A Fair Review of the Top Mid-Market CMS for 2020 — Progress Sitefinity
Progress Software (NASDAQ: PRGS) offers powerful tools to easily build adaptive user experiences across any type of device or touchpoint. Functionality and features include the flexibility of a cloud-native app dev platform to deliver modern apps, leading data connectivity technology, web content management, business rules, secure file transfer, network monitoring, plus award-winning machine learning that enables cognitive capabilities to be a part of any application. Over 1,700 independent software vendors, 100,000 enterprise customers, and two million developers rely on Progress to power their applications.
Sitefinity CMS was launched in 2008 by a Sofia, Bulgaria firm called Telerik, and purchased by Progress Software for $262.5M in October 2014. Telerik’s portfolio at the time also included a .NET toolbox and a mobile development platform, as well as access to a developer community of over 1.4M people. Sitefinity became part of the Progress Software toolset and now belongs to the enterprise tools division. Progress Software was co-founded by several MIT graduates in 1981. Initially called Data Language Corporation, the company changed its name in 1987 to match that of its flagship product, Progress.
"Numerous large organizations, government agencies, financial institutions, and Fortune 500 companies have entrusted Progress Sitefinity over the years with delivering their web presence and engaging digital experiences,” states Sergei Sokolov, Director of Product Management at Progress.
Progress Sitefinity content management system features an intuitive interface with contextual guidance. Business users can create customer experiences with personalized content, run digital marketing campaigns, and conduct eCommerce on any device, in multiple languages, while letting technical resources focus on innovation rather than maintenance.
“As digital experiences rapidly evolve, organizations are looking to their web content management systems to help them keep pace, and Progress continues to deliver what they need. We believe that being named an October 2019 Customers’ Choice for WCM represents the commitment we have to provide a world-class product combined with outstanding customer experience,” said Yogesh Gupta, CEO, Progress.
Sitefinity CMS’s built-in responsive design engine adapts pages and navigation for any device and screen-size automatically, based on pre-defined rules, so your website looks great no matter where it’s viewed. In addition, the Sitefinity Mobile App Builder enables you to create mobile apps in a snap by simply checking a box to re-purpose content. Progress Sitefinity is now cloud-native and available as a WCM Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering. As a PaaS, Sitefinity Cloud enables IT to reduce infrastructure management overhead and marketing to engage audiences across a broad array of digital touchpoints. Sitefinity Cloud enables system integrators, digital agencies, and end-users to develop, run and manage Sitefinity-powered digital experiences without the complexity of building and maintaining infrastructure.
Sergei adds, “We have both built-in presentation delivery options where we use our own MVC render, and we have very flexible headless options for content. We have customers using our CMS both ways. Basically, it's a hybrid decoupled CMS. We have flexible connectivity with the marketing tools and technologies. Largely they're focused on marketing automation and CRMs. There are some built-in connectors and third-party connectors. And, we have an analytics module, which historically has been called Sitefinity Digital Experience Cloud."
Key features and functionalities include:
- Inline Editing
- Content Personalization
- Digital Asset Management
- Approval Workflows
- Rapid Development & Flexible Deployment
- Drag and Drop Layouts
- Multisite & Multilingual Management
- Headless Content Delivery
- CRM & Marketing Automation
- Hosted on Microsoft Azure
Complete List of CMS Features
Sitefinity Digital Commerce provides an integrated and scalable solution with multisite, multi-storefront inventory, and order management out of the box. Sitefinity Digital Commerce enables marketing to easily set up and manage product catalogs and departments from a central system, promoting products to specific customers. Accepts online payments from any device through integration with multiple payment gateways or redirect payment transactions through third-party websites and processes online and offline orders and manages pending, paid, shipped, or returned status.
“Customers can buy a complete CMS plus eCommerce out-of-box solution directly from Progress Sitefinity, and on the opposite side, we offer commerce integrations with three systems – Ucommerce, ROC Commerce, and SmarterCommerce, and we are looking at adding more commerce integration in the near future,” says Sergei.
