Recap of day #1 of Sitecore Symposium 2014 – Europe

The Sitecore Symposium 2014 has officially been kicked off. Starting with a inspiring keynote from Sitecore’s CEO Michael Seifert, through high level sessions on the product range to more in-depth sessions with hotshots Tim Ward and Stephen Pope. It has been a very long day in humid Barcelona, but here’s todays recap:

There is no doubt that Sitecore is working their ways up the stairs to be even more competitive to other high-end enterprise CMS systems like Adobe. The one word that is central in this improvement: experience.


“Experience is the lasting impression. It beats content.”, is stated by Seifert. In a age of the consumer, marketers are challenged to serve a consistent online experience cross-device and cross channel. As Seifert says, the technique that marketer’s need to use is failing them to compete to the demands of the consumers.

Sitecore is putting serious effort in trying to bridge this gap. At the Symposium they have introduced Sitecore 7.5, but they have been hinting more to the introduction of Sitecore 8. This will become available around Christmas 2014.


The most important features:

Federated Experience Manager

The Sitecore Digital Marketing Suite has been covering quite some interesting analytics, but it has always been measuring only the websites that are installed within your Sitecore installation. Many clients have online platforms though that cover also externally hosted websites. Possibly even, not even coded in .NET or in the Sitecore CMS. Federated Experience Manager, abbreviated to FxM, allows you to retrieve all analytics that DMS offer but from external websites. The only thing you need is to add one line of JavaScript to thesection of the external website. This may also be added for mobile websites or applications.

The rabbit hole goes even further: the FxM will actually display the external website within your Sitecore Page Editor. You can even add page elements to the external website from Sitecore with all the features that DMS offers out of the box. Influencing a whole difference website from Sitecore by adding content and measuring the whole thing: it seems witch craft!

De xDB: experience database

Sitecore has finally done it by the looks of it. Where DMS always had issues delivering a proper database to store all enormous amount of analytics, it now delivers a MongoDB based database solution, truly capable of storing that premise of actual big data.

Offering this solution, Sitecore is positioning itself to be the central hub of all your user analytics and -information in your online platform. The interface is created so that the person behind the user becomes available. A person that has multiple devices, uses many channels and can be tracked through-out the entire platform. But also, an extract of useful individual information out of your CRM (contact information) or ERP (product- or order information) can be synced into the xDB. You can actual bring up any given individual person and retrieve all relevant statistics and user information of him or her.

List management

Based on this – as they have promised – endless database, you can apply user segmentation to select any given target group out of all your users. The new application to achieve this – the list manager – creates segments that can be hailed by the DMS throughout your platform and with the FxM even external websites. Personalization, to state the most obvious, but based on one’s hobbies through social accounts, ordering history and shipping preferences through CRM/ERP systems and even personalized sweepstakes that also include the price from your webshop.

Project Skynet – comprehensive testing

Coming back to Michael Seifert’s statement that technique is troubling marketers actually work for them; multivariate testing is one of that examples. Testing typically takes time, can be complex and is therefore almost always expansive. Or, clients simply don’t have the time capacity.

Skynet integrates a whole lot, but effectively does two things: it will create an additional step between previewing your content and publishing it. Also, it really expands the existing DMS functionality to a high-grade testing functionality. Sitecore will track every change that you make to your CMS and let’s you test if your change is indeed an improvement, and if so, it will publish that. You can do this on every individual page element on every page, even with different language versions. That’s right: lay-outs can be versioned now!

For me, this kind of highlights day #1, but actually it is not even getting close to all the information being shared. When I find the time I will share what I learned per topic more in detail. Plus, tomorrow, there’s day #2!