Sitecore 8 - Customer Experience Platform
aThe latest Sitecore Symposium in Barcelona was dominated by the announcement and preview of Sitecore 8. This version was ambitiously billed as ‘Simplifying the extraordinary’ and it didn’t disappoint. This is not just a simple upgrade.
To understand where Sitecore is going, we first need to understand where we have come from. My last job was client-side at Legal & General, where I had separate tools and platforms for CMS, web analytics, click tracking, personalisation and MVT. It was frustrating getting all these through Procurement, getting them set up and working was tiresome, and they never really talked to each other to provide a single connected experience either for the business or the end user. Sitecore 8 brings all this capability together into one place….the latest and best Sitecore Experience Platform.
Sitecore have naturally produced a comprehensive document that gives an overview of the strategy behind Sitecore 8. Download the pdf – Sitecore 8: Simplifying the extraordinary. As a strategy document it’s good, but I found it a little light on the actual detail of what new features are available.
The highlights for me are:
- Automated testing and optimization – this is what I got most excited about as a Marketer. We’ve all used MVT tools, but Sitecore 8.0 brings new levels of automation of testing and optimization. Sitecore will recommend the best content, segments and paths to conversion to test. Equally you can test everything, set your own rules and segment the tests based on your DMS personas. Some of this functionality existed before, but now they’ve added what they refer to as ‘machine learning’. What this really means in practice, is that Sitecore recommends the best tests for you, does the analysis and thinking for you, tells you how reliable the results are. The outcomes can be automated and auto-deployed. How great is that.
- The user interface for editors and marketers has had a serious makeover. It’s faster, cleaner (clearly influenced by Google Analytics) and brings data, dashboards and control into one place.
- Using Sitecore as your customer experience database, it will collect any experience data from your Sitecore platform and data from other customer facing platforms such as ERP, CRM etc. This nudges the goal of single view of the customer ever forward and you can personalise the digital experience to a level of detail not seen before. This is what I believe gives Sitecore 8 its advantage in the market.
- Federated Experience Manager (FXM). This adds the power of Sitecore to non-Sitecore sites. I see this two benefits: Firstly, it adds content syndication, personalization, MVT testing etc to external sites, but secondly, it adds tracking facilities and insight from these back into DMS from these external, non-Sitecore sites thus enriching the data insight and personalisation.
As I set out in my blog posts from Barcelona. Sitecore 8.0 is powerful, and with that comes greater responsibility. As each version of Sitecore gets more advanced it becomes even more important for a business to choose the right Sitecore partner. Sitecore implementation and support have to be 100% aligned with the business aims and objectives. It’s vital to choose a partner who ‘get Sitecore’ and know how to get the best out of it. As Simon Etherington as MD of Sitecore UK states: ‘….Kagool get Sitecore….’ Please talk to us about your plans and objectives.
- Martin Davies of Kagool has written an overview of Sitecore 8 on his regular Sitecore related blog
- The official Sitecore 8.0 press release
- A summary of Sitecore 8 features by Dave Peterson a Sitecore MVP in the USA
Note: this blog post was published in Oct14 and updated in April 15 removing the expected release date.