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Sitecore Web CMS (Sitecore) News, Analysis & Reviews

It's Official: It's Hard to Get All Your Technology to Get Along

Alexander Dumas unwittingly touched on a tech industry nerve when he wrote The Three Musketeers. Just think of the phrase the book popularized: “all for one, one for all.”

And if you've ever tried to integrate digital experience technology in the workplace, you understand just how significant this phrase really is.

The fact is that customers connect in many ways on many devices. All of this technology is different. That can cause incompatibilities and confusion, leading to a disconnect between customers and the companies they are seeking to engage.

But how can companies seamlessly integrate various technologies — and capitalize on that old dream of "all for one, one for all?"

Sitecore recently hired Forrester to evaluate the state of digital experience technologies. The study, “Firms Seek to Integrate Digital Experience Technologies To Drive Business,” found that many companies are still struggling to integrate disparate technologies.

News You Can Use: Google Plus, Sitecore, More

The latest in splitting, marketing, certifying and questioning from The Land of Milk and Honey, the City of Spires, Rotown and The Harbour City.

5 Web CMS Selection Lessons You Can Use

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It was the worst-case scenario in a web content management system (Web CMS) implementation: Project abandoned.

"No project goes without at least a few bumps in the road," said Cathy McKnight, co-founder and vice president of consulting and operations at New York City-based Digital Clarity Group. "It provides you an opportunity to adjust the plan if need be. Just because you cast something down on paper doesn't mean you can't change ... or stop and reassess."

It's one lesson learned for the Web CMS implementation consultants at Digital Clarity Group. They teamed with Copenhagen, Denmark-based Sitecore, a Web CMS and customer experience management company, and interviewed companies that have gone through a Web CMS implementation. You can watch the session by clicking here.

Discussion Point: Who Has the Best Digital Marketing Hub?

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Ask someone to define a digital marketing hub and you're likely to get a broad range of answers.

Gartner defines it as "software that spans multiple digital marketing domains (mobile, social and multichannel) to provide integrated access to applications and workflows, adding capabilities such as collaboration, data integration and common analytics."

Against those parameters, you're likely to think of legacy vendors most commonly associated with marketing clouds – Adobe, Salesforce.com and Oracle. In fact, in Gartner Research’s first-ever Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs (registration required), those three vendors are rated as Leaders for their “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”

But this is an evolving technology, and Gartner expects the eventual convergence of ad tech, marketing tech and customer relationship management. So if you look past the three leaders as well as the two challengers — IBM and Marketo — things start to get a little more interesting.

The visionaries quadrant includes a mishmash of expertise. There's Sitecore, best known for its content management system (CMS). And then there's four programmatic ad tech firms: IgnitionOne, Neustar, Rocket Fuel and Turn.

Which one of these five visionaries offers the best digital marketing hub? We decided to go to the sources.

Microsoft's Tangled E-Commerce Future #nrf15

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Sitecore's announcement on Tuesday of its new e-commerce offering, Sitecore Commerce 8 powered by Microsoft Dynamics, at the NRF Big Show made waves in the e-commerce world for a number of reasons. The launch integrates the Sitecore Experience Platform, its highly regarded content management system, with Microsoft Dynamics to more effectively merge content management with commerce systems.

A little background is in order: Sitecore took over Microsoft’s Commerce Server in Q4 of 2013. Now called Sitecore Commerce, the initial integration with the Sitecore Experience Platform was announced in fall of 2014. Let's try to shed some light on what this release signifies for the future direction of both companies.

Sitecore, Microsoft Partner to Bridge Physical-Digital Divide #nrf15

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Omnichannel is the new black. That’s the buzz we’re hearing from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show in the BIG Apple this week.

But the chatter is not just about omnichannel. It’s also about the wins that integrating brick and mortar and digital can create, like guiding a customer to the store that has — in stock — the exact product (even the right size) he has been checking out online. In other words, it’s getting the right products and the right offers to the right people before they abandon their virtual and/or physical shopping carts, change their minds or look for something else to buy someplace else.

To do this you need to know what a customer is doing on each channel. And not just that: You also need to know what’s happening with your goods and services. This kind of data is best gleaned from customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Without the latter, you may not be able to deliver what the customer wants to buy and is willing to pay for. And when that happens, you not only miss a sale, but risk losing a customer as well.

