What’s happening with mid-market CMS vendors in 2009?

In general, the Mythbusters are keen on the mid-market web content management space – always looking for those smart solutions that are feature rich, flexible and cost effective all in one (a tall order I know).

We’ve seen CMS success stories with organizations that can grow into (and with) a mid-market solution. Or conversely, enterprise organizations that leverage the flexibility of a lighter weight CMS compared to more bloated enterprise offerings.

It’s a crowded space that can be tough to get a handle on. CMS Watch covers 15+ mid-market vendors, but there are many more that can fall into that bucket.

2009 in particular looks to be an interesting year for the mid-market CMS market. While we don’t claim to have a crystal ball (and certainly aren’t calling out specific vendors), we are observing some macro trends that may have real implications for organizations evaluating mid-market web content management in 2009.

What we saw in 2008:

  • An increasing number of enterprise organizations looking to mid-market vendors to replace an ECM or upper tier product. Some mid-market solutions can scale to meet the demands, while others fall short within an enterprise deployment.
  • The maturity of open source solutions becoming a more legitimate option in the evaluation process
  • The emergence of very solid entry WCMS products (read: cheaper).
  • Mid-market CMS vendors expanding their professional services offerings to sustain revenue, often at the expense of the partner network, and far too often their customers.
  • Vendors trying to boil the ocean in bolting all sorts of new bells and whistles onto their CMS platforms – resulting in everything under one roof, but rarely best of breed functionality.
  • Older product architectures that are ill equipped to scale to new web publishing models – namely distributed content and multi-site management.
  • Smaller vendors getting pinched by the economy struggling to provide the necessary support and ongoing training – not to mention the necessary R&D.
  • The business priority of social media and community initiatives driving a whole new class of vendors that overlap with traditional CMS (a whole blog post in itself).

Building on the observations from 2008, there are other market dynamics at play:

  • The economic downtown has companies of all types tightening their belts and delaying expensive projects like CMS that offer longer term ROI.
  • The reality that most organizations are not implementing their first CMS. It’s likely a second, third or fourth generation system.
  • The rise of new platforms built from the ground up on modern architectures that address current web publishing challenges

So what does this mean for an organization evaluating mid-market content management vendors in 2009?

  • While folks have been predicting a CMS vendor shake out (and consolidation) for years, it’s especially important in 2009 to take a close look at vendor stability, financial solvency and overall momentum.
  • Companies looking to legitimately leverage communities and social media will likely not be best served by a CMS pure play. It will be essential to “look outside the CMS box” in putting together the overall web strategy.
  • Vendors on shaky financial footing cutting back on R&D, further weakening their future relevance in the market.
  • Vendors bundling pro services with their product may be a good fit, but organizations that have more strategic needs should carefully evaluate how the vendor will approach the project, and get references from similar past projects.
  • With the maturity of the basic authoring tools, more attention will be (and should be) placed on the usability of the software itself and how it will enable better end user adoption.
  • With an uncertain marketplace and high switching costs, re-implementation projects will likely become more popular -aligning the technology to better understood business requirements and taking advantage of new releases.

What are you seeing in the mid-market web content management space?

About the Author
George Ross

With more than a dozen years of experience leading enterprise web projects, George has seen the good, bad and ugly when it comes to CMS deployments. George brings an objective eye and a healthy dose of cynicism in evaluating the role of technology in the enterprise.

More articles from George Ross

Leave a Reply
  1. Fields marked with * are required.
  2. We will not publish your email.