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

Gary Eisenstein

By Gary Eisenstein

January 16, 2020

Corporate Name: Crownpeak Technology, Inc. Web: www.crownpeak.com
Founded: 2001 Get in Touch: 1-800-887-1944
Corporate Office: Denver, Colorado Worldwide Locations: 3
CEO: Ravi Kumaraswami — Since 2017 Worldwide Employees: 200
Platform Type: C# .NET Current Version: Evergreen (Versionless)
Licensing Model: SaaS Cloud Licensing Cost: By Request
Support: Service Level Agreement GitHub Account: www.github.com/crownpeak
Trial (Sandbox) Version: Not Available Online Demo: By Request
North American Service Partners: 10-plus Certfied Global Service Partners: 15-plus Certified

Crownpeak provides an enterprise-grade, cloud-native platform with built-in quality assurance that gives you everything you need to deliver high-quality, contextual experiences across hundreds of touchpoints anywhere in the world. The Crownpeak DXM platform, which also performs as their WCM solution, empowers Fortune 2,000 companies to quickly and easily create, deploy and optimize customer experiences across global digital touchpoints at scale. Besides featuring content management, personalization, search, and hosting, Crownpeak's digital experience platform also includes built-in Digital Quality Management (DQM) to ensure brand integrity, best practices, and web accessibility compliance. Recently, Crownpeak acquired Evidon, the leading provider of simple technical solutions to complex digital Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) challenges, including a new Universal Consent Platform, designed to help companies comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

HISTORY

Crownpeak was formed in 2001, with the mission to provide marketers a faster way to publish and manage websites by launching the first CMS to be delivered as a hosted service, the precursor to the SaaS model. Not content with being the first hosted service, Crownpeak evolved its SaaS environment to become the only true multi-tenant WCM solution. In 2010, Crownpeak forged ahead to become the only open cloud platform for Web Experience Management, and more recently, joining forces with ActiveStandards to become the only cloud-based CMS that can deploy and maintain high-quality experiences across all digital touchpoints.  

Built from the ground up as a SaaS platform, Crownpeak’s easy to launch fast to execute kind of positioning is perfectly suited for customers looking for a lighter weight, faster to deploy solution, not wanting to do upgrades and worry about versioning issues,” states Darren Guarnaccia, Crownpeak’s Chief Product Officer. “And as we watch the rest of the market play catchup turning on-premise platforms to cloud solutions, customers are finding out that you can't go back and rewrite a platform to be SaaS”, said Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Product Officer at Crownpeak.

More recently, Crownpeak achieved Amazon Web Services Digital Customer Experience Competency status. This designation recognizes that Crownpeak provides proven technology and deep expertise to help Digital Customer Experience customers, by providing end-to-end solutions for all phases of the digital customer acquisition and retention life cycle. In 2017 Crownpeak acquired Evidon, one of the world’s largest ad-blocking technologies.  Evidon had built up a huge collection of ad technology, which meant they could pick up JavaScript tags, ad patterns and snippets of code, and trace them to the vendor.

In late 2019, Crownpeak announced a new Privacy and Consent Management extension for Adobe’s Cloud Platform tag-management facility.

KEY CAPABILITIES

Crownpeak fully supports headless content delivery and allows created content to be repurposed across multiple channels, supporting any web development environment, including .NET, Java, PHP, and others.

One of our key platform features is that we automatically and silently conduct upgrades once every two weeks or 24 times a year. In addition, Crownpeak allows customers to launch a website from scratch in as little as 6-weeks from an easy-to-use interface that requires no coding knowledge,” stated Darren.

Key features and functionalities include:

  • Cloud-native with Built-in Quality Assurance
  • Publish Once & Deploy Everywhere
  • Experience Optimization & Governance
  • Social Media Management
  • Fast to Deploy & Easy to Use   
  • Headless Solution
  • Built to Scale
  • Flexible Integration
  • Personalization and A/B Testing
  • Multi-site Management
 

ECOMMERCE CAPABILITIES

Although Crownpeak does not currently provide an eCommerce solution, look for this to change in early 2020. Crownpeak has recently partnered with Falcon-Software to develop and maintain a commercetools solution with a release date set for 2020.

DIGITAL EXPERIENCE CAPABILITIES

Crownpeak offers a suite of powerful tools that deliver enterprise-grade digital experiences in one of the industry’s fastest time-to-market. With a unique cloud-native, decoupled architecture, you can integrate existing applications and tools, deliver trust-building privacy opportunities, and execute digital experiences with confidence.

