Web CMS market trends in Finland 2013

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This article summarizes a few trends that have been fairly strong in Finland during the last two years or so. Somewhat similar trends can also be seen happening elsewhere in Scandinavia, but this article focuses specifically on Finland.

Strongest trends are the steady the rise of WordPress and Drupal. Bigger players like Microsoft, Oracle and Sitecore still have trouble in getting traction on the market in Finland. Even frameworks like Django seem to be challenging the traditional players when it comes to choosing technology to power world-class web presences. Especially the growth of mobile is driving big web renewals, but the Web CMS products don’t seem to have much to offer when it comes to building these highly responsive websites.

North Patrol is a consulting firm specialized in the design of digital services and information systems. We shape ideas into a vision and service concept, find the best architectural and technological solutions, design a functional user experience, and compete to find the ideal partner for implementation work. We do not sell implementation projects, nor do we sell licenses; we are genuinely on the side of the customer.

3 June 2013

Perttu Tolvanen

Trend #1: WordPress setting the default standard for Web CMSs

WordPress has steadily gained popularity during the last few years and especially smaller website projects have increasingly turned to WordPress. For years WordPress was seen as not being a "real CMS", but increasingly smaller web agencies have started promoting WordPress as a real CMS tool. And the agencies do have a point.

WordPress might have a very article-focused manner of approaching things, but many websites are also moving to concepts where pushing streams of content is the main focus.

Also the strong ecosystem and "small core CMS product" approach are a very suitable strategy for the fast-moving web development field. Increasingly agencies and clients are thinking "WordPress first" and "other Web CMS products second".

WordPress might not be the only answer for smaller scale websites (under 50 000 euro total budgets), but that market can really benefit for having a competitive default choice. After all, for most website projects, choosing the right CMS is not the most critical decision there is.

Trend #2: Drupal approaching the "default tool" status for complex content-heavy websites and extranets

Couple years ago Drupal seemed to be everywhere. Dozens of agencies were shouting Drupal as the new wonder tool for "every website out there". However, many of those agencies have since quietly switched to WordPress or to other simpler CMS tools. And they all say the same: Drupal is too complex and expensive to setup properly for smaller websites.

However, for truly complex and content-heavy websites it can be a powerful tool. It doesn't have the sexiest inline editing interfaces, but with skilled developers it can solve the problems of many organizations.

Increasingly Drupal also seems to be used more in content-heavy extranets than in public websites. This is another thing that makes a lot sense. Drupal is not a typical CMS, it is a somewhat strange hybrid of CMS functionalities and software development framework approach. Finally, more and more customers and agencies have realized this, and it seems that there are lot of projects out there where this combination is a good fit.

Trend #3: SharePoint is not pushed as a Web CMS so strongly anymore

Clients (especially IT teams) still often dream of having only one CMS, and since SharePoint is the default for intranet in most large organizations in Finland the desire to use SharePoint for web publishing is understandable. Finland already has a quite big number of SharePoint websites so SharePoint is already a strong player on the market.

But something changed during the last winter or so.

Integrators are not pushing SharePoint 2013 as a Web CMS so much anymore. Integrators are still happy to do the work and build the sites, but since Microsoft has started to downplay the "platform usage" of SharePoint with the SP2013 the integrators are more causes in selling the SP2013 as a Web CMS or as an extranet platform.

In private discussions many of the integrators are saying that they are worried about where Microsoft is taking them. The new app model doesn't yet support public internet site usage and the whole cloud strategy is going to a very different direction than enabling easy customizations for large-scale websites.

Currently this trend is a very positive trend from EPiServer’s point of view. EPiServer is slowly growing the market share in Finland and especially Microsoft-heavy big companies like the system. The main competitor, Sitecore, seems to be somewhat out of the game. Some integrators are even looking for more light-weight options than EPiServer and Sitecore, for example Sitefinity is used by few.

Trend #4: Competition has moved from technology capabilities to ecosystem capabilities

It would seem that the importance of ecosystems around the technology has finally reached the clients too. Buyers are very cautious of choosing a technology that doesn't have a strong local presence and several integrators (a minimum of three local integrators is often the minimum requirement). This is significant especially in Finland where the CMS market has long been ruled by domestic products that are strongly tied to one software company.

This changed requirement is currently often resulting in situations where clients are comparing very different kinds of technology products against each other. Most commonly clients try to compare for example Drupal, SharePoint, Liferay and EPiServer. These comparisons can get really interesting since all of them are quite different beasts and their ideal use cases are quite far away from each other.

Also it should be pointed out that big players don’t seem to benefit from this trend. Oracle and IBM don’t have a solid network of integrators when it comes to building world-class web presences. Oracle’s WebCenter Sites (former Fatwire) is shortlisted in some cases, but the complexity of the product and the lack of skilled integrators are limiting its appeal.

Trend #5: Web CMSs are challenged now by frameworks instead of portals

The fight between portals and Web CMSs now has a third wheel. Frameworks (like Django) are challenging Web CMSs in the case of very complex websites where content management use cases are only a small part of the overall use cases. Definitely many clients still choose their technology between portals (eg. Liferay) and Web CMSs (eg. EPiServer), but more and more clients are being teased by the framework guys who offer more flexibility and high-quality front-end UIs.

As a final conclusion of the trends it could be said that currently clients get good value for their money. Especially the rise of WordPress has been a really good thing from clients’ perspective. Also EPiServer, Drupal and Liferay are currently fighting hard in many cases, which usually is only a good thing for clients. The most problematic areas are related to bigger projects (over 200 000 euro budgets) since partner choices in Finland are somewhat limited in that area.

Summary of Web CMS trends in Finland 2013

  • Trend #1: WordPress setting the default standard for Web CMSs
  • Trend #2: Drupal approaching the "default tool" status for complex content-heavy websites
  • Trend #3: SharePoint is not pushed as a Web CMS so strongly anymore
  • Trend #4: Competition has moved from technology capabilities to ecosystem capabilities
  • Trend #5: Web CMSs are challenged now by frameworks instead of portals

Perttu Tolvanen

Perttu Tolvanen is a web concept design and content management system expert.

Perttu consults with clients on project planning and defining requirements, and supports customers in selecting content management systems and implementation partners. His areas of specialisation include facilitating concept design workshops and selecting content management systems.

Perttu has ten years of experience with web and intranet projects, including serving as a project manager and consultant. Earlier in his career Perttu has worked in procurement and as a project manager at a large media company, a content management system consultant at a large IT company and an independent, neutral consultant at his own firm. He is also a well-known seminar speaker and blogger. Perttu is also the editor of Vierityspalkki.fi, a Finnish blog about the Finnish internet and its creators.


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