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A Fair Review of the Top Mid-Market CMS for 2020 — Agility CMS

Gary Eisenstein

By Gary Eisenstein

January 16, 2020

Corporate Name: Agility CMS Web: www.agilitycms.com
Founded: 2002 Get in Touch: 1-416-591-2500
Corporate Office: Toronto, Canada Worldwide Locations: 2
CEO:  Jonathan Voigt — Since 2013  Worldwide Employees: 12
Platform Type: JAMStack/Gatsby Current Version: Evergreen (Versionless) 
Licensing Model: SaaS Subscription-based Licensing Cost:  Available Online
Support:  Service Level Agreement GitHub Account:  www.github.com/agility
Trial (Sandbox) Version:  Free Trial Online Demo:  By Request
North American Service Partners: 6-plus, Certified Global Service Partners: 9-plus, Certified 

With offices located in Toronto and Vancouver and employees across Canada and the USA, Agility CMS is a Cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), multi-tenanted solution. It is hosted in Microsoft Azure in multiple regions. Being a cloud-based SaaS platform means that there is no installation required, no versions or upgrades to worry about, and as Agility engineers add on more components, customers can easily take advantage of new benefits. The Agility CMS platform empowers its users to create, customize, and manage websites, eCommerce, and ticketing solutions from a central hub to deliver personalized content. Agility is also a Microsoft Gold Partner.

HISTORY

Agility CMS's origins date back to when it was founded in 2002 by Jonathan Voigt and Michael Assad as a web development consultancy firm called Edentity. The company started off developing personal websites and evolved into a content management product and services agency in 2005. In 2013, Jonathan Voigt bought out Michael Assad’s interest in the company and expanded the professional services side of the business. Agility CMS relaunched in 2016, calling itself a ‘digital experience platform.’ The company further refocused in 2018 as a SaaS business and sold its professional services division to IMC Business Associates. 

Jonathan Voigt, CEO and Co-Founder at Agility CMS, shared, “We are growing faster than ever in terms of the Agility platform itself. In order to truly take advantage of the growth of the platform, we’re working closer than ever with partners and making them our primary focus. This includes shared sales efforts, deeper roadmap discussions, increased implementation support, and a focus helping them be more agile in every way. I personally can’t wait to launch all the new support tools and partner-focused events next year.” 

Agility CMS focused their efforts in the media entertainment industry working with Bell Media, Rogers Media, and Cineplex Entertainment, eventually broadening out into other industries acquiring accounts such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Hockey Canada, and PepsiCo. In 2018, Agility CMS expanded its partner network and carried out a rebrand in 2019, focusing on the headless approach with its decoupled cloud architecture. In keeping with its renewed objective on partner relationships, Agility CMS also launched an education series of events and workshops in late 2019. 

“We are no longer competing with our partners, but rather using our experiences in building out agile, highly-effective development teams, in order to help our partners to deliver amazing experiences to our customers,” stated Joel Varty, VP of Innovation & Development at Agility. "This is a new beginning for Agility, and the first step in a series of announcements."

KEY CMS CAPABILITIES

Agility CMS believes they can assist clients with being more nimble across all their digital channels and roll out solutions faster with built-in eCommerce, ticketing, and website search while managing everything from one central platform with unlimited flexibility and scale. With Agility CMS, customers can use the REST API or the sync SDK (or both) to interact with their content. Agility supports server-rendered websites, single-page-applications, or statically generated websites. Customers can mix and match the features they need, from web content management to user-generated content. Agility hosts and completely abstracts away clients’ databases, so they never have to worry about maintenance or backups.

“The key capabilities of Agility is its faster performance, bringing more integration and flexibility to our customers. And we do that with an array of all-in-one features. So we're a headless CMS giving the API capabilities and that flexibility that you get with a content-first approach with page management, eCommerce, ticketing, and search all in one. So we have the features of a traditional CMS and all the benefits of a headless CMS combined in one,” said Jonathan.

Jonathan further explained, “As a multitenant application hosted in the cloud, we manage all the upgrades, so customers never have to pay for an upgrade. They're always on the latest version, and we do weekly updates that include anything from bug fixes to new features to security patches. And that's an ongoing process that allows us to keep ahead of the curve and to have that agile methodology of deploying and supporting our platform.”

