Symposium 2021: The Next Evolution of Sitecore
Sitecore Symposium 2021 showed us a new vision for what Sitecore is and what it will become. Until now Sitecore has occupied a top spot in the Web Content Management (WCM) space by offering a leading product with continually expanding features. This year marks a break from that tradition.
Sitecore announced that its shifting from an all-in-one WCM product into an all-in-one business in the WCM sphere. It made that shift by acquiring standalone products that cover different WCM capabilities. Because of these acquisitions, you’re no longer required to purchase a single monolithic product. Instead, you can purchase a core CMS and pair it will a mix of composable features to create a marketing technology stack that’s as unique as your business. What are composable features and how will they impact Sitecore’s products? We’ll explain.
For anyone who has worked with Sitecore a long time, the shift to composable features is welcome news. Not all clients require every Sitecore feature, so supporting features a company didn’t need seemed wasteful. Also, when Sitecore released new features you wanted, there was always a long wait to get them into customers’ hands because they had to upgrade Sitecore first. Composable features eliminate this requirement. Since each feature is a standalone service you can connect to through web APIs, you can now integrate a new feature into legacy systems within a few weeks or months.
We’ll show you what features are composable and the role they can play in your marketing solution.
If this seems like a lot of features that’s because it is. It’s the next evolution of Sitecore. We’ll dive a little deeper into the features that got the most exposure during this year’s Sitecore Symposium.
Sitecore Experience Manager (XM)
Most customers consider Sitecore XM, its content editor, to be Sitecore’s flagship product. If all you need is a solid content management system, then you can have just that with Sitecore XM. No frills. No overhead. Just log in and build pages. What’s new is that when you’re ready to upgrade to new features, you won’t need to upgrade your platform. You’ll just pick the features you want and connect to them. This is the core of your composable framework.
Sitecore Content Hub™
Sitecore’s Media Library has always been a simple image repository. There is a hard limit to what it can do. There’s no intelligent search built-in. There’s no integration with your company’s design department or SharePoint server. If integrations and search are what you need to organize and manage your content, then Content Hub is what you’re looking for. It was Sitecore’s first acquisition many years ago and has received a lot of good reviews from organizations that use it.
Sitecore Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Sitecore CDP was previously known as Boxever. There’s a lot of overlap with what Sitecore’s marketing automation system already did and the new features from this acquisition, but there are a few notable advancements such as versioning and pre-testing. They essentially allow you to see what would happen to your workflow before you release changes into production. You can also iterate on your process and keep historical records after you’ve released changes. Another advanced feature is that you can easily integrate outside data sources such as weather, location, or even custom-built machine learning models (via TensorFlow) into your marketing. Have you ever wanted to send your customers a rainy-day sales promotion email? Now you can.
Sitecore’s personalization service is a combination of existing features but the most important is the release of Auto-Personalization. xConnect / xDB, Cortex, and personalization rules will live on to provide some base-level personalization but Sitecore AI threatens to steal all the attention. Unlike the other features, Sitecore AI is much simpler to use and integrates with your existing system. The real magic is that instead of having to designate rules and content for every component, you can just let the machine pick what works best. It can decide which components should be personalized and then feed a folder of options to pick from. Once the personalization is live, you can then see how well it’s performing with the auto-personalization dashboard. Find out more about Sitecore Automated Personalization.
Sitecore already has several search options with partners like Coveo and SearchStax that provide enterprise cloud solutions. But its most recent acquisition of Reflektion will allow Sitecore to offer its own solution that integrates with its own commerce product. Neither of Coveo or SearchStax supported this out-of-the-box and Reflektion should fill this gap while providing a more robust natural language search capability. It’s another way that ML/AI is slowly being integrated into all Sitecore’s features without requiring work from clients.
Formerly known as MooSend, Sitecore Send has given new life to Sitecore’s Email Experience Marketing (EXM) system. Since its previous system was originally a module that grew into a product there was always a sharp learning curve to meet customer needs. But MooSend had a standalone business dedicated to customer needs in the space, so we suspect that it already shaved all those sharp edges off. Because of that we expect that Sitecore Send will provide a more seamless experience for organizations that want an in-house email platform. Its ability to share customer data between the website and other platforms without performing nightly syncs or migrations is particularly helpful.
Sitecore OrderCloud, previously known as Four51 is Sitecore’s major move to take its existing commerce from on-premises to the cloud. Sitecore’s original purchase and rebuild of Microsoft Commerce was the center of its plan to build a commerce business, but there were several issues with delays and difficult to use features. Now with the rollout of OrderCloud, Sitecore should be situated to grow that business by offering a strong existing commerce product that easily ties into any system without the need for an expensive build-out or upgrade.
Since the first Sitecore DreamCore conference we’ve always expected Sitecore to unveil new features and raise expectations for each upcoming release. But until now we haven’t seen them deliver an entirely new business capable of lowering the cost of entry while providing more ways even the most demanding organizations can expand their marketing capabilities. Sitecore has been making bold moves recently and if you use Sitecore, or you’re considering it, you’ll stand to benefit from their vision.