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A Resurgence for Portals: Liferay Leading in the Gartner MQ for Horizontal Portals 2015

The latest Magic Quadrant report from Gartner on the Horizontal Portal market has just been released, and you can find it here on our website. I just read it through and here’s what I noticed.
 

A Market Transformed

First, the report opens with a strong statement on how much the portal market has changed:

“The past five years has witnessed a massive transformation of the market for horizontal portals… While the renewed portal market retains many of the principles, practices and value propositions of the old, the modern portal market has been transformed almost beyond recognition.”

In other words, the value portals seek to provide are very similar to what they promised before—personalization, unifying interactions with several systems (aggregation or integration), and a great user experience—but the way they are being achieved is completely different, reinvigorating and transforming the market as a result.

I tend to agree with Gartner’s assertions here: the last five years has seen a huge shift in attitude toward portals, and I think Liferay has had a part to play in that. One customer told us that when he tells his colleagues about Liferay, he says, “Liferay is the portal you want to use when you don’t want to use a ‘portal.’” I think he means that Liferay is a modern portal that gives you results with fresh technology, unlike the old-fashioned portals of the last decade.

Of course, we’re not the only ones. Several portal vendors have embraced a lot of new technical and market developments to make this change in attitude possible:

  • The convergence of mobile, social, cloud and data

  • The increasing importance of user experience

  • The proliferation of mobile apps

  • Machine- & analytics-based personalization

Here’s a brief chart showing the new technologies modern portals are using to deliver these important benefits:

 

Benefit

How the benefit was achieved

Old-fashioned portals

Modern portals

Personalization

  • Roles (Managers see x, team members see y)

  • Rules Engines

  • Custom user pages

  • Content targeting

  • Location awareness

  • Machine learning / big data

Unifying Interactions

  • Aggregated interfaces (portlets, link directories)

  • Single sign-on

  • Integration

  • Multi-channel/ omni-channel interaction

  • Single User Profile & History

  • Cloud-based synchronization

User Experience

  • Single Portal

  • Themes

  • Mobile friendliness

  • Native mobile apps

  • Cross-channel continuity

  • Modern interfaces

  • UX guidelines

There’s a lot of innovation happening in this market, and we’re just getting started.
 

The Competitive Landscape


Movement among WCM Vendors

Given how dynamic the portal market has become, it’s natural to see fresh competition, with different vendors taking different approaches to the portal value proposition, including some WCM vendors. In fact, Gartner believes (and we agree) that the portal and WCM markets are converging toward a new market Gartner is calling “user experience platforms” (UXP).

To that end, last year, Gartner included a good number of WCM vendors in the portal report, but for 2015, Gartner scaled back the number of WCM vendors in this report to those that 1) customers ask about in portal scenarios and 2) have built features that give their WCMs portal-like capabilities.

So five WCM vendors remain in 2015: EPiServer (Ektron), Sitecore and Squiz, added in 2014, and Drupal and Adobe from past years.
 

Leaders: The usual suspects

Meanwhile, the Leaders quadrant is populated exclusively by long-standing portal vendors, except Salesforce, the SaaS giant, which joined the Leaders for the first time this year. Several Leaders lost ground, including Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

On the completeness of vision scale, we are second only to IBM and slightly ahead of Adobe. Backbase has also dropped back on the vision scale, to fourth place.

Overall, Liferay seems to have done reasonably well, losing a little ground on completeness of vision but improving significantly on Ability to Execute. IBM beats us slightly on both counts, but our offerings are so different that it’s feasible to say we are Leaders in our respective approaches, with Liferay going for a “lean, but complete, UXP” approach, and IBM giving you everything including the kitchen sink, which might add unnecessary complexity and cost to all but the largest portal scenarios.

Here are all the vendors ranked by each of the two scales (top to bottom or right to left, with ties going to the vendor ranking higher on the other scale):

 

Ability to Execute

Completeness of Vision

1

IBM

IBM

2

Liferay

Liferay

3

Microsoft

Adobe

4

Oracle

Backbase

5

SAP

SAP

6

Sitecore

Oracle

7

Drupal

Salesforce

8

Salesforce

Microsoft

9

EPiServer

Sitecore

10

Adobe

EPiServer

11

OpenText

Squiz

12

Backbase

OpenText

13

Squiz

Drupal

Fit for many different purposes

Looking through the comments, Gartner indicates that certain vendors are more suited for specific scenarios than for others. Here’s a summary of how I interpreted their comments:

LEGEND:

  •   positive mention

  • —  neutral, or positive & negative mention

  •   negative mention

 

Digital Marketing / Public Websites

Customer Service / Customer Portals

Employees / Intranets

Integration

Adobe

Backbase

Drupal

no mention

EPiServer

no mention

no mention

IBM

no mention

Liferay*

40%

40%

30%

60%

Microsoft

OpenText

no mention

no mention

Oracle

no mention

no mention

Salesforce

no mention

SAP

no mention

Sitecore

Squiz

no mention

* For Liferay, since Gartner didn’t speak to specific strengths and weakness for various scenarios, we are instead listing the rough percentage of customers that use Liferay for different scenarios. Many customers use Liferay for more than one scenario, which explains why the numbers don’t add up to 100%.
 

What did I learn from the report?  


Liferay is doing well

The 2015 Magic Quadrant is a great validation of what we’ve been able to achieve here at Liferay, and we’re proud of the following points we gleaned from the report:

  • Gartner’s review of Liferay indicates that the market sees us as a stable, viable, and competitive vendor in this landscape.

  • Liferay is squarely in leadership of this market along with IBM.

  • With Red Hat’s departure, we are the only commercial open source portal vendor in the report.

  • Customers can be assured that top tier global systems integrators are available to assist with their Liferay deployments.

  • Our ecosystem enjoys all the benefits that come with using a product from a fast-growing, innovative vendor.
     

We’re moving toward Digital Experiences

The other takeaway for me is that Liferay is heading in the right direction as we move toward expanding our technology to support digital experiences. Our market is modernizing to meet the demands of more sophisticated use cases.

It’s naïve to think that customers are going to come to a single website or portal to connect with you. Digital interactions will happen in more places than ever, within and outside your control. They may be fleeting, transactional, one-time experiences that nevertheless hugely impact the customer’s perception of your company.

Unifying experiences no longer means forcing everyone through one box; it means having a platform that can tie together a multitude of interactions into a single understanding of your customer relationship.
 

We have a lot to be thankful for

Liferay still has so much we want to develop to support these needs, but we’re greatly encouraged that the foundation we’ve built is the right one so far. To our customers, partners, and community: thank you for all of your support that has made our acknowledgement in this report possible!