Sitecore Symposium 2017: Driving Inspiration

Innovation
Platforms
Technology
Cloud
19 October 2017

As a Senior Solution Architect at Rightpoint, I have the fortune of attending this year's Sitecore Symposium. The conference is held at the Mirage in Las Vegas, and has been very well organized. Sitecore is hosting 2,900 attendees from 57 countries, from 600 different companies at the conference this year. The content has been a mix of new product launches, customer and partner stories, and inspiration on the future of machine learning and purpose-driven companies. Here is a recap of the new products and features I’ve seen so far.

Sitecore Experience Cloud

The big headline feature this year is the launch of the next version of Sitecore. Sitecore is launching the Sitecore Experience Cloud. This is based on three product capabilities around Sitecore. 

  • Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) -  content management system
  • Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) - digital marketing suite that provides personalization, marketing automation, customer database and a new forms tool.
  • Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) - commerce capability with pricing engine, promotion, and order management.

This is the version 9 series of the Sitecore Experience Cloud. I like the ring of “9 series” it sounds like a sports car with lots of horsepower and luxury features. Check out the overview on Sitecore.net.

The New Sitecore Model is Freedom

The history of Sitecore has been the all-in-one solution, built from the ground up. I see the future of Sitecore spreading its wings to embrace more of the market trends and products emerging in the industry. We are now open to many new patterns and technologies that were out of reach previously, and have more tools to utilize. You see many companies innovating in the software development world and bringing turnkey solutions to solve difficult problems at scale. Sitecore is very equipped to align to products in the industry. They become a very powerful force by using this model, and it also means they can focus on their sweet spot in the ecosystem and let others handle the rest.

A good example here is the use of Azure. Azure allows you to scale your delivery across the world. It enables you to configure a rule to add more servers when traffic spikes. It allows you to tap into caching and search capabilities, and the right sized platform as a service to meet your business needs. Sitecore also embraces the great ecosystem of JavaScript frameworks and tools that so many developers are used to. Existing developers can plug into the Sitecore world with the tools they know through the SXA Creative Exchange Live or through Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS).

A Headless System

Sitecore understands the separation of content and presentation. It has been a foundation from the beginning. Sitecore now has a framework called Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS). This enables a scenario to run the front-end servers on a non-Sitecore server. It could be anything that is a web server running Node.js server. The amazing thing they pulled off is you don’t have to give up the personalization, A/B testing, analytics, or inline content editing in this mode. They pieced the technology together to work seamlessly. This opens a lot of possibilities.

New Features

From a core Experience Manager platform standpoint, the new 9 series is better than ever. Three pillars of focus have been Enhancements, Time to Market, and Innovation. The star of the show here is Sitecore Cortex. Sitecore XP uniquely collects and connects real-time customer data and interactions from all campaigns, sources, and third-party systems over time; stores them in the Sitecore Experience Database (xDB); then generates real-time actionable insights with Sitecore Cortex machine learning for high-impact results. Machine Learning to drive automated insights and action is here today. Ready for an upgrade?

A few highlights of new features or improvements:

  • Sitecore xConnect – an API to integrate data with xDB
  • xDB on SQL Azure – enabled by the Sitecore xConnect layer (you don’t have to use MongoDB)
  • Native connectors to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics
  • Sitecore Cortex Machine Learning segment discovery, content scoring, continuous optimization, and automated personalization
  • All-in-one Commerce
  • Cloud First support from the ground up
  • New Sitecore Forms – simple drag and drop, multi-page, skin-able, easy to use
  • Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA 1.5)
  • Native Dynamic Placeholders
  • Federated Authentication
  • New PowerShell based installation with role definitions
  • Configuration Layers model to ease migration and support issues
  • OData Sitecore Service Client API
  • New Upgrade Tools with breaking change analysis

Closing

To wrap it up, we have a lot of new tools to build amazing customer experiences. It is the heart of what Rightpoint does and why I am excited to be an architect in this ecosystem. The power and opportunities are endless in what we can build. The new version of Sitecore 9 is available for download at http://dev.sitecore.net.  


Mike Marnocha is a Senior Solutions Architect at Rightpoint. Follow Mike on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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