Sitecore Symposium 2017: MVP Roundup

Tim Linberg, Chief Marketing Officer

October 30, 2017

We recently joined thousands of clients, partners, marketers, and developers in Las Vegas for Sitecore Symposium – the once-a-year opportunity to learn, network, celebrate, and absorb everything Sitecore. Of course, the big moment was the unveiling of the Sitecore® Experience Platform™ 9 in all its glory.

There was ample and well-deserved excitement around how this platform upgrade will help companies better optimize the customer experience, manage data across every touch point, scale efficiently, and make smarter decisions faster.

Below, our Sitecore MVPs and commerce experts serve up the big themes from their four days in Sin City, along with insights on how Sitecore 9 will impact your business.

1. Everything just got faster and more agile.

Speed and agility are hallmarks of a successful business - in terms of how you go to market, and how you manage your marketing operations. Sitecore 9 helps with both.

Thanks to performance enhancements across the platform, and the introduction of xConnect and Cortex, Sitecore has been supercharged to process data, and make machine learning-enabled decisions in the blink of an eye. More on xConnect and Cortex below.

In addition, not only are the tools themselves faster and more powerful, but they’ve also been reengineered for efficiency - enabling marketers to build and deploy campaigns, create pages, and access third-party data in ways that greatly improve time to market, and reduce dependency on engineers and IT colleagues.

Some key enhancements in Sitecore 9 include:

  • An enhanced Experience Accelerator reduces your time to market by allowing content teams to design, assemble, and deploy web content across channels with fewer development resources
  • Experience Editor boasts a 49% improvement in load time, easy access to the content tree, and auto-updates (no more Save button)
  • Sitecore Forms, landing pages, and marketing automation just got drag-and-drop facelifts and enhanced UI that makes building a deploying across channels simple and quick
  • Headless development, or Sitecore Javascript Services, enables front-end developers to efficiently access data from Sitecore without the need for engineer-built APIs

2. Everything just got smarter.

Sitecore was pretty smart before, but now it has a brain. One of the more exciting announcements in Las Vegas was the introduction of Sitecore Cortex™, machine learning and cognitive computing technology that is being weaved throughout the entire Sitecore Experience Cloud™, built on Microsoft Azure.

Sitecore Cortex provides a scalable service for processing data in the Sitecore Experience Database (xDB) to offer capabilities like surfacing highest value audience segments or optimizing user paths throughout your website. In the very near future, Cortex will deliver features like automated personalization and intelligent segmentation for improved marketing performance.

“Think of Sitecore Cortex as your own personal data scientist, but it’s available to you 24/7, 365 days a year, there to help you identify opportunities, and to avoid cautions and hazard areas, making recommendations to help you to improve the performance of your programs and your campaigns, and to deliver better experiences for your customers.”
- Sitecore Chief Marketing Officer Scott Anderson

Also introduced was Sitecore’s next-generation big data API framework, Sitecore xConnect - an underlying data platform that pulls data from a wide array of sources — a retailer’s beacon, a CRM app or even exercise fitness bands — into (and out of) the Experience Database. It makes accessing xDB data much easier, more consistent, and more scalable than in the past. Think of xConnect as the solution for tying your back office together - a unifier of every data source, and a major leap forward in fulfilling the promise of personalization.

Sitecore expects to leverage these two features, xConnect and Cortex, as it makes a deeper push into the commerce area; the duo can give brands startlingly sharp and detailed insights into the customer journey from an omni-channel perspective.

3. Everything at scale.

The outcome of these huge steps forward in speed and smarts is the ability to scale in ways that just weren't possible before.

Solving for scale is one of the biggest challenges facing any company. How do you manage growth? How do you spend more time (and less money) on growing your business, instead of the technology and processes that enable that growth?

One key answer lies in Sitecore’s move to the cloud, which offers all aspects of the platform running in a fully “serverless” capacity using Azure platform-as-a-service building blocks, without the need for any virtual machines to configure, manage, or patch. Couple that with the powerful ecosystem of Sitecore 9, and companies are now able to be completely and instantly responsive to business opportunities as they happen. So, for example, you can spend more time on how you'll leverage that huge PR hit, and less time on how you'll prepare for the potentially crushing influx of web traffic.

Similarly, xConnect is purposely designed for massive scale such that any facet of customer intelligence can be imported, analyzed, and then used to create a highly personalized and contextual digital experience.

Faster, smarter, and built to scale - that is a pretty powerful value proposition.

It's also important to note that Sitecore will be sun-setting mainstream support for versions below 8.x. This means if you are still on platforms 6.x or 7.x, the old adage applies - if you break it, you buy it. Companies should strongly consider mitigating the risk of disruption to their business, as well as the potential cost of custom solutions, by upgrading in the near future.

Have questions, interested in Sitecore, or want to assess your readiness for an upgrade? Contact us and we'll help you evaluate your business needs and technology stack to ensure you are ready for success.