCM vendors. By renaming themselves "cloud" vendors, the thought went, surely now they would sweep aside all those incumbent, fuddy-duddy, on-premise solutions. Recently Gartner declared a "big shift" towards cloud WCM for a vendor webinar.

Here's what I think: Not gonna happen.

Are SaaS-based solutions more popular than ten years ago? Yes. Have they reached liftoff in the marketplace? No. Let's look at three of the bigger players we evaluate in our Web CMS Report:

Clickability: sold to a CDN vendor with venture investors taking a bath; future a bit uncertain
CrownPeak: working on its first major UI overhaul in nearly ten years, and suffering from a meandering roadmap
OmniUpdate: doing relatively well in the market, ironically by focusing intently on a very specific niche -- higher education in North America; other WCM vendors are also succeeding in higher ed

Meanwhile, many if not most traditional WCM vendors are doing quite well. Among mid-market and select open source projects, doubling or tripling their customer bases in recent years.

The more interesting development, I think, is the broader trend on public websites for outsourcing both development and hosting, as internal IT and development resources struggle to keep up with fast-moving technologies and marketing needs. Note that managed hosting for, say, Drupal or Sitecore is not the same thing as a native SaaS-based solution. But for many customers, it's a happy medium.

The majority of buyers often don't even consider the SaaS option for WCM. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths and red herrings surrounding the concept. On the other hand, I also understand when customers, particularly larger enterprises, look out over the WCM supplier landscape and conclude that SaaS vendors are not the strongest reeds in the pond right now...


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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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