What is Sitecore? Sitecore Experience Cloud is an all-in-one digital experience platform that brings together unparalleled content management, marketing automation and eCommerce.
Named a Leader by Gartner in its 2020 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, Sitecore has always stood out from the competition. What is so remarkable about it? Let’s figure it out!
What Is Sitecore?
Sitecore’s journey started in Denmark in the 1990s: a group of enthusiasts created procedures that streamlined website development and management. This innovation paved the way for content management solutions, and by 2001, it evolved into the Sitecore content management system (CMS).
Today, it’s one of the world’s most remarkable digital experience platforms (DXPs), leading the way for the entire market. So what does Sitecore Experience Cloud have under the hood?
Today’s Sitecore platform is a comprehensive, flexible cloud that fuses the following products:
- Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) — a tried-and-true content management system that powers omnichannel content delivery
- Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) — a marketing automation solution that carves out personalized customer experiences
- Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) — an eCommerce platform that makes the most out of marketing automation to create bespoke shopping experiences
The platform brings together three different products and each of them performs a different task — manages content, creates unique brand experience or orchestrates commercial operations — but they all share one central idea: personalized user experiences. This enables companies to manage their digital assets, run their marketing activities and work on sales efficiency, while also ensuring that they do it for the right customer personas and in the right manner.
Each of these products provides incredible value when used independently of the others, but their combined action enables true synergy and creates a comprehensive ecosystem.
Sitecore Content Hub is the single data repository that holds all company data, performs all cycles of its management and supplies it to the vendor’s products.
Among the customers of Sitecore DXP, there are retail, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, educational, nonprofit and other companies. These include big names such as Nestlé, Suzuki, Subway, Procter & Gamble, the US Royal Navy and others.
For an understanding of Sitecore Experience Cloud’s capabilities, see the following video:
How Sitecore Benefits Your Digital Business
Recently, the platform has made a huge leap — from a CMS to a cutting-edge digital experience platform. How does this change benefit businesses that use it? Let’s take a look at the advantages that the platform now provides to companies.
- A holistic ecosystem for end-to-end management of digital experiences. Companies don’t have to coordinate siloed solutions: all components are integrated into a comprehensive cloud, working in sync and complementing each other. Utilizing the centralized content repository, seamless data management algorithms and a unified delivery model, the ecosystem provides a coherent experience throughout the customer journey.
- Best-in-class content personalization for seamless customer experiences. The capabilities for personalization are limitless: the platform provides unique value by tailoring content to the specifics of the individual user.
- Omnichannel content delivery for consistent user experiences at all touchpoints. An advanced headless CMS enables the scaling of content production and its distribution across various channels simultaneously.
- AI-powered marketing automation for quick and flexible adjustment to customer specifics. The advanced tools allow companies to provide engaging contextual information to their visitors and tweak it later if required.
- Unparalleled content management to make the best use of corporate data within the entire ecosystem. The solution allows companies to seamlessly manage their content — produce, edit, publish and deliver — to create customer experiences that are in sync with their goals.
- Insights-driven online storefront for a high conversion rate. eCommerce works in sync with user data, which enables engaging, user-specific shopping experiences.
- A comprehensive cloud for autonomy, flexibility and ease of management. The platform is now all about cloud and Azure. The vendor provides its services in the form of IaaS and Sitecore Azure PaaS with 24/7 support — Sitecore Managed Cloud. Sitecore SaaS will also become available soon.
- Single-platform management for coherence, flexibility and responsiveness. Companies can use one central platform to administer their content, including content created in multiple languages and targeted at different markets with local specifics.
- Helpful community and customer support for more efficient project implementation. There is 24/7 customer service, and the Sitecore developer network is also ready to help, contributing to quick and efficient problem-solving.
The Technological Pillars of Sitecore
Unmatched personalization and centralization that the platform provides to businesses stem from its well-thought-out structure and capabilities. Let’s find out how it works!
