We conducted the largest survey of CMS users — and we're sharing the results

Picture this: you’re in an important meeting, connected on a video conference. The prospective customer’s here and it’s your turn to present and close the deal. Meanwhile, elsewhere in your house, one of your kids starts streaming a video, another child logs on to his favorite multi-player game, and your dear spouse is slogging through their own workday.

The internet slows to a crawl … and the connection drops. Goodbye, customer. Farewell, sale opportunity. The digital tools you’re working with just aren’t built to handle the demands of your new digital-first world.

Your tools are probably slowing you down

This too-close-to-home scenario is also what we uncovered when we asked more than 750 CMS users — content creators, developers and digital leaders — how well their content management stands up to the demands of the digital-first era.

Can it manage multi-channel content? Maintain brand consistency? Bring new products and content to market as rapidly as business demands? In most cases, we found a Digital Innovation Gap: a chasm between what companies need to succeed in digital, and the capabilities and performance of their current tools and platforms. 

Not only are many companies saddled with aging, legacy CMS suites, 45% reported that their new CMS disappointed right out of the box. And while 93% of people told us they have to manage content across multiple digital products — 65% across multiple channels — more than half of those surveyed have been forced to adopt multiple CMSes to handle the load. 

Digital is now the primary way that brands connect with customers and generate revenue. Last year’s plans for gradual digital transformation seems quaint in the face of the massive, immediate transformation accelerated by Covid-19. The challenge for brands now is simple: go digital-first, fast. 

We wanted to explore how this reorientation to a digital-first economy affects the people building digital experiences. It’s no longer a debate over tools and tactics, such as headless CMS vs. traditional CMS. It’s a question of whether digital platforms are accelerating or hindering a business’s ability to adapt to the digital-first marketplace.

Digital experiences drive revenue

Our survey found that 82% of users say digital experiences are directly linked to increased revenue — but 76% percent say they don’t have the tools they need to deliver consistent content across channels, a characteristic 75% of consumers expect. 

In other words, there’s a gap between companies’ digital capabilities and the requirements of the marketplace. The proof is in the numbers — some key statistics from the survey include:

Contentful user survey iinfographic

Our report also breaks down the numbers on how this digital innovation gap came into being and examines how the right tools bridge that divide. For example, companies with less agile processes and systems struggle to build and scale digital solutions fast enough. 

There’s also a clear dissatisfaction with traditional CMSes; laggards in digital are 40% more likely to be using a CMS. As one developer explains, "Every hour spent maintaining or supporting our current CMS is one less hour I have to devote to planning for the future digital environment of my organization.” 

The digital innovation gap, explained

My colleague Liz created a two-minute video summary of our key findings from the report: 

One of the biggest gaps the survey found isn’t tech. It’s a gap in the perceptions between digital leaders and digital builders. 

Your builders know what tools they need

The findings broadly show that business leaders are overconfident that their CMS has the necessary functions to support omnichannel and content orchestration. Builders say they feel disempowered and frustrated, which impacts their ability to deliver better digital experiences. For example:

  • 72% of leaders say their CMS is capable of managing omnichannel content, while only 34% of creators agree

  • Only 36% of respondents are using API-first solutions, yet 70% of business leaders say they need API-first tools and platforms to achieve their digital goals

  • 66% of content creators can’t control their content without developer assistance, and 35% can’t reuse their content across multiple digital channels.

How content is created, managed and delivered has a broad impact on a brand’s digital ecosystem. All digital experiences have content at their core. So addressing the shortfalls of technology solutions can help close the innovation gap — fast. 

Digital first, digital fast

In the coming year, digital leaders expect to spend an average of 25% more on digital experiences. That’s good news for developers and content creators. The question is whether the investment will bring digital builders the right tools and platforms. 

From our perspective, from this deep market research and also from thousands of customers, the chief factor driving decisions should be speed to market. The No. 1 problem that 89% our survey participants reported is build time. 

The drumbeat must be, “digital first, digital fast.” And the platforms enabling you to build, adapt and iterate faster than the competition will create the greatest competitive advantage. 

Want to see what else we learned from digital leaders and builders? Download the full survey here.

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