Sitecore made a great digital experience platform (DXP) even better with the release of Sitecore 9. Introduced at Sitecore Symposium last October, the major update significantly advanced the company’s flagship product — and made it easier for marketers to deliver multichannel digital experiences.
Sitecore 9 simplifies Sitecore administration by making a lengthy configuration process more predictable and organized. It also introduced two innovative features, Sitecore xConnect, and Sitecore Cortex.
Sitecore xConnect is a framework of APIs and services that enable users to integrate customer interaction data collected by Sitecore with customer data from a wide range of third-party data providers or channels.
Sitecore Cortex is a machine learning engine designed to deliver real-time insights across both native and third-party customer data.
Gartner Calls Sitecore a DXP Leader
Early this year, Gartner named Sitecore a Leader among 21 vendors in first Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs).
DXPs, as you might surmise, help you provide great digital experiences. They aim to eliminate the fragmented experience that can stem from loosely affiliated applications.
Gartner defines a digital experience platform (DXP), “as an integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints. Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy and continually improve websites, portals, mobile and other digital experiences.”
Sitecore DXP Strengths, Cautions
The Sitecore Experience Platform incorporates a collection of capabilities built around Sitecore Web Experience Manager, a web content management (WCM) offering, and Sitecore Experience Database (xDB), a single marketing repository for customer interaction data.
In its report, Gartner cited three strengths and three weaknesses of the Sitecore DXP. We asked Andy Uzick, vice president of MarTech Innovation at Arke and a Sitecore MVP, to put the analysis into perspective.
1. Sitecore offers a comprehensive DXP with many capabilities, including personalization, context awareness, and analytics.
“Over its long history, Sitecore has built up an experienced talent pool. In addition, the product is well understood among experienced professionals,” Uzick said.
2. Customers have high regard for Sitecore’s web analytics capabilities and insights, which address the needs of both IT and business users.
“Sitecore analytics are oriented to influence visitor experiences in real-time rather than only providing backward-looking reports. Marketers can provision Sitecore to proactively nurture visitors based on behavior instead of reacting to aggregates and adjusting after the fact,” Uzick said.
3. Sitecore’s API-oriented architecture and increasing array of connectors reduce the need for custom integrations
“Sitecore’s architecture has always been out front in its ability to be customized and integrate with the enterprise. This commitment to interoperability improves with every generation of Sitecore,” Uzick explained.
1. Sitecore has historically been complex and hard to use, though Sitecore 9 seeks to address these issues.
Uzick acknowledged, “Because of the breadth and depth of the Sitecore platform, it can be challenging to present a simple interface for casual users.”
But he said Sitecore is improving. “Starting with the advent of the page editor — now called the “experience editor” — Sitecore has evolved its interfaces, bridging the gap between complex capabilities and ease of use,” Uzick said.
2. Sitecore offers limited customer support and professional services because it depends entirely on partners for implementation services.
Uzick said it’s important for Sitecore customers to understand the Sitecore partner philosophy, which has driven broad adoption and created a thriving developer ecosystem.
“Like most robust enterprise platforms, most organizations find it effective to leverage an experienced implementer. Getting to know potential partners, evaluating their organizational fit, and examining firsthand their ability to meet your particular challenges is every bit as important as researching their reputation and experience,” he explained.
3. Complex implementations can create unexpected costs for Sitecore customers.
“Yes, implementation complexities can drive up the total cost of ownership. But added costs often reflect vision and planning as much as complexity. Many adopters are new to or at least not fully mature in the nuances of digital marketing and engagement.
“As a result, organizations often find they both the cost and benefit of ownership can exceed initial expectations,” he said.
Arke advocates starting with strategy. That way, you can optimize your project for the business outcomes you seek to achieve.
Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.