Earlier this year, Sitecore announced its acquisition of the Customer Data Platform (CDP), Boxever. This acquisition didn't come as a surprise given the recent CDP industry consolidation. But it was interesting since many of us in the U.S. are unfamiliar with Boxever. That’s because their customers are mainly within the EU’s travel industry. So to learn more about Boxever, I dove into their training catalog, consumed their developer documentation, and completed their Advanced Certification. Based on my experience I can offer the following takeaways.
Boxever Was a CDP Before It Was Cool
It's no secret that most CDP platforms started with entirely different functions and labels. Many were CRM systems that added real-time data collection. Others were tag management systems that added campaign and personalization capabilities. With this context, I was interested to learn how Boxever described themselves before the term "CDP" was trending. To my surprise, Boxever described the functions of a CDP as far back as 2014. Take a look at this screenshot from their homepage around that time (thanks, Internet Archive!)Their descriptions from seven years ago accurately describe the purpose of a modern CDP. So even though Boxever didn't start applying the label "CDP" until about 2019, their vision was CDP-like from the beginning.
Decision Models are a Differentiator, and Core to the Platform
It's clear from Boxever's documentation, training materials, and marketing materials that there's one product feature that rises above the rest: Decision Models. They allow business users to provide personalized experiences to customers through a modular drag-and-drop interface. Each module's logic can be as simple as using the customer's age or as complex as an artificial intelligence (AI) model fed with real-time weather data. It's essentially "Decisions as a Service" where complex logic can be defined by business users and then served via various APIs.
In many ways, Boxever's remaining features feel like they’re all built to support Decision Models. Need to collect data for your decision model? Send real-time events with the Stream API. Want to modify someone's experience based on the output of a decision model? Create a Web Experience. Looking to test decision model variants against one another? Create an A/B Test. Need to send an email based on a decision model? Use a triggered experience and a "Destination.” There's very little in Boxever that doesn’t touch their Decision Engine.
Boxever is API-First
Like many CDPs, Boxever doesn't work in isolation: it's meant to complement the rest of a marketer's technology stack. Boxever has positioned itself with a strong set of APIs that allow other systems to serve as inputs to Decision Models or respond to the outcomes of those models. For instance, there's the Event API for collecting real-time customer data, the Browser API for updating a user's experience on a website, the Batch API for uploading large amounts of customer data, the Guest API for pulling customer traits, webhooks to trigger events in external systems, and mechanisms for consuming API responses from arbitrary external systems.
All of these API controls make Boxever extremely flexible but raise some questions. Will Boxever customers be prepared with the technical knowledge necessary to work in an API-driven product? Can Boxever truly claim to provide "Effortless AI" if AI models must be set up and served from external systems like Google AI Hub? The answers may depend on the audience. I expect enterprise customers may not be concerned with the technical lift necessary while mid-market customers may be surprised by integration effort needed.
How Will Boxever Integrate with Sitecore?
No one can say exactly what Sitecore's plans are for integrating Boxever, but there are a few natural points where the two platforms could work together.
First, given Boxever's API-driven nature, it would be natural for Sitecore to provide the visual front-end to the rich features that Boxever provides through its APIs. For example, a content author could select from a list of Boxever Web Experiences while editing a page. Those Web Experiences would then update their content depending on the output of a Decision Model defined in Boxever.
Another natural integration would be for Boxever Decision Models to pull content from Sitecore Content Hub™. A decision table could take a user's latest Sitecore Outcome as an input and output the most appropriate sales asset for their journey.
What will be most interesting to see is whether any Sitecore features are entirely replaced by Boxever. After Sitecore's announcement of the acquisition, I immediately thought that XConnect's days were numbered. Thinking on this further, however, I believe there are strengths in a server-side solution like XConnect and Sitecore Analytics that could complement a client-side solution like Boxever. As I've written before, Sitecore XP's model is built to handle to a number of changes rolling through the analytics and marketing industry.
Looking Ahead to The Future
It’s an exciting time to work with Sitecore. Their recent funding and strategic acquisitions show a lot of promise for the platform. With Boxever, it’s easy to see how Sitecore can further their omnichannel “Own the Experience” narrative. The API-driven nature of Boxever and its advanced Decision Engine will allow marketers to define and deliver tailored content to customers across any channel.
Velir’s Data Integration and Activation services include CDP Implementation for tools like Sitecore Boxever. Learn more about our data offerings, read about our work with Sitecore, or get in touch to discuss your next digital experience project.