Sitecore Experience Platform: Orchestrating Connected Experiences
POSTED : September 30, 2014

We were just at Sitecore Symposium in Las Vegas and in Barcelona, speaking on the topic of Federated Experience Manager or “FXM” (more on that later), and were really impressed by all the features of the newly announced Sitecore 8.

Sitecore has led the market as CMS vendors reposition themselves to be all-in-one experience management platforms. Keeping up with the lingo has been as challenging as keeping up with Sitecore’s growing list of capabilities. First called the Sitecore Online Marketing Suite (OMS) then renamed the Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) and Digital Marketing System (DMS), it is now simply the “Sitecore Experience Platform” with a host of supporting components, and it is now poised to offer truly connected experiences.

Here are some of the highlights…

Sitecore Experience Platform: Orchestrating Connected Experiences

Sitecore 8 and the soon to be released Sitecore Experience Platform

Sitecore AIDA

AIDA stands for analysis, insights, decisions, and automation. AIDA encompasses Sitecore’s growing list of features that tend to get digital marketers excited: A/B and multivariate testing, lead nurturing, profile scoring, behavioral targeting and personalization, goal tracking, experience analytics, etc.

The measurement and optimization dashboard in Sitecore 8

Feature sets have continued to improve since earlier versions of Sitecore’s OMS and DMS. After several years polishing the product’s capabilities, Sitecore is able to compete head-to-head with the best point solutions on the market. Now rather than having to purchase, implement, and integrate separate tools for personalization, testing, marketing automation, and analytics, marketers will have everything available in one connected platform.

Viewing campaigns by value and visits in Sitecore 8

For example, Sitecore has invested heavily in automated testing and optimization. While showing off the newly announced Sitecore 8 at Sitecore Symposium, Sitecore demonstrated how it recommends relevant content, suggests segments to target and conversion paths, and automatically writes rules to optimize the new information.

The Sitecore Experience Database

The newly announced Sitecore Experience Database, now powered by MongoDB, is capable of collecting analytics data and customer profile information at scale. The Sitecore Experience Profile gives organizations complete visibility of every interaction a customer has, from their first visit, across all channels. Previously, these types of capabilities were only offered by leaders in the customer data platform space and required a sizable investment.

The Sitecore Experience Profile in Sitecore 8

By combining customer data into a single repository, you can begin to compile a more complete view of your customers and how they’re engaging. The Sitecore Experience Profile is the name Sitecore has given the view into the data, which allows you to see every interaction with every content element across channels, and build a picture of what your visitors want and need.

Similar in concept to a data warehouse, the key difference provided by Sitecore’s Experience Database is that it will allow marketers to take action on cross-channel data in real-time. Actions taken by a customer in one channel can influence personalization rules in another, for instance. Traditional data warehouse solutions tend be a rearview-mirror-view of customer engagement and only useful for reporting. This is exactly the type of insight we think about when trying to understand user needs to create relevant content and great experiences.

Sitecore Federated Experience Manager

Sitecore Federated Experience Manager (FXM) is a newly available module for Sitecore 7.1+ and will be part of the core platform in Sitecore 8. FXM allows you to manage and measure the customer experience on non-Sitecore sites and applications, driving a consistent experience across all of your previously disconnected channels.

Sitecore Federated Experience Manager

We were fortunate to gain early access to FXM on behalf of one of clients and presented at Sitecore Symposium when it was officially announced and made publicly available.

Our view is that FXM a game-changer for Sitecore. Being able to track activity and manage content using the full capabilities of Sitecore on non-Sitecore sites will significantly reduce the challenges marketers face in delivering connected experiences. Use cases include:

  • A company in acquisition mode needs to quickly take control of existing websites and start to bring them under the main brand umbrella.
  • A company owns multiple brand websites, and needs to have a single view of how a single individual is interacting with those sites, and then personalize the experience across all the sites for a single, consistent experience.
  • A company can’t wait for a new website to be developed before leveraging Sitecore’s capabilities, so they leverage Federated Experience to easily track, measure, and personalize the experience on existing sites.
  • A company hosts sites or applications that cannot be managed by Sitecore, for example, secure sites they can’t traditionally monitor/track centrally or non .NET sites.

Bringing it all together

With the upcoming release of Sitecore 8, due out this winter, Sitecore is well situated to extend its lead in the experience management space. In the past, we would see many organizations not leveraging Sitecore’s full capabilities. Some would purchase the platform for its ability to drive personalization, only to have personalization relegated to Phase 2. Others found that individual tools for testing or analytics better met their requirements for managing cross-channel engagement.

Up until now, Sitecore has had to rely on positioning its AIDA offerings as being best-of-need, versus best-of-breed. Now it’s beginning to outpace vendors who only offer point solutions. Sitecore’s release of FXM and its ability to extend what you can do with Sitecore to non-Sitecore sites and applications couldn’t be more timely.

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