Key eCommerce features and functionalities include:
- Product Catalogs
- Targeted Offers
- Order Management
- Drag and Drop Widgets
- Ucommerce Integration
- Multiple Storefronts
- Payment Processing
- Integrated & Scalable
- LiveChat Extension
- SmarterCommerce Integration
Complete List of eCommerce Features
DIGITAL EXPERIENCE CAPABILITIES
Progress Sitefinity Digital Experience Cloud (DEC) is a unified marketing command center that enables marketers to drive growth by understanding and optimizing every customer’s individual journey.
As Sergei explains, “We view experiences as a creative combination of content code and data. And we believe that those three elements need to be equally weighted or weighted depending on the context to support the right experience, through the right channel, for the right context,” states Sergei. “Our approach to building a DXP solution is not necessarily that it's a one skew platform, but rather multiple platform offerings such as OpenEdge, which is a platform that Progress was founded on, and Kinvey, a serverless platform that allows us to address the mobile development market in particular. So depending on which context an enterprise operates in and what kind of audience they have and what kind of experiences they may need to build, there can be a creative combination of these platforms plus other components that Progress offers.”
Key DXP features and functionalities include:
- Audience Discovery
- 360 Contact Profiling
- Predictive Analytics
- A/B Testing
- Audience Segmentation
- Tailored Messaging
- Machine Learning Insights
- Security & Compliance
- GDPR-related Tools
Complete List of DXP Features
Progress Sitefinity's technology partners include:
- Siteimprove (Intelligence Platform)
- Salesforce (CRM)
- SYSTRAN Neural (Machine Translation)
- Lionbridge (Translation & Localization)
- LiveChat (Messaging & Chat)
- Cludo (AI Site Search)
- HubSpot (Automated Marketing)
- Microsoft Dynamics (CRM-365)
- Marketo (Automated Marketing)
- Oracle Eloqua (Lead Nurturing)
Complete List of Technology Partners
Progress's Point of View
Progress Sitefinity provides a rich toolset for automatically connecting visitors with personalized content. These content personalizations can be incredibly rich and are easily tested by impersonating each defined audience. Sitefinity’s page editor makes it easy to create dynamic content by interacting with user-friendly interfaces. Content is created by simply dragging and dropping widgets onto a page. Once in place, widgets can be edited through a guided interface that produces content consistent with the website's design. Progress Sitefinity provides an extensive toolset for addressing the challenges associated with managing a modern website. Solutions for mobile, email campaigns, social media, eCommerce, blogs, forums, search, and much more.
Progress Sitefinity also has very strong security with the latest identity management solutions baked right in and supporting a range of Active Directory solutions, including Azure AD. Azure AD is the basis for user management and Sitefinity Cloud. It's built into Azure, providing both high security in managing user access in complying with various regulations, whether it's GDPR, or various other emerging regulations, whether it's in Canada or California and supporting Single Sign-On (SSO) while being secure.
Implementation Partners' Point of View
"Sitefinity is one of the most user-friendly CMS products on the market, which is why we recommend it to organizations that have an active marketing group."
"Since Progress has taken ownership of the product, there have been great advancements in areas that support digital ecosystems that want to pursue heavy integration into other platforms, and move into new areas such as IoT and Machine Learning based data analysis."
"For organizations that are looking for an easy and intuitive user experience with lots of out-of-the-box enterprise features, and with a price point that rivals more expensive software, this is a perfect fit. This product is also built with an MVC based approach, so integration with other software and hardware is one of the most compelling reasons to work with Sitefinity."
