It is easy to forget about the ongoing abnormality of our world, but it was brought home to us again with the recent Sitecore Symposium. Instead of jumping on planes with that combination of dread and excitement that goes hand-in-hand with heading trans-Atlantic to attend a big US software vendor conference, many of us only got as far as our spare room, dining table or shed.
It should have been Vegas, Orlando or wherever - when everything you eat has cheese on and the positivity, like the bar, is bottomless. But not this year, with the usual noise of the day-to-day going on and distracting us in the background we sat and tried to focus on what was being said...
...which this year included confirmation of what was obvious for some time, but is probably the biggest strategic announcement Sitecore has made for around a decade, entering the era of their composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP).
The key go to market message for Sitecore has forever been that it delivers the entire DXP in a single platform. That is why you opted for Sitecore.
Why buy a separate CMS, email marketing, ecommerce, personalisation, etc. when you could get them all in a single platform removing the need to integrate and making this all easier to deliver and better at the same time?
Virtually every Sitecore presentation included the duck picture 'composed' of various pieces of string, wire, buttons etc. In other words not a duck and almost certainly intended to be a metaphor for Adobe - and the next was a picture of a beautiful, one assumes Danish, mallard.
It sounds like a policy U-turn that would even embarrass the current UK government, but in reality is far more like the final acceptance of the truth. Sitecore has nearly always been part of a composable DXP, integrated with marketing automation platforms, ecommerce, etc.
The 'new' direction just means that now you can not only follow a 'best-of-breed' approach but acquire those different best-of-breed elements from your Sitecore Account Executive. Yes, tighter 'out-of-the-box' integration is going to be available but Sitecore has always been a great platform to integrate with so this wasn't exactly a blocker in the past.
The new approach was announced with excitement and verve but, as either a current customer or someone on the cusp of a platform decision, if you look through the hype what does it mean for you?
For current customers it comes down to what, within your Sitecore platform, you rely on. If you are using Sitecore largely as a CMS then it probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference - you already face some interesting decisions if an upgrade or rebuild is on the cards. Utilising Sitecore's truly headless capability is something of a no-brainer, especially if you have multiple websites.
And if you have invested heavily in a PaaS based infrastructure you are probably still struggling to get over Sitecore's deprecation of support for it - but a container-based infrastructure.
If an upgrade or rebuild is not immediate, then you have a bit of room to let things play out and then take a view.
The more difficult questions arise if you utilise Sitecore's native personalisation, email or commerce capabilities. If these are working well for you then you have a little while before the platform catches fire and you have to make decisions about migrating to the new additions in the Sitecore stable or indeed, looking elsewhere.
The challenge comes if these are not working well for you, as the cost of stabilising these elements of the platform may be harder to justify given the end may be in sight for these products.
If that is the case then it is almost certainly time to rebuild, and move to one of the new Sitecore acquisitions (which let's not forget) all have a proven record in the market on their own. You also have the option to add what the wider world of MarTech can offer since that is the point of a composable DXP.
For those on the cusp of a platform decision it may be more confusing if your reason for including Sitecore was the single platform angle and in particular, delivering personalisation with that platform.
Personalisation is making yet another comeback, as it emerges from Gartner's 'trough of disillusionment' and, if the 'hype-cycle' is to be believed, up the 'slope of enlightenment'. To give that some real context, at a Marketing event I am attending in November 2021, around a fifth of the attendees have listed personalisation as a key area of interest. Personalisation continues to be a key topic but remains on the future roadmap for many.
The truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to the single platform approach, just as with the composable DXP approach. For every 'one throat to choke' there tends to be the equivalent 'all your eggs in one basket'. However compelling the single platform approach appears, the real news is how many organisations have struggled to realise its benefits.
This is largely an organisational challenge, and not a product one, which we have helped address through our 'Experience Ecosystem' approach to rapidly deliver personalisation on Sitecore.
The approach itself is not specific to Sitecore and can be successfully applied to any mix of technologies that provide the required set of capabilities, basically to any DXP, however composable.
While we have seen success in delivering personalised customer experiences using Sitecore's native capabilities, albeit sometimes needing our technical prowess to get it working, the challenges have been mounting up. Evolving legislation, the impending changes to cookies, and the disparate sources of customer data you want to use to empower personalisation, performance at scale... either the Experience Database needed to evolve or it was acquisition time.
While impending buyers who thought personalisation enlightenment lay in the single platform approach might be having a wobble, it is in the Boxever acquisition (the Sitecore CDP) and the acceptance of the composable DXP approach, that Sitecore's customers may finally find enlightenment.
If you want to find out more about how Sitecore can benefit your business, get in touch.