Agility CMS Provides a Digital Peace of Mind
Here at CMS-Connected, we really enjoy reviewing robust digital experience solutions and forward-thinking companies. For that reason, our reporter Laura Myers reached out to Jon Voigt, Co-founder of Agility Inc, to learn more on the story of Agility and to pick his brain about their platform:
Founded by Jon Voigt and Michael Assad in 2002, Agility, formerly Edentity, is a fully-integrated digital experience platform provider offering Content Management, eCommerce, Online Ticketing and Real-Time Personalization. Like any other new startup, when the company was launched, they wanted to break the mold in the content management space. To that point, Jon and Michael realized that there wasn’t a content management system (CMS) that could offer custom applications, easy system integration, and enough flexibility in the market at that time. Therefore, they initially focused on the custom development and systems integration services. As the business was revamped, they figured out the fact that most CMS were very developer-centric, and users were essentially on their own with the solutions they purchased, as the vendors were not offering a holistic support. In recognition of this prominent gap, the company started focusing on the fully-hosted solution and built a platform “on the cloud before the cloud was even a cloud”, as Jon puts it. To me, this is one of the things that make Agility stand out from the crowd as the platform was built in the cloud from the ground up, whereas many vendors deploy the cloud and build a manage hosting service around their existing product, and they offer it as a cloud CMS.
Jon identifies their solution as a true multitenant application. So how do users benefit from this type of architecture? While they don’t have to go through big upgrade initiatives as they receive small upgrades every month, they still have “unlimited flexibility” in terms of design and system integrations.
Alignment Between Back-End UX and Front-End UX
Today, the company’s main focus is building a suite of products where users can manage all their needs from one platform instead of integrating with stand-alone solutions. With this goal in mind, Agility has recently added an e-commerce solution called Agility eCommerce to its suite to provide scalable and responsive online storefronts. Agility eCommerce is managed centrally from the Agility platform and provides full freedom of design and customization.
Another paramount point Jon discussed during the interview was the importance of user experience, saying: “When people think about user experience, normally, they think about the front-end of the user experience of their customers which is definitely a very important part and we focus very heavily on that.” However, he also mentioned the other side of user experience which is the back-end user experience of the platform chosen. He believes that this side is often forgotten. The reason why back-end user experience should be in line with front-end user experience is simply because any experience happening in the back-end will ripple through and eventually affect the front-end experience, according to Jon.
It is hard to disagree with him on the fact that the back-end experience is often overlooked in the development process in terms of ease of use and intuitiveness. Just because the back-end users are experts in their own field doesn’t mean their fields are web development. Therefore, platforms should provide their users full control and flexibility over content as well as make sure everything can be found in the most logical location to dispel the confusion. Agility’s approach involves discovering organizations’ processes and workflows to provide insight on current inefficiencies and suggest the best course of action. From there, its fully-integrated digital experience platform enables their users to build a solution that is flexible and expandable over time. It is also important for Agility to free the customers from the burden of web-related issues and upgrades, so their IT teams can focus on innovative ideas to achieve the overreaching business objectives within their organizations.
Agility's Unique Approach to Upgrades
Here at CMS-Connected, one of the topics we really like to discuss are the platform upgrades and replatforming. When we were heading into 2017, Laura did an interview with Forrester’s Senior Analyst Mark Grannan to inquire about what organizations are going through when it comes to CMS upgrades, and one of the prominent things that he pointed out was fully understanding the internal skill-sets and practitioner needs as the internal practitioners, content authors, and developers that will be living in the system day in and day out, so their skill sets need to be smoothly transformed into this new environment. Agility’s CEO Jon Voigt also has similar opinions. He specifically emphasized the fear factor during the transition to a new platform: “Employees are often very scared to move to a new platform because either they are comfortable with the existing system or they are nervous about what they currently have as they don’t like it.” Therefore, at Agility, he said that they enable their clients to play with the platform before the site goes live and he explained: “If you develop everything to get it all set up and say here you go, now you can play with it, employees will be scared to play around, try new things as it is on live.” He believes that if organizations lose the adoption rate during the first bit of a launch of a new solution, it is really hard to gain it back. Therefore, Agility suggests its partners get their customers adopted and comfortable with the new and more advanced features that they wouldn’t try when the system was actually in place.
Since the platform is a multitenant application and is built with the decoupled architecture, customizable parts of the solution are separated from the CMS whereas the main CMS is multitenant. What this means is that Agility can launch updates, new modules and enhancements to its platform quickly and frequently, so its users can stay on the top of all the advanced features and capabilities. In fact, Jon said that they roll out updates on a monthly basis. To put that into perspective, he explained: “We have customers that have been working with us for over 10 years, rebuilt their sites three different times. Because the content architecture at the back-end was done so well, all they have done was reskinning the front-end or enhancing a new integration with a new platform.”
Digital Peace of Mind
According to Jon, the real differentiators of the platform are digital peace of mind and scalability. What the digital peace of mind is, you may ask. Well, I haven’t heard of it before either but I loved the phrase! He elaborated on that: “You will have a peace of mind that if you bring a new system in, in a couple years from now or even six months from now, you will be able to fit that in.” In other words, if someone takes a serious look at Agility’s platform, they should know that they will have a future-proof technology in place, so they don’t have to worry about their investments when it comes to staying on the top of technological trends. Another differentiator that ties up with their goal of providing a digital peace of mind is Agility’s customer service, as users can get phone support whenever they run into an issue related to the platform.
From the performance and scalability perspective, Jon spoke from his 14-year experience and said: “We have worked with many companies that had to scale up their sites for Olympics or different events like that where their traffic may jump a hundred times so they needed to be able to know that the system can handle that.” When it comes to deployment, the platform definitely has an upper hand in the cut-throat competition, as Agility’s customers can deploy the platform within two or three months whereas the deployment of their competitors’ platforms can take over six months.
Today, buyers are looking for solutions that can cut their content free of the shackles of traditional CMSs so that content creators can have an ultimate flexibility. Agility’s experience platform that includes a decoupled CMS alongside e-commerce, online ticketing and the real-time personalization make publishing content and content marketing a cake walk. Another important point is that the platform is 100% cloud and hosted in Azure with SLA 99.98% - 99.99%, which provides enterprise-level security and stability. Although there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all faultless software application, Agility CMS has intuitive solutions to accommodate whatever format your content may have into your website.
If you are interested in hearing more from Jon Voigt on content management, stay tuned as we will publish another exclusive interview with him discussing the CMS as a Central Hub in the upcoming weeks.