"Drag and drop editing is intuitive for users. There are advanced multi-level granular permissions available for custom requirements. Tjhe System API has matured well and provides advanced functionality for developers to harness. Page templates are easy to design and customize using the visual template designer interface. A powerful event system allows custom logic to be developed and integrated into the sub-system of all modules and pages"
Progress's Point of View
Progress Sitefinity feels that the conversation of best-in-suite versus best-of-breed has, at times, worked against them. Compared to some other massive offerings, Progress Sitefinity recognizes its limitations and instead focuses on specific areas without trying to build everything themselves. For example, Sitefinity had an eCommerce offering that was simply not good enough to meet their customers’ expectations. Thus, they decided to mothball their eCommerce and instead go with third-party solutions.
Progress Sitefinity has been in transition-mode for some time now with regards to their backend UI, with a piece-by-piece migration strategy that they hope will be completed in 2020. This, unfortunately, has caused a disjointed experience for some users, but that’s the price they paid in trying to get incremental value or to the market quicker as opposed to waiting a few years to update a whole new back-end UI.
Implementation Partners' Point of View
"Deployments between environments can be cumbersome and require manual steps."
"Configuration tasks can be complex and often require deeper development support to ensure that integration is done correctly without negatively affecting other areas of the system."
"Relatively sparse developer community and documentation leaves room for improvement"
Progress's Point of View
Something that is somewhat intangible, but comes up consistently in many reviews in interactions with customers and partners, is ease of use as a primary differentiator. Content authors and marketers need the ability to change and edit content on the fly. With Sitefinity’s Inline Editing feature, you can create and edit content right on the page. By enabling Edit Mode, easily change headers, body content, and replace images all within the context of the web page. Users can even change metadata like keyword tags, image alt tags, and publication dates, and preview content to ensure accuracy and flow before one-click publishing.
Implementation Partners' Point of View
"Being able to integrate into the sub-system of all modules and pages can be an important factor when developing custom solutions which require functionality that alters or extends the default behavior or operation of CMS componentry. This is an area where Sitefinity shines above many of the others."
"We would be remiss if we didn't point out its powerful marketing and business strengths. If you are wanting to leverage data in basic or advanced ways that can help you optimize your customers’ experience and improve your lead generation, Sitefinity delivers powerful insight and functionality through A/B tracking, advanced analytics, customer journey optimization, predictive analysis, lead scoring, marketing attribution reports, persona profiling and personalization, and much more."
TRAINING & SUPPORT
Progress Sitefinity provides 3-levels of customer training – instructor-led, online, and custom training. Instructor-led education is provided at one of their global training centers targeting a wide range of users, including developers, analysts, system administrators, and business users. Online training is a comprehensive full suite of convenient training courses, including hands-on training for content authors, training for business users, training for admins & designers and training for developers. Customized training is tailored, flexible and affordable training that spans products plus development and testing methodologies.
Progress Sitefinity Support services provide round-the-clock customer maintenance services, handled by a dedicated in-house team that works closely with the product development and engineering teams. You get 24/7 support with assistance from subject matter experts. Critical issues will be acknowledged within an hour. Sitefinity’s goal is to assist customers in resolving issues in a timely and efficient manner and ensuring success for your Progress Sitefinity projects. Progress offers a variety of industry-leading support options to meet your needs, such as self-service resources for evaluators and licensed users providing documentation and knowledgebase articles and forums. Support for licensed users includes phone assistance and a support center with a dedicated account manager.
IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER PROCESS
Progress has thorough and viligent partner selction process. Partners include those who work both on implementation and those who resell Sitefinity. Comprehensive training decks, videos, and sales materials are provided to enable partners to present Sitefinity that simulataneously highlights its value proposition while ensuring it is the best-fit solution for any prospective customer or client.
Two levels of training programs are available to developers; foundations in Sitefinity development and advanced Sitefinity development. Partner certification requires those programs to be completed. The basic process includes a video course and online exam, while the more advanced training is delvered by other select partners.
Progress also has a team of solution delivery partners that are made up of small architecture groups and partners working together on segmented parts of a given implementation project encapsulated within a single contract of work.
