At Sitecore’s annual Symposium event last week, CEO Michael Seifert opened the show with a story about a splash of paint and small town in Tuscany — a Jackson Pollock splash of paint and the town where he proposed to his wife to be exact.  Fast-forward a few minutes and Seifert revealed the plot: tying his knowledge of his future wife’s love of Jackson Pollock with the context of how he fumbled (and then recovered) his marriage proposal, she agreed to marry him.  He told this story to deliver his message of ‘experience marketing’: the more you know about someone and the context they’re in, the better your chances to dynamically respond to and refine the experiences that will resonate with them. 

While nay-sayers might comment that this strategy feels like a ‘me too’ to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud announcements from the past few years, the specific features were getting a healthy amount of excitement from the audience because they saw momentum.  Specifically, momentum built on v.7.5’s  MongoDB "Experience Database" foundations released in July.  These foundations will be put to good use to help v.8 deliver new features later this year or early 2015 around customer data and content testing/ optimization:

  • Unified experience profile includes visualization across the customer’s interactions over their entire relationship timeline.  All data in profile is (or will be) fully extensible and you can personalize against it.
  • Federated Experience Manager' tracks data on non-Sitecore sites via a JavaScript layer — and can inject personalized content there too.
  • "Test everything" optimization strategy is a big set of new testing capabilities in the alpha stage of development, that even includes a gamification aspect to users of the platform to compete on the accuracy of their guesses of the 'engagement value' for each content change.

The story was much bigger than just a focus on customer data, including a search partnership with Coveo, a refresh to the UI framework making it extensible, future social marketing capabilities via an investment in Komfo, and SiteCore Commerce – with two editions. 

However, my personal interest was piqued when speaking with a few of SiteCore’s SME’s and with their first and only platinum, global services partner, Avanade, about Cloud, namely Microsoft’s Azure platform.  Leveraging Azure, Sitecore is already delivering a wide range of scalable hosting benefits.  Soon machine learning will be added to the mix, and eventually (v.9 perhaps?) Sitecore may be able to break out of the limitations of on-prem versioning.  By instantly spinning up unique instances of the platform, only loading the necessary components, Sitecore may achieve many of benefits of SaaS without sacrificing all of the customization of on-prem.  This is all hypothetical, and it relies almost completely on Microsoft, but it left me thinking that the .NET ecosystem — Sitecore included — has some cool opportunities to capitalize on in v.8 and beyond.

Note: we recently reviewed Sitecore’s platform against 12 competitors in our Wave report: Digital Experience Delivery Platforms, Q3 2014.  The platform race is on, and we’ll be following this market and updating our research accordingly, but we’d love to hear your comments on the features, capabilities, and strategies that you care about most.