Key WCM features and functionalities include:

  • Headless CMS
  • Out-of-Box Page Management
  • User-generated Content
  • Managed Cloud Hosting
  • Prebuilt Templates
  • Open Rest APIs
  • GDPR Compliant
  • Agility Search
  • Multilingual and Multichannel
  • Dashboards and Reports
 

ECOMMERCE CAPABILITIES

eCommerce is an add-on component to the Agility Content Manager and is available as part of its licensing agreement. Agility eCommerce provides the ability to sell products and tickets through a website or using the Agility Point of Sale (POS) app, enables its users to manage orders, tickets or products, customers, promotions, POS, and settings. Agility eCommerce provides insight and visibility into results through custom and built-in reports to empower clients to know what's selling, what's working, what's hot, and what's trending — transforming the audience into engagement and actual revenue with built-in scalability.

“On days, like Black Friday, your site will stay up, and that's what we've seen from our customers. Our eCommerce is a data-driven, API driven architecture, which is more of a headless eCommerce offering… headless ecommerce on top of a headless CMS offering and powered by the cloud,” said Joel Varty.

Key eCommerce features and functionalities include:

  • Built-in Ticket Sales and Management
  • Dashboards and Reports
  • Headless eCommerce
  • Point of Sale (POS) Solution
  • Data and API Driven Architecture
  • Promotions Management
  • Built-in Scalability
  • Order Management
  • Shipping and Fulfillment Management
  • Managed Hosting
 

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS

 

Key technology partners include:

  • Microsoft Azure (Cloud Service)
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • Stripe (Payment Provider)
  • Zapier (Social Automation)
  • StackPath (CDN Services)
  • Cloudflare (CDN Services)
  • Google Analytics (Web Analytics)
  • Moneris Solutions (Payment Processing)
  • Star Micronics (POS Hardware)
  • Salesforce (CRM and Marketing Software)
 

STRENGTHS

Agility CMS's Point of View

According to Agility, the number one strength of the platform would be the speed of getting projects out the door. Everything from pressing one button to get signed up and developing, to rolling it out, and ongoing updates. The second strength would be Agility’s flexibility and the way the system was built to easily integrate with other systems without deterring customers from any design direction they want to go. With the front end being headless, users get APIs to program in any language they want.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"Outside of customer service excellence, the strengths of Agility CMS are best described by key areas of impact:

  • Speed to market — Agility enables us to develop projects faster than on other platforms.
  • Design possibilities — As a user centric agency, we love the absolute creative freedom building on Agility affords.
  • Scalability — Agility allows our clients to scale their digital properties due to ability to easily add features such as multiple languages, eCommerce, and ticketing."

"Of most importance is the simplicity and usability of the authoring interface. That is what makes our end client most happy."

WEAKNESSES

Agility CMS's Point of View

Agility’s greatest weakness is its relatively small footprint in the industry, and their modest CMS features list. It doesn't necessarily limit customers once they start using the platform, but it does draw concern for those looking for a more robust, full-feature list platform, or companies with more visibility throughout the North American landscape.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"Over the past 10 years developing on Agility we have witnessed the company experience small growing pains and while we find it difficult to identify substantial weaknesses, perhaps the depth and breadth of platform documentation would be an area of improvement for Agility."

KEY DIFFERENTIATORS

Agility CMS's Point of View

Helping customers and partners be more agile, efficient, and better at what they do are the company’s core differentiators. Agility is small enough that they can provide a high level of attention to everyone but big enough that they are able to support enterprise-level needs, all managed from one central platform to empower customers with unlimited flexibility and scale. The other differentiator is Agility’s architecture, with technical and usability benefits combining best-of-breed with traditional best-of-suite features.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"What differentiates Agility from other CMS options is the combination of exceptional customer service, headless infrastructure, and its ability to easily scale and extend as our client's business grow."

"We believe the product road map for Agility is inspiring as the company plans to incorporate advanced personalization and eCommerce features."

TRAINING & SUPPORT

Agility CMS does not offer a structured customer training program. Customer training, for the most part, is conducted by the implementation partners. Agility CMS has a robust knowledge-base for editors, developers, and partners that includes ecosystem documentation, GitHub, video guides, and educational resources.

“A lot of the training is done one-to-one with the partner and the customer, and it will be specific to their implementation, so our partners are able to provide unique training specific to that customer’s needs,” said Joel.

Agility CMS has a couple of different tiers of support. The base level is their online ‘help yourself’ support through Agility’s Help Centre, which also includes free access to live chat support. Customers at the next level receive a service-level agreement (SLA), which provides support such as email and phone support. Finally, Agility CMS 
has professional and enterprise packages for customers to receive dedicated account managers with access to developer resources where Agility can work directly with customers’ development teams. 

