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Unleash the Power of the xDB(east): Time to Tame It!

So now that you have a sense of how powerful Sitecore’s Experience Database (xDB) is, what’s next?

By and large, processes involved in unleashing the power of xDB are a perfect example of the intersection of marketing and IT. Whether you’re looking to leverage xDB as part of an upgrade on an existing experience, or if you’re in the process of transforming and redesigning your digital experience and will be onboarding Sitecore and xDB as part of the process, the steps involved in require strategic planning and implementation by both marketing and technology teams.

Every organization’s martech stack is different, so the “menu” of third-party data sources that you’ll be feeding your xDB(east) will vary. But there are commonalities between the types of implementation scenarios Verndale encounters with clients on a daily basis, and the approach to raising a happy, healthy, xDB(east) for both marketing and IT just requires some flexing depending upon the scenario.

Here are a couple scenarios that I encounter with clients every day, and my approach to next steps:

Scenario #1: “I’ve recently upgraded my instance of Sitecore and installed xDB as part of the process. We’re looking to do a full redesign and rebuild in the coming months, but what can I do now to leverage our investment in the platform and prove value to senior leadership?”

This is probably my favorite scenario in that there’s a delicate balance between planning for long-term scalability of data and achieving some quick wins. Redesigns/rebuilds by nature bring new sets of features, functionality, marketing strategies, etc., and are arguably the best time to “start fresh” when it comes to taxonomy creation, segmentation, third-party integrations, data collection, and processing.

“That’s great, Kirsten – but what do I do right now?” In short, you still need to plan, and plan in a mindset similar to how you will be when gearing up for your redesign. Your approach should be a bit more conservative due to an impending redesign/rebuild. However, you should still cast a wide net in terms of considering various data sources—even if your redesign/rebuild is 3-6 months away, I’m sure you have a sense of the types of data sources that are at play or those you are looking to onboard as part of the new experience. Why? It’s always easier to scale back and leverage data in a more simplistic manner vs. not even considering sources that are evergreen to your experience. If you don’t approach feeding your xDB(beast) with foresight in terms of potential “menu” items, your short-term implementation might require some re-work in terms of taxonomy classification and data mapping that will sustain the xdb(east) in the long-term.

Scenario #2: “We’ve recently upgraded our version of Sitecore and have installed xDB in tandem. We won’t be looking to redesign/rebuild our site for at least a couple years. How can I maximize the potential of our current 8.x version?”

I see this scenario as being a bit more straightforward than the first, in that I’m going to assume you’re working with a fairly defined set of features, functionality, and third-party data sources vs. one that has the potential of being entirely new as part of a redesign/rebuild. Here, I’d say you can be a bit more liberal in your approach than in scenario #1, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say consider the long-term impact on scalability in terms of taxonomies you create, etc.

In this scenario, I would up the ante in terms of spending development hours for customization to xDB and the rules engine to power XM tactics. I’d also say that it’s a good opportunity to go ahead and start leveraging Sitecore’s Experience Extractor to connect xDB to a business intelligence tool, but I’ll save that for another post. In short, with some additional time before a redesign/rebuild is on the horizon, I’d be more inclined to harness the true powers of the xDB(east).

Learn how you can unleash the power of the xDB(east), and stay tuned for the next installment of this series!