Worldwide Deployments: *9,000-plus (*Progress Software Portfolio)
Top Market Sectors:
- Retail and Wholesale
Notable Progress Brand-Name Customers:
- Aston Martin
- Dayton Superior
- Green Bay Packers
- NorthWestern Energy
- Nestlé Brazil
- Murdoch University
- Lakeland Health
- Tata Global Beverages
Rafal Jakubowicz, Manager of Digital Operations at Teknion
“From the start of our solution search, we knew we wanted a system that was easy to use. Despite setting that bar going in, Progress Sitefinity still managed to surpass expectations and we were surprised with how easy the training went when we grabbed nontechnical personnel from different departments.”
Maud Bernard, Digital Marketing Specialist at Wärtsilä
“For Wärtsilä, the user-friendly interface of Sitefinity was a big selling point, it’s just easy to get people to work with the platform. With so many different departments and people creating and modifying content, it was very important to have a content management system that was approachable.”
Megan Yore, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Lakeland Health
“Sitefinity brought us to the next level. Open APIs have allowed us to add so many new features for our users, and the burden to update content is being shifted from development to the stakeholders.”
Customer comments and testimonials are all third-party verified
Featured Case Study
Teknion Improves Marketing Efficiency by 3x with Sitefinity
Cloud is high on the list for Progress Sitefinity. Their current cloud offering is very competitive, but they want to increase customer usability. That includes self-management that includes supporting internal processes and being able to add services, whether from Azure or other sources, to build out their digital experience platform. “Microsoft has a lot to offer, whether it's AI, analytics, translation, which we recently released a connector for, for Microsoft Translator or whether there's anything else,” states Sergei.
Progress Sitefinity is also investing in data connectivity so that Sitefinity can connect to a large number of systems. Out-of-box connectivity with simpler configurations to more systems is very important for Sitefinity to be able to provide for a large range of customers. They are also re-platforming to .NET Core and building the next generation system that will support not only headless control and content delivery but control over presentation in a headless manner that is decoupled. Sergei explains, “Although this is a large chunk of work for us, it’s very important for us to follow Microsoft’s technology roadmap. And as they're investing more on .NET Core, we certainly want to be a leading provider based on that technology.”
Progress Sitefinity also wants to increase its usage of AI in various applications. The two reasonably intuitive ones are integrating the Chatbot that supports natural language processing, making it truly a part of the platform. The other is audience analysis. Sitefinity has quite a good set of tools for audience analytics but needs to be developed out as a true state of the art AI option. Seeing that this is one of the major problems all marketers face, understanding who their audiences are and what they're doing, Progress Sitefinity believes that there is much opportunity in that area to build easily accessible data models and presentations that would allow audiences to be more productive and more effective with their digital content delivery.
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
|Strong North American Footprint with a Global Presence
|Leadership and Positive Industry Recognition
|Wide Selection of Features and Functionalities
|Offers Headless and/or Decoupled Architectures
|Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Offerings
|Ability to Integrate with Pairing Technologies
|Stable Platform with an Active Number of Deployments
|Strong Customer References
|Presales and Post-sales Support
|Trained, Certified, and Experienced Implementation Partners
|Clear and Well-defined Future Roadmap
|Overall Performance Score — Very Good
ANNUAL HOSTED EVENTS
Progress Sitefinity’s annual event is called ProgressNEXT, the largest global gathering of the Progress customer, partner, and developer community, where people come together to connect, learn, and collaborate. Plan your agenda from 150-plus sessions, training, and workshops. Get inspired by great keynotes, network and meet new people at a variety of social events, talk with the people who build the products you rely on. The next scheduled event is June 14–17, 2020.
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Gary has been working in the IT industry since 1993 and is the Principal Analyst at CMS-Connected, and the Founder and President of Falcon-Software. If you would like advice on how to evaluate a "best-fit" digital experience solution for your organization, Gary can be reached at email@example.com.