Technological Coherence as the Cornerstone
At the core of the system lies the technological coherence that contributes to enhanced Sitecore integration and flawless interoperability of products.
A few facts about the technologies used:
- Language: C#
- Framework: Microsoft .NET
- Platform: .NET Core
- Data storage: Microsoft SQL Server
- Server deployment: Internet Information Services on Windows
- Development: Visual Studio
- Deployment: PowerShell, Node.js
- Code: closed source
The microservices-based architecture enables the addition of a variety of modules that are based on different technologies and significantly facilitates integration between vendor products.
Since all Sitecore products are built on the .NET framework and written in C#, .NET expertise is all that’s needed for successful project implementation.
Machine Learning and AI for Unparalleled Personalization
The vendor makes the most of machine learning and AI to intelligently handle data. To unleash their potential for smart decision-making, the company introduced one-of-a-kind Sitecore Cortex and Sitecore AI.
They analyze large amounts of customer data and create personal digital experiences to provide each user with relevant, individually tailored content. These capabilities allow companies to get to know their customers, define their needs and supply them with relevant digital experiences.
Also, AI and Cortex enable powerful content optimization: they use the results of embedded A/B/N and multivariate testing to recommend the best personalization tactics that a company can apply.
Unlimited, Omnichannel Customer Reach with Headless CMS
With an increasing number of touchpoints, users are becoming more difficult to approach. Sitecore Omni — a hybrid headless CMS — helps a company scale the delivery of user-specific content via any channel that its customers use.
Different channels do not require unique pieces of content or switching between systems that aren’t aligned. A company can create content once and for all channels: websites, mobile apps, augmented- and virtual-reality technologies, IoT systems and many others.
One Content Hub to Rule Them All
Everything in the system is centered on the customer experience, which is why content is one of Sitecore’s priorities. The stand-alone solution Sitecore Content Hub is responsible for all content-related operations.
It provides a holistic picture of the corporate content and helps with all stages of its lifecycle: production, editing, personalization and distribution. Using the hub, the platform utilizes the most relevant content version available at the time.
Sitecore Experience Database (xDB) is the central data repository that brings data from all channels together and provides companies with a comprehensive, step-by-step illustration of the customer journey.
A Development Framework to Keep Pace with Business Necessities
As with all software development projects, Sitecore development time is unpredictable as it depends on a variety of factors. Sitecore offers the use of accelerators to reduce this time and help end clients get their solutions faster. The native solution — Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) — and third-party accelerators help companies streamline project kickoff.
Accelerators usually include templates and pre-built website components, drag-and-drop functionality and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing capability out of the box. Even with an SXA, companies still have a lot to do, but they will save time and considerable effort.
Comprehensive User Profiles to Be on the Same Page with Customers
All data that is relevant to a specific customer and has been gathered throughout the company-customer interaction history is stored in individual data-rich Sitecore xProfiles. These profiles keep every user’s life-long information, such as interaction history, preferences and others, which the platform can use to personalize the customer journey more efficiently.
Advanced Analytics for Intelligent Decision-Making
Sitecore xConnect is used to make the most of the data that the platform gathers throughout the customer journey, and to make intelligent decisions based on this data. It is an API that exists on top of the company’s raw data and synchronizes the platform with marketing systems and customer touchpoints — all to derive analytical results from data and send the results where they’re needed.
Sitecore: What Is under the Umbrella?
As mentioned, the platform meets all the needs of a digital enterprise: efficient management of corporate content, spot-on marketing activities and seamless commercial operations. Read on to discover the solutions under the Sitecore umbrella!
Sitecore Experience Manager
Although today the Sitecore platform is a comprehensive cloud, many people still associate it with the CMS that was its foundation. So, what is the Sitecore CMS like today?
Over the years, Sitecore’s simple CMS has evolved into an unparalleled content management system — the Sitecore Experience Manager (XM). It’s a powerful, interconnected, versatile and technology-intensive solution that helps businesses manage their content.
