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Why choose Sitecore over Adobe?
Long known for its suite of creative software used for graphic design, video editing, and photography, Adobe entered the content management system (CMS) market in 2010 when it acquired Day Software.
Since then, it has stacked acquisition on top of acquisition, producing an expansive suite of (sometimes overlapping) digital marketing products. Its breadth helps make Adobe a popular choice with large, international organizations. But this often comes at an astronomical cost:
Insight: Each of Adobe's 100 biggest clients pays just shy of $5 million annually for the company's Experience Cloud products.
The question is why.
Are Adobe’s clients forking out huge sums because Adobe’s solutions deliver meaningful capabilities that other solutions don’t? Or is Adobe’s brand recognition and marketing muscle selling customers on a fantastical idea that it can solve any martech challenge they can throw at it?
The fact that many Adobe customers end up with buyer’s remorse seems to suggest that, in many cases, it’s the latter.
This is not to say that the Adobe Experience Cloud doesn’t generally deliver the functionality it says it does in its suite of applications — eventually. Rather, it’s a nod to the reality that many customers underestimate the number of disparate tools they’ll need to purchase to achieve the vision Adobe presents, and they under-budget for the amount of services work it takes to customize and integrate Adobe’s tools into a coherent solution.
If you’re considering Adobe, here’s what you need to know before signing a contract.
Getting to a coherent platform
You’re probably familiar with Legos. And depending on your age, you might also remember Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys.
What makes these sets functional (and fun) is the pieces are designed to work together: a Lego block from one set will fit with the Lego blocks from another. But try to build something using some Lego blocks, a handful of Lincoln Logs, and a few Tinkertoys pieces and you’ll encounter a lot of challenges.
This is precisely the scenario IT teams find themselves in when trying to get incompatible technology systems to play nice. And it’s what many organizations encounter when trying to stitch together the applications in Adobe Experience Cloud, which is a conglomerate assembled through the acquisition of dozens of companies.
To be clear, this isn’t to say acquisitions are “bad” — most digital experience platforms have added functionality through acquisition, including Sitecore. However, most of the products Adobe has acquired were not designed to work together, meaning Adobe Experience Cloud contains a hodge-podge of programming languages, data management systems, and delivery models.
Consider just their CMS: Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). As one seasoned developer said:
AEM is built as a collection of architectures merged into one. You’ll see in the AEM documentation an alphabet soup of libraries, architectures, APIs, etc. … thrown on top of each other with virtually no concern with how an ordinary developer might navigate them without expert-level skills. Each feature seems to have been implemented in a completely different way.
Contrast this with Sitecore.
Every product in Sitecore Experience Cloud is founded on the same programming language (.NET). All of the capabilities of Sitecore Experience Platform and Sitecore Experience Commerce – from analytics and personalization to email and marketing automation – are underpinned by the same customer data management platform, Sitecore Experience Database (xDB). And with Sitecore xConnect, we provide a single, simple API framework to connect Sitecore to any other system of customer intelligence in your martech stack.
Takeaway: The Adobe suite is more of a loosely coupled set of technologies than an integrated platform. This not only adds significant complexity and cost to the implementation but may also inhibit the ability to derive full value from your investment. Sitecore Experience Platform is a highly integrated system that seamlessly combines content management, customer data management, analytics and personalization capabilities, and digital marketing functionality to create powerful digital experiences.
The Adobe implementation process
Considering that implementation on Adobe is difficult and complex, it’s worth asking what you can expect from Adobe and its partner ecosystem. The first thing to expect is a hefty price tag. Implementing AEM typically costs 4 – 8 times the licensing fee, versus 2 – 5 times licensing for Sitecore. But there’s one thing you must do before purchasing: find an expert partner.
Adobe customers can struggle to find a good partner, due at least in part to the way Adobe has structured its partner ecosystem. Instead of fostering a symbiotic partner ecosystem, Adobe competes with its partners. The side effect of this competition is decreased communication between Adobe and its partners, which ultimately diminishes customers’ success.
A veteran implementation partner that works with both Adobe and Sitecore reveals how this often works in practice:
I’ve seen this scenario play out too many times: A client purchases a license from Adobe and asks for their help implementing AEM. Adobe’s waiting list is long — often over a year — so they recommend a partner, typically a high-end digital agency. Then it gets hairy. The agency quotes a million dollars for implementation work, which often turns into $2 million, and a year or two passes. The heavy lifting is done, but the cool features you wanted still don’t work. And your business is beginning to lose its appetite for throwing money into the project.
One way to avoid this is by finding an exceptional implementation partner early in the process, as the best are often booked months or years out. Or, even better, choose a vendor with a large and dependable partner ecosystem where communication and support are involved every step of the way.
Take note: Adobe’s partner structure is also commission based. Thus, even if you find a partner capable of implementing your solution, be sure to remember that they’re incentivized to sell you a $2 million package versus a $500,000 one.
With nearly 800 partners, including global, regional, and local digital agencies, systems integrators, and consultancies, Sitecore’s Solution Provider Partner program has the right partner to support you with the tailored resources and geographic proximity to meet your unique needs. No matter your size or where you’re located.
We also have a passionate developer community, which includes our MVP program, large training and support and technical consulting networks, and the Sitecore Business Optimization Strategies (SBOS™) and customer success teams.
These programs and teams all share one goal: enabling our partners and customers to realize the full power of the Sitecore platform. With streamlined deployment, our customers put their customers at the center of world-class digital experiences faster and cheaper.
Takeaway: Adobe competes with its partners — and implementation experts are in relatively short supply — which adds to the cost, complexity, and timeline to deploy an Adobe solution. Sitecore’s implementation ecosystem is vast and equipped to handle the most complex implementations of our tightly integrated platform.
Even when you get there — will you be there?
High-performing, integrated, and simple-to-use platforms capable of merging fluidly with best-of-breed solutions to support an intuitive and powerful martech stack — that’s the future of digital experience platforms. But getting the full value of even the best system usually requires at least some institutional change for the vast majority of organizations.
This is why we work with our partners to develop the right roadmap for each of our customers — whether they’re ready to crawl, walk, or run. Because digital transformation is more than technology. Would we like to make that $200k on an upsell? Sure, but only if it’s the right fit. We’re not looking to squeeze as much as possible out of each deal. We would rather create a firm foundation of trust for a long-term partnership.
We don’t know why Adobe continues to choose a sales model based on squeezing as much money as possible from each deal. Maybe it’s focus is limited by the horizon of annual revenue. Maybe Adobe knows that after spending several million dollars, you’re unlikely to pack up and start over — even if you still only have 60% of what you need. Whatever the reason, we think it’s worth your time to consider whether it’s the sales model you want to deal with during your digital transformation.
If not, or if you wonder if there’s a better way, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Sitecore sales representative. We would love to have an honest conversation about where you’re at, where you’d like to be in the next 5 – 10 years, and how we can help you get there.
Final takeaway: Adobe’s business model appears to be focused on squeezing the most money out of each deal. Sitecore’s business model is focused on customer success. We want to build a long-term relationship with each of our customers to best support their digital transformation process — whether they’re ready to crawl, walk, or run.