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Is an All-In-One CMS Platform the Answer?

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Episerver
Published on August 12, 2015

Is it better to select an all-in-one CMS or a platform that integrates with other systems? We share our expert opinion.

At Diagram, we work on the design and development of CMS-driven websites every day. As experts in a variety of Content Management System (CMS) platforms, we are often asked to help our clients decide how to choose a platform. One question that we often receive is whether it is a good idea to use a CMS that offers an “all-in-one” solution, so we wanted to look at the pros and cons of this type of platform.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, a large number of CMS platforms are flooding the marketplace, and many of the more popular platforms are marketing themselves on the features and functionalities that they offer. Upon learning about these features, website owners often believe that moving to a platform that “does everything” is a great way to begin executing on their digital strategy.

However, before moving to an all-in-one solution, we believe it is important for organizations to review which systems they currently have in place and how each of them fits into their overall strategy. Formulating a complete picture of your digital strategy will help determine whether the prospective CMS platform is a good fit for you.

All-In-One vs. Integrated Systems

While an all-in-one solution may seem appealing, before investing in a major shift in their digital strategy, website owners need to ask whether they are really going to stop utilizing all of the systems they currently have in place. If the new CMS platform offers marketing automation functionality, does that mean that you are you going to discontinue using your current Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)? If not, how will you synchronize the data between the two systems?

You’ll need to answer this question for each of the integrated systems you use, which is why it is extremely important to understand what is going to happen with your data when you move to your new CMS platform. Doing so will help eliminate the possibility of your data being stranded in data silos and preventing you from taking action on the business intelligence you are gathering.

This is why we like CMS platforms like EPiServer. While EPiServer does provide a certain level of all-in-one functionality, such as personalization and baseline analytics, it also integrates seamlessly with all of the systems you are utilizing today, whether that be a MAP, CRM, AMS, or any other third-party system. This gives you the opportunity to utilize the systems that work best for your organization and leverage this data to seamlessly personalize the customer experience through the CMS.

Principles of a Successful Digital Strategy 

To get the most out of your digital strategy, we recommend following these principles:

Utilize Best of Breed Solutions

In order to receive the best possible ROI for your digital strategy, you should utilize the best systems available (e.g. MAPs like HubSpot) and select a CMS that will integrate with these “best of breed” solutions. While some CMS platforms will offer similar solutions, they will not be able to provide the full functionality that you need, so it is preferable to utilize a tried and true system that you can be sure will meet your needs.

For instance, while a CMS platform may offer traffic analytics, the yearly R&D budget for a major analytics platform like Google Analytics is larger than then entire gross revenue of most of these CMS platforms. If this is the case, why would you want to try to use the rudimentary features of an all-in-one system when you can integrate with a best of breed solution instead?

Control Your Data

If you use the proprietary features of a CMS, do you know what will happen with your data if you decide to switch platforms in the future? For instance, if your CMS stores information like analytical historical data or MAP campaign data and visitor tracking, how will you get that information of out the CMS platform and into your new system? This may or may not be possible, and the last thing you want to do is lose all of the business intelligence you have gathered. When choosing your CMS platform, make sure you understand the risks involved and are able to control where your data lives.

Choosing the Right Solution

We’ve written before about the importance of utilizing systems for their intended purpose rather than trying to make them into something they aren’t designed to be, and this is something you should keep in mind when selecting the CMS platform that will play a key role in your digital strategy. While a platform that promises to handle everything in one location may seem appealing, it can lead to substandard results that don’t provide the functionality you need to achieve online success.

Do you need help determining which CMS platform will provide you with the functionality you need? Do you want to know more about how to integrate different systems and avoid data silos? Please contact us to speak with a Solutions Engineer, and we’ll help you find the solution that will meet the needs of your digital strategy and bring you the best ROI. Do you have any other questions or comments? Please share them below; we’d love to speak with you!