Sitecore and Acquia are often the two finalist platforms being evaluated by organizations looking to achieve digital agility with a comprehensive suite for managing the entire content lifecycle. This happens because, at a high level, both platforms can seem indistinguishable: both rank at the top of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for digital experience platforms (DXP) with a comprehensive suite of capabilities that include a compelling editorial experience, marketing automation, personalization tooling, a content hub, and a digital asset manager.
We have been part of these evaluations many times, recommending Acquia to our clients. When the prospect chooses Sitecore we make a note to check in with the organization in a year or two to see how the project went. This perspective has taught us that organizations must consider four crucial factors before investing in Sitecore.
Let’s look at each.
Consideration #1: Marketing velocity
Every agency you ask that implements Acquia and Sitecore for their clients will tell you the exact same thing: Sitecore budgets are bigger. There is no denying that side by side the development investment for Sitecore is consistently an order of magnitude higher than Acquia. How much? In our experience, we have seen anywhere from 50-150% larger.
Why does this matter, if budget is no concern? Because the implementation cost is a great proxy for the kind of marketing agility you will get once a platform is live. More complex systems require larger running-the-business teams and larger teams require more communication and more communication means teams move slower.
Not only will a Sitecore investment leave you with less to spend on what matters -- digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, engagement, etc -- but the velocity you experience post-launch will be slower. Acquia is faster in large part to being cheaper.
Consideration #2: Product Integration
Take as an example Sitecore’s Content Hub product. Once known as the Stylelabs Marketing Content Hub, this product was born as an independent company's brainchild. Eventually, it was acquired by Sitecore.
Building out a product suite through acquisition is not a problematic strategy in and of itself. Indeed, Acquia and Adobe Experience Manager, the third of the big three DXPs, have all used this approach to build out their offerings. But where problems can occur is when there is a gap between the integration promised in the sales demo and what actually exists. Acquisitions take a tremendous amount of work to integrate -- everything from culture, HR systems, IT systems, and teams have to be merged and migrated. Only organizations deft at product management can make seamless integration a reality in these environments.
We have seen cases with organizations that once in production with Sitecore and Content Hub the reality of the integration is not quite what was promised in the sales cycle.
Consideration #3: The benefits of an open framework
Gartner has all but declared that this is the decade of the composable enterprise:
Composable business means creating an organization made from interchangeable building blocks.
At the digital experience level, at the content level, this means thinking about a digital ecosystem that is a collection of decoupled services. Both Acquia and Sitecore offer a collection of built-in functionality and a set of robust APIs to support custom integrations and use cases. However, out of the big three DXPs, only Acquia is built on open source technology.
Proprietary software applications do not, by design, fully embrace the idea of supporting use cases for which they know little because the systemic approach of closed source software is just that, closed.
For organizations that share Gartner’s argument that composable enterprises will outperform those that are not, an open source DXP is the path of least resistance for your content.
Consideration #4: Momentum
It’s easy to skate to where the puck will be when you can see it already moving.
If you look at the Gartner Magic Quadrant for DXP for the last several years you will see Acquia get closer and then displace Sitecore as the #2 of the big three DXP platforms. And just like Avis, Acquia tries harder.
Acquia and Sitecore are both leading DXP platforms that seem broadly similarly featured and positioned in the market. But there are crucial considerations organizations must fully explore before making a move to Sitecore.
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