About This Constellation ShortList™

Content management systems typically fall within one of three categories: traditional (front and back end is connected), headless (back-end content management is completely detached from any front-end presentation layer) and hybrid systems where back-end API-first content stores remain detached from defined presentation layers, but additional tools and templates are available to aid nontechnical teams to create experiences autonomously.

Hybrid CMS solutions accomplish two key goals. First, they allow digital builders the freedom of a decoupled back end, complete with Restful APIs and services, without compromising efficiency. This is a content solution that has the capacity to deliver to a mobile phone as easily as it can to an IoT device. Second, they satisfy the needs of customer experience and engagement delivery teams from marketing to sales to the field to have real-time access to robust editing tools and templates to create digital experiences.

It is important to note that some hybrid CMS solutions can be implemented as a fully headless CMS. As both are inherently API-first, where content can be both accessed and exposed over API, some solutions offer the flexibility to add on front-end editors and what is often billed as “marketer-friendly” interfaces to their headless back-end solution. Either way, a hybrid CMS is an excellent option for organizations either unsure or unwilling to fully embrace a fully decoupled content management solution.        

Threshold Criteria

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • API-first
  • Flexible content authoring and experience creation retaining “drag and drop” or WYSIWYG editors
  • Capacity for content personalization
  • Reporting and analytics for insights into content consumption and utilization
  • DevOps-friendly containerization for optimized infrastructure
  • Compliance best practices and solutions
  • Workflows
  • Rule- and role-based permissions
  • Flexible content modeling, including content taxonomy, sorting, and validations
  • Localization capabilities for global deployment
  • Security and compliance (access controls and authentication measures)
  • Community and user support
  • API connections for collecting data for use in personalization and contextual content push
  • Global CDN access
  • AI/ML-powered contextual search, smart tagging, image/content recognition, and smart recommendations for content implementation
  • Integrations with marketing, support, or commerce tools
  • Scalable content management across brands, lines of business, or geography

The Constellation ShortList™

Constellation evaluates over 35 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share, and internal research.

  • Acquia CMS
  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • Bloomreach
  • Brightspot
  • Contentful
  • Core dna
  • dotCMS
  • HCL DX
  • Optimizely
  • Sitecore

Frequency of Evaluation

Each Constellation ShortList will be updated at least once per year. There could be an update after six months, should the analyst deem it necessary.

Evaluation Services

Constellation clients may work with the analyst and research team to conduct a more thorough discussion of this ShortList. Constellation can also provide guidance in vendor selection and contract negotiation.

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