You might ask whether Drupal or Sitecore is best for you? Or you’ll ask whether Adobe Experience Manager or EPiServer or Kentico fits your need best?
Comparing these types of systems is common among many members in J. Boye groups, but it is also like comparing apples to oranges. As a vendor neutral consultant, I’ve had this discussion many times and it’s really not very meaningful.
If your existing platform is broken, it is logical to look for a replacement, but might it be best to not just look for one new system to rule them all?
Prepare yourself for multiple systems
Using multiple systems makes good sense when you need to meet different requirements, yet many organisations have understandably had a low appetite for expanding their digital toolbox, in particular due to limited resources.
Some organisations habe been burned when trying to implement older versions of Microsoft SharePoint for both their intranet and their website only to find out that it really was a bad fit for websites. And for some intranet use cases as well. The migration to another system a few years later was often long, painful and expensive.
Similarly some have taken solutions built for external scenarios, like Adobe Experience Manager and Sitecore, and also implemented for both website and intranet. Rarely with much success.
Slowly, but truly, we’ve seen a trend at J. Boye members away from using the same digital platform for internal communication as for digital marketing.
While this diverge between intranet and websites has happened, marketing land has seen an explosion in tools covering topics like analytics, CRM, newsletters and social media. To say the least, the past years have not seen software marketplace consolidation from the perspective of customers.
At some organisations, I’ve heard of 100’s of different systems in use for collaboration and digital marketing, many of which not officially sanctioned by their IT department.
It’s still all about the right team
My advice for the past decade has been to focus on the implementation team. Selecting the right agency is more important towards success, than trying to select the perfect one-size-fits-all digital platform as the agency will bring experience, organisational understanding and technical skills to make it work.
Similarly having the right skills, organisation and resources internally are key elements of the digital success recipe.
The are many ways to blend in-house digital teams with external agencies, but working with a big toolbox with say 10+ different systems naturally requires coordination, governance and some amount of training.
If you pick vendors crowned by various analyst firms, but have a poor team, you are not going to get very far.
How do we select multiple systems?
As some organisations take 9 – 12 months to select and procure a new digital platform, how will it ever work to select so many different tools?
You, or someone in your organisation, will need to be constantly looking for the most critical pieces in your digital infrastructure. When is the right time to select a new search engine? To keep Drupal for some of our news-heavy sites, but find an alternative for other use cases?
Perhaps we need a fast-track for some types of lower-risk, lower-impact, lower-budget solutions and another more thorough track for sizable investments or projects that require say more than 6 months implementation.
The answers are individual to you and your organisation, but please let’s stop pretending that one big system will solve our problems and help us lead the way.
Thanks to Michael Jaap at City of Aarhus for inspiring this post