Key DXP features and functionalities include:

  • Omnichannel Experiences
  • Globalization & Localization
  • Experience Optimization & Governance
  • SaaS Delivery Services
  • Digital Asset Management  
  • Multi-site Management
  • SEO & Site Search Tools
  • Privacy UX
  • Integration Tools
  • Digital Quality Management
 

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS

Crownpeak technology partners play a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of their platform, leveraging connectors and integrations with over 50-plus applications including marketing, CRM, and language solutions. Crownpeak supports any customer back-office system with a REST-based, bi-directional, 25-method API.

Key technology partners include:

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Box (File-Sharing Service)
  • Webtrends (Web Analytics)
  • Lingotek (Cloud-based Translations)
  • Salesforce (CRM Solution) 
  • Adobe Solution Partner
  • Demandbase (Account-based Marketing)
  • Janrain (User Management Platform)
  • Marketo (Marketing Automation)
  • SDL (Language Solutions)
 

STRENGTHS

Crownpeak's Point of View

One of Crownpeak’s core strengths is being a version-less SaaS platform with silent upgrades.

Another core strength is its decoupled architecture, which allows them to deliver technology agnostically, whether you use PHP, Java, .NET, etc. Also, as a SaaS vendor, they focus on making deployments lighter with low-code or no-code options for that quick-to-market approach.

Finally, Crownpeak ensures the highest security protections at all layers of the technology stack. Its Advanced Cybersecurity and Edge Protection service can also be added to any Crownpeak subscription.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"Crownpeak, being developed as a software architecture (SaaS) system, always offer the advantage of being on the latest version for its customers. There is no upgrade wait time to the latest version or extra cost. The system has a decoupled deployment structure; content authors are able to create, manage and push content globally (in various languages) with less efforts and shorter turnaround times when it comes to delivering complex digital projects without any IT involvement. The workflow structure and content management process allow non-technical users to create state of the art customer experiences with limited teams. In-built DQM (Digital Quality Management) tool gives the marketing teams the ability to audit their content for accuracy and accessibility. 
 
As for the development team’s simplistic approach it gives the developers the flexibility to implement their code rapidly with the use of component-based templates. The CMS is easy to set-up and can be ready within a few weeks compared to months in a traditional WCM. User configuration, roles, and managing access are smooth; active directory configuration allows users to access the platform with their corporate credential which is a simple set-up. Another key benefit of the system is interoperability; it is easily integrated with 3rd party platforms, Crownpeak provides at least 60+ out of the box connectors that comes as part of the Crownpeak CMS console. 
 
With the recent announcement of the launch of the Crownpeak Community platform, the company is expanding its technical support for the development and content author community."

WEAKNESSES

Crownpeak's Point of View

Crownpeak has lost opportunities when organizations want the software to run in their own datacenter, which they cannot support. Although Crownpeak can deliver customer experiences on-premise, they can't run its WCM solution on-premise.

Crownpeak has also received feedback from its partners that deployment timelines are sometimes a little too light, meaning certain large system integrators don't like dealing with solutions that are not a ten-to-one, software-to-services ratio. Crownpeak is closer to a one-to-one ratio.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"Error handling is difficult."

"Branching for helpers and templates very hard."

"Slow speed in browser if there are too many lines of codes."

"No support for Mac Visual studio."

"There is no built-in user management for site users."

KEY DIFFERENTIATOR

Crownpeak's Point of View

Running your WCM solution like the rest of your marketing technology stack is the right methodology. Most digital marketing tools and platforms are SaaS, and a content management system that works and behaves in the same manner, such as Crownpeak, is well-positioned in the market space.

Also, marketing has become needlessly complex, and there is the desire out there to move to simplification and rationalization in every market. With that said, a core differentiator for Crownpeak is its focus to simplify and make it easier to get the job done by delivering what users need versus wading through twenty pounds of features you’ll never use. 

Implementation Partner's Point of View

"SaaS model with no need for system updates."

"Enterprise Scalability and Workflows."

TRAINING & SUPPORT

Crownpeak provides onsite or virtual training for developers. The training curriculum allows developers to be able to create templates, components, workflows, users, and permissions and set up integrations with Crownpeak Search. As part of the implementation process, Crownpeak also provides training for the marketing and content authors on the templates and components that are specifically built for them to use. This also includes setting up user guides and other knowledge bases to ensure they have key information within the platform. Additionally, customers have access to the Crownpeak Community, which contains various video tutorials and other forms of content on how to leverage and use the Crownpeak platform.

