I can’t believe I am going to say this, but there are times when SharePoint isn’t the answer.
Yes, as often as SharePoint can power your business as the premier enterprise collaboration tool out there, sometimes the better choice or fit for a company is Sitecore, the up and coming game-changer in the customer experience management software world. And, in this hybrid-loving world, it should come as no surprise that sometimes the answer is both SharePoint and Sitecore.
In this post, we’ll look at what each does well by looking at an overview of the platforms and listing their individual benefits. Then I’ll help explain how to choose one that fits your needs, and I’ll finish things off by explaining when you should consider marrying them together.
Microsoft SharePoint is one of the hottest software products in Microsoft history with its inception in 1999 as an extension in the html editing tool, FrontPage.
It is now used by many as a platform but it started simply as a web content management (WCM) system. It grew into an exceptional tool for building internal portals (Intranets). Document management and collaboration are what make SharePoint special for Microsoft based companies. If you can use MS Office, you can use SharePoint.
The same can now be said for Office 365 although it is missing many of SharePoint Server’s native features and is limited in customization capability. The vast majority of customers still run SharePoint on-premises because of security, control, customization or regulatory concerns. Full feature parity Cloud (Hosted) options include public clouds of Azure, AWS, and private clouds of Rackspace and Fpweb.net. Managed SharePoint services are available from Accenture, Capgemini, Rackspace and Fpweb.net to care for SharePoint wherever you decide it should live.
Sitecore was born in 2005 and is 100% focused on the customer experience and digital marketing of its web content management (WCM) system across all channels.
Over time Sitecore has matured in features and is now serving small, medium and large Enterprise (Fortune 1000) customers for their public facing web site needs. Most Sitecore customers are running Sitecore on-premises because of limited Cloud options in the past.
Currently, partial feature parity is available on public clouds of Azure and AWS. Full feature Cloud (Hosting) parity is available on private dedicated hosting clouds of Rackspace and Fpweb.net. Managed Sitecore services are available from Accenture and Fpweb.net to care for Sitecore wherever it lives.
The Benefits of SharePoint:
- Document management
- Internal portals focusing on collaboration and sharing
- With Yammer, internal portals focusing on social collaboration
- Known MS Office interface
- Already available or deployed in most organizations
- Microsoft Exchange, Lync, Office integration (SSO, AD)
- Simple out of the box workflow capability
- Spans outside of WCMS. Search, BI, social, document and record management, collaboration
- Simple non-dynamic web sites
The Benefits of Sitecore:
- Single focus on WCMS and customer intelligence and engagement
- Easy to handle globalization and localization needs
- Simple to reuse content
- Simple to reuse presentation templates and components
- Comprehensive governance system for marketing content across global ecosystem
- Freedom of design and experience for branding
- Full support of interactive user generated experiences and content management
- Software platform future proofing based on separation of content and presentation
- Total multi-channel management
- Strong mobile integration and third party content reuse
- Marketing engagement management
- Full MVC support
- Integration with third party software including ERP, Ecommerce, CRM, Social, search and analytics
- Native targeting and personalization within the user experience
- Full MV and A/B testing capabilities for content and conversion optimization
- Big data capable (SQL, Oracle, Mongo) to build one to one conversation across all channels
- Out of the box engagement analytics for complete customer intelligence data for CMO and marketers
- User interfaces designed for marketing team and web developers
When to Use Sitecore Over SharePoint
Let’s look at when it makes more sense to use Sitecore instead of SharePoint.
The first given for all circumstances is that you are refreshing or launching a public facing web site. The site is critical to your organization’s success, dynamic in nature, and gets medium to heavy traffic (250,000 page views or more per month). Sitecore is a better choice if you don’t already have a significant investment in SharePoint (people, programming, and infrastructure).
If you don’t have the ability to ramp up your SharePoint resources then Sitecore is probably a better choice as your marketing and web developers can just use the tool. And last, if you don’t have a current EA with Microsoft, which includes SharePoint licensing, Sitecore is a better choice.
When to Use SharePoint and Sitecore Together
The reality is that 95% of you who will use Sitecore also already have SharePoint deployed and doing things for your company. Document repository, Intranet, Extranet, workflows, etc…
So you need a fresh new web site and want to get closer to your customers. Great! Let’s leverage all the data and assets in your SharePoint for your Sitecore web site. Sitecore has native integration capability with SharePoint so we can surface all that data in SharePoint via a 2 way connection. Furthermore, you can use Microsoft CRM to fully leverage all customer data and get a 360 real time view of the customer.
The Bottom Line
The future of public facing web sites (www.yourco.com) on the Microsoft platform is Sitecore.
SharePoint 2016 (coming late 2015) will be less WCMS focused. It will focus on social and Intranet features (Oslo) as it strives for continued Intranet platform domination. However, the days of SharePoint trying to be all things to all people are gone.
Domination requires specificity and focus. SharePoint will continue to be a strong Intranet solution well into 2025 and smart CMOs will leverage all the data and assets stored in SharePoint.
To that end, Sitecore’s Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) is a compelling solution for serious marketers and next-gen web sites. This is the age of digital marketing where the CMO needs their website to interact directly with the user – to learn from their behavior on the site and provide personalized content and offers to increase conversion. Increased conversion equals success to the CMO.