Unlike your garden variety of content management systems, Sitecore is a digital experience platform with capabilities that extend to a complete suite of marketing solutions. Built on ASP.NET, Sitecore is also an omnichannel marketing platform that uses automation to leverage customer interaction and conversion across different touchpoints in the customer’s journey. Sitecore puts you front and center of your entire user and branding experience, and appeals to both marketers and developers.
Recently, Sitecore released its latest update and this included a host of new features and improvements that typically come with a new version of an experience and commerce platform. In an extremely competitive market, Sitecore, according to James Johnson, the Managing Director at MarkTech Breakthrough, “breaks through the clutter by empowering brands all over the world to create stronger connections with their customers.”
Sitecore 10’s benefits include connected data sources, better contextual insights and a superior functionality that will help both developers and marketing teams to improve the functionality of the customer experience.
Support for containers
Sitecore 10 most important feature is that it will package its software in containers. Containerization means that apps are run in isolated spaces called containers but all using the same shared operating system. With Sitecore 9.0 supporting headless CMS and Sitecore 9.3 already supporting containers, Sitecore 10 offers additional framework support to the existing headless CMS function. This enables rapid infrastructure-as-code deployment. The new support comes in the form of files that can be used to run Sitecore software in containers, and developers can run these containers by using a software called Sitecore Docker. Another feature here is that Sitecore also now supports the Azure-based Kubernetes for production and Docker compose for development. With Sitecore’s eye on unveiling a complete SaaS product in the near future, containerization support is a key new feature that could see this progress through.
Sitecore defines a container as “An executable unit of software in which code is packaged, along with its libraries and dependencies, in common ways so that it can be run anywhere–whether it be on a developers’ workstation, on-prem servers, or the cloud–and deployed easily and consistently, regardless of the target environment.”
To help with this, Sitecore has three new guides – a guide to installing Sitecore XP on a developer workstation with containers and another guide on how to install Sitecore XP on a production workstation. Finally, there is a comprehensive guide to how developers can work with containers.
Developers and marketing experts have both lauded this feature and for just cause. While developers have been able to containerize Sitecore for a while now, there was no support that was available, from Sitecore and the developer community. In fact, the Sitecore team offered developers image repositories to transition quickly and to install support software seamlessly.
Shifting to a container strategy is beneficial in so many ways. You can bring down your costs, enable faster delivery, improved operational capabilities and a continuous delivery model that helps your team work across changes seamlessly.
Headless development for CMS
Headless content management has been a hot topic the CMS space for some time now and signals a new phase when it comes to developer experience. Unlike traditional CMS that handles content management and rendering, a headless content management system is only concerned with content management and offers an API for other systems, through third-party tools, to access that same content. This helps developers to actually reduce cost and avoid custom website code that is deployed on top of Sitecore.
Another improvement is the Sitecore Content Serialization system that is used for version control of content items and for moving content from one Sitecore interface to another. This is also used to serialize, share and deploy content items. Apart from content serialization, Sitecore 10 also has introduced Sitecore for Visual Studio.
Initially, developers used Unicorn or Hedgehog’s TDS, but with Sitecore 10, they can use a JSON configuration. With Sitecore keen to include advanced serialization features, it makes the developer’s job much easier. Sitecore also uses a wonderful user interface in Visual Studio, making it easier to edit serialization settings.
Sitecore 10 also supports better CMP integration, helping marketers to align their content creation with the Content Hub. It is easier to strategize, visualize and plan content, rendering them accessible across different channels.
Content editing experience and analytics
Sitecore 10’s new Sitecore Horizon, a newer iteration of the Experience Editor, provides a superior UI. It also brings to the table many editing capabilities and retains some of the Experience Editor’s best features, including on-page editing tools and managing surface site analytics.
The Experience Analytics, retains its strong automation and analytics data capabilities, with new features for editors who handle multisite and multilingual scenarios. Sitecore makes it easy to analyze all collected data. Sitecore also makes it easier to comply with data privacy laws, particularly GDPR. It is now easier to anonymize data collected through Sitecore’s Experience Forms UI, which is now more explicit and straightforward. Filtering data by segment is also possible There is also real-time integration that is possible with Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Sitecore 10 offers user-level analytics like never before and marketing experts can personalize, segment and visualize their data in one place, with audience filters that they can use to convert data into action points. Real-time analytics can be used to find out which campaigns are working and to edit content to derive maximum results.
The Email Experience Manager also has new features, including the ability for developers to add extra components to create emails quickly. Experience Analytics also makes it possible to filter reports and enables marketers to do a deep dive into their data, mining them for better insights.
Sitecore 10 has new product bundling capabilities as part of its suite of new features. Along with product bundling, there are also more tools for promotion and cross-selling. The new bundling capabilities help customers improve average revenue per user.
The new Sitecore also offers a more seamless digital experience and better stability. It also gives us an improved Horizon Editor and multiple avenues for personalization. For instance, marketing teams can delve deeper and get better insights for audience segmentation. This level of personalization even extends to CMS installations.
Sitecore 10 also makes it possible to deploy infrastructure-as-code (IaC) with containerization. The Sitecore Experience Commerce 10 takes it one step further than Docker and Kubernetes, adding an SDK or a Sitecore Experience Development Kit that can be used to build container images. The new version of Sitecore also makes it possible to integrate with Adobe creative tools.
Sitecore 10 has many definite benefits. It helps both marketers and developers optimize performance with coordinated workflows. The Sitecore AI is a great way to personalize experience and enable customer segmentation.