Insights

Sitecore as a winning platform

Technical Director & Sitecore MVP
Valtech DK

December 22, 2017

A quick search on the internet will reveal the widespread praise Sitecore XP has garnered for being a robust platform that supports the creation and delivery of omni-channel customer experiences. Indeed, for many consecutive years, research firms like Forrester and Gartner have declared Sitecore a market leader.

Having worked with Sitecore for more than 15 years, we thought it was time to share our continued enthusiasm for the platform. This article is not a scientific analysis and we will not be comparing Sitecore to some of the competing systems. Instead, we will provide the Valtech perspective on why Sitecore is a leading platform, hoping to inspire others to embark on the Sitecore journey or to intensify the journey in order to truly embrace what the platform has to offer.

Whether you are approaching this piece as customer, developer, editor, administrator, designer, information architect, or strategist – we think you will learn something of value!

Sitecore’s innovative spirit

One of the key reasons we believe Sitecore is a leading platform is the company’s ongoing focus on innovation and renewal – both in terms of improving and extending their vast feature set. There is a clear drive to be a market leader and an acknowledgement that in order to remain one, it is necessary to innovate and evolve.

Naturally, there are times where one has different opinions on which areas to focus on. Nonetheless, we believe that Sitecore continuously demonstrates their courage, willingness and eagerness to provide an even better platform to its customers and partners.

Examples throughout Sitecore's history include:

  • The very early and full adoption of the .NET Platform.
  • The Sheer UI framework giving us the Sitecore desktop, with multiple and resizable windows in within one browser window and the option to drag and drop between these.
  • The (we would argue) disruptive change in mindset in 2006 when Michael Seifert stated that web content management was dead, leading to the initial release of a digital marketing suite and an increased focus on the customer experience, provided with support from content management.
  • The expansion of the product portfolio with offerings for e-mail management, engagement automation, print, social media, ecommerce, CRM integrations, forms, analytics and much more.
  • An early and relentless focus on cloud – this year becoming a natively supported and fully managed platform on Microsoft Azure.
  • The new headless approach initiative, making it possible for JavaScript developers to work natively in their environment of choice, disconnected from Sitecore, but still maintaining all the personalization, tracking and experience editing features.
  • The initiated journey of architecting and developing the platform using .NET core, principles of microservices, and isolated components that can be included or excluded from a specific solution based on the actual needs. This allows for a scaling of subcomponents according to actual needs.
  • The new Sitecore CortexTM initiative, with the aim of leveraging machine learning to support automated personalization and intelligent segmentation.

Sitecore’s philosophy

Another strength of Sitecore’s is the company’s underlying philosophy – something that has remained consistent throughout the 15 years we’ve been working with the platform. In the very early days of Sitecore version 5, the four cornerstones of their philosophy (please see below) were actually part of the training material for certification.

Sitecore's four cornerstone philosophy

The separation of content and presentation is a key factor in ensuring reusability and flexibility across sites, platforms, devices and languages – all of which is critical in content management.

Sitecore’s position as an integration platform is what makes Sitecore fit in so perfectly with practically any system landscape. This cornerstone in the philosophy implies that even though Sitecore offers possibilities ranging from CMS-only to an e-commerce solution to a fully-fledged digital experience management and delivery system, it is still possible to activate only those parts of the platform which make sense at any given time in an existing system architecture, while allowing for future integration of the rest of the systems.

Finally, the fourth cornerstone is development. With a very strong focus on the development experience, Sitecore’s goal is always to support developers by providing them with the necessary tools and options to deliver top-notch solutions. And as mentioned, Sitecore excels at keeping up with the speed of digital change by frequently adding new technology into the platform. This focus keeps developers engaged and challenged while giving them the tools to create solutions that support the desired customer experiences and outcome. This is key, as a platform without a community of interested and engaged developers is sure to be a quickly dying one.

Some might argue that, for some time Sitecore has been losing its focus on development, and therefore has not kept pace in the digital revolution. However, with initiatives like those included in the upcoming roadmap, as well as their decision to embrace .NET Core and the new fundamental architectural decisions that began during version 8 and are being enforced with version 9, we think it more than fair to say that Sitecore is definitely back on track with respect to prioritizing the development experience.

Sitecore’s scalability

With increasing demands for high performance and unified experiences, be it globally, across devices, platforms or channels, there is an ever-growing need to scale both horizontally and vertically when working digitally. From the very early days, Sitecore has been scalable, providing the option of using multiple servers for content delivery. With the introduction of native support for the entire product, and the strategic statement that all future releases will be developed “cloud first”, Sitecore is only strengthening this ability.

Furthermore, with the focus on separation of concerns, microservices, isolated components, and concepts of roles, Sitecore is also moving rapidly toward a position that allows for this type of scaling to an increasingly high degree.

Sitecore’s flexibility

Sitecore gives you the flexibility and possibility to customize the platform. In fact, Sitecore allows for an extremely high degree of customization. This customization may include replacing or extending features, functions, and logic, or even leveraging the same principles to add more features – all with the aim of tailoring the specific solution to the customers’ needs and context. All this, without having to divert from the original product, best practices and standards which would otherwise potentially impair upgrade paths, product support and the customers’ ability to shift from one implementation partner to another if necessary.

Sitecore’s feature set

Sitecore’s feature set is vast, but as already noted, you can select the features relevant to you in your specific case and context, leaving the others yet to be explored and leveraged if and when it makes sense. However, the combined feature set is also one of the reasons why Sitecore is a leading platform. It includes features that are to be expected when investing in an experience platform, but goes even further. Only part of the feature set is emphasized below, and while it is far from the complete set, we believe it to be more than adequate in supporting the claim of Sitecore being a leading platform:

  • Content Management
  • Multilingual support that is second to none
  • Workflows
  • Forms
  • An extremely granular security model
  • Support for multi-site solutions
  • Rules-based content targeting and Personalization
  • Multivariate testing
  • The Experience Editor (WYSIWYG editor to design and edit pages)
  • Ecommerce features
  • Engagement automation
  • Analytics and behavioral tracking tools
  • Predictive analysis
  • E-mail management
  • Native cloud support with Microsoft Azure
  • Integration frameworks for CRM and other data exchanges
  • Segmentation management

The Sitecore community

Finally, the strong Sitecore community is one of the main indicators that it is a leading platform. The Sitecore community has only grown stronger and stronger throughout the years. The number of people working with the platform (be it: content authors, developers, marketers, business analysts or others) has increased considerably and the number of blogs, news, tweets and other social media posts increases on a daily basis. Slack channels, uservoice initiatives, the Sitecore Stack Exchange and open source projects are all accessible realities. All of this together with a scaffold of Sitecore related events, conferences and user group meetups held throughout the year all over the globe as well as a Sitecore MVP program of currently 282 MVPs worldwide passionately contributing to strengthening the community and improving the platform together with Sitecore, only emphasizes the strength of the Sitecore community.

Conclusion

The Sitecore Experience platform is a leading platform owing to its ability to support marketers, developers, business analysts, designers, and content authors of SMBs and global enterprises alike in creating and delivering omni-channel experiences for customers. This is made possible through Sitecore’s strengths as a flexible, scalable, innovative, and feature rich platform.

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