The Drupal Digital Experience Stack

I read two fascinating industry reports over the Thanksgiving break that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. The first piece was “The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q3 2017,” and the second was Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.”

The reports reviewed a variety of digital content/marketing platforms, and the results clearly highlighted the stark difference between how these platforms’ power is viewed. Each study employed a different approach to measuring a platform’s impact; there was the “full-stack” approach favored by Forrester and then the “best-of-breed” model employed by Gartner.


Photo by Todd Diemer

Forrester defined digital experience platforms as “software to manage, deliver, and optimize digital experiences consistently across every place of the customer life cycle.” The Gartner report, meanwhile, explained that web content management is the “process of controlling the content to be consumed over one or more digital channels using management tools based on a core repository.”

Digital Experience Platforms

In other words, Forrester viewed a strong digital experience platform as a one-stop-shop for being able to manage all digital interactions with a consumer. Gartner, on the other hand, evaluated the platforms based on which was the best at managing content and integrating it with other powerful digital tools.

Using its “full-stack” mentality, Forrester evaluated vendors with at least four strong products from this core of digital experience platforms:

  • Content
  • Marketing
  • Commerce
  • Service
  • Analytics
  • Customer data
  • Personalization
  • Development and Operations

Using these criteria, Forrester designated Oracle as the leader of the pack for digital experience platforms. According to the report, “Oracle has one of the broadest portfolios — including content, commerce, marketing, data, analytics, and customer care — of any vendor we evaluated.”

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Following Oracle was a trio of “Strong performers,” including Salesforce, Adobe and IBM. Below that group was “contenders,” which included Acquia, the best-known provider of Drupal-based cloud services. Acquia got a lot of credit for its web marketing capabilities, but it was knocked for not having a CRM or data core.

Here’s a key passage from the report:

“Acquia’s strength in open source and cloud roots fueled growth over the past decade. However, as Acquia grows beyond startup status, weaknesses such as a lack of marketing automation, commerce, service, and data management cast doubt over growth within enterprise accounts. Yet a reference whose company has web marketing as a core element of the digital experience strategy told us: ‘I consider (Acquia) the hub in our digital marketing platform. All roads go to or are served by the website.’”

I love the reference’s quote at the end because it gets at what I think is the true value of Drupal: it’s ability to be the heartbeat of an organization.

Drupal is a powerful content management system (CMS), but arguably just as powerful about the platform is its ability to integrate with other cloud-based systems. There’s not a need for it to be a full-stack platform because it can connect with the top tools across a variety of functions — CRM, commerce, marketing, etc. 

It is because of the strong CRM and flexibility of Drupal that Acquia performed far better in the Gartner report than it did in the Forrester study. Remember that Gartner was more interested in a platform that controls the content that can then be distributed or interacted with from a variety of touchpoints. In Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management,” Acquia was seen as one of the three leading platforms, along with Sitecore and Adobe. 

At Duo — like at Acquia — we believe in the “best-of-breed” approach for our clients. We don’t want to give our clients extra, unnecessary tools. Today more than ever before, individuals and organizations are investing in technology that they don’t use. We don’t want to give our clients an “all-in-one” platform that features tools they really will never use. We’d much rather customize that platform to solve each of our clients’ respective needs.

That’s why we believe in “best in breed.” It’s what’s best for Duo, and it’s what’s best for our clients.

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