The power of Sitecore XM lies in the following capabilities:
- Single-platform content management across many websites, portals and systems
- Seamless management of multisite and multilingual content
- Easy-to-scale content production and publishing
- Content optimization according to the users’ preferred communication channels
- Drag-and-drop page editing with WYSIWYG content previewing
Since Sitecore 9.3, the Experience Manager has undergone significant expansion: Sitecore has introduced the next-generation Horizon module for content authors. Horizon brings together Sitecore’s best editing capabilities to create a one-of-a-kind content-editing experience for end users.
Sitecore Experience Platform
As noted on the Sitecore website, a powerful content management system is just the start. To make the most out of content, a company needs outstanding marketing tools to meet its customers right where they are and how they expect it — and all this can be found in the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP).
This customer experience solution is based on the Experience Manager and enriched with powerful personalization, marketing-automation and analytical capabilities — all that’s needed to create a unique customer journey.
Guided by and working in perfect harmony with the corporate marketing strategy, Sitecore XP provides customers exactly what they need and what resonates with them, at all steps of their journey and via all the channels they use.
Using Sitecore Cortex, Sitecore AI and the built-in marketing automation tool, the Experience Platform immediately reacts to user behavior and provides relevant content based on the analytical results.
The following features enable the unmatched personalization capabilities of the Experience Platform:
- Omnichannel delivery of multilingual personalized information from the single platform
- Collection of user interaction data from all touchpoints and channels, and its consolidation in a single repository
- Embedded analytics of user data based on machine learning and A/B testing
- Real-time content personalization powered by AI and machine learning
- Streamlined content tweaking based on the analytical results
- Flexible creation of various marketing scenarios and automation of marketing efforts
Image 1. Sitecore Experience Platform admin panel
Sitecore Experience Commerce
To help companies increase conversions and sales, Sitecore has extended its XP with a personalization-driven solution for omnichannel B2B and B2C retail — the Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC).
Using the buyer persona as the overwhelming consideration, Sitecore XC allows companies to adjust their digital storefronts to customer specifics and provide customers with the most relevant and effective terms of sale, pricing and promotions.
In the Sitecore eCommerce solution, outstanding content management and personalization are enriched with the following capabilities for online commerce:
- Inventory and product management that provides customers with a clear understanding of the company’s products and services and a 360-degree, real-time overview of its products and inventory.
- Order and customer management that provides a holistic picture of the company’s orders, their statuses, details and clients.
Image 2. Sitecore Experience Commerce admin panel
Sitecore Content Hub
Sitecore has created the Content Hub and placed it at the center of the Experience Cloud. It’s a content management tool that seamlessly integrates with other vendor solutions and helps companies manage their digital assets throughout their lifecycles and across all channels.
Using the hub, a company will keep all its data on a single platform, get a holistic overview of this data, and manage it as required by the company’s marketing strategy.
Capability Comparison between Experience Manager, Experience Platform and Experience Commerce
|Experience Manager||Experience Platform||Experience Commerce|
|Drag-and-drop website production||+||+||+|
|Headless content delivery||+||+||+|
|Multisite, multilingual content||+||+||+|
|Offline and cross-channel tracking||–||+||+|
|Customer interaction database and profiles||–||+||+|
|Analytics and reporting||–||+||+|
|Data integration framework||–||+||+|
|Campaign creation and management||–||+||+|
|Out-of-the-box commerce storefront||–||–||+|
|Pricing and promotions|
Approach Your Customers Personally
The one-of-a-kind content personalization makes Sitecore the number one solution for companies seeking to effectively approach their customers in the right place, at the right time and with the right content.
To learn more about our eCommerce and Sitecore development services and experience, or discuss your system needs, contact our specialists. Our seasoned Sitecore developers and architects will do their best to help you, regardless of solution complexity or lead time.