The biggest event in the Sitecore community calendar, Sitecore Symposium happened last month in Chicago. It was the first time to have this event in person in 3 years. I had the pleasure of sharing some highlights and key takeaways with our Valtech Sitecore craft circle this month. Sitecore have been very busy over the past 12 months and there were a lots of exciting announcements and innovation to share. Whether you are an implementation partner, an existing Sitecore customer or just exploring Sitecore current product offerings – there has never been a better time to build with Sitecore to transform user experiences and businesses.
In the opening keynote Steve Tzikakis (Sitecore CEO) kicked off the event, outlining Sitecore’s vision for the future. To be the leader in content and a disruptor in engagement and commerce. He made several announcements including 3 new products:
- Content Hub One
More on these shortly.
Lee Miles (Customer Success Officer – Sitecore) re-iterated Sitecore’s commitment to their customers and announced Sitecore360. An additional support program to compliment existing support offering – for those customers that require faster time to value, access to experts and better support results. You can see in this comparison of included support vs the 360 program detailing the additional services this new program provides:
The Future Is Composable
Dave O’Flanagan, provided a deep dive into the innovative Product Strategy and Roadmap during his keynote on day 2. Addressing how Sitecore has been delivering on Steve’s vision for Sitecore.
By providing a comprehensive suite of innovative products and tools to help you compose your DXP. Giving brands the agility,
speed and flexibility needed to meet every moment across their customers journey with standout digital experiences.
Sitecore Products are compatible, micro-service based, API first, cloud-native and headless. Like building Lego, Sitecore enables you to plug & play their products easily, to compose your DXP. Each Sitecore product is standalone and are grouped by the following 3 Cloud Pillar.
Content Cloud (Blue Hexagons) – allows you to manage your content from strategy to delivery. Includes:
- XM Cloud
- Content Hub One
- Content Hub Dam
- Content Hub Operations
Engagement Cloud (Red Hexagons) – provides customer data, analytics, AI, and personalization. Includes:
Commerce Cloud (Green Hexagons) – consists of a headless commerce platform with search and merchandising capabilities that provide strong, capable commerce solutions.
You can plug & play with any of these products easily to compose your DXP like building with Lego blocks. Each of the Sitecore products are standalone and can be integrated with other vendor products for flexibility, however, Sitecore do emphasize their products are better together.
XM Cloud (General Availability)
XM Cloud is a fully managed self-service deployment platform for developers and marketers to efficiently launch engaging omnichannel experiences in the Cloud using Sitecore’s headless CMS.
- Cutting-edge CMS – that allows you to easily create, launch and manage your websites and experiences all in the cloud.
- Lightening-fast performance – increase site speeds with headless architecture optimized for google lighthouse.
- Global scale and flexibility – write once, deliver everywhere to thousands of different touchpoints in unlimited languages.
- Modern CMS for Enterprise – headless architecture with a combination of enterprise features like site, layout, page and component management
- Cloud-native – re-architected XM for the cloud, elastic scale, upgrades and compatibility issues solved.
- Jamstack-ready – works with modern frontend frameworks to support all deployment scenarios.
- Edge included – all content is managed in Edge and accelerated
- Personalization & real-time analytics – powerful content personalization and analytics are fully integrated into the authoring interface.
XM Cloud is the successor of XP it has embedded personalization testing and analytics based on and integrated with CDP & Personalize. This is a subset of features available in Sitecore CDP & Personalize and can be easily upgraded. For a great introduction and list of features check out this article on the developer portal.
My good friend & colleague Miguel Minoldo has written an excellent post walking you through the steps to get started with a solution XM Cloud + Nextjs deployed on Vercel.
Content Hub One (NEW!)
Content Hub One is a new simplified headless CMS allowing you to create, manage, and deliver content quickly. Built from the ground up based on learnings from other platforms and the market demands it is geared towards those customers who want to move quickly in creating content for a small campaign site or a throw away mobile application.
- Flexible content modelling – model content of any type for any channel.
- Effortless content authoring – simple and intuitive content authoring for marketers and other content creators.
- Reusable omnichannel content – serve content anywhere – web, app, kiosk, voice assistant – the possibilities are endless.
- Work independently – Let marketers focus on creating impactful content while developers build out experiences.
- Language and Framework agnostic – Leverage a rich set of SDKs and APIs supporting popular FE frameworks.
- Fast Global Performance – Access published content through GraphqQL API endpoints instantly.
It allows you to create dynamic content models and populate them with an intuitive simple interface for marketers. With a rich set of SDKs and APIs supporting popular front-end frameworks. Allowing developers to consume the content and create engaging interfaces across all your channels.
Search – based on the technology in Sitecore Discover (Reflektion) Search powers your site content search with intelligent search and content discovery.
- Headless content discovery platform – easily integrate search to your site.
- Intelligent search & content delivery – helps understand and act upon individual visitors intent through AI and content aware rules in real time.
- Fast predictive Search – Suggests relevant content as users type, anticipating the visitor journey within milliseconds.
You can see this in action as it is used to power the content search on Sitecore.com today.
Connect is a low code/no code integration platform.
- Connect Sitecore & non-Sitecore Products – allows you to easily connect Sitecore with other vendors in your technology stack.
- Intuitive drag & drop UI – providing an intuitive drag & drop UI to make it easy to connect and manage connections between your DXP products.
