Mobile and online communities built on enterprise-class technology like Concursive versus a content management system (CMS) are less expensive, faster to bring to market, highly manageable, more easily morphed to competitive conditions, and natively interoperable with other systems.
Below are answers to eight frequently asked questions:
"Can't you build an online community with a CMS like WordPress or Drupal?"
Not efficiently or effectively. It takes much longer, is more expensive, almost impossible to create meaningful access control with a robust permissions layer, they're harder to manage and maintain going forward, and when you ultimately decide you need a native mobile app (versus HTML5) for your community you have a large task ahead. Finally, a few years down the road when you require new features and, as just one example, they must integrate into the permission-layer you built for your V1.0 site and app, that can be really ugly.
Those are all non issues with Concursive. Our platform, built over 10 years and consisting of 5 million lines of code, was developed entirely for the purpose of creating robust, collaborative and manageable mobile and online communities. That's all we do. CMS's evolved to build websites.
"If they're not the right tool, why do so many people tend toward a CMS?"
The first part of the answer is because CMS's are approachable, easy to get started with and inexpensive. The second part of the answer is they've been around for decades and they're what internal development teams and outside contractors are familiar with. Consider some parallels: IBM development shops only use IBM; Microsoft shops almost exclusively use Microsoft; the same with development teams familiar with a certain CMS. They go with what they know. Many CMS devotees believe doing otherwise leaves them organizationally vulnerable.
"Online communities with companion native apps built on a CMS don't automatically 'upgrade' or 'patch.' Is this the same with Concursive?"
No, and this is an important difference especially for system administration and security teams. When building an online community and native app on enterprise-class software components like Connect and Suite, new versions and patches automatically install. Further, 3rd-party "service-level" integrations and UI customizations upgrade because they're managed and communicate through a common, accepted, and backwards-compatible set of protocols and APIs.
As a result, major improvements don't become "fork-lift upgrades" which is what happens with CMS-based sites and their companion apps.
"How is Concursive technically different from a CMS"
There is a fundamentally different approach at work. A CMS is based around the concept of a "page" with everything (e.g. a blog component) plugging into that. Concursive is based around the concept of a "profile". Profiles are all driven from a database and bring with them pre-integrated features like blogs and wiki's, but also system attributes like security, roles, permissions, alerts and communications.
If you're a visual, non-technical person you might think of the CMS as a tool that allows you to build by linking together 2-dimensional components (like pages). This is why they're very approachable and so good for building websites. But communities are much more complex and not only about pages, but about robust communications and connections. Concursive's database-driven architecture builds by linking together 3-dimensional blocks which incorporate all of the capabilities necessary for a mobile or online community.
"How can using Concursive be less expensive than a free CMS?"
The answer lies in the notion of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and the fact that the tools -- the CMS or Concursive's technology -- are by far the smaller cost of designing, building, maintaining and operating an online and mobile community. The far larger cost is people's time. As just one comparison, initial prototype environments brought up to gain user feedback and that include both an online site and native companion app (iOS and Android) are constructed in days and weeks with Concursive versus months, quarters and years with a CMS. It's that dramatic of a difference.
"What's the easiest way to become familiar with Concursive's capabilities?"
Visit sites and download apps built on our components. Then realize this; any feature you see in those communities and apps are immediately and easily available to whatever community you're considering building. Applying them is a matter of configuration; they're already integrated, QA'd and supported going forward. All you need to do is style and turn them on.
"Could we run a 'bake off' between Concursive and our team's CMS and how might that work?"
Great question and one asked by many CIO's and CTO's that we've dealt with. And the answer is yes and could work like this. Bring together an internal group from within your organization and a small team (1 person-week!) from Concursive for one week. That's it. We get together on a Monday with both teams listening to the requirements as determined by the business side of your house. We all come back together on Friday and see (a) how far each team has gotten, and (b) analyze the pro's and con's of going forward with the various paths.
While the bake-off is not free, the speed, what's delivered, the amount of operational risk reduced, and the lessons learned are well worth the investment. What's really expensive is spending months and sometimes years with the wrong tool and having to restart.
"Manageability is mentioned a lot, why is this important?"
Because manageability and cost are inversely related; the easier it is to build, maintain and operate (i.e. "manage") a robust community and app, the lower the cost. This fact is often disregarded by development teams who see their mission as getting something built, not worrying about TCO and the on-going burden which can be substantial.
Simple websites built on a CMS are easily manageable which is why they're so appropriate for that use case. But, a robust, evolving community and corresponding app built with a CMS are anything but that. They're prohibitively expensive. With Concursive it's as easy to build, upgrade and manage a large, complex community as it is to manage a simple website with a CMS.
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