Sitecore (news, site) announces the evolution of their web engagement platform, officially recognizing that Web Content Management is about more than just the channel -- it's all about the customer. See our video interview with Darren Guarnaccia, Sitecore's VP of Product Marketing as he highlights what's driving the company's current strategy:

Web Content Management is the Core

We said it and Sitecore agrees, the web content management system is the hub of your web engagement strategy (see Web Content Management in 2011: It Ain't Going Anywhere). As Darren Guarnaccia, Sitecore's SVP Product Marketing put it, "content is still the currency of modern marketers". And wrapped around the Web CMS are your online marketing tools.

Web Engagement Management (WEM) is about more than just your website, it's about email, mobile, social and more. To Sitecore though, WEM is focused on the channel. They believe it's about the Customer, which is why they have rebranded and redesigned their WEM platform as a Customer Engagement Platform. And to support their view of a multiple channel experience, they have relabeled their Online Marketing Suite (OMS) as their Digital Marketing Suite (DMS).

More Than a Branding Move

You might be thinking that this is just a re-branding of what Sitecore already offers. It's not. The Customer Engagement Platform has three major concepts upon which Sitecore offers three new products:

  1. Engagement Automation
  2. Engagement Analytics
  3. In-line Experience Management

Engagement Automation

Engagement Automation is a new product that enables organizations to co-ordinate the customer experience across channels. You can use the interaction in one channel to automatically initiate something to happen in another channel. The software deals with interactions across not just channels, but over time.


Sitecore's Engagement Automation Monitor

In other words, a state engine tracks what is happening across allevents and channels. The channels can then listen and adapt accordingly.


Sitecore's Adaptive Segmentation Engine

The Engagement Automation software enables marketers to create engagement scenarios and it integrates with Sitecore's WCM, as well as other backend systems such as CRM, email and Engagement Analytics.

Engagement Analytics

This is the evolution of the Online Marketing Suite and it introduces a new qualitative metric, Engagement Value, available across all reports, dashboards (btw, there's a new dashboard system in this release as well), campaigns. This new metric will tell you how your social channels are performing and if your marketing efforts are working.

Engagement Value is configured differently for each organization. You have to ask yourself what is it as a KPI that you need? This metric enables you to weight and score the outcomes you want for customers/web interaction -- the level of commitment or engagement.

Inline Experience Management

We all like in-context editing of our web content. Sitecore has taken this model further with inline management and manipulation of content based on personas and/or business rules within the author/editing experience. In addition to managing the experience based on personas, marketing can also set up multivariate and A/B testing inline on a web page. Profile cards can be created to define personas.


Sitecore's Profile Cards -- Enabling Less Technical Marketers

Simplifying Segmenting, Relevancy and Targeting

Guarnaccia told us that the technology is still too complex for many marketers, so Sitecore has incorporated functionality into the web content management experience to make things easier to understand and do.

It's about making the technology accessible yet still powerful. To aid them in this effort, Sitecore has established a Best Practices community to show users how to be successful including:

Learning Opportunities

  • How to enable the processes, integrate the technology
  • The best tactics/strategies to use the website
  • How to score

Customer intelligence is powerful, but Sitecore recognizes that getting there will be challenging for many organizations.

Taking it Back to Web CMS

Many understand that the days of publishing only are over. Yes there will always be a market for pure WCM technology, but as Guarnaccia points out, it will become marginalized and compressed -- a commodity market. WCM will have to evolve to survive.

Guarnaccia also believes that traditional WCM solutions are solving the wrong the problem. There is no business value in publishing a page. It's about the end goal, the business problem.

He believes that a new genre of technology is emerging. We have the backoffice (your ERP solution), the Front office (your CRM), but there's something in front of that. Guarnaccia called it the show floor/main street. This is a new emerging space, and this is where WCM is evolving to.

It's Evolutionary, Is It Revolutionary?

As Guarnaccia walked me through a demo, I was impressed with the ease of use of much of the functionality. It is the right evolution for Sitecore's platform, focusing on the customer across channels and time will enable the optimal customer experience.

But is it revolutionary? Sitecore is not the first WEM/WCM vendor to offer the ability to build websites based on personas or to do cross channel tracking. I've seen similar capabilities from Adobe's WEM offering which is a combination of Day's CRQ and the Adobe Online marketing Suite, and from CoreMedia and Alterian's Alchemy. Of course everyone does it a little different, and in some cases, it's not exactly straightforward.

The new Engagement Value metric is unique though, a definite differentiator if configured and used correctly. And the Inline personalization and testing editor is pretty nice and looked very easy to use.

Sitecore's Customer Engagement Management platform is expected to be released officially in June at their annual Dreamcore Developer and Partner Conference in London.