Progress' Anton Hristov on Sitefinity 10 & Future Releases
Earlier this month, my co-worker Laura Myers and I were invited to attend SitefinitySummit 2017 as media, which took place in downtown Boston, with over 150 partners and customers. During this three-day event, we had an opportunity to capture the buzz directly from the event floor as we sat down with a number of customers, partners, and leadership, all providing us with insightful stories on industry trends and utilizing the Sitefinity platform. With 2700 + customers and 15,000 + websites in 115 countries it is one of the leading web content management systems.
The release of Progress Sitefinity 10 was announced during the event, and Anton Hristov, Product Strategy & Marketing at Progress, presented the Sitefinity roadmap and what’s planned for the next few releases during his keynote speech. Hot on the heels of this exciting news, we sat down with Anton to inquire about what issues have been addressed with this new release as well as what’s in store for the future release.
According to Anton, the main themes around the release are user identity management, user authentication, enterprise-grade security, and website administration.
When Progress Sitefinity announced the Sitefinity 10.0 beta version release in February, Laura interviewed Dale Young, Manager Sitefinity Sales & Channels, to inquire about what is paramount about Sitefinity 10, and one of the features he was excited about was user authentication based on OpenID Connect. During his interview, Anton also shared Dale’s excitement, when he was explaining how they have enabled visitors to log into websites using their existing social and email IDs including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Github and LinkedIn, with the Sitefinity 10 CMS. The third-party authentication for major social and email accounts is nothing new but what’s sophisticated about Sitefinity’s release in this regard is the out-of-the-box capabilities that significantly simplify the process of adding social logins to websites as according to Anton, the complexity of building these capabilities discourages organizations to captivate. What would they miss out on if they didn’t take advantage of social logins or other third-party OAuth and OpenID provider strategies, you may ask? First off, the ease of registration on the site increases the conversion rate. Secondly, marketers would miss out on gathering the rich customer data associated with these third-party sites, meaning that they miss out on the opportunity to offer visitors a more personalized, enriched digital experience.
With the new release, IT administrators can now rely on Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS) or LDAP to automatically authorize website users by mapping active directory roles to Sitefinity content management roles. In other words, if you log into one website and your company has many websites, then that identity will be transferred across all the sites through configuration. Anton claimed that with this new feature, their platform is the first CMS on the market to provide out-of-the-box identity management solution at this level because, with other vendors’ solutions on the market, there is a lot of custom development involved in order to achieve the same functionality. He also explained the business value of this functionality with an example: “To give an example of a single sign-on scenario, if you sign up for the BMW website to purchase a car, you, typically, have to create three logins with them. You need to perform a login for a loan, another login for BMW connected service to connect the car, and then lastly, a login for your dealer. However, we made it easier for BMW and other companies to manage user identity so that you will have only one login across all these different digital properties,” he added: “That way, it provides much better experience for users and more insight for the company as they will be able to combine all the behavior and all the properties, characteristics that user has.”
Another issue addressed with the new release is managing user rights outside of the CMS and implementing complex identity management requirements. IT Administrators now can easily enable ADFS or LADP to automatically authorize website users by mapping AD roles to Sitefinity roles.
Although it is said that developers and IT administrators should be most excited about this new release, there are improvements that will excite marketers as well and one of those is native support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) which help content marketers have better website performance and deliver better digital experiences especially on mobile. While he was elaborating on this capability, Anton stressed the importance of one aspect of working with SVG images: security. He said that malicious crypt can be embedded into those images so they are not safe to work with if you don’t have technology in place to prevent malicious script. In fact, Progress Sitefinity 10 CMS is the first solution to enable digital marketers to work with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) images, without the inherent security concerns associated with embedded malware.
On the topic of digital marketing initiatives, the conversation wouldn’t have been complete without talking about personalization. Fortunately, Anton addresses that need during his interview and informed us that they enhanced their capabilities for persona-based personalization with additional scoring improvements. Since a persona symbols a subset of contacts that share similar behavioral patterns, within the enhanced capabilities, users will be able to define rules to score those patterns. Scores are measured as points that a contact earns when completing a certain activity or interaction within the site. As a result, the data collected can be translated into meaningful insight for marketers.
