Hot on the heels of the Sitecore MVP Summit and Sitecore Symposium, Sitecore’s Regional Alliance Director, Kevin Cahill, stopped by our Ash St. Schoolhouse headquarters for a chat. There was a lot to cover. In addition to the excitement of the Symposium, we discussed the new release of Sitecore® Experience Platform™ (XP) 8.2., and Sitecore’s top spot in the Ability to Execute axis as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM.
In part two of the episode (starts at the 9:07 mark), SilverTech’s Chief Digital Officer, Jeff McPherson joins the discussion to share his insights from the Symposium and what he sees as the future of experience management.
Listen to the full episode above or read on below for highlights from the discussions.
For those of you not familiar, Sitecore is a global leader in experience management software. The Sitecore® Experience Platform™ manages content, supplies contextual intelligence, and automates communications, at scale. It empowers marketers to deliver content in context of how customers have engaged with their brand, across every channel, in real time. This context marketing is the only way to manage meaningful customer experiences that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue.
Sitecore® Experience Platform™ (XP) 8.2
This is an exciting time for Sitecore. We’re hot on the heels of the Sitecore MVP Summit and Sitecore Symposium which I have heard described as a week-long rock show. Lots happened there, including the new release of Sitecore® Experience Platform™ (XP) 8.2. Best one yet? What were some of the highlights?
Kevin Cahill: It was fantastic; anytime you are in New Orleans for a conference you have a real quality experience. The best thing about this year’s event was that it was the first time we’ve gone global. We had clients and partners from all over the world converge to talk about their experience implementing the platform and ways that they want to see it move forward.
Experience Management and Refreshing a B2B Website
It has been said that Sitecore® Experience Platform™ (XP) 8.2 is a return to Sitecore’s roots as a web content management system. Sitecore has long been an industry leader here, what does this mean?
Kevin Cahill: We talk a lot about experience management, but you can’t get there if you don’t have rock-solid content management. It’s table stakes for being in the experience management business.
Along with everything else going on at Sitecore this month, Sitecore.net got a makeover. Was it to take advantage of the full capabilities of 8.2? How often should a B2B website be refreshed?
Kevin Cahill: Most B2B sites don’t get refreshed as often as they should. We should probably be thinking of it as often as we update our phones. Every year and a half to two years, you want to get the most current software underneath and you want to take advantage of the hardware upgrades that go along with it. And…we did upgrade .net to get the full advantages of 8.2. We use .net as a testbed for new technologies, both official and unofficial. It will evolve over time to take full advantage of the underlying platform.
Let’s talk a little about one of Sitecore’s other strengths, Experience Management. It’s a business tech category that Sitecore CEO and co-founder Michael Seifert pioneered and continues to lead. What exactly does it entail and what does the future of Experience Management look like?
Kevin Cahill: Michael did talk about this in his keynote in New Orleans. The way I like to think about it, listening to Michael and other experts in the field, it’s about really providing customers the right information at the right time. It’s about knowing my story as a consumer and knowing the type of buyer that I may possibly be. I think of it in reverse, as well. It’s also about knowing what not to show me. If I want to create a truly enriching experience, let’s keep you focused on the right path. One of the things we emphasize in information design, is keeping it paired down; keeping the right message front and center. That’s how I think of experience design.
[For part II of the podcast (9:07), we welcomed SilverTech’s Chief Digital Officer, Jeff McPherson, to the mic.]
Personas, User Journey, and the Collaboration between Engineering and Marketing
Jeff, earlier in the Podcast, I spoke with Kevin Cahill, Regional Alliance Director at Sitecore about the energy and momentum that seems to be coursing through Sitecore. You were at the Sitecore Symposium. Was the excitement palatable?
Jeff McPherson: Yes, it definitely was. This is my first Symposium, but I understand that this year was the first year that it has been held on such on an international scale. So, you had partners, customers, and Sitecore employees from around the globe. And, I got to see what was happening in various markets around the world. It was neat to see how organizations were handling marketing, how they were specifically handling digital marketing, and the differences in progress.
I was following along on Twitter and you seemed to be excited by the Sitecore Social Connector. Can you tell us how you see it fitting in with user journey management?
Jeff McPherson: Sitecore is doing a really good job of closing the loop in terms of the overall user journey. They are making the experience a lot more connected, especially from a reporting perspective and understanding your customers by segmenting your personas.
How important are personas in understanding the user journey?
We talk about personas a lot here at SilverTech in terms of the overall process. When you think of what truly drives business value, there’s five key pieces: customer understanding, customer experience design, customer experience improvement plan, data driven optimization, and right in between customer understanding and customer experience design is persona development. I think, what was great about Symposium was that there was a lot of talk and discussion around creating personas and how personas inform an understanding of the user journey.
Any other insights you picked up from the Symposium? Where do you think Sitecore will be this time next year?
Jeff McPherson: [At SilverTech] we’re platform agnostic, whether it’s CMS or Marketing Automation. What was really neat [at Symposium], was seeing the collaboration between the engineering/developer side and the marketing side. As an agency, we’ve been talking about this for 20 years. That marriage between the two sides has to happen.
Listen to the podcast above for the full conversation with Sitecore’s Kevin Cahill and SilverTech’s Jeff McPherson. We look forward to seeing where Sitecore’s vision for experience management takes us at Sitecore Symposium 2017 from October 17th-19th in Las Vegas!