How to describe Sitecore to a SharePoint Guy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 @ 02:19

By: Scott Gillis, Lead Consultant

The SharePoint Guy
I am a SharePoint guy; I have been working with SharePoint as a platform for nearly six years now, and blame my premature greys on SharePoint's little secrets. Recently, I was began to ramp up on a new platform called Sitecore. Why, you may ask? First, the boss said I needed to, but also I find it critical to have a well-rounded toolbox of well-respected options to present to a client.

Sitecore in the Toolbox
So why Sitecore? Anyone that has done even a little SharePoint work knows SharePoint does a few things really well (think collaboration and document management) and compromises on other items (enterprise social, branding, and web content management.) I will admit that Microsoft does a wonderful job recognizing the short falls and improving them in each new release, a big example for me is how social has evolved over the past three versions. In 2007 they laid some basic ground work, 2010 provided a fuller implementation and finally 2013 we have a very nice social experience much more reminiscent of how we spend our social lives in the interwebs.

An area that SharePoint is building toward in its slow methodical way is Web Content Management (WCM). Yes, you can host a public site on any version of SharePoint, with 2013 making leaps and bounds improvement, yet WCM still has the feeling of a nice to have feature with plenty of hoops to hop through.

There are numerous other WCM platforms, but Sitecore provides an excellent balance between developers creating the base site structure, content owners gathering 'thoughts', and an unparalleled presentation experience. Sitecore uses standard APS.NET web technologies within a Visual Studio Web Application project. Therefore, there are no messy XML and CAB files to build to deploy implementations just a few simple assemblies, all of which happens from the developer’s comfort in Visual Studio. Finally, let us not forget the clean HTML Sitecore generates further separating our presentation from our 'thoughts' and making the designer a happy person again. 

Sitecore is….what again?
SharePoint manages your Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, and the occasional list of details while Sitecore provides the platform to manage and then display your organization's 'thoughts' for the public.

Sitecore is a platform specifically designed to collect 'thoughts' (content) about your organization in a simple to manage manner, for future display to the public (your website audience.) Content that belongs on your website is usually abstract and does not fit into the nice idea of a single document or page that SharePoint pushes when designing a site. This separation of 'thoughts' and display gives Sitecore an upper hand in allowing you to build the web experience your public deserves!

If you are starting to feel a little excitement towards this Sitecore product, let me bring up the excellent Customer Engagement Platform (CEP.) From the SharePoint guy’s view, this is audience targeting on steroids. CEP is a way for you set up targeted ‘thoughts’ based on the current user’s current and past actions on your site, as well as how they arrived to your site. Now with a targeted web experience your public will enjoy spending time exploring your ‘thoughts.’

To my future clients reading, yes, my team can deploy your public site on SharePoint, but we strongly implore you to look at Sitecore, and consider the benefits and ease you could provide both your IT team and content owners by using a true WCM system instead.

Now that I have given you a taste as to what might exist outside your SharePoint fortress, I will explain the details of Sitecore through the lenses of a seasoned SharePoint developer to help you clearly see the benefits to Sitecore and how to leverage it to turn your ‘thoughts’ into a web experience deserving of the your public.

Scott Gillis, Lead Consultant at Paragon and 2017 Sitecore MVP, has been working with Sitecore for several years. He has a deep passion for helping clients leverage their content and data into powerful new capabilities in Sitecore and has produced successful outcomes as the technical lead on numerous, complex implementations. Recently, Scott has been focusing on helping these clients take advantage of the wealth of data collected by Sitecore Experience Analytics.