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Microsoft’s about-face: Sitecore for public-facing internet sites

Earlier today, published an article written by my colleague, Rich Wood. Rich heads up our modern applications team here at Perficient, and he’s basically a gold mine of information when it comes to enterprise solutions for intranets, extranets, and public internet sites. Logo_RedBlackCombo_white-banner_with-tagline_REDThankfully, he likes to share that knowledge with the rest of us (there’s a good chance you’ve heard him speak on a webinar, at the SharePoint Conference, or read one of his previous posts, either here or over on
In his latest article, “Microsoft & CXM: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” Rich discusses customer experience management as it pertains to Microsoft, and explains how the company has done a complete 180 over the last year. How so? Well, when it comes to building great public-facing internet sites that leverage .NET and a SQL back-end, Microsoft is saying your best bet is NOT SharePoint.
Surprised? You aren’t the only one. Rich explains that our clients have had a similar reaction during conversations surrounding their internet site project, and the customer experience, when we don’t recommend SharePoint. He goes on to say:

And what’s more, that the best tool in the Microsoft stack for those workloads isn’t a Microsoft product.
That’s right: partner products are Microsoft’s best direction here, and for good reason. Microsoft’s been saying as much since last summer’s World Partner Conference but in many cases that message hasn’t landed with all of their customers yet.
There’s an interesting story to be told there about both about the platform itself and how the space has evolved. It has a direct impact on why we’re seeing so many companies invested in the Microsoft platform migrating to Sitecore for their internet sites.

With the average life of a large company’s public-facing internet site spanning only two to three years, during which there is typically one or more visual redesigns and/or migrations to a new CMS, the continuous redesigns and migrations can weigh heavy on the technical team:

For that reason, it’s typically very important to IT that some common baseline be established from a development, maintenance and infrastructure perspective.
Not coincidentally, many companies have a major investment in the .NET framework and an IIS / SQL Server infrastructure. It doesn’t make much sense for a firm with Microsoft skills to look at Java-based solutions for their next website upgrade, so admittedly powerful tools like Adobe’s are a hard sell for them. What they need is a platform that can match Adobe feature-for-feature while allowing their technical teams some level of familiarity with the code base and infrastructure. In other words, they need a Microsoft solution.

A year ago, Microsoft’s answer was SharePoint, which is and was a great platform for corporate intranets. SharePoint’s web content management framework, coupled with the search capabilities, made it a decent choice for public-facing websites. So what happened? To summarize Rich, high licensing cost and lack of customer experience features made SharePoint a tough sell in the digital marketing space.

In the digital marketing and customer experience arena, that put SharePoint at the mercy of smaller, more agile solutions that weren’t encumbered with things like document collaboration, records retention policies, business process management or enterprise social networks (to name just a few).
At the same time, some of those smaller, more agile solutions were really starting to exploit this weakness in the SharePoint offering. Companies like Sitecore and Ektron, Microsoft partners all, increasingly found themselves in “coopetition” scenarios where they’d be bidding against (and beating) SharePoint-driven solutions for corporate internet sites.

This was bad news, both for Microsoft and its partners. For the next version of SharePoint, Microsoft chose wisely to invest in other, cloud-friendly workloads, and in turn, strengthened its partnership with companies such as Sitecore.
Just this month, Sitecore won Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year for 2014, beating out every single partner vendor. If you read between the lines, as Rich explains:

That sort of performance against hefty competition says a lot about Sitecore — but it also says something about Microsoft. Historically, how Microsoft hands out its Partner Awards can tell you a lot about what Microsoft’s goals were for that fiscal year, and who helped them get there.

Anecdotally, we can conclude that Microsoft sees the value in CXM and digital marketing, as demonstrated by the partner awards. Today, that value is provided by a partner. But what does tomorrow hold? Rich wraps up with a bit on that:

Tomorrow? Microsoft may well be getting back into this game. Not with SharePoint, certainly. It’s already acquired some social listening services and are starting to make some noise in that direction, though. It certainly has set a precedent for acquiring companies that help fill out their offering, from Groove to Skype through to Yammer. Maybe it’ll buy a CXM platform next. Nobody really can say. But until it does, it’s made its answer to the CXM question pretty clear — and a lot of happy Sitecore customers have nothing to quibble about.

And one of those happy Sitecore customers just so happens to be Perficient.
You can read the full article on

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Taylor Rhyne

I work closely with our content management practices and partners at Perficient to lead marketing efforts designed to increase awareness and impact pipeline. I have experience in a variety of industries and have spent the last decade creating multi-faceted campaigns, working to integrate various channels into the plan and maximize effectiveness.

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