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER PROCESS

Agility CMS previously had a full implementation agency in-house working directly with customers to help them be successful. Today, Agility works solely through a trained and experienced partner channel, building trusting relationships with a solid foundation to meet customers’ deployment needs. Agility CMS has partners around the globe that can work cooperatively as a strategic team or simply assist with implementing what’s already been envisioned. The first step Agility CMS takes in on-boarding a new implementation partner is to understand if there's an actual alignment fit. The partners then go through technical developer training sessions, followed by a sales and marketing training and architecture training session. Agility CMS works closely with its new partners on the first few projects, with new partners achieving full certification by Agility CMS after the third successful project completion. There is a cost for partner training, which can be conducted on-site or online.

CUSTOMERS

Worldwide Deployments: 150-plus

Top Market Sectors:

  • Media & Entertainment
  • Associations
  • Higher Education
  • Logistics
  • Non-profit Cultural and Arts
  • Tourism
  • Consumer Product Goods
  • Property Managment
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial


Notable Agility Brand-Name Customers:

  • Cineplex Entertainment
  • Hockey Canada
  • Visit Orlando
  • Mitsubishi
  • California State University
  • Loblaws/Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Scotiabank
  • Greenshield
  • Polaroid
  • Schneider National

Customer Comments:

Craig Cameron, Director, Web and Digital Properties at Hockey Canada
"The Agility team is knowledgeable and works diligently to ensure the success of its clients. The platform is flexible and powerful enough for all of our projects while remaining approachable for a range of non-technical staff."

Jeffrey Kent, Former Chief Technology Officer at Cineplex Entertainment
"The platform provides a consistent user experience for our content team to easily make updates to movie/theatre details, content and metadata, news, blogs, contests and more."

Andrea Di Tomas, Graphic Arts Technician at the English Montreal School Board
We have been working with Agility for just over two years. The easy-to-use platform provides the flexibility we need to easily create and publish content to all of our websites. Their excellent customer service team and online support library are great resources for our team to learn and grow with the Agility CMS platform.”
 

 Customer comments and testimonials are all third-party verified

Featured Case Study



Hockey Canada Selected Agility CMS to Rebuild its Online Presence

FUTURE ROADMAP

Agility’s CMS's roadmap is focused on ensuring customers are moving faster, with more flexibility. They are carrying on with the foundational work that they've been doing over the last year, opening up the SDK’s and development layers so that partners and customers can build more easily. On top of that, Agility is looking at tweaking the UI to take advantage of more efficient steps and flows within the user interface.

As Jonathan mentioned, “We have plans this coming year to start rolling out different components that will allow users to do their job faster, we don't feel our system is really missing any major features, so it's really about going back and optimizing the features we do have.”

At present, Agility CMS has an all-in-one content management, eCommerce, ticketing, and search solution. Joel shared how Agility’s future plans are to invest in how each of those four components can work better together, and how Agility can expand them out with additional SDK’s. “We have JavaScript APIs, but we're going to continually rewrite and revamp, and because the JavaScript language evolves so quickly, we will be continuing to evolve with that. Also, bring more language support to our SDK, sort of a dedicated language support on top, because we've recently open-sourced our SDK. Then we want our open-source community to be able to contribute towards that as well.”

PERFORMANCE GUIDE

CMS-Connected's performance guide is based on our interviews with the vendor, their implementation and technical partners, customers, and leading industry analysts.

Category Scoring: 5 = Excellent | 4 = Very Good | 3 = Good | 2 = Satisfactory | 1 = Unsatisfactory

Overall Performance Scoring: 57–70 = Excellent | 43–56 = Very Good | 29–42 = Good | 15–28 = Satisfactory | 1–14 = Unsatisfactory

Performance Category Scoring
Strong North American Footprint with a Global Presence 1
Leadership and Positive Industry Recognition 3
Wide Selection of Features and Functionalities 3
Well-defined Differentiators 4
Offers Headless and/or Decoupled Architectures 4
eCommerce Offering 3
Cloud Capabilities 5
Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Offerings 3
Ability to Integrate with Pairing Technologies 2
Stable Platform with an Active Number of Deployments 2
Strong Customer References 2
Presales and Post-sales Support 4
Trained, Certified, and Experienced Implementation Partners 3
Clear and Well-defined Future Roadmap 3
Overall Performance Score — Good 42

ANNUAL HOSTED EVENTS

Agility’s annual event is called Agility Days Customer & Partner Summit, with the next event taking place in May of 2020. Agility Days is a summit that endeavors to bring Agility CMS customers and partners together for deeper learning, product training, thought leadership, and networking. 

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Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 26-years and is a Principal Analyst at CMS-Connected Media Corp. and is the Founder and CEO of Falcon-Software Company. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on how to evolve your digital transformation journey, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cmscmedia.com.