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SharePoint Blog

November 12
Who Would Marry SharePoint?

The simple answer is every 3rd party product that says it integrates with SharePoint is a suitor.  A small number of them extend SharePoint and offer exemplary benefits such as Nintex.   Many of them are downright dangerous to your installation.  However, there is a “new” brand of applications that work in concert with SharePoint: Web Content Management Systems (WCMS).

At first blush, one would say, “Wait. Isn’t SharePoint a web content management system (WCMS)?”

The answer technically is yes. SharePoint integrated Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) into a common architecture with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. It is often used as a public site, branded, and leveraged to communicate an organization’s message. So why the “new” WCMS. What is SharePoint lacking?

A digital strategy of Customer Engagement.

Gartner states that Web content management (WCM) is vital software to increasing the effectiveness of digital strategies. Put another way, it’s about putting a “ring” on your customer’s finger and having them “married” to you for life.

In straight technical terms WCMS is about creating a friendly environment to get your information online, in any format (desktop/tablet/app), and distribute dynamic web content that is findable. The system should provide some type of control to ensure that the right folks are maintaining and updating their own content. A core tenet is: Someone in marketing should not have to know CSS and HTML.

Upon review, we could say SharePoint does the above. Does it do it easily is a different question.

What are the new WCMS systems doing that SharePoint is not? What are they offering? Without picking one particular software I did some research and here is a listing of some of the additional features they bring:

·         Social Media tools – This goes well beyond a web part that sits on a page. Measurement and personalization directly to a person/group regardless of the social platform are critical and important features.

·         Marketing – The tools that these systems have help you to understand who your visitors are and what they are doing on your site and on which platform (website, mobile, ect). With this information you can target your message with the accuracy of a digital sniper. This is taking your brand to another level and creating a marketing experience.

·         Connectors – Many of the packages have connectors to applications such as SharePoint, CRM (Salesforce/Dynamics), or web analytics.

·         E-commerce – This seems to be a newer offering by WCMS systems. It expands out digital channels into yet another popular avenue. One could see this as completing the customer experience.

These features are not in SharePoint. One may argue that they never will be. Customer engagement is not a current focus of SharePoint. Combine this fact to the conventional thinking is that a public website should be redesigned every two to three years.

This translates to cost and nimbleness. Cost to those implementing a WCMS and nimbleness to those providing the software. SharePoint is a large foundation application and current investments by Microsoft are around SharePoint online. How does one (Microsoft) solve this riddle?

In 2014, Microsoft named Sitecore ISV Partner of the Year. The equivalent of putting a ring on the finger of their partner. That is telling and gives us (at least a temporary) roadmap into where investments for SharePoint are going versus where they want their Partners filling in the gaps.

The question to ask yourself as you look at your sites (SharePoint or not): Is this site providing an outstanding customer engagement experience?  Does it need to do more?

If you answered yes, your choices/options are vast and it makes no sense to throw out the investments you have today.  I am going to go into further detail on aspects of this topic in my future blog posts. I encourage dialogue with those who are wrestling with this question for 2015 and beyond.  I want to hear your pain points and particular use cases.

-Peter Serzo

SharePoint Solution Architect


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