NEW ORLEANS — Maybe it's just an occupational hazard, but Darren Guarnaccia, EVP of Customer Experience at Copenhagen, Denmark-based Sitecore, arrived at the company's annual user conference here this week full of enthusiasm about Alaska Air and the customer experience it provides. 

He had a great flight! Alaska Airlines' focus on its customers comes through on everything! The airline has clearly empowered its employees to make sure of that, Guarnaccia concluded.

Guarnaccia's enthusiasm, however, goes into overdrive as he explains what the next three days will be all about. Yes, the company is debuting an upgrade to its flagship product — Sitecore XP 8.2 — and while it's a significant one the majority of the content at the Sitecore Symposium is community generated. 

"This is what we will be talking about," Guarnaccia tells CMSWire: "how can I deliver a better customer experience faster? How can I fail fast? How can I be an agile marketer?"

Sitecore Symposium is designed to connect Sitecore experts, marketers, developers, partners and customers from around the world for two full days of education, networking and knowledge sharing. It runs through tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

A Shift to NET Core

These are questions Sitecore asks itself, incidentally. It is why the company has decided to incrementally re-architect its entire stack around to Microsoft's NET Core platform.

"We are embarking on that right now — you can see bits and pieces of NET Core in Sitecore 8.2 and you will see more of it in the release that is coming out this winter," Guarnaccia says. "NET Core is Microsoft's answer to the new coding standards and the way people build things now online. It is very microservices oriented."

For example, one of the new features in 8.2, Advanced Publishing, is based on NET Core.  It publishes context via a parallelized distribution engine that uses distributed cloud deployments. For the end user that means less lag time, or no more spinning wheel. 

However, most of 8.2, including the Experience Accelerator which is its main feature, is still on the existing platform. The Experience Accelerator is a wireframe toolset with more than 80 drag-and-drop components.

The beauty of the framework is that separate work tasks can be completed in parallel, Guarnaccia said. Once the bare bones content and structure is in place that framework can be handed off to an agency to style and deploy. "One person can work on content entry, while someone else is doing visual design and someone else is doing back end development. This overlap of various stages of the project collapses the development time."

Customers Want Digital Maturity Now

There are other features in the release, of course, but essentially they are all variations of that theme of collapsing development to get to market faster. 

Express Migrations, to name just one more example, are new migration tools that speedily move data from older Sitecore versions.

Basically Sitecore's customers want to be able to stay on top of, well, everything,  Guarnaccia said. "They want to go live faster and get value back faster. They want to achieve digital maturity faster."

Sitecore 8.2 is part of the answer but only part, Guarnaccia said.

The secret to delivering a superior customer experience is not just the technology but rather a complex mix of people and processes and corporate culture. To many that may sound like some mysterious alchemic formula that only works in MBA case studies but that is simply not true, Guarnaccia said. "We see it all the time with our customers. And when it happens, it is a beautiful thing."