Sitecore xDB

Sitecore xDB
1st April 2019

A quick guide to how Sitecore xDB can help your organisation get the most out of user data to drive digital strategy

What is Sitecore xDB and why do organisations need it?

Sitecore xDB, also referred to as Sitecore Experience Database, is used to create a 360-degree customer view by collecting and connecting data across any channel in real time. This can help organisations get to know their customers better.

Prior to version 7.5, Sitecore was stored data in SQL. Issues with scaling and flexibility required a change. Sitecore turned to MongoDB as a NoSQL database, to provide this.

xDB was first introduced in Sitecore 7.5, using MongoDB to store analytics data. MongoDB is the technology that stores your users’ activity data behind the scenes. This includes valuable data from user journeys, interactions and engagement points. XDB is a key feature for organisations that need to quickly be able to make sense of big data. xDB quietly works in the background, translating website data into something more meaningful for marketers. That helps to inform digital marketing strategy and refine their campaigns and goals.

xDB and Sitecore 9

Sitecore xDB is still present in Sitecore 9, however, its back to SQL (onPrem or Sitecore Azure SQL depending on your choice of IaaS or PaaS). Why the change back? The general consensus within the Sitecore community was that Mongo added an extra complexity. It is not commonly used and it isn’t a core skillset found within development teams. Introducing it brought challenges. Sitecore have acknowledged this and have switched back to the familiar SQL offering that seems to be better suited to the majority of development teams. However, in 9.0.2 Sitecore reintroduced Mongo as an option.

In Sitecore 9, there was also the introduction of Sitecore xConnect. The interface fronting Sitecore xDB.

Diagram 1.0 – xDB fronted by xConnect to handle data exchange

How can xDB help my organisation?

Organisations that utilise Sitecore xDB benefit from, “the power of data”. Customer data is a highly valuable commodity, that when converted into actionable insights, gives businesses the power to significantly improve their digital marketing strategies. Each fragment of data collected from a single user’s visit, and interactions across your website, contribute towards a stronger, more meaningful customer relationship. This is key to creating amazing customer experiences, through techniques like personalisation. This helps build customer loyalty and can increase conversions.

With xConnect in place, organisations have the power to connect and collect data from other external “non-Sitecore” applications, often referred to as Omni-channel data collection. This allows businesses to use that data, alongside any data collected from the Sitecore implementation to tailor the experience further.

Do I have to have xDB?

The simple answer here is “no”, there is a Sitecore licensing offering which is “without xDB”, known as the “CMS only” mode or the “XM topolgy” (shown in the diagram below).

Sitecore xDB_Kagool

However, you need to think about why you wouldn’t want xDB. More to the point, why your organisation isn’t interested in collecting user data and having the tools to create more relevant and engaging user experiences for your customers. Choosing to pass on xDB also means choosing to limit your ability to use the elements of Sitecore’s experience marketing features.

Implementations with Sitecore xDB benefit from an extensive functionality portfolio that includes:

The following are compatible with a CMS only model, but with limited functionality.

  • Campaign Creator – runs without analytics functionality
  • Sitecore Personalisation – in-session personalisation works, but personalisation based on historical data is unavailable.
  • Web Forms For Marketers
  • Sitecore Forms – runs without analytics functionality.

Find out if xDB is right for your organisation

Whether you’re already on Sitecore or considering it as a new platform, at Kagool we’d be happy to talk through your requirement. Established in 1999 and a top tier Sitecore partner, we are confident that we can help. Contact us today to speak to one of our specialists.