Matt Jones Matt Jones | 12 Jul 2023

OK. We probably get more excited about the annual Gardner Magic Quadrant for DXP release than most organisations. Web technology and content platforms are our passion. Reports like this give us the opportunity to release our inner geekiness and have a right good chinwag.

How it works

First things first let us talk you through how it works. Every year Gartner produce a report breaking the leading digital experience platforms (DXP’s) into four categories:

1. Niche players: Have good capabilities but struggle on a feature depth and maturity versus the market leaders.

2. Visionaries: These platforms are often really good in one area but are not as well featured as Challengers and Leaders.

3. Challengers: Typically resilient platforms but do not have the capabilities realised in the leading segment.

4. Leaders: These are the platforms that are at the bleeding edge of the possible and are typically adopted by big business.

For most mid-market organisations the leading segment is beyond financial reach. These installations tend to be in the £millions annually when looking at total cost of ownership. 

Mid-market DXP customers tend to buy most from the Niche Player category. Getting these platforms into a reasonably complex business tends to cost £100K - £300K in year 1 and significantly less going forward.

If your budget is lower than six figures don’t worry. Outside of the Gartner Quadrant there are lots of other platforms (such as Umbraco) with varying levels of maturity which can still be perfectly suitable.

Historically the Challenger quadrant had more DXP’s. We can’t comment on HCL or OpenText because we don’t build in these technologies but our previous experience when .Net platforms were in this space was that these projects sat in between Niche Players and Leaders from a total cost of ownership perspective. Often north of £500k and occasionally into seven figures.

What are the themes in this years report?

The main question we get from clients is ‘what does a dual rail strategy mean?’

Dual rail describes the fact that some platforms have built new products. Their reasons for doing this are described in this article. The consequences of firms like Kentico and Sitecore developing new headless platforms has been disruption to their business. A good analogy we have drawn here is it’s a bit like the struggle we see established car brands going through now to move to electric. It will take time for their new products to catch up. 

The next question we get is ‘What has happened to Sitecore?’

Sitecore remains in the leading segment but used to be up there with Adobe leading from the front. The ‘dual strategy’ issue above is in our view part of their problem but there is another challenge too: the move away from one platform that does everything.

A core part of Sitecore’s historical successes was their value add. Their marketing automation and on page personalisation tools were very advanced. However, we are now seeing companies (such as Optimizely who specialise purely on on-page optimisation) that do few things really well. This has been reflected in buying decisions over the past decade. It’s now common to see websites with completely independent content platforms being held together through api integration. 

Put simply, for Sitecore to have remained at the top of the Leading Segment they would have needed to become better at pure content management. The dual strategy challenge probably made this an impossible goal.

How can I create a shortlist from all these platforms? 

All of these DXP content platforms have lots about them. Trying to investigate them all would be incredibly time consuming and is likely to lead to many software demonstrations which even we find pretty boring. 

There are ways that you can narrow down. 

Many IT departments have specific rules on what code languages they will support. Most of our clients are Microsoft based businesses and therefore have a preference for .Net. This would make Progress, Kentico and Sitecore the most likely choices. 

The second way we would suggest going is on the headless versus monolith argument. Our blog on this describes the typical thought processes clients go through when making this choice. 

Is choice of CMS the critical decision when building a new website or app?

It’s completely possible to build badly onto any of these platforms. Finding the right development partner is as important as landing on a technology solution in the first place. 

Understandably a lot of organisations pick partners who have sector experience. Shared knowledge and terminology really helps to fast track requirement gathering and frequently leads to good working relationships. 

That said, we think the most important criteria for a partner is working processes. The DXP space has an incredibly diverse implementation partner base. Some have incredibly honed processes for defining scope upfront and delivering to set specifications. Others are massively fluent in Agile methodology and embed physical teams within client organisations. 

For most of the mid-market clients we work with we find a sweet spot between these two extremes. Complex businesses tend to have shifting requirements but also yearn for change projects to not cause massive day to day disruption. By delivering iteratively against an agreed upfront scope we can continuously review final deliverables within the budget and time constraints. Sometimes our people are on-site and sometimes it’s more efficient for everyone for them to be based at our offices. It’s a constant conversation.

Are there other Gartner Quadrants I should be aware of?

There are absolutely loads. Here’s a full list:

Many Quadrants are related to IT infrastructure and ways of working so are unlikely to pop up on a typical client radar. 

The CRM quadrants are interesting as they show the volume of change in that space. Gartner now has some very specific reports for different types of CRM functionality.

The other one which really interests us is the content marketing platform report:

Traditionally Content Marketing has been seen as a social media based activity separate to core website content held inside of a CMS. However, you will notice our friends Sitecore in the Visionary segment here. Blending Content Marketing and conventional web content offers really interesting possibilities; turning relatively fly by night Digital PR into sticky customer engagements.

If I’m thinking of embarking on a new website or app project this year what should I buy?

If your budget is under £100K it’s likely you will be buying outside of the quadrant. That said, it is not  impossible that your budget could stretch. Some of our Kentico clients have managed to build and launch for less than this. Other platforms like Wordpress or Umbraco will also be in your thinking so it will probably come down to a feature / adoptability comparison to work out the best fit for your organisation.

If your budget is in the low hundred thousands the niche players and visionaries is probably where you will find yourself. There is a lot of variance in system capabilities in these segments so being clear on what functionality you need the CMS to provide is important. The modern architecture of most installations means that other platforms and bespoke code are common bedfellows of a CMS. If these tools are doing some of the hard work you might not need a CMS that does absolutely everything.

If the budget you are managing runs to seven figures the challengers and the leaders is where you will be. At this level it’s likely that there will be lots of consultants to tell you exactly what you need and this is likely to be driven by their suitability with other back-office systems.

It’s still not making sense to me, can I talk to someone?

We appreciate that our articles often leave organisations better informed but with plenty of additional questions. If you want to speak to us please email for a chat with a member of our team.