Crownpeak expert help and support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Crownpeak DXM is delivered exclusively as a SaaS offering. Crownpeak DXM's exclusive SaaS model enables software updates to all core functionality (features/functions, performance improvements, security/vulnerability patches) to be transparently deployed on a bi-weekly basis — greatly reducing overall TCO, enabling marketers to immediately react to customer demand, and relieving the brand exposure normally associated with lengthy software upgrade cycles. All updates to Crownpeak DXM are included in the Crownpeak subscription. In addition, every Crownpeak customer is assigned a named Customer Success Manager to help align Crownpeak with your project success criteria and ensuring that you are making the most of the wide feature/tool-set included within the project to overseeing Crownpeak support escalations, product roadmap requests, and management.

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER PROCESS

Crownpeak has 15 trained and certified implementation partners worldwide, and although the number may seem low in comparison to others in this review, their strategy is quality over quantity with a small but elite group of implementation partners. Crownpeak takes on only the best-in-class partners that they trust to deliver successful projects. 

In addition, Crownpeak takes a very different approach to its partner channel, where enablement takes on a high value with a high touch point approach.  Partners can expect several touches that are designed to create well-positioned, well-developed partners in the field, including a 55-point checklist designed to set the bar of what partners should expect and measure Crownpeak.

Developer training is held monthly at no cost. Developer certification is also available following training at no additional cost to get the majority if not all partners’ developers certified. Crownpeak has an active community and expert access for questions at any time at community.crownpeak.com and quarterly product launch reviews, providing partners with early access to new releases and what is being worked on for the next quarter.

CUSTOMERS

Worldwide Deployments: 500-plus

Top Market Sectors: 

  • Financial Services
  • Life Sciences
  • Tech Companies 
  • Consumer Industries


Notable Crownpeak Brand-Name Customers:

  • Toyota
  • Freddie Mac
  • Unilever
  • Sony 
  • Nestlé
  • American Express
  • Oracle
  • Prudential
  • Delta Airlines
  • Canon

Customer Comments:

Sean Brasher, Sr. Director of Web Technology, Healthgrades
"Because our customers rely on our expertise to get their websites deployed quickly, we couldn’t risk that manual upgrades would slow us down. Because Crownpeak DXM is a native SaaS solution, upgrades are automatic, so our customers are always on the latest version.” 

Katherine Attoe, IT Business Partner Global Communications Manager, Unilever
"The feedback from users so far has been very positive. If you’re a busy web editor managing an in-country site, DQM is a great tool to assist you. It helps make sure you’re compliant, meeting best practices, and achieving the same results locally as your global counterparts.” 

Emanuela Tasinato, Digital Experience, Toyota Motor Europe
"A critical requirement was to ensure that the localization requirements of the markets would be fully supported. “There is a balance between making quality management as simple and centralized as possible and catering to every market’s specific needs. We needed a solution with the power and flexibility to do both, which is why we selected Crownpeak DQM.” 
 

 Customer comments and testimonials are all third-party verified

Featured Case Study

The Evolution of Digital Experience Delivery for Healthcare

FUTURE ROADMAP

Crownpeak’s future roadmap strategy comes down to three themes. Being highly connected and integrated, highly interoperable as the most usable WCM for marketers, and being the fastest WCM in terms of bulk deployment speeds.

As Darren shared, “Our first big initiative that we're focusing on is opening up the platform to build an ecosystem of connected, integrated parts with hundreds of connectors such as commerce platforms, customer data platforms, marketing solutions, and automation tools. This will be achieved by building out a highly connected infrastructure that marketers can actually deploy without having to invoke IT sources.  The second big area of focus is around usability and ease-of-use for marketers such as natural language generation and AI tools.  The last area of focus is faster delivery for faster experiences by rebuilding our developer tools in a way that works best for our customers and implementation partners.”  

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 3
Leadership and Positive Industry Recognition 4
Wide Selection of Features and Functionalities 3
Well-defined Differentiators 4
Offers Headless and/or Decoupled Architectures 5
* eCommerce Offering 1
Cloud Capabilities 5
Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Offerings 3
Ability to Integrate with Pairing Technologies 3
Stable Platform with an Active Number of Deployments 4
Strong Customer References 3
Presales and Post-sales Support 3
Trained, Certified, and Experienced Implementation Partners 3
Clear and Well-defined Future Roadmap 3
Overall Performance Score — Very Good 48

Although Crownpeak does not currently provide an eCommerce solution, look for this to change in early 2020. Crownpeak has recently partnered with Falcon-Software to develop and maintain a commercetools eCommerce solution with a release date set for 2020.

ANNUAL HOSTED EVENTS

Crownpeak’s annual event is Crownpeak Empower held in the UK and USA. The event is designed to bring Crownpeak customers from different industries together to get to know one another and share digital marketing stories.

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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.

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