HCL Digital Experience vs. Microsoft SharePoint

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HCL Digital Experience
Microsoft SharePoint

Brady Hicks

Docid: 00021314

Publication Date: 2006

Report Type: TUTORIAL


The marketplace for workplace collaboration software continues to evolve in
the face of new technology development and asset consolidation. This evolution
has perhaps never been more apparent than in 2019, when IBM sold its assets for
WebSphere Portal (as well as Web Content Manager and other software) to HCL
Technologies, which, in turn, melded the applications to create Digital
Experience. This software set – as well as Microsoft SharePoint – represents a
distinct effort to keep pace with collaboration and social media trends within
the companies’ respective business software suites. At a basic level, these portal offerings
help simplify and streamline corporate collaboration. Portals can, however,
represent an extensive and/or long-term commitment. Of course, other competitors
remain, notably Oracle, OpenText, and, to this day, IBM (which also acquired Red
Hat in 2019). The competitive offerings of HCL and Microsoft, however, stand out
as offerings that allow users to streamline Web- and intranet-based content
creation and management. This tutorial looks at both
software packages and compares them against one another, in particular looking
at some of the primary considerations to make when choosing one over the other.

Report Contents:


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Microsoft’s SharePoint

HCL Technologies’ Digital Experience

– which comes via the company’s June 2019 purchase of IBM collaboration,
commerce, digital experience, and security software products, notably among them
WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager – each offer established, mature
software platforms for corporate collaboration. The products, which are dubbed "enterprise portals," offer features of
management systems. Each can also be distinguished from this
older product category, however, through capabilities
such as application integration and social media interaction.

Marketplace Considerations

Generally speaking, the enterprise portal market is highly competitive and
includes strong products from companies such as Oracle and OpenText, as well as,
ironically, IBM, which gained re-entry into the software set market by way of
its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat one month after divesting its WebSphere
Portal assets to HCL. The market is broad, which is a characteristic that becomes
even more evident when looking
at the
fundamental differences between SharePoint and WebSphere.

General Comparison

While SharePoint is comparatively simple to implement and
maintain and offers solid functionality on a Windows network, Digital Experience
offers more powerful capabilities but is more hands-on to
manage. For years, IBM and Microsoft each updated their products in response to
marketplace changes and perceived shortcomings. In particular, Microsoft
added functionality and IBM streamlined the portal’s management process to what
it has become as HCL Digital Experience. Each product offers an
interface more similar in nature to collaborative, social applications.

Determining Factors

When choosing whether to deploy Digital Experience or SharePoint, an
organization should consider:

  • Potential learning curves for administrators
  • Customization concerns, especially as relates to privacy and sensitive
  • Effect on business processes
  • Migration difficulty

Considering these and other factors, it is likely most important to:

  • Assess one’s needs
  • Consider the manner in which an organization would use
    the platform
  • Conduct an investigation of one’s strategic needs and work
  • Mull potential support value gained from one platform
    versus the other.


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Enterprise portals
belong to the same broad family as
document and content management applications, as they share many
similar features. They are, in some respects, lower-end
members of this family – simpler to use and less expensive. In other
respects, however, today’s enterprise portals are part of a next generation of products.
This generation takes full advantage of social media’s
preference for simple interfaces and user-generated content models to replace
the previously popular, unwieldy ECM (enterprise content management)
applications that were once more common.

Both Digital Experience and SharePoint work to streamline the creation and
management of Web- and intranet-based content, allowing end users to do many of
the tasks that once could only be performed by IT staff.

Table 1 offers a general comparison between them.

Table 1. Digital Experience vs.
Digital Experience SharePoint

The new Digital Experience application is designed to provide "trusted" features
for business-critical needs. The platform is purpose-built to meet complex and
demanding needs related to collaboration, cloud-native, and content-creation
capabilities to digitize one’s business.

SharePoint is designed to help Microsoft
maintain its position in an area of dominance – enterprise productivity
applications – as users increasingly show a preference for collaboration,
self-service, social networking, and other features. The SharePoint offering is
designed to help "share and manage content, knowledge, and applications" in a
bid to "empower teamwork, quickly find information, and seamlessly collaborate
across the organization." As a side,  Microsoft’s effort to transform
SharePoint from a product installed on enterprise networks to online,
cloud-based deployments is in keeping with the company’s "mobile-first,
cloud-first" strategy.

