Sitecore 9.4

Sitecore 9.4
27th February 2020

Discover what to expect with Sitecore 9.4 and why organisations should choose to upgrade

Digital transformation is turning industries on their heads, pushing for decision makers to evolve their digital strategy. This often will mean investing in software and expertise that’s essential to stay competitive, drive the standard of digital experiences that audiences expect and to create new opportunities. Sitecore are currently working to a six-monthly release schedule for their CMS platform now.

So, what can we expect to see from the summer (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere) release? Quite a lot of interesting new stuff.

What’s new with Sitecore 9.4?

Software as a Service

At Sitecore Symposium last year, Sitecore launched a big push to become the first of the major enterprise CMS products to offer a proper “Software as a Service” (Sitecore SaaS) option. Giving customers the ability to buy Sitecore in the same manner they might buy Office 365, is an architectural challenge. Enabling seamless version upgrades, and easy “click to provision me a new site” support is a challenge. So, they’ve embarked on some major engineering work to enable this, and we should see the first public versions of this with the next release.

Sitecore have been careful to tone down expectations of what Sitecore 9.4 will include – it will certainly not be the full product running in a Sitecore SaaS. At Symposium their description was that it would contain, “the fundamentals of CM”. That implies you’ll be able to create and manage content via the new Sitecore Horizon editing UI in this release. However, we won’t see any of the analytics features initially.

What does Sitecore 9.4 mean for developers?

For developers, the changes will be more significant, and on two key fronts. Firstly, is a key technology for supporting effective Sitecore SaaS in the easy management of instances of Sitecore – for which they have chosen Sitecore Docker as the technology of choice. This is a big change to how Sitecore has traditionally been packaged and distributed, but has the potential to make lives much simpler for development and deployment. Secondly, SaaS requires a true headless CMS model to work well, so there is solely a new development model for back-end developers coming. This will be reminiscent of the current JSS model. There will be opportunities for developers to get up to speed with this approach and it’s not going to be easy to port existing sites to this model. However, we should see the first iteration of this in the summer, if they stick to their time plans. It’s a good idea to book in some time for “proof of concept” projects now, so you can understand how these changes will affect your work in the future.

But it’s not just the new technologies that Sitecore are putting effort into. The “classic” on-premises / in-cloud versions of Sitecore are not going away any time soon, so will be improved too.

Their work on Docker support will be relevant here too, as it can help with development and deployment of classic Sitecore infrastructure as well. But they have also spent a lot of time talking about “the content crisis” recently – and they see the use of AI to help personalise and pick content as being key to allowing businesses to generate all the content they need. Sitecore have launched a hosted equivalent of the Sitecore Cortex machine learning tools under the “Sitecore AI” brand as well. They’re touting new features here for automated segment analysis of your visitors, “content similarity analysis” to help you work out what’s related in your site, and automated insight around how visitor journeys flow through your site. Plus, the improvements to the Horizon editing experience will be available for these deployments too.

Improvements outside the core product

For Content Hub, they’ve been touting improvements that include measuring the Engagement Value of the content you’re creating in the hub UI – based on integration with your Sitecore analytics data. Plus, adding abilities for managing video content and a raft of integration options around an open API specification. The Commerce product will also gain support for Docker containers, as well as new personalisation features to be better integrated with your analytics and main website, plus a revised storefront UI for easier and better shopping experiences.

Why should your organisation upgrade to Sitecore 9.4?

When the time comes, there are many reasons why organisations should choose to upgrade to Sitecore 9.4. Sitecore is constantly evolving in line with technological advancements and changing customer needs. Each update comes with a range of new and innovative Sitecore features that empower businesses to create industry-leading digital experiences for their audience. If you’re ready to discuss how to get more from this globally leading, digital experience platform – contact us today.

We are Kagool, a Sitecore Platinum Partner and an award-winning team of Sitecore digital marketing specialists. We have over 20 years’ experience in designing, building and optimising websites for enterprise level businesses. We have more technology Sitecore MVPs than any other UK agency, this means that our team know how to build instances with the industry best practice and have the expertise to ensure upgrading with Sitecore 9.4 is straightforward. Our clients benefit from having the best industry talent working on their projects to help their business achieve its digital goals. If you’d like to know more, book a demo or an audit – we’d love to help.