According to Sitefinity, implementing a persona scoring model is part art and part science. Therefore, they claim that Sitefinity DEC makes it easy to attribute all user visits under a given website section to a persona profile, including repeat visits.
What is in Store for a Future Release?
During the interview, Anton demonstrated their strong commitment to solving main challenges businesses and marketers are facing. He particularly emphasized the main areas that marketers are tasked to thrive in; lead generation, personalization, and optimization.
From the lead generation standpoint, Anton told us that they are working on adding a native out-of-the-box connector for Oracle Eloqua, a marketing automation system, as well as making their platform much easier to integrate with other marketing automation systems. He noted that there are currently 212 marketing automation systems on the market hence they want to make it easy for the marketing organizations to achieve their goals of integration capabilities without having to rely on the IT organizations.
From the personalization standpoint, Progress Sitefinity plans to pioneer a new concept of lead nurturing on the web through utilizing personalization. To explain the drive behind this, Anton discussed a gap they often see in the market. He said that while marketers still nurture the leads via emails, many people are so burdened by emails thus the majority of lead nurturing emails get deleted before opened. “We can enable marketers to do personalization based on lead score so that they can nurture a lead on the web, especially, when that lead is anonymous. Marketers can drive them to convert, and then if it shifts from a warm lead to a hot lead, they can inform the sales team,” he said. Moreover, this capability will be available in real time not only for the web but also for applications and mobile devices.
From the optimization standpoint, in the near future, we will see Sitefinity releasing native out-of-the-box A/B testing capabilities to enable marketers to test a variety of the same experience and decide which one is the winner based on the numbers of conversions delivered without having to integrate a third-party platform. Additionally, Sitefinity 10.2 will include support for Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Anton said that that will be available out-of-the-box without any custom coding required, by noting that their platform would be the first solution adding native support for Google AMP. The value proposition of this functionality is that marketers will be able to optimize digital experiences for mobile devices and deliver content anywhere from 300 to 500 percent faster, compared to the web version of the same page.
Another exciting bit of news Anton shared with us for marketers is that Sitefinity is also planning to deliver better social sharing capabilities. In that scope, the vendor will make it really easy for marketers to control the tagline of the content when they share it on social networks, meaning that marketers will have the ability to preview the experience with their planned social media sharing. Anton noted: “Today, many marketers need to rely on technical help and deep understanding of open graph protocol to achieve that.”
On top of these Easter eggs that Anton shared with us, Chris Doran, Product and Solutions Marketing at Progress, nicely summarized what to expect from Sitefinity in the near future in his post: ”Starting this summer, we will be focusing on enhancing lead generation and personalization features, followed by a release of functionality to further optimize experiences. All of this leads into next calendar year when Sitefinity will release a completely redesigned content management experience—our team calls it Web Content Management Reimagined. The Sitefinity product teams are focused on delivering technology that helps tame the chaos associated with delivering personalized, engaging experiences.”
Knowing Sitefinity heavily focuses on the original promise of CMS, which is to allow the non-technical professionals like marketers and business users to get in the system and manage their day-to-day activities of their websites without the need of technical support, I can definitely say that the latest major release is a great achievement for the vendor. Based on the conversations we had during the event, I would also like to acknowledge that the clarity delivered on the product roadmap as well as the merge between Sitefinity and Progress has been very satisfying for customers and partners.
Additionally, I am sure all the attendees left Boston with pages and pages of ideas and were fully informed of the Sitefinity roadmap for the next few releases. For the CMS-Connected team, though, it was an amazing experience as we had a unique chance to soak up all those different invaluable perspectives from the Progress Sitefinity Community and brought so much unique content back with us for our audience. To binge on all of our exclusive content from the event, please check back to our website in the upcoming days as we will publish our interviews with Progress leadership: Loren Jarrett, CMO of Progress; Megan Gouveia, Sr. Manager Digital Marketing at Progress; John Ainsworth, SVP of Core Products; Dmitri Tcherevik, CTO of Progress, as well as some customers of Sitefinity: Johan Bäckman from Wärtsilä, Dan Bushlow from TJX Holdings, and Claudio Ferreira from Teknion.