Sitecore has regularly been in the news recently. Its $1.2 billion capital investment to accelerate growth was followed by two acquisitions, and then a third in May 2021. All of this has happened in the five months since Steve Tzikakis was appointed as Sitecore’s new CEO. The $1.2 billion investment is the largest ever capital investment in marketing technology. And the way Sitecore is now shaping its organization is similar to the strategy of Adobe, regarded by many as the undisputed leader in the digital experience platform (DXP) world.
Moving into fifth gear towards a full DXP
There are a number of reasons behind Sitecore’s accelerated growth. Let’s take a look at the three main ones:
- Evolution. There is no ultimate DXP. That’s not just the way we see it here at Macaw: research firms such as Gartner and Forrester share this view. A digital experience platform is more of an ever-receding point on the horizon, associated with the transformation relating to the customer experience. The customer experience is increasingly being personalized, with a preference for hyperpersonalization based around a single seamless experience. It’s more and more common for this to cover the entire customer journey, from the very first interaction to the purchase of a product or service and the aftercare or support.
- Flexibility. Because we are taking an ever wider approach to the customer journey and doing so in an ever more personalized way, we’re also increasingly ending up in a hybrid system landscape, in which the necessary components are no longer offered by a single supplier. This ‘evolution’ naturally gives rise to the need for a flexible, MACH architecture – MACH standing for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless.
- Digital transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation. We’ve entered a ‘digital first’ setting, in which the digital customer journey needs to be fully understood, fathomed and supported, in order to gain influence and maintain relevance in a (digital) world in which the customer is taking more of a broad-minded look than ever before at providers, products and services.
Sitecore as a leading DXP provider
In order to be a pace-setting DXP provider in this fast-changing world, it’s important to be at the forefront and in control before you end up being boxed into a niche. It’s in this light that Sitecore’s recent actions should be seen. It clearly wants to stay in charge and set the parameters itself, which is great to see.
The first three companies that the originally Danish software business has acquired are Boxever, Four51 and Moosend. We’d like to explain why we see this as a positive development and how it ties in with our vision, but we’ll first introduce the companies.
Boxever, which was founded in Dublin in 2011, is a digital optimization platform that uses data and AI to help global brands make every customer interaction smarter and deliver a unique customer experience. Turning valuable insights from a variety of sources into smart actions driven by AI and advanced analytics was exactly what Sitecore was missing, because it was often only data that were collected from a Sitecore environment. In practice, it was usually data about the website visits of customers and prospects.
Boxever’s fully-fledged SaaS-based customer data platform fits perfectly into a scenario in which an organization wants to talk to a customer in a personalized way at the right moment, and is primarily focused on the world of the digital experience platform and the associated specific functionality.
In addition, from a Microsoft perspective, for example, there’s the broader customer data platform concept, of the kind offered by Macaw, or the industry cloud-specific customer data platforms. Given the nature of the set-up of Microsoft environments, these too can be easily integrated into a MACH-driven environment.
Four51, a MACH by design solution, is the proverbial next step in commerce for Sitecore. The existing experience commerce (XC) solution is mainly used in traditional, often B2C environments, and often works autonomously, whereas Four51 is part of a modern MACH-driven environment and offers greater depth and diversity. As well as its clear offer for the B2B market and its good track record, Four51 offers commerce-specific aspects such as product information management (PIM) and an excellent experience. In addition, it’s based by design on the creation of target group-specific experiences. Moreover, Four51 can be integrated much better with Sitecore Content Hub, for example, and in third-party environments, due to its MACH approach.
The third acquisition in Sitecore’s growth strategy is the innovative marketing automation and campaign management platform Moosend. The platform offers advanced and distinctive features that focus on delivering a personalized customer experience across all channels. Using it, marketeers can easily run, measure and adjust campaigns and automate workflows.
Moosend thus goes much further than Sitecore’s existing marketing automation solution, which is seen by many customers as too limited when a broader and deeper approach is sought as a support in the customer journey.
Sitecore knows better than anyone that in order to be a leading DXP player, you have to have the vision of a DXP that supports the entire customer journey, and that is becoming increasingly data-driven. At the same time, the architectural landscape is growing more hybrid, especially as customers look for a personalized and seamless experience. Basically there is a contradiction here to which MACH offers a response.
Sitecore’s choice of a MACH-compliant architecture will increase its execution speed, enabling it to emerge as the leading DXP player. Sitecore has thus made itself space to incorporate future acquisitions with greater ease and speed, and by leveraging the MACH architecture, customers can shape the support of a seamless, data-driven customer journey step by step.
At this point, a sceptic might ask, ‘Isn’t there any other option? Has Sitecore chosen this route from a position of strength, or of weakness? In fact, isn’t this just putting old wine into new bottles?’ Although a case could be made along these lines, the path Sitecore has taken is the only right option at the moment. And the enthusiasm with which it is going about it underlines the seriousness of its intent.
A DXP as an integral part of your digital transformation strategy
The rationale outlined above is taking shape in day-to-day practice. Over the past year, an increasing number of customers have invested in data-driven approaches combined with a growing capacity to control and manage their role in the total supply chain.
Being relevant plays a crucial role here. The data enables you to make your relevance clear, and time-honored criteria apply in this context: completeness, correctness, accuracy and reliability. When data-driven operations are coupled with the right business strategy and a hyperpersonalized approach, you’re all set to be a winner in the digital transformation era.
In order to ultimately make that happen, you need to have the ‘inside’ (Forrester calls this the digital operations platform), and the ‘outside’ (the digital experience platform) of your organization working perfectly and properly attuned to one another.
Macaw’s vision has been based on this ever since it was founded in 1994, and we have deliberately chosen Sitecore and Microsoft technology because both software companies excel in their own areas. Microsoft is the undisputed market leader in digital operations platforms, and has further strengthened its position thanks to the recent announcement of industry clouds and the associated investment. Sitecore for its part is taking the final step towards a market-leading position in the field of digital experience platforms, by investing heavily in a product strategy based on the MACH principles.
Direction, control and insight
IT technically executing your DXP strategy based on MACH principles offers you a number of advantages. You are better able to set your own pace towards the previously mentioned ever-receding point on the horizon as you head towards your ultimate DXP.
The MACH principles in effect form the cement between the necessary components and ensure that you gain maximum insight from your data. Even more importantly, you can convert this insight into the right customer action at the right time.
What’s more, you stay in control, without having to be locked in to a specific supplier beforehand. This is essential, because there is no consolidated landscape of suppliers on the ‘digital exterior’ of your organization – in fact, the terrain is very diverse. And since it is precisely here that the customer calls the shots, you as an organization must be able to respond flexibly.
Recent developments have made it clear that the battle is on for market dominance in the digital experience platform market, and we have great confidence in the route Sitecore has taken. From our perspective, Sitecore has made its move at the right time.
At Macaw, our partnerships have always been chosen for clear technical reasons. As a proud Sitecore Platinum Implementation Partner & Microsoft Gold Partner, we have a strong desire to excel in technology-related knowledge and experience. We therefore welcome all the recent developments which will enable us to help our clients even more effectively to accelerate their digital transformation.
Do you need help or advice?
We’ll be happy to help you if you have a specific requirement or ambition relating to customer experience, or if you want us to assess a choice you’ve already made, or have a fresh challenge for us. Call or email us, and our experts will be only too pleased to assist.