Without further ado, let’s dig into some of the major Sitecore Symposium announcements:
DAM is back in vogue - Digital Asset Management (DAM) has always been a missing link in the Sitecore product portfolio compared to other enterprise DXP clouds. Enabling DAM capabilities has historically been accomplished through 3rd party connectors with enterprise DAM platforms and related technology partnerships (e.g., Adam Software, Widen, Digizuite). StyleLabs adds DAM and more to Sitecore, including: Marketing Resource Management (MRM), Product Information Management (PIM) and Web-to-Print services. The vision is that these features together will help orchestrate an end-to-end solution to manage the content / asset lifecycle and help to enable data-driven, highly personalized, cross-channel experiences.
Sitecore + Salesforce is here to stay - Sitecore and Salesforce have been technology partners for several years now, and have already built the Salesforce Sales Cloud (CRM) connector to bi-directionally sync contacts between Sitecore XP and Salesforce. It wasn’t until last year at Dreamforce that the next integration with Sitecore was announced - Sitecore Connect for Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC). Although the current version of the connector is focused on digital asset reuse between the Sitecore Media Library with Salesforce Email Studio, one can only imagine the future possibilities for bi-directional integrations with marketing automation journeys. This will provide even more cross-channel personalization and customer data possibilities between Sitecore and Salesforce.
The new head is Sitecore Cortex - At this year's symposium, we learned a great deal more about enabling AI and machine learning with Sitecore Cortex. Sitecore has xDB, collecting data at scale, and xConnect, a mechanism for moving data. Now Sitecore Cortex and its Processing Engine will give you the tools to apply intelligent algorithms to understand and find opportunities within your data. Cortex allows you to act on those insights immediately or store for later consideration. Sitecore designed Cortex with both programmers and data scientist in mind, allowing each to use their tools of choice (e.g., C#, R, Spark), or plug into external APIs. There is direct integration with Microsoft Machine Learning Server which supports industry standards ML modeling languages. An example given in one of the sessions was a music store, where after purchasing an album, recommended products were suggested by integrating with an external API, Spotify, in this case. The applications of machine learning in Sitecore are vast and will help marketers fine-tune profiling, personalization, user journey analysis, attribution models or even automate tasks such as content tagging.
Accelerating Sitecore - Although Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SxA) is not new, it is worth mentioning as there were many valuable sessions and significant evolution of the product. SXA is many things; a component library, a framework for paralleling workstreams (e.g., content, user experience, design, development), enhanced features for developers’ and authors’ productivity. Even if you think you don't need all those pre-built components and want to design on your own, various features set up an excellent foundation for development and authoring that are worth considering. If you have many sites in one Sitecore instance maybe the enhanced multisite features will be helpful, maybe cloned sites if you have many sites following a similar content architecture/layout, snippets, rendering variants, grid framework support, and column splitter are all additional features to explore.
There's a lot of exiting news coming from Sitecore and it will be interesting to see these expanded capabilities in action, driving highly personalized and connected experiences with compelling customer case studies over the coming year.