Has WCM Been Commodified?

Has WCM Been Commodified?

The Gist

  • Marketing technology. Web content management technology (WCM) remains nuanced and essential, not a commodity.
  • Martech stack diversity. The martech stack has evolved, with WCM being just one of many dynamic components.
  • WCM platform options. Content marketing platforms continue to innovate, offering a range of choices for modern businesses.

“Commodity” is a dreaded term in technology. It implies something so simplistic, so standardized, and so cheap, you don’t even need to compare suppliers based on the product itself. The word brings to mind something you trade in bulk, like pork bellies or orange juice.

No tech vendor wants to sell something commoditized, and even technology buyers and consultants will shy away. After all, where’s the challenge and innovation?

I hear with some regularity that web content & experience management (WCM) technology has become commoditized. As someone who’s followed the market for a couple decades now, that term certainly pricks up my ears. 

But it’s simply not true, and woe to any digital leader that treats WCM capabilities as a commodity. 

Marketing Technology Content Platforms in (Relative) Decline

For sure I can understand why observers might perceive marketing technology tools as a kind of afterthought.

WCM technology represents a digital necessity, yet has seen a long-term decline in relative importance across martech and DX stacks. Traditional websites, while essential digital table stakes, represent just one of a proliferating set of channels where you engage with customers and prospects.

Real Story Group MarTech Stack Reference Model
Over the past decade, WCM has moved from the center of most enterprise stacks to just one piece of a much wider puzzle.

WCM is also part of an older marketplace, going back a quarter-century now, and while vendors do still innovate, many difficult challenges have been more than adequately addressed:

  • Rich text editors are more stable and reliable, though of course they started from a low bar… 😉 
  • Flexible collaboration services have replaced more rigid workflow models
  • Hybrid headless has emerged as the dominant architectural model for accommodating both decoupled content management and ad-hoc website management
  • Most platforms can readily publish content to multiple different properties, across multiple languages
  • Mature design patterns have evolved for integrating DAM, personalization, analytics, and other specialized, WCM-adjacent technologies within larger enterprises
  • Simpler or more transient web properties can be managed successfully via inexpensive site-building platforms, like Wix and Squarespace.  

Related Article: Why Your Customer Experience Strategy Needs a DAM

Some Problems yet to Solve

When analysts, consultants and integrators argue WCM technology is commodified, what they seem to be saying is, there aren’t any hard problems to solve, or more pointedly, I’m bored. WCM vendors play the same game by inventing new acronyms, like “DXP,” which really only means that they’ve gotten distracted by acquiring some random adjacent toolsets.  

And yet, when Real Story Group (RSG) sees WCM vendors competing in test-based selection projects, we can detect some implicit disagreements just based on how their products work. Under the covers, key differences remain over such things as:

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