Are You Using SharePoint For Your Public Facing Website?

You may or may not be aware that in a January 2015 press release Microsoft announced its plan to discontinue support for the SharePoint Online “Public Website” feature. And whilst this feature won’t be available to new customers at all, existing customers will only be able to use it until March 2017. So the clock is clearly ticking…

Microsoft stated, “As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we periodically evaluate the capabilities of the service to make sure that we’re delivering the utmost value to customers. After careful consideration, we concluded that for public websites, Office 365 customers would be better served by third-party providers whose core competency is public websites. Therefore, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature so that we can focus our efforts and investments on delivering capabilities in Office 365 that will bring more value to our customers.”

The shortcomings of SharePoint

Whilst the lion share of SharePoint implementations are intranets and extranets, there are also a significant number of organizations that still use SharePoint for their public facing web & eCommerce sites.

For all of its flexibility, SharePoint is saddled with shortcomings:

  • Inability to do out-of-the box things like creating dynamic websites
  • Limited versioning capabilities
  • Inability to hold data in any other format than list and library
  • Inability to store files other than MS office files and pdfs
  • Limited workflows on authorable content
  • Inability to customize content editing experience
  • Inability to reuse content across multiple channels
  • Slow and challenging releases (upgrades)
  • Limited search capabilities
  • Working with external data is complex

What now?

Microsoft is recommending third-party providers for both, new and old customers that will enable them to have a public website that provides a complete online solution and presence. Out of all the providers, Sitecore has emerged as the popular choice for a complete Web Content Management System (WCMS).

Microsoft and Sitecore’s alliance grows in more ways than one

Microsoft has been a Sitecore Platinum Technology Partner for a number of years. Further strengthening of this partnership was evident in a July 2016 news release, in which Microsoft and Sitecore announced plans to expand their long-standing strategic alliance to enrich Sitecore's Microsoft Azure cloud offerings over the next two years. Paving the way for customers to achieve greater digital transformation at a much faster pace.

What is great about Sitecore?

Sitecore is a complete enterprise-grade Web Content Management and Customer Experience platform with a .NET foundation for hosting public websites. It has become extremely popular among Microsoft partners and customers.

Some of the many benefits of Sitecore include:

  • Strong product strategy, vision and roadmap
  • Intuitive user interface and overall ease of use
  • Ease of development and integration
  • Multiple ways to enter the content. It is tailored to best suit the needs of the content editors
  • Built-in, strong localization support for hundreds of languages
  • Ideal architecture for dynamic sites
  • Exceptional marketing automation that completes the picture
  • Applicable to many business scenarios
  • Strong workflow processes with customizations
  • Incredible level of security
  • Seamless SharePoint to Sitecore migration due to a number of pre built connectors and API’s

It is also worth noting that 2016 is the 7th year that Sitecore has been recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management solutions.

So is it the end of road for SharePoint?

As a Web Content Management solution yes.

However, SharePoint has taken center stage in Microsoft’s bid to rule our professional domain — both on the desktop and on our increasing communities of mobile operating systems.

As part of Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription model, they are positioning SharePoint as the leader in business collaboration.

Further evidence of this was revealed by Gartner, positioning Microsoft as leaders in both the Unified Communication and Social Software in the Workplace Magic Quadrants in 2016.

In Summary

If your organization has its public facing website on SharePoint, and, the current and future business requirements demand a true web content management and customer experience platform, there is a clear need for migration to an alternative WCMS with sound capabilities.

Nathan Hedley

Fishtank Consulting Corp.

nhedley@getfishtank.ca

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