It’s to avoid these kinds of problems and to create experiences that engage customers that Sitecore introduced Sitecore Commerce 8 powered by Microsoft Dynamics yesterday. The new solution bridges the gap between in-store and digital experiences.

Digital River and Microsoft's Bumpy E-Commerce Road

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It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Digital River. Its deadline to re-sign Microsoft to an extension of the Microsoft Operations Digital Distribution Agreement, which would continue Digital River provision of Microsoft Store’s e-commerce platform beyond March, 2015 came and went on Dec. 1. While only a handful of people might have noticed, the company made a bigger splash on Dec. 8 when it announced an extension of the negotiation timeframe until Dec. 19.

Digital River's stocks rose and fell with the ups and downs of the announcements, dropping almost 25 percent from its close of $25.51 on Friday, Dec. 5, to $19.71 on Monday, Dec. 8. The stock eventually bottomed at $16.58 on Dec. 11, a drop of 35 percent in less than a week. On the power of yesterday's news the stock closed at $24.08, a 45 percent jump from last week’s low.

Discussion Point: Omnichannel Marketing in the 2014 Holiday Season

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Marketing technology vendors love to preach the value of sending consumers personalized offers on the device they're using at just the right moment.

Though we're only emerging from the developmental infancy of omnichannel marketing, several companies offer software and services that promise to do just that. Chief marketing officers at major retailers are spending more of their budgets on collecting data, analyzing actions and monitoring social media -- all with an eye toward increasing sales in their hyper-competitive sector.

Sitecore's New Experience Database Collects, Connects Data

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."

Discussion Point: Who'll Win the Digital Marketing Arms Race?

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Sitecore CEO Michael Seifert caught our attention last month when he claimed the "arms race" among 1,000-plus digital marketing vendors is hurting the industry.

"Frankly, I think it's getting absurd," he told the crowd at his company's annual symposium in Las Vegas. "Marketing technology is starting to fail the marketer."

His argument was that the smaller players only operate on the channel they serve. Seifert believes Sitecore's comprehensive approach puts it among the marketing cloud superpowers -- like Oracle and Adobe -- that will thrive while smaller players fade away.

Can Akumina Make SharePoint a Web CMS Contender?

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In the age of digital experience, not all companies are rushing into relationships with superpower providers like Adobe, Sitecore and Oracle.

Most, however, already have SharePoint, and many of those are trying to figure out how to extend its use to public-facing websites.

Enter Akumina, a three-year-old company whose founders have extensive experience in building and deploying such websites. It's led by CEO Ed Rogers and COO Steve Sherkanowski, who worked for years managing technical, operations and marketing activities at Ektron.

The Nashua, N.H.-based company recently introduced InterChange, a suite of role-based authoring and site management tools designed to give marketing teams control over SharePoint sites.

Three CX Consultants Share Strategies in 'Connect'

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As marketing shifts from campaigns and brand-building to analytics and cross-channel personalization, there's growing importance in understanding and shaping each customer's experience.

There are more than 1,000 technology vendors happy to sell products and services that promise to help, but ultimately all marketers must adopt their own plans to make the most of those technologies. And that can be the hardest part.

Lars Birkholm Petersen, Ron Person and Christopher Nash (shown L to R) have been working on this problem for years at Sitecore, where they consult with customers on how to make the most of the company's customer experience platform. Now they've shared their thinking in a book: "Connect: How to Use Data and Experience Marketing to Create Lifetime Customers." The book will go on sale Monday. 

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Sitecore Tackles Barriers to Customer Engagement #SYMNA

It's clear from the sessions at this year's packed Sitecore Symposium 2014 in Las Vegas that Sitecore is tackling business barriers to customer engagement head on.

Sitecore partners see this in the field all the time. Customers are impressed with the system's customer engagement technology (with yet a new name, The Sitecore Experience Platform). In many cases the engagement tools are the reason they choose the product in the first place.

But once they get it in-house, they hit a set of core business problems that often stop full implementation of engagement features in its tracks. The biggest issue is that customer engagement software (and not just Sitecore's) needs to be managed in the context of a defined business model with objectives and resources to achieve those objectives.

Without planning and process to begin with those nice customer engagement features will be poorly used, or used not at all.

Sitecore Symposium Briefs: Customer Metrics Lacking #SYMNA

While most of the headlines at the Sitecore Symposium focused on features in version 8, that wasn't the only news. Here are some other noteworthy items:

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