We recently attended Sitecore Symposium, held in Orlando for the second straight year. The event started with some exciting announcements: Sitecore CEO Mark Frost kicked off the event by announcing Sitecore SaaS is coming out next Summer, along with Sitecore 9.3, Sitecore AI, and Sitecore Content Hub 3.3.
The event had some inspiring guest speakers such as Platon, a well-known photographer who shared personal stories about photographing some of the world’s most famous leaders and celebrities. Also, Dr. Rana el Kalioubly talked about how emotion AI reads and analyzes facial reactions and why it’s a big part of the future of making human connections in a digital world.
The last day of Symposium had a special guest, Magic Johnson! He talked about being committed and passionate about what you do. He said, “Prepare, compete, listen and know your customer - then over deliver.”
What’s new in Sitecore 9.3?
-Performance: will include improvements across xConnect, experience editor, reporting and performance.
-SXA will have some new goodies such as an updated, modern, fast and extensible templating engine based on Scriban. And a new Visual Studio code extension will help with suggestion and syntax highlights. SXA will also have faster rendering times.
-SIA (Sitecore Installation Assistant) Will have Solr installation capabilities, as well as installing Sitecore modules (SXA as a start).
-New Sitecore developer tools: After the hedgehog acquisition, Sitecore is now offering new developer tools, including updated Sitecore TDS, Sitecore RAZL and Sitecore FEYDRA.
Many other enhancements to forms, ExM, personalization and testing optimization.
Coming in summer 2020 Sitecore will be offering Sitecore SaaS, which promises that the customer will always be on the latest version and it contains all fixes patches. Sitecore SaaS will contain new designer and new developer experience tools, and will support faster time to value, high usability and extensibility.
Sitecore didn’t have new demo materials for what we can expect from the initial SaaS release, but my guess it will include some basic functionalities as the path to migrate from the traditional Sitecore CMS to go fully SaaS will take some time, but hopefully we will soon have our hands on the initial release.
Sitecore Content Hub 3.3 is here!
After last year’s acquisition of Stylelabs, Sitecore is now offering new, rebranded products:
-Sitecore DAM: to simplify storage, management, distribution and control of digital assets.
-Sitecore MRM (Marketing Resource Management): Manage, budget and control every phase of a marketing project.
-Sitecore CMP (Content Marketing Platform): Streamline content strategizing, planning, creation and publication.
-Sitecore PCM (Product Content Management): Stay on top of all your product content for ecommerce and other downstream apps.
-Sitecore W2P (Web to Print): Allow users to self-serve and automate collateral creation.
Sitecore Content Hub initially will have DAM and CMP connector with the Sitecore experience platform.
After 2 years of Sitecore showing off the “non-public” versions of the new authors and marketers editor tool (Horizon), Sitecore will publicly release Horizon on the 9.3 version. It’s a slick and modern tool that allows content authors to create, manage and preview pages and simulate visitor experiences on different devices and screen sizes. The tool also gives content insights such as visitors per day and average value per visit.
Horizon is a separate .NET core app, so it will be installed as an opt-in module with SIF. Though it will not have the exact same functionalities as experience editor, it will support inline editing, adding components and updating page content, and it will also support building extensions so that developers can build plugins to help content authors build their pages. Sitecore is promising to add more features and extensibility in the future, though no timeline was given.
Sitecore AI and auto personalization
Sitecore AI is a new machine learning framework that empowers marketers with predictive insights to automate the delivery of personalized digital experiences. There is no need to setup user segments as ML will provide user segments and insights from analyzed data.
With the new AI framework, marketers can select any component on the website and turn on auto personalization and let machine learning drive personalization, although content variation will need to be added to the component. You can also use rules with auto personalization to work together.
Sitecore AI was developed and refined through a pilot program conducted with multiple Sitecore customers, including Microsoft. It was used to drive a more effective guided experience for visitors to Microsoft’s Partner Network website, while making the site faster and easier to manage for marketers. Sitecore and Microsoft have collaborated utilizing Azure Machine Learning to bring AI co-innovations to market.
Sitecore Symposium was both educational and interesting this year. As a Platinum Sitecore Solutions partner, we are thrilled with the Sitecore road map!