Published on by Pat Ramsey, Director of Technology
WordPress continues to face adoption challenges as an enterprise-grade solution due to skepticism around Open Source tools and the rapid consumer adoption of WordPress itself. Crowd Favorite leverages its expertise in bringing Open Source solutions to the enterprise by educating IT and Marketing professionals everyday that power and scalability can be achieved by using WordPress as a framework, not just a blog or hobbyist website platform. In doing so we see the misinformation and disinformation around these types of Open Source tools, so we understand where the skepticism comes from, and are able to debunk and clarify some of this information so our customers can make the best digital decisions for their businesses.
Opinions continue to evolve as both WordPress matures and contributors improve the functionality of what is the world’s most popular CMS. Its popularity doesn’t equate to perfection out-of-the-box, nor that those who choose alternative solutions are in any way “wrong”. In fact, from time-to-time Crowd Favorite finds itself in scenarios where we recognize, due to certain environments and conditions surrounding a client’s business, choosing a proprietary system over open-source technology is the best call.
We also find ourselves in rooms with our clients where the closed system solution was decided upon based on a preconceived notion about Open Source and its capabilities and without the stakeholder(s) having a comprehensive understanding of what Open Source technology really can do in the right hands. Generally when we dig in, we find that hesitation or resistance to adopting WordPress, for example, in the enterprise comes not from the idea that it isn’t battle-tested for big business, but rather from an impractical set of presentations about how - and when - WordPress should be utilized in the first place. All too often, WordPress professionals offer WordPress as a complete platform overhaul for large businesses. This is a mistake. Large businesses typically have legacy applications, instituted security and user policies, and other integrations that cannot be simply removed or replaced with a new system.
Takeaways from This Article
- Proprietary and closed systems are often too rigid to keep up with the pace of today's competitive sectors.
- Leveraging Open Source is a great way to keep up with the pace of the challenges without massive capital investments, when struggling to modernize.
- WordPress as a framework can breathe new life into the existing technology and systems, a middleware connecting the old and the new.
A Different Way to Think About WordPress
What if the question and conversation were framed through a different lens? What if the conversation was how WordPress can serve as the framework incorporating existing content management or media needs, applications and workflows together? What if instead of thinking of WordPress as a replacement for incumbent systems, WordPress was instead the glue that integrated other systems into a complete solution for the benefit of both users and site visitors?
Our experience working with large organizations, especially in media, publishing, and eCommerce, is that modernization and transformation are high priorities. Almost every company on Earth is investing in technology to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve employee and customer experiences. But those priorities are usually anchored to established, antiquated legacy systems, entrenched processes, and previous investments that stakeholders do not always have the luxury of ignoring. While some enterprises will invest millions of dollars and years of work in a complete digital transformation, that kind of capital expenditure isn’t something all businesses have the luxury of doing. An Open Source solution, one that focuses on integration, may be the better economic choice, extending lifespans of legacy systems and keeping overall expenditures down.
With that in mind we don’t view Open Source tools like WordPress as an end-all-be-all platform for the enterprise, at least not from the start. WordPress is a powerful middleware for bringing together disparate systems and processes to improve the user experience quickly and securely. WordPress can serve as a flexible and powerful final interaction layer for your both internal users and site guests. These interactions improve the experience for everyone without taking a wrecking ball to your current digital infrastructure, and provide cost-efficient options that those using or choosing closed system competitors don’t have.
WordPress as a Framework in the Enterprise
For example, our work with a well-renowned, private supermarket chain and their upscale stores helped merge inventory, logistics, reporting, and physical store locations into a centralized website experience for both customers and store administrators for their annual holiday promotion. It would have been a non-starter to suggest their legacy systems - already established and working properly - be replaced by “just WordPress” with the WooCommerce ecommerce plugin. Instead, WordPress’ extendability and ability for integrations allowed us to work with the client team to craft a custom solution providing the best possible modern functionality. The result was more than just a successful program during the holiday season for tens of thousands of shoppers. There was also the added benefit of not having to retrain hundreds of employees during a critical shopping season.
It is imperative that Open-Source advocates and WordPress enthusiasts recognize that complementing other systems is one of the most valuable components of what Open-Source has to offer. In other words, advocating WordPress in the enterprise shouldn’t be seen as “all or nothing” but rather as an enhancer to what already exists.
WordPress as a component of digital transformation
For those struggling to modernize their infrastructure, exploring Open-Source options is a great way to achieve dynamic results without massive capital investment. Proprietary and closed systems don’t often offer the customization and flexibility needed in today’s competitive sectors. By leveraging something like WordPress as a framework, you have the ability to take the technology and systems incumbent to your organization and give them new life.
As an example, perhaps your customer data is stored in an older database that grows more and more each day. And that database is connected to a number of systems in your business like your CRM and accounting system. Trying to migrate that data to a new platform brings substantial risk just as introducing a new CRM or accounting system brings significant expense. By using a “middleware” solution like WordPress as the connective fabric between old and new, risk and expense can be reduced without compromising a quality user experience.
Frameworks, not Platforms
Lost in the march to bring WordPress and Open-Source technology to the enterprise is the understanding that, for all of its faults, the status quo offers comfort. Applications and tools that are already managed by IT departments and utilized by users are hard to dislodge. It’s the classic scenario of “The Devil you know.” Considering any new technology - including WordPress - means leaving that comfort zone completely on faith that something new will be remarkably better. Therefore it is incumbent on Open-Source advocates, when presenting new ideas such as incorporating WordPress as a solution, to be educators not bulls in a china shop, ensuring their strategies are comprehensive and integrative.
Open Source solutions such as WordPress can and should be viewed as a connector and enhancer of the components already utilized in the enterprise workplace. By viewing WordPress as a framework to bring all other tools together, the CMS can serve a vital role in helping businesses grow without the disruption associated with large, proprietary systems. Open-Source technology can be that fabric, the connective tissue between systems that must integrate with each other. Through the power and scalability of WordPress, possibilities become endless and potential can be realized.
To better understand how WordPress can integrate and support your current technology stack, contact our team at Crowd Favorite. We work with clients to recognize new potential in current tools and make responsible digital transformation a reality.