The Hidden Costs of a Suite CMS

Suite vendors claim to offer all the functionality an organization could need, but it’s not always as it seems.

by Jan Schulte, Head of Group Consulting at Magnolia
Field with 3D Boxes coming out
Nov 26, 2019 | 5 MIN

At first glance, suite solutions like Adobe or Sitecore look ideal for most enterprises. They promise a set of tightly integrated DXP tooling with a seamless user interface for marketers. They also often tout reduced development needs and a fast time to market because the all-in-one solutions are developed and maintained by the vendor. Suite vendors claim to offer all the functionality an organization could need for delivering digital experiences, but it’s not always as it seems.

There are hidden costs associated with suite solutions that companies need to be aware of before they write off the best of breed approach. Especially with the barriers to system integrations reducing more and more each year. But what exactly are these hidden costs of a suite solution? Let’s take a closer look.

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Where Suite CMS Solutions Fall Short

With integrations getting easier for most software every day, it’s not surprising that enterprises are questioning the benefits of suite CMS solutions. Can suite vendors really be a jack of all trades when it comes to delivering digital experiences? It’s not likely, and here are some of the hidden drawbacks companies need to consider.

1. There are still development needs

There’s never going to be a software solution that completely fits an organization’s business requirements out of the box. That means every solution is going to require at least some development work to get the most out of it — even if suite vendors claim their software won’t. That’s because suite vendors try to appeal to all businesses, so specific niche functionality that smaller vendors may provide won’t be available. Enterprises will need to develop additional features themselves, or integration with additional applications. But integrations come with their own set of challenges.

2. Integration points are limited

While it’s true that many modern DX applications have robust APIs, especially the latest SaaS solutions on the market, that doesn’t mean large suite vendors have kept up. Suite vendors intend to meet all the needs of an organization, so they don’t focus on developing integration points as niche vendors do. That means integrating any missing functionality — which is inevitable — will be difficult for enterprise development teams.

3. Marketers can’t use existing applications

Many marketing teams may already have niche applications that they’re using for things like email marketing or social media management, but as we’ve seen previously, suite solutions can’t easily integrate with them. That means marketers may have to ditch the existing tools they’re using and learn a new set of processes using the suite system. If they don’t fully embrace the new CMS, shadow IT could grow within the organization. Many marketers, however, may find that suite systems have significant learning curves because they’re large platforms and bloated with features.

4. Suites provide breadth over depth

It’s not likely that a suite vendor will be able to excel in all areas, from marketing analytics to customer relationship management and project management. Technology moves too quick for vendors to innovate within each particular area at the same pace as best of breed niche solutions. Marketers, therefore, will be settling for an average set of features. Suite CMS solutions try to be a jack of all trades, but often they’re a master of none as well. This hurts an organization’s ability to remain digital adaptable and future proof in the long run.

5. Wasted money on unutilized features

With licenses covering comprehensive software solutions, there are likely many features or even entire modules that go unutilized by organizations. The cost of acquiring or developing these features for vendors, however, are built into the licensing fees. That means companies could end up vastly overpaying for the features they require. If they were to select the exact applications they need under the best of breed approach, they could substantially reduce their licensing costs.

6. Modules still vary in quality

While suite vendors strive to deliver a seamless interface across its various modules and features, there’s still a wide range in quality amongst the system. Some modules will be older than others and upgraded much less frequently than a best of breed vendor that’s focused on innovating in a specific niche. In addition, many modules are acquired rather than developed, and many times the new module isn’t the best in its particular niche. In the end, suite systems may become bloated with features that are lower quality than their best of breed counterparts.

7. Less digital adaptability

Implementing a large suite CMS solution is a massive undertaking for organizations. The resources required for implementation make the thought of migrating again unthinkable. That’s not to mention the vendor lock-in that occurs as an organization adapts their data and processes to match the suite solution, rather than the other way around. Instead, the best of breed approach lets organizations adapt the set of software they use to their business needs. With reduced integration challenges, companies can quickly replace software that’s no longer best of breed to remain digitally relevant as technology and the marketplace change.

But There’s An Alternative

While suite solutions may have been an excellent option for enterprise in the past, it’s no longer necessary with APIs readily available for most modern applications. That means companies can take a best of breed approach to building their digital experience platform, and avoid the hidden costs of a suite CMS. All without burdening their IT staff with challenging integrations.

The best of breed approach enables marketing teams to choose a multitude of DX software that fits with their digital strategy. And for enterprises looking to build their DXP, Magnolia CMS fulfills the requirements. The platform has a diverse set of integration points that make connecting a variety of systems straightforward for developers. Magnolia enables high interoperability with its robust REST APIs, and out-of-the-box Connector Packs.

If you’re still not convinced about the hidden costs of suite CMS solutions, see our detailed guide on DX Suites: The Glass Ceiling of Your Digital Transformation.

Jan Schulte

About the Author

Working at the intersection of business and technology, Jan helps Magnolia clients succeed with their content management and digital experience initiatives, framing solutions to their custom challenges and opportunities.