Sitecore Launched Version 9 of Sitecore XP and XM in Vegas
You know how the saying goes - “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Well, not in this case because Sitecore, an experience management software provider, just announced at its annual global user event, Sitecore Symposium 2017, which is currently taking place in the glamour of the heart of Las Vegas, that they rolled out a new Sitecore Experience Cloud, which offers a range of content management, digital marketing, and commerce tools as well as continuously optimized experiences, new approaches for collecting customer data, and real-time insights using machine learning. As part of the announcement, Sitecore announced a significant Version 9 release of its flagship Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) digital experience platform and Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) web CMS.
We are currently on location to capture all the announcements and conversations directly from the event floor. Next week, we will be publishing my video interview with Ryan Donovan, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Sitecore, where we will have discussed this announcement more in depth. However, until then, to give our readers a glimpse into what this product launch means to Sitecore’s customers, I had a chance to seize Donovan’s overview of the new release. “The most exciting part about our recent updates is our ability to deliver our platforms on a fully managed cloud service for the first time – something that is going to reduce a lot of implementation complexities, and increase time to value for our users,” said Ryan Donovan.
Terry Fortescue, Vice President, Product Marketing at Sitecore, commented on the release during the pre-briefing: “Version 9 is not only a big launch, it is a turning point of Sitecore. It is our pivotal go-to-market strategy.”
What do Sitecore XP and Sitecore XM Version 9 Bring Us?
As you may recall, version 7 had been focused more on the technical features that mostly benefited IT users, whereas version 8 was all about empowering business users through an intuitive user interface. To me, the focus of version 9 seems to be on the data-driven contextual marketing side of the things. It came as no surprise because it ties up with Sitecore’s strategy of extending its footprint further into the marketing and digital commerce worlds through innovation. The rationale behind my standpoint is that with the Version 9 release, Sitecore introduced Sitecore xConnect, a framework of rich APIs and services that allows users to integrate customer interaction data collected by Sitecore with customer data from nearly any third-party system or channel.
Sitecore's Data Exchange Framework was already linking exchanging content with any external source and enabling users to orchestrate exchange of data among third-party systems. However, there has been some unfavorable feedback from some customers on the complexity of the combination between Sitecore Experience Platform and Experience Database (xDB). With the launch of Sitecore xConnect, the vendor seems to address those concerns as Sitecore MVP and Technology Evangelist Jason Wilkerson puts it, “The new xConnect feature truly opens up Sitecore’s xDB analytics database—making it the perfect core system for any enterprise marketing technology stack.”
Aside from Sitecore xConnect, another important feature introduced by the Version9 release was Sitecore Cortex, an innovative machine learning engine with advanced algorithms that deliver real-time insights across both native and third-party customer data. Again, in alignment with the goal of extending its footprint further into marketing and digital commerce, with the addition of Sitecore Context, the vendor aims to enable its users to continuously process and optimize customer behaviors, decisions, interactions, and outcomes continuously. As a result, organizations will be able to tap into new customer segments and revenue opportunities. The feature has been announced as part of the Sitecore Experience Cloud.
According to Sitecore, with these new features, marketers will have a handle on intelligent insights to help them deliver highly personalized omnichannel experiences. Speaking of personalization, during the event, Sitecore also shared the key findings from its global study examining responses from 6,800 consumers and 680 marketing and IT decision makers to understand how brands are managing the data they collect from consumers, securing and analyzing it, and using it to deliver a more personalized customer experience. The research highlights are absolutely eye-brow raising. I won’t share them right now, though, as we will post my interview with Joe Henriques, Vice President of Innovation at Sitecore from the Symposium discussing the intriguing findings from their new research revealed. For more on that, stay tuned!
If we circle back to the Version 9 release, in addition to Sitecore xConnect and Sitecore Cortext, there are many more new enhancements announced. Here are some significant features:
Newly designed web forms, scalable e-mail marketing, and rich automation for marketers
Powerful headless capabilities for developers who want to deliver digital experiences on IoT, wearables, and other mobile devices
Sitecore Connect for Salesforce and Sitecore Connect for Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM systems
Greater security and control with Federated Authentication and encryption support for personally identifiable information (PII) to help customers with compliance obligations
Newly introduced Sitecore Experience Cloud during the event is essentially the umbrella brand for its other three components which are Sitecore Experience Manager (web content management platform), Sitecore Experience Platform (digital marketing platform), and Sitecore Experience Commerce (digital commerce platform). With the release of Version 9.0, Sitecore will try to convey a message saying that the vendor is going BIG. Where do I get that vibe, you may ask? For starters, Sitecore executives claim that Sitecore has raised the quality bar with Version 9.0 and they describe its latest product release as unlike any other product launch. Additionally, with the new enhancements and studies, the vendor seems to be targeting pinpoint accuracy on how their customers utilize the platform and how they can leverage usability.
Sitecore has always been very good at speaking to developers and IT users, and I think they will keep up that momentum but where the vendor will get more aggressive is targeting head of marketing departments, CMOs, and other marketing folks out there by broadening their conversations. That brings us back to my earlier point saying, ”the focus of version 9 seems to be on the data-driven business side of the things.”
As you read this article, we, the CMS-Connected team, will be collecting epic stories and lessons learned from cross-disciplinarian practitioners such as customers, marketers, developers, business leaders, tech leaders, and e-commerce managers to bring so much unique content and different invaluable perspectives back with us. To binge on all our content from the event, do not forget to check back to our website or social media channels.