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Solving the Complexity of Personalization with the Next Wave of Advancements to Sitecore Experience Platform

By Ryan Donovan , Tuesday, October 9, 2018

At this year’s Sitecore Symposium, we are extremely pleased to share the new innovations being delivered in Sitecore Experience Platform 9.1, the first of our releases in our new spring and fall release cadence.

Version 9.1 has a lot of exciting new capabilities as well as ongoing refinements and enhancements to existing functionality. Taken together, we’ve taken a big leap forward to help our customers get to market faster and reduce the complexity of leveraging the full capability of Sitecore Experience Cloud to deliver exceptional personalized experiences. These include:

Sitecore JavaScript Services

Announced in preview at Symposium 2017, Sitecore JavaScript Services will be generally available with the 9.1 release. JavaScript Services provides a native developer experience to consume Sitecore content for those working in the extremely popular React, Angular, and Vue frameworks.

This enables developers to build headless solutions in these frameworks, but unlike traditional headless delivery mechanisms, there is full support for tracking, optimization, personalization, and previews in the Sitecore Experience Editor. We are particularly excited about the implications for our developer ecosystem, as we can now extend Sitecore’s reach to the vast JavaScript ecosystem. Imagine the possibilities of being able to natively construct single page applications, progressive web applications, and native mobile experiences without sacrificing any of the power of the Experience Platform, but also without having to learn .NET Sitecore development.

Sitecore Cortex

Sitecore Cortex™ is building on the machine learning foundations that were already present in Sitecore, including our Engagement Value, optimization, and path analysis capabilities. Version 9.1 brings the next level of machine learning innovation with a customizable and extensible data processing engine to process and train models of data at scale. This makes Sitecore Cortex fully customizable to allow our customers and partners to integrate their specific machine learning processors for their own vertical use cases.

Leveraging the new foundation of Sitecore Cortex, we are also adding three Cortex-driven functional capabilities to the Experience Platform:

  1. Leveraging Sitecore Cortex in Experience Optimization to help automate the creation of personalization rules by identifying traits that would not be easily discovered intrinsically.
  2. Automating the generation of content tags to help content authors go through this often time-consuming but critical element of search engine optimization.
  3. Helping marketers identify the next most likely segments to convert to further help drive conversion rate optimization.

Enhancements to Experience Analytics

We are also significantly enhancing our Experience Analytics capabilities with the debut of our Universal Tracker functionality, which allows those building bare metal headless experiences to fully track and analyze user behavior, versus being limited to Web-channels with prior versions. It is also natively integrated with our Mobile SDK to help those building native iOS, Android, or Windows experiences to track user behavior inside of applications. We have also added Mobile application reports to our ever-growing repertoire of out-of-box reports in Experience Analytics.

Enhancements to EXM and Marketing Automation

E-mail governance is a hot topic right now, especially with the ever-increasing scrutiny resulting from legislation such as GDPR. To help our customers better govern their e-mail marketing campaigns, we are adding several capabilities including:

  • Send Limits to manage how often a given individual can be mailed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis
  • Message Types to classify which messages are vital and must be sent regardless (e.g. order confirmation, password reset)
  • Self-service unsubscribe and category preference management to allow end-users to control the types of messages they wish to receive

We are also enhancing our automation capabilities to help ease the lives of digital marketers as they build and execute campaigns in Sitecore. Some of the new features we’ve added include:

  • Campaign templates to enable marketers to reuse automation plans
  • Enrollment controls to ensure customers are not overloaded by automation-driven communications
  • Maintenance tools to bulk enroll or purge contacts from automation plans

A More Accessible Experience Accelerator

With the 9.1 release wave, Sitecore Experience Accelerator now supports the industry-standard WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines across its repertoire of components. This will allow customers building solutions using Experience Accelerator to easily comply with accessibility guidelines, enhancing the reach of Experience Accelerator to regulated industries such as public sector and healthcare.

Preview of “Project Horizon”

At Symposium 2017, we announced “Horizon” as the next-generation of Web content editing user experiences. With Sitecore 9.1, we are extremely excited to offer a technology preview of Horizon to start to put this amazing new user experience into the hands of our customers. With this release, all core content editing use cases are unlocked and we are very much looking forward to seeing the productivity gains our authors and editors stand to realize by having a vastly streamlined, more modern user experience.

Improving Our Core Technology Platform

Lastly, no release would be complete without continuing to evolve and improve our core platform for our developer and IT professional audiences. Sitecore 9.1 greatly improves our cloud reach with the global availability across all Azure regions. Now, for markets that have sensitive data sovereignty laws, customers can deploy in the cloud while remaining fully in compliance with local regulations. We have also enhanced our service catalogs for our Managed Cloud offerings, offering enhanced levels of monitoring as well as disaster recovery and application-level support in Managed Cloud Premium.

For our on-premise customers, have focused on greatly simplifying the installation documentation as well as the installation experience for single box environments to help customers get up and running much more quickly.

With the Sitecore Experience Platform 9.1, we are extremely excited to provide heightened reach to our ecosystem while simultaneously driving a much more refined and productive user experience in helping our customers deliver the richest and most relevant digital experiences to their customers.

For more information, download our white paper “Why upgrade to Sitecore XP 9.1

Ryan Donovan is Chief Technology Officer at Sitecore. Find him on LinkedIn.

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