With about 1,000 digital marketing vendors competing in an arms race, Sitecore's CEO made it clear today that he intends to be among the superpowers.
Michael Seifert complained at the start of the Sitecore Symposium that the current chaos among vendors isn't serving marketers.
"Frankly, I think it's getting absurd," he told the throng of customers who've come to Las Vegas for the show. "Marketing technology is starting to fail the marketer ... Each digital marketing tool is limited to the channel on which it operates."
Sitecore's answer isn't likely to slow down that race. Seifert and other company executives previewed Sitecore 8, a unified platform that uses analytics to create a personalized, cross-channel marketing machine with automated testing. He said the upgraded technology will be available later this year.
Version 8 sports a simplified user interface, but more importantly, takes steps toward creating the type of highly targeted, real time marketing technology seen in the film Minority Report, where digital billboards pitch directly to Tom Cruise as he walks through a mall.
"While this is still science fiction, it is starting to happen," said Seifert. He noted Sitecore is working closely with Microsoft to apply machine learning with the goal of sending just the right ad to the right person at the right time.
He said the other large marketing clouds still fall short of where they need to be. "Essentially it's no different from buying different digital marketing tools today," said Seifert. "It's being marketed as a platform, but it's not yet a platform. That's two, three, four, five years down the road. But that's essentially the space that everybody is racing for."
Although much of Seifert's speech echoed the data and visions of the other digital marketing giants, it generally resonated well with the Sitecore loyalists in the house.
"I think it will add a significant value to our clients and to the needs of the industry," said Adam Hofheimer, managing director for government solutions at Cap Tech Consulting. "When you look at the industry, it's one of the only .Net platforms to accomplish this goal."
Hofheimer said Sitecore 8 compares well with the marketing clouds from Adobe or Oracle. "I think it's on par or will be better in the future," he said.
Kris Bailey, a content production specialist from the Mayo Clinic, said her organization is still upgrading to Sitecore 7, but now she's thinking it should wait for version 8.
"Our content is for physicians to use at the point of care," she said. "To be able to track what content is being hit the most would make their experience better and make it easier to find the content they're looking for."
John Conover, an implementation consultant with American Eagle, liked the user friendly interface, but said the biggest hurdle will rest in training the end user how to take advantage of all the features.
"While they've streamlined things to make it a little simpler, I still think it's (a challenge) to understand the power they have," he said. Until that happens, he predicted most of his customers are likely to continue using multiple solutions to solve specific needs.