Bruce Davis-Goff - APAC Operations Director
6 Apr 2021
There is no argument that Sitecore has been a hugely successful and influential CMS platform. When I look at some of the modern headless solutions such as Kentico Kontent, Contentful, and ContentStack I can see the genesis is undoubtedly Sitecore, clear separation of presentation and content was a major selling point of Sitecore from the beginning, (as well as extensibility). Also, a lot of Sitecore luminaries have ended up working for and guiding the development of the new headless offerings.
In that respect, Sitecore was the original headless CMS. Where Sitecore has struggled has been in the transformation to a full SaaS based offering, there is just so much going on under the hood that it’s been a huge challenge that has opened the market up to more agile competitors.
Also, to be completely transparent, Sitecore upgrades have traditionally been grueling - the amazing ability to extend Sitecore also allows the accumulation of significant technical debt – that community extension module you customized for version 8.3 no longer works in 9.x, no update is available, and the functionality essentially must be re-written from scratch - a not uncommon scenario.
This is a dangerous place for a product to be in, when the cost of upgrading is greater than re-platforming, there’s an increased risk of platform abandonment.
Another factor that is becoming increasingly evident is around the infrastructure requirements for running a Sitecore stack, even on Azure PaaS there is a lot of App Services to maintain and when you multiply this by 3 environments (for example Dev, UAT and Production), it gets expensive. Imagine also if you will, customers who are still running their stacks on virtual machines with all the duplication of maintenance and costs.
Lastly the promise of personalisation, when I was a Sitecore sales guy, the theoretical ability to do wonderful marketing things was a big selling point. In practice this was seldom the case, the legendary phase two never arrived and a lot of customers were left with a Ferrari that they pottered down to the local store in to pick up milk occasionally.
And that is where we find ourselves today, with a hugely powerful monolithic CMS that is often functioning at the level of a WordPress site while eating dollars for licensing, maintenance, and infrastructure.
I think this step requires an organization to take a full and frank appraisal of where they started, where they went, and where they are headed. For example, if you have been sitting on Sitecore 8.3 for a few years and have never used the following functionality, the question you must ask is “will you ever?”
Bear in mind this is not a technical discussion at this point, to use the functionality above you need at least one team member who will own this and drive it to success. You need the marketing department to be fully onboard and committed to a digital marketing plan that can be implemented in Sitecore. If that sounds scary big, it’s not – start small, measure, validate, test, improve, etc, etc.
And if at the end of the day, you see no realistic hope that this will happen in your organization then you may be looking at re-platforming to a lightweight headless solution such as Kentico Kontent.
Konabos has experience in automated migration of older Sitecore versions to modern headless solutions such as Kentico Kontent and Contentful so reach out if this would work for you.
As an aside, it’s now well established that customer engagement and personalisation can bring huge benefits to a company and re-platforming doesn’t rule out using such functionality, check out:
Google Optimize: https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/optimize/
Recognition that the Sitecore Media Library isn’t really an enterprise level DAM has prompted quite a few “add-ons” over the years, hands up who remembers Digizuite or Sitecore DAM?
And these days things have changed again with amazing media providers such as https://cloudinary.com/ allowing you to store, transform, optimize, and deliver all your media assets with easy-to-use APIs, widgets, or user interface. While it is possible to integrate a provider such as Cloudinary into Sitecore, it seems to me that this would be a technical debt situation.
Sitecore has also taken some strides into this world with Content Hub which has native integration into Sitecore, however, getting a business to look at the extra licensing costs might be a deal killer.
But when you think about your average website, storage and distribution of media items really does eat up a lot of resources, so an abstracted provider that also takes care of the delivery network makes a lot of sense.
You may be like me, I have a special fondness for Sitecore, even more so since Sitecore SXA became a mainstream offering and don’t even get me started on Scriban which I love to bits. You may be the same and don’t want to give all that up, heck you may even be on version 7 and it’s still working for you. Your content editors are happy and well entrenched in their processes and you don’t want to upset that apple cart.
On the other hand, you’d like to get some benefits of the JamStack revolution. So, a possibility might be to develop your own Next.js / React app that pulls content from Sitecore through the REST API and delivers your site through one of the providers that specialise in this such as Netlify or Vercel. At the very least you could slim down your environments, drop some infrastructure costs and get a blazingly fast site. Konabos also has a lot of experience in this hybrid scenario.
I often find the curliest bits with Sitecore upgrades are the form, you may be still using Web Forms for Marketers, an earlier version of Sitecore Experience forms or possible some community module such as Sitecore Form Extensions.
The problem I have here is around engagement, hands up who has a contact us from on their site that just sends an email to some company address? This is the black hole of engagement where good engagement opportunities go to die. This where Sitecore EXM coupled with automated campaigns comes into its own.
However, it isn’t a complete panacea, Sitecore is, after all, not a CRM and again there are products that do this a whole lot better and are much easier to use.
A good example is Hubspot (https://www.hubspot.com), that allows you to do all that Sitecore can and more. The list of OOTB integrations for Hubspot is compelling and not something you’d want to tackle with Sitecore – think MailChimp, Slack, LinkedIn, Google Ads and more.
As a note Sitecore does have good integrations with Microsoft CRM, but this is probably more applicable to larger organizations. Smaller organizations need decent CRM capabilities too and this blossoming of micro services is making this kind of contact tracking more accessible.
What works for you will inevitably come down to your company’s circumstances, resources, aspirations and or course budget, some considerations:
If you’d like a free consultation around any of the points raised in this blog, please reach out to Konabos through our contact form and we’d be happy to join the conversation.
As a five-time Sitecore MVP, with 15 years of experience working with, and for Sitecore, Bruce brings a valuable depth of skill and experience and a commitment to best practice excellence.
Bruce is a passionate Sitecore Architect with specialist skills in SXA, strategy, migration, and upgrades and is a certified developer, trainer, and NZ Sitecore User Group / SUGCON organizer. His background as a Sitecore Business Development Manager, coupled with solid technical skills, and enthusiasm for getting the most out of Sitecore, means
Bruce brings value to any project and currently looks after operations for the APAC region.