Sitecore XP 9: Delivering The 360-Degree Customer View
The world of marketing has evolved to dizzy new heights over the last decade and our partners at Sitecore have embraced this change every step of the way.
According the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report 2017, Sitecore is positioned alongside leading technology vendors such as Adobe as the highest in “Ability to Execute” for a third consecutive year.
The development of Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), Version 9, promises to unify all customer data and interactions from campaigns and other data sources into one consolidated platform. The aim is to provide marketers with an ongoing, holistic, real-time view of the customer. Our data analysts and developers couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Sitecore XP 9 opens up radical new opportunities for marketers while empowering them to make far more efficient use of a treasure trove of data at their fingertips. It also includes major updates to xDB, the first being that users gain the freedom to deploy it on Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SQL Azure in addition to MongoDB. Sounds great, right? Here’s a round-up of the key features.
Sitecore Cortex - Machine Learning
Leveraging the abundance of customer data that Sitecore collects, this update introduces Sitecore Cortex, a machine learning engine woven throughout the Sitecore Experience Cloud. Cortex’ advanced algorithms deliver real-time insights across both native and third-party customer data. Customer behaviour, decisions, interactions, and outcomes are continuously processed and optimised to unveil new customer segments and revenue opportunities, giving brands a competitive advantage.
Marketers not only benefit from a rich, holistic customer view, but can now act on intelligent insights to generate omnichannel experiences that are highly personalised for each individual.
The Sitecore team has taken numerous steps to minimise work by frontend devs, to give marketing teams more control over the platform. The update allows users with little Sitecore or .NET experience to deliver exceptional experiences, efficiently.
Sitecore Forms UI
In another area, Sitecore Forms (a new product to replace basic web forms) has been completely redesigned for today’s marketers with a drag and drop UI to create forms and new features to ensure that more quality customer data can be captured and acted upon with ease. The analytics and reporting capabilities of the Sitecore Forms application enable marketers to evaluate the effectiveness of their forms instantly.
On the Performance Tab, you can see an overview of the performance of your form and make quick decisions where necessary. For example, marketers can now identify points of user friction instantly by viewing form abandonment instances. This is incredibly useful during A/B testing and provides quantitative data to impact CRO.
Sitecore has also built in a new feature, Sitecore xConnect, which improves xDB by allowing the collection and interchange of customer data across channels and with external applications, at scale.
xConnect is 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 CRM system or channel. xConnect allows marketers to understand exactly what the customer or prospect has been doing. Golden information that supports marketer to tailor comms to delight targets.
A lot of work has also gone into PII and GDPR compliance, also known as, “the right to be forgotten”. Using xConnect, it will be possible to create various modules to comply with the legislation which will come into force in 2018.
Another new tool in Version 9 is an incredibly slick and easy to use drag and drop user interface to create automated marketing campaigns. This is a replacement for Engagement Automation plans.
Marketing Automation will allow you to set up some complex campaigns, enabling marketers to set up triggers to enter a contact into the plan and effectively track them throughout their journey. The drag and drop functionality makes it simple to set up conditions and rules allowing marketers to validate campaign decisions on numerous data points gleaning demographic data, device detection, list membership, personas, campaign and goal triggers, allowing marketers to deliver a deeply personalised online experience.
Is Now The Time To Upgrade To Sitecore XP Version 9?
Looking back, Sitecore Version 7 focused on the technical features that mostly benefited IT users, whereas Version 8 was all about empowering business users through an intuitive user interface. For us, the focus of Version 9 is all about the data-driven contextual marketing.
Our clients are demanding more and more every day because customers are demanding more. Brands who are still working with disconnected MarTech, will be unable to embrace the wonders of context marketing, something customers today don’t just need, but demand.
When customer data is spread across numerous applications and data sources, teams cannot see a complete 360-degree view of the customers. They won’t be able to create the unique, relevant, real-time digital experience that customers now expect.
Sitecore XP 9 gives marketers a strong foundation and a tightly integrated UX that enables brands to market contextual content in real-time, across every single digital touchpoint. This isn’t a decision about whether you should upgrade - it’s a decision about when you should. Our POV, there’s no time like the present.