March 1, 2021 | 4 Min

Why the Agile CMS Matters?

Adam Sturrock
AuthorAdam Sturrock
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How did we get here?

As a quick recap, the diagram below highlights the evolution of the CMS over the past decade.

The monolithic CMS provided out of the box functionality to manage template driven websites but provided a poor proprietary development environment and plugin framework.

The headless CMS aimed to solve the poor developer experience, performance issues and multi-channel requirements but fell short for marketers as it introduced developer bottlenecks.

The Agile CMS aims to solve the needs of both the marketer and the developer, to power any website or application.

The benefits of an Agile CMS

  1. A single content hub to manage any digital experience.

  2. Developers and content practitioners collaborate within a single platform that they are both happy to work with.

    1. Marketers get a robust administration and editorial experience.

    2. Developers get a modern set of APIs, technologies and tools.

  3. Faster production, optimisation and time to market with campaigns and digitally driven initiatives.

  4. A high quality developer environment aligned with the modern way to build websites and applications.

  5. Lean & Agile best practices baked in for developers and marketers.

  6. A common framework to deliver digital experiences at scale.

  7. Tools that encourage collaboration between individuals and cross-functional teams.

Forrester Agile CMS 2021 Wave Analysis

Forrester recently coined the term “Agile CMS” and on February 22nd 2021 published “The Forrester WaveTM: Agile Content Management Systems (CMSes), Q1 2021” report, further cementing that the Agile CMS has truly arrived.

By comparing the position of vendors between the now defunct “Web CMS 2018 Wave'' with the “Agile CMS 2021 Wave”, we are able to highlight two important trends.

Legacy CMS providers flounder

Legacy leaders (Adobe, Acquia, Sitecore, Episerver - now Optimizely) are losing momentum, and in the worst cases are in full scale retreat (Sitecore, Bloomreach). These monolithic platforms are struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing way in which teams build and orchestrate multi-channel customer experiences. Legacy vendor modernization efforts will fail, landing them in a “hybrid” no-man's land, where the benefits of headless and their turn key monoliths are both compromised. These legacy vendors are now suffering from foundational architectural design decisions that were made for a different era. These legacy vendors are large and risk-averse, unable to innovate and deliver the digital experiences that their customers’ consumers expect.

Legacy vendors are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Should one of these vendors fundamentally re-architect their product, such as their “hybrid CMS” claims, every one of their customers will have to reinvest time in overhauling their frontend technology stacks, whilst at the same time losing the many benefits of the plugin ecosystem and integrated CMS functionality. At that point, many customers will look at just buying a modern product from a faster, more agile vendor rather than waiting for years for a legacy vendor to hopefully deliver on their promise. Innovation is especially hard in those larger enterprise organizations that tend to own legacy software without adopting an agile mindset and methodology.

MACH Alliance Content Management Systems positioned as strong performers

MACH Alliance CMS’s, Contentful, ContentStack and Amplience are maturing rapidly, positioning themselves solidly as strong performers, setting this new wave of solutions up to become leaders in subsequent years.


The headless CMS is heavily commoditized with hundreds of available options but a headless CMS is only half a solution. The Agile CMS is redefining what it means to build and deliver a CMS and it is here to stay. We’re excited to be at the forefront of this evolving paradigm shift towards a world where developers and marketers' needs are understood, appreciated and catered for.

Retailers and brands that are looking to adopt an Agile CMS should seriously consider Amplience, with a large retail customer base, a commerce-centric focused CMS paired with a focused product roadmap.High-growth and enterprise merchants will be hard pressed to find an equally strong offering for their business.

Further reading:

Your legacy software vendors are lying to you by Kelly Goetsch

Commerce “Platforms” are Dead by Kelly Goetsch