Sitecore 9 highlights from a digital strategist perspective

It was a long and intensive week in Las Vegas at the Sitecore Symposium and MVP Summit. Great announcements were made and version 9.0 of Sitecore was introduced. I had the opportunity to discuss further details with other MVPs and Sitecore folks.  So here are some of the points I find important for anyone deciding for the future with Sitecore.

  • xConnect & Data exchange framework
    • Game changer that will simplify to load and get data back from Sitecore’s xDB, it will be now much easier and you can map any well documented API of 3rd party system to Sitecore
    • Essential integration with other data sources like CRMs or DMPs will be much faster and I would say for the 1st time possible
  • Marketing automation campaigns
    • Much more comfortable way to manage various customer journeys scenarios and communication on the journeys
    • Visitors can be enrolled into the camping by the standard rules so there is no adhoc development needed
    • The product team is work on this part of Sitecore heavily and there are some more major improvements planned for upcoming months.
    • I believe that Sitecore is now able to give real omnichannel functionality for the marketing automation.
  • New forms
    • Tracking the digital goals and conversion points is easier as never and even there are some known bugs on the list, new forms are on the right way to help customers to get rid of the custom forms and the development needed for complex solutions.
    • The UI is much intuitive and content editors and marketers will find it more convenient to create a form.
  • Machine learning Cortex
    • This will come in later 9.X releases, to use machine learning out of Sitecore and connect any models or decision engines is a base for any personalization that is automated and dynamic.
  • New Lists
    • With 50 new rules is easier to create segments.
    • List manager is finally designed well to be used in day 2 day operations.
  • SBOS Accelators
    • Interesting stuff I personally was not aware of. Especially UTM parameters mapping to campaigns, profiles tracking on content items and relevant content decision “engine” is a must for any advanced implementation of Sitecore.
  • JSS
    • Easier way how to manage content and personalization even in the headless mode, very useful for mobile apps and fast to market development of camping microsites or rich frontend apps.

What stays the same?

I would say basic principles how to design Sitecore solutions. Proper concepting work for the personalization and CX is a must to start prior to any implementation. That means digital goals are identified, prioritized and set correctly, taxonomy is specified and camping groups are created. Customer journeys should be described as well. Personas are mapped to the content on the site. By having prepared all from this list this you can start tracking interactions with content pieces and have meaningful data for any further analysis of performance.

What to wait for in the upcoming months?

  • Completely new UI of Sitecore called Horizon & Zenith
    • This will be a tool every content editor would like to work with. Sitecore finally did a major step towards its customers and is creating the UI that fits the end user. Check it out here.
  • New Commerce and integration of EXM into Sitecore
    • All the former modules will have the same principles how to manage experience, will share the same functionalities as Marketing automation or Rules engine thus content teams can benefit from same features and will have the same back end experience as well.
    • Email as a main direct communication channel integrated with Commerce will help customers built great shopping experiences.

Interested to hear how Sitecore 9 will change the way you talk to your customers and how to plan your digital strategy with Sitecore? Feel free to get in touch for a personal conversation about the topic!

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