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.

Connect with Data and Experience

It's not enough these days to have one keynote speech. You get the main keynote followed by keynotes for the main tracks. The Business Track's keynote was run tag-team style by Sitecore's Sitecore Business Optimization Services (SBOS).

The business unit is at the white-hot center of Sitecore's plan to talk less about neat engagement technology and more about how to get their customers on the road to actually using its technology effectively.

The big message is that it's all about working with their customers to build effective process and reduce or eliminating barriers to implementation. In short, those implementation issues are fundamentally business problems, not something that can be solved by better, more exciting technology.

Learning Opportunities

That's Nice, But How?

The core of the SBOS team's work is based around the Customer Experience Maturity Model, which measures the maturity of a customer's implementation of customer experience concepts and technology.

The speakers — Lars Petersen, head of business optimization services; Ron Person, senior consultant, business optimization; and Chris Nash, senior business optimization consultant – provided a lot of cool charts and statistics which boil down to one pretty obvious conclusion. And that is that most businesses are pretty low on the Maturity Model. If you want to see a lot of the info provided check out Sitecore's Connect the experience website.

This leads to the next conclusion, which is that the SBOS team, like everyone else, has figured out that building business process and breaking down internal barriers to implementation are a lot easier to talk about than to do. What's the solution? Throw a bunch of options at the wall and see what sticks.

In the team's arsenal:

  • It's got a book, Connect: How to Use Data and Experience Marketing to Create Lifetime Customers. It's pretty in-depth and was helpfully distributed to all Symposium attendees in their complementary (and very handsome) tote bag
  • It works with clients directly to build their customer engagement strategy and implementation
  • It's got a Customer Experience Board Game! (yes, really) that is used to break the ice and get the ball rolling with effective business process
  • It's got e-books on the Maturity Model
  • It invites customers and potential customers to take a survey to see where they fall on the Maturity Model

Clearly, the SBOS team in specific and Sitecore in general is trying all possible methods to make the company's Customer Engagement story not one about technology but one about how their customers, large and small, are using customer engagement throughout their businesses effectively.