- Manage connections between DXP products – think of it as the glue that helps your Lego bricks stick together.
He also discussed Sitecore’s product roadmap which includes new releases for Sitecore XP 10.3 launching in a couple weeks and Sitecore XP 10.4 coming early next year. Several of the features that were added to XM Cloud have made its way into improving the Sitecore XP. These include the following:
- Modern REST & GraphQL APIs.
- Web-hooks for customization & Integration.
- Headless SXA & Nextjs components.
- Managed Cloud Premium 2.0.
- Lots of Customer-focused enhancements and bug fixes.
Affinity – Dave mentioned they are working on a project to expand the existing OrderCloud offering, creating a much broader commerce.
- Utilize Discover – first big innovations he mentioned would utilize technology from Discover.
- Extend capabilities – using this technology they are planning to extend the capabilities of products, catalogs, merchandising, analytics, and AI.
- New Administration Interface – a completely new administration interface to make it easy to manage catalogs and products.
- Commerce components – they are also going to create a suite of commerce components for XM cloud to allow you to easily compose commerce pages.
All sounds very exciting and will undoubtedly make OrderCloud a formidable contender within the commerce platform space.
Cirque Du Soleil Showcase
I’m always intrigued to hear about the innovative ways customers are utilizing Sitecore to transform their brand(s) and customer experiences. Cirque du Soleil thrives on experience innovation From thrilling audiences with their visual artistry to building a globally renowned brand, Cirque du Soleil thrives on experience innovation.
Valtech’s VP of consulting Francois Haguel lead a discussion with Cirque du Soleil’s director of digital customer experience Pierre-Luc Camirand on how our collaboration with them helped them grow their digital experience.
With on average 10 million Tickets per year, 37 active shows globally and 3600 employee and 1000 performers keeping customers engaged in their brand is key. Especially when everything came to a halt during the pandemic.
To provide a more engaging experience they launched their Interactive App – an interactive program that allows the audience to learn more about the show, including the story, characters, costumes, everything that makes a Cirque du Soleil show so magical. They had a pretty ambitious timeline to launch the product in just 6 weeks and they needed a partner they could trust to help them deliver.
A Conversation with Mindy Kaling
The celebrity keynote for Symposium 2022 was Emmy award-winning writer, director, and actor Mindy Kaling. This was an interesting conversation and provided a peek into Mindy’s life behind the scenes. It ranged from how she started in Hollywood, to breaking down barriers, staying authentic, embracing being a role model for young women, and the ability to say outrageous things through her characters that she couldn’t say in real life.
Valtech & Making Connections
Attending Symposium is a fantastic opportunity to connect and network with colleagues, friends, and clients within the Sitecore Community. To discuss with clients how Sitecore latest announcements could be leveraged to further help them transform the digital marketing strategy and customer experiences.
For me personally, having joined Valtech just prior to Covid, there were a lot of colleagues attending I had not yet met in person. With around 30 in attendance, representing several of our offices from around the globe, it was a great opportunity to connect in person, share a meal, and have some fun!
There were 90+ breakout sessions to choose from. Providing a range of insightful and inspiring talks from partners, customers and Sitecore! Valtech had the opportunity to share during two of those sessions.
1st was John Brendt SVP Health Valtech – How Sitecore features & roadmap align with the needs of consumer healthcare.
John has been working in this space since the early 90s and has a very broad knowledge and passion for Healthcare and Technology. Healthcare is a sensitive subject that we all experience at some time or another and it’s usually at a time of crisis or emergency. John described how we can improve our experiences within Healthcare through the use of innovative technology.
2nd Jesper Balle, Tech Lead & Solution Architect and Sebastian Winslow, CTO Denmark – Improving the Developer Experience with Sitecore CLI
Sitecore comes with a flexible and powerful CLI, known and used by many for its content serialization features. However, fewer people seem to know that it can be extended and used to improve the developer experience even further. Jesper and Sebastian walked through some examples of how it could be used to make our lives easier.
Content Cloud Roadmap with Roger Connolly – provided a great overview & direction of XMCloud, Search and DAM.
Scaling Commerce for Profitability with Rui Ewald & Chris Jennings – Provided some good insights and examples of Sitecore Discover to improve the commerce buying experience.
Frontend Fabulous: How Sitecore & Vercel are driving digital differentiation for global brands with Dave O’Flanagan & Guillermo Rauch – This was a great conversation with Dave and Guillermo on how Vercel and Sitecore partnership is bringing leading edge technology to Developers. Providing agility and innovation to deliver lightening fast experiences.
Demo Solutions Team: Why Sitecore composable digital experience products are better together with Jeff L’Heureux & Scott Mulligan – Have had an early access to the demo portal I was intrigued to hear more from Jeff and Scott around the plans they had and some of their lessons learned on using Sitecore latest products.
Valtech Hackathon Winners
We recently held our annual Valtech Hackathon. A program to promote innovation and cross team collaboration. With Sitecore providing access to XM Cloud to the teams completing. To see what innovative ideas they come up with to to include XM Cloud. So we thought it fitting to announce the winners during Symposium.
- 1st place: V_Raves – XM Cloud and Vercel Integration
- 2nd place: NotInitToWinIt – The Connector (ContentHub to OrderCloud)
- 3rd place: Tiny Coders Team – Ratings and Reviews (XM cloud and Send)