I was talking to a client the other day about why they chose Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) for their business. This particular company initially purchased AEM shortly after it was purchased by Adobe, back in 2010. He said that one of the reasons they’d chosen it, after comparing it to a number of other options, was because he trusted Adobe to continue to invest in the product and innovate with it.
So, that begged the question — how does AEM stack up to it’s competition today?
How Does AEM Stack Up?
There are a number of resources available to help evaluate various content management systems (CMS) that were developed especially for enterprise companies (Adobe calls these platforms WEMs – Web Experience Management systems, but that’s a conversation for another day). Forrester, Gartner, and W3Techs all track usage data and do analysis on AEM’s current standing in the marketplace.
Current offering, strategy, and market presence mark Adobe a leader, says Forrester.
In “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2015” report, Forrester compared 10 top Web Content Management (WCM) systems, including:
- Acquia Platform
- Adobe Experience Manager
- Ektron Content Management System
- EPiServer Cloud
- HP TeamSite
- IBM Customer Experience Suite, IBM Employee Experience Suite
- OpenText Web Experience Management
- Oracle WebCenter Sites
- SDL Web
- Sitecore Experience Platform
Forrester’s report compared these platforms on 36 evaluation criteria, grouped into 3 categories: current offering, strategy, and market presence.
The strength of Adobe’s current offering combined with the strength of its overall market strategy and its existing market presence set it apart from the rest of the field.
In Forrester’s final evaluation, it determined that Adobe and Sitecore top the list, with Adobe in first place (for more specific information, Forrester offers the Forrester Wave Tool, which allows you to compare features, customize rankings based on your priorities, and offers more detailed product evaluations).
“Adobe has built the best portfolio for companies with the greatest marketing need,” states the report.
Adobe is a pioneer in establishing the integrated “marketing cloud” category with analytics and experience management at its core, says Gartner.
Gartner dubbed Adobe a “leader” in its “2016 Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs.”
According to the report, “Marketers need integration and coordination among systems to manage and optimize individual dialogues in real time, across channels, devices and context, on a continuous basis. Vendors from advertising, marketing automation and analytics disciplines are converging on this opportunity.”
It’s Digital Marketing Hub evaluation therefore looked at systems that help marketers accomplish that—providing standardized access to audience profile data, content, workflow elements, messaging and common analytics functions.
Gartner’s analysis of Adobe determined it to have one of the richest offerings for marketers, likely the reason some industry experts call AEM “the Cadillac” of digital marketing. Due to its long history in the space and its legacy in creative and analytics, Adobe is well positioned to understand the needs of marketers and the agencies who work with it.
“Consider Adobe if you are a midsize-to-large B2C enterprise looking to compete on quality of customer experience and personalization,” it concludes.
In addition to listing out the platform’s strengths, Gartner lists out several “cautions” — namely, that the system is more complex than many realize during the sales cycle, which can add to the cost of implementing and maintaining the system.
The Forrester study did in-depth interviews with two enterprise AEM users, and mentioned that while they were extremely satisfied with the product, they wished they had spent more time and used more experienced partners to configure the product architecture and template structure during implementation.
Overall, Gartner still ranked Adobe in first place, naming it the leading digital marketing hub evaluated.
Used most by high traffic sites, with usage growing says W3Tech.
The most recent data comes from W3Techs, which shows overall market use of AEM trending up slightly between July 2015 and February 2016. More important, perhaps, is their market position data, which shows that while AEM is used by fewer sites than most of its competitors, it’s used most by sites with the highest levels of traffic.
This makes sense, because those sites with the most traffic are those most likely to need the variety of features AEM offers — they’re by their very nature more complex and need to be more sophisticated. Those sites are also more likely to be owned by larger companies, which are currently ranking data-driven marketing, optimizing the customer experience, and creating compelling content the top three priorities.
The Bigger Picture: AEM in the Marketplace
Together, these three resources paint a fairly consistent picture — Adobe Experience Manager provides the most comprehensive feature set, which eliminates a common analytics problem among enterprise organizations, where they are forced to bring in multiple tools that essentially provide the same information in order to successfully integrate that information across a multitude of platforms or departments.
However, that wide range of abilities means it can be complex to implement, which drives up the initial cost of the platform. This leads to it having the highest adoption rate among large companies with high traffic sites who see the maximum benefit from its flexibility and range of features, making it a worthwhile investment. It also means good planning and a good AEM implementation partner are both essential for those who purchase the platform in order to get the most value.
Ultimately, determining whether AEM is the right fit for your company comes down to your specific business requirements and processes. You have to balance ease of implementation and cost with, as Gartner put it in its 2015 report, “one of the richest sets of WCM capabilities in the market,” AEM’s ability to integrate tools within its extensive portfolio, its flexibility, and its highly-rated internal user experience — then decide which factors are most important within your organization.