To borrow a phrase from defending Super Bowl champion coach Pete Carroll, Sitecore was "pumped and jacked" at its annual conference in September when it previewed Version 8 of its web content management system (CMS).

Meanwhile, it quietly released a softer update, Sitecore 7.5, which introduces an Experience Database (xDB) that is designed to help end-users make immediate use of customer data.

"The big change  with 7.5 is the ability to collect and connect customer experience data at scale," said Mark Floisand, vice president of marketing for Mill Valley, Calif.-based Sitecore. "When I say collect and connect I mean gathering information from both within Sitecore and other systems. We're aggregating that information down to the individual level so marketers are able to effectively have a single view of the customer."

Grand Visions

Sitecore CEO Michael Seifert told us in September his organization is ready to take on the Adobes and Oracles of the marketing cloud world. Version 8, expected to hit the streets by the end of this year, will help, officials believe. They already swim in the same waters as those Great Whites anyway, according to Gartner.

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As for version 7.5, the highlights include:

  • Flexible and scalable architecture that handles large amounts of customer data
  • Ability to scale both up and down from small single instance, low traffic solutions to larger solutions consisting of hundreds of servers designed to handle high volumes of traffic 
  • An Experience Profile within the Experience Database that provides a centralized object to store all known data against an individual, whether the individual is known or anonymous
  • Contact Search that extends Sitecore 7’s search and indexing to find groups of people with common characteristics in the xDB
  • Sitecore Tag Management client library, previously available as a separate download, is now distributed as part of the platform

Floisand told CMSWire marketers will have the ability to build comprehensive profiles on prospects and customers automatically -- without having to worry about having the foresight to create tags in a certain way.

Its Experience Profile within the Experience Database is the visualization of each individual record that includes views of things like a timeline (when every interaction takes place), outcomes (purchases, conversions, etc.) and anything related to the business that individual has done.

"It's every web visit, every email interaction, every touchpoint, across all channels — collected and connected," Floisand said, adding the data is also actionable in real time.

Faster Development

Sitecore's last CMS platform update came in March with 7.2. The big releases -- like the one coming up next month with Version 8 -- come about 15 to 18 months between each other. The smaller ones, like with 7.5, come in the months between the larger releases.

"But the way we're building out our experience platform over the last two years we've accelerated somewhat," Floisand said. "With 7.0, the focus was on content management and with 7.1 and 7.2 we focused on a user interface foundation, frameworks that give people a lot of customization for end users like marketers. With 7.5 we've improved the data foundation and the ability to collect and connect."

And with 8.0? With that, Floisand said, we'll see an "additional experience management layer that provides marketers with a richer set of tools to harness all this experience data that will now be accumulating under the hood."