Description: HCL Technologies Digital Experience

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Generally speaking, HCL’s Digital Experience is designed to offer the "right"
tools and technology to:

  • Support One’s Supply Chain

    – Improving information and application
    exchange and collaboration.

  • Improve Customer Satisfaction

    – Offering secure, personalized
    access to accounts and service options.

  • Drive Productivity

    – Providing authenticated access to core
    collaboration to improve employee productivity and training.

The software generally offers a few selling points, as detailed in Table 2.

Table 2. Digital Experience Features
Feature Description

Content Tools

  • Content delivery, without requiring access to IT resources or backend
  • Seamless digital experiences.
  • Drag-and-drop content building.
  • Editable inline content.
  • Dynamic content importing.
  • No interference with visual or functional attributes.

Future-Proof Technology

  • Docker-based deployments.
  • Scale-on demand with Kubernetes.
  • Enterprise API interface for building custom applications.
  • REST/open-API architecture for connecting systems and services.
  • Support for creating and embedding single-page applications.
  • Open framework for building custom solutions.

A free demo can be scheduled by

contacting HCL

Microsoft SharePoint

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Microsoft’s SharePoint offers functionality for Web and intranet site building,
application building, decision support, collaboration, content
management, and searching. This software can be used to share and manage
content, knowledge, and applications to empower improved teamwork, locate
information, and collaborate over a large geographic area. In recent years,
Microsoft has also increasingly positioned SharePoint as a cloud-based service. SharePoint
keeps all content
in Microsoft’s SQL database. Administrators can choose to virtualize the SharePoint server if factors such as the
underlying architecture would make doing so a performance
The software for creating SharePoint sites – SharePoint
Foundation and SharePoint Designer – are freely available.

Key areas of focus

  • Streamlined sharing and collaboration
    with dynamic and
    productive team sites for every project team, department, and division. It
    can be used to share files, data, news, and resources; customize one’s site
    to streamline team work; and offer secure collaboration, both inside and
    outside of the organization, and across a variety of devices.

  • Elements to help engage and inform an organization
    , building cohesion
    and informing employees throughout the intranet. The software can also drive
    organizational efficiency by sharing common resources and applications on
    portals; help tell one’s story via communication sites; offer personalized
    news; and provide streamlined access via the SharePoint mobile app.
  • Support for harnessing collective knowledge with search functionality and other
    intelligent ways to discover information, expertise, and insight to inform
    decisions and guide action.
  • Improved ability to transform business processes, accelerating productivity by
    transforming processes such as notifications and approvals into "complex
    operational workflows."

SharePoint is now available as an add-on for Office 365 subscriptions, and is compatible with
Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. Subscription

plans and pricing
are also available via the Microsoft Web site, or by
calling (855) 270-0615.


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Despite the market presence of other competitors,
Digital Experience and SharePoint are among the more mature products
in their field.
Regardless of the platform that one chooses, however, the importance of this
decision cannot be understated. Once an organization deploys an enterprise
portal, trains its IT staff and users on it, and customizes the software around
unique workflows, switching to another vendor’s platform can be problematic.

Table 3 looks at the competitive advantages and disadvantages of both.

Table 3. Competitive Advantages /
  Digital Experience SharePoint


  • Support for balancing multiple channels, building forms, and integrating
  • Reliability, scalability, and security
  • Architected for portal initiatives requiring complex integration,
    mixtures of content and applications, and multi-site and multi-channel
  • Free trial available
  • Regarded as customer friendly and easy to implement
  • Integration with other Microsoft software and Office 365 suite


  • Time-intensive requirements for installation and prototyping2
  • Asset support since being taken over by HCL
  • Cost considerations
  • Potentially burdensome installation and management
  • Customization time and cost considerations
  • Potential extra development efforts
  • Potential variances in service quality3

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1 "Peer Review for HCL Digital Experience (IBM WebSphere Portal
and IBM Web Content Manager)." Gartner. December 15, 2019.
2 Ibid
3 Lupanava, Sandra. "Pros and cons of a SharePoint intranet." ScienceSoft. June 22, 2017.

About the Author

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Brady Hicks is an
editor with Faulkner Information Services. He writes about computer and
networking hardware, software, communications networks and equipment, and the

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