BOSTON — Boston in springtime is something special to behold. Winter slumber and cold Northeastern temperatures — and often unceasing snow — give way to sunny days, greenery, birds chirping and the masses of citizens out on the town and looking forward to better days ahead. Hope does spring eternal.

It is with that backdrop that Sitecore, a global leader in end-to-end digital experience management software, hosted its North American stop on its DX event roadshow, looking toward its own chance to spring forward. The events bring together Sitecore leaders, partners and customers for a one-day affair that provides an intensive inside scoop on the direction of the technology organization.

Related Article: Sitecore Incorporates OpenAI Generative AI Into Software Solutions

Sitecore Leadership Unveils Shift Toward Composable, Headless Architecture

Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis provided opening remarks, as well as other C-level leaders, like Chief Product Officer Dave O’Flanagan and Chief Customer Success Officer Lee Miles. Held at the Westin Copley Place, and following the European stop in London on April 25, the overarching theme revolved around Sitecore’s pivot, amid the overall market shift, toward composable and headless architecture and business. 

Related Article: Umbraco vs. Sitecore: It's All About the Marketing Use Case

10 Takeaways: Emphasizing Cloud Growth, AI Integration & Innovation

Here are 10 takeaways from the event and related announcements:

XM Cloud Update

Sitecore announced several exciting developments for its cloud native, modern CMS. XM Cloud Components is a FEaaS, or Front End as a Service composer for “marketers to create their brand’s digital style guide and build visual components.” According to the company, this will allow content authors, UX designers and marketers to work in parallel and speed up the process of creating on-brand digital experiences.

It is also integrated with XM Cloud Pages, which would create “an end-to-end next generation authoring experience.” O’Flanagan, in his presentation, said this will allow for “digital dream teams” of business user and builder working together with speed and purpose. Sitecore announced that since Sitecore Symposium in October 2022, over twenty new customers have signed on to use its XM Cloud platform.

Content Hub One

Since launch of its “pureplay Headless CMS” in October, Sitecore has continued to roll out enhancements to user interface, preview capabilities, content modeling and developer experience. Tzikakis talked of Content Hub as something that could be provisioned by brands and companies within hours for properties like a campaign site, without the reliance on a development team do so. 

Related Article: What's Your Definition of a Digital Experience Platform?

Sitecore Connect

Sitecore has released pre-built connectors for products like Content Hub ONE, Content Hub DAM and Ops, CDP, Send and OrderCloud. This has opened up capabilities for leveraging things like the latest AI tech — such as ChatGPT and DALL-E — to complement and build upon content in the Composable DXP.

Time for 'Innovation Spurts'

Tzikakis provided a state of the DX market and the general business environment. While there is undoubtedly economic turbulence and customer uncertainty due to larger macroeconomic trends — the DX market is not immune from them — he confidently exhorted that it is prime time for “innovation spurts” and unique opportunities to grow. He also noted that this innovation needs to come from within organizations. It is the “right time for companies to invest in digital experiences.”

'The Friendly Neighbor.'

Tzikakis said that Sitecore recognizes “that we have competitors who do really cool stuff.” It is imperative in the composable environment, which is based on best-of-breed solutions connected through microservices and open APIs, to be amenable and responsive to inclusion in a customer stack that could also house competitors. He joked that in the past, the company acted as a “Sitecore Bulldozer.” “We want to be a friendly neighbor,” said the CEO. O’Flanagan, the chief product officer, likened the different layers of the composable stack to bricks. He said you could use Sitecore “bricks” in a composable framework, as one of the bricks or all of them.

90-Day Increments

Tzikakis talked about the lengthy upgrade paths in the monolithic DXP times, and the licensing and time horizons which could go on for years. In the new paradigm of composable, Sitecore — and the companies who build digital experiences themselves — must “work on 3-month intervals, not 3 years.” He said that this is how the modern executive boards expect you to work, “to be live in 90-day increments.” Atop a “versionless” and agile platform, iterative but meaningful progress can happen quickly and regularly. 

Learning Opportunities

'Monoliths Aren’t Always Bad'

O’Flanagan noted that monolithic DXPs brought “unrivaled capabilities for many years” but that the challenge has become architecture and the tightly-coupled nature of those systems. He likened them to a “Swiss Army Knife,” which features so many tools in one package. He said that while he tends to love the bottle opener in particular, could you or would you saw wood with the Swiss Army Knife? Even with the convenience of the available tools in one place, there are typically far better and more attuned options for any one or all the constituent parts.   

Sitecore Search

The native Sitecore search product has been updated with powerful AI and analytics capabilities that make it “far better at recognizing questions in different formats.” Hannah Grap, VP of corporate marketing and interim CMO, said that implemented Sitecore Search and saw a 25% increase in clickthrough rate and doubled the amount of relevant content for some of the top keywords. 

Related Article: Sitecore Symposium: Search Takes Center Stage

Obligatory ChatGPT Mentions

“We are bullish” on generative artificial intelligence (GAI), said O’Flanagan. However, especially in an enterprise environment where data protection is paramount, it is critical to account for data privacy, safety, security, and the like. Tzikakis affirmed that you “have to be in position to take advantage” of GAI. This means taking actions like always being on the newest product(s).

He also sees the DAM (digital asset management) as a “safeguard” — as it relates to GAI — for gated access to all your assets. Sitecore is working directly with Microsoft to define the roadmap and updates will be made iteratively over the next week and months.

Summing Up: Customer-Centricity and More

Tzikakis left the Sitecore DX Boston 2023 audience with three salient points:

“We win by product,” not by marketing, advertising and sales.

“We are helped by an amazing ecosystem,” where your competitor is also your partner.

“Our business is customer-centric and will remain customer-centric.”

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