Thumbnail image for 2014-27-August-Elvis.jpgOften overshadowed by other marketing clouds, Sitecore will enjoy its day in the Las Vegas sun next week when it unveils a major update to its customer experience management platform.

Though it's not official, the Copenhagen-based company is likely to unveil version 8 at the Sitecore Symposium, which runs Monday through Wednesday.

The show's centerpiece is the just completed integration of into the Sitecore platform. Sitecore, which bought the e-commerce engine last November, reports that the result is a platform that provides an analytics-driven, real time, personalized experience to customers across all channels. 

Moving Beyond Promises

2014-27-August-Mark Floisand.jpg

"The one key thing we're really going to be focusing on for both our customers and prospects is that we've effectively brought together a single, connected platform that delivers on this promise," said Mark Floisand, vice president of product marketing, pictured, right. "People talk about it, but we built it."

Among those who talk the loudest about that promise are Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce, all of which market similar systems and plan product upgrades this fall. Sitecore's biggest challenge may be to create a marketing buzz that rises above the competing din from both the big players and mid-tier niche players.

"They'd love to be compared to Adobe," said Scott Liewehr, president of Digital Clarity Group, which tracks vendors in the customer experience field. But he said Sitecore competes more often with the mid-range niche companies like Acquia, EPiServer and Marketo."I think they're facing more and more competition now," said Liewehr. "All these platforms are overlapping each other."

In the end, that may not really matter, the analyst said, because most companies are patching together their own clouds, using technologies from several companies rather than relying on a single vendor. "The problem for Sitecore is that nobody is using the entire stack," said Liewehr. "It doesn't matter if they're the first one to put the parts together. And, by the way, they're not." 

Customer  Trials

Through its Lighthouse program, the company recently invited select customers to see how well Commerce Server has been wedded with the other features in Sitecore. The company then asked some of those customers to share their experiences on the big stage in Vegas.

In essence, the company has adapted its pre-existing API for Commerce Server and optimized it to take advantage of Sitecore features. For example, if a shopper abandons a cart before checkout, Sitecore analytics looks into that shopper's history for clues on what could close the sale. If that suggests that the shopper would respond to a deep discount, a discount offer is sent.

Philosophically, Floisand says Sitecore believes that analytics should be a tool that helps to build a long-term relationship with customers rather than just close a sale. Sitecore's goal is to help its clients maximize revenue throughout the customer's lifetime journey.

"Most technology companies, at least from a marketing technology point of view,  have been largely focused on selling to enterprises things to help them acquire more customers and convert them," said Floisand. "But there's relatively little attention to how to build on an ongoing communication with them based on the information you have about them."

2014-27-August-Sitecore CXMM.jpgSitecore's CX maturity model 

Watching Every Move

He said all of a customer's information should guide the ongoing communications that brands have with customers. "And our ability to connect and integrate that information into the experience database, and therefore use it to better inform every interaction, is a large part of the business value around Sitecore," Floisand said.

"We talk about engagement value as a single metric that is a way of unifying and being able to discern between the value of content in different channels," he said. "How one element of content performs in one channel over another, not just at a page level, but at a content item level, wheresoever it is."  

The company also has a fresh view of testing.  "Really, we're moving to a world where we test everything by default," said Floisand. "So instead of tests being something you do on a routine, regular basis with a little discipline, they become part and parcel of how you publish content." 

Title Image by Maridav / Shutterstock.