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Sitecore DX Boston 2023

by Mike Skutta June 23, 2023

Sitecore has made the decision to forgo hosting the Sitecore Symposium in 2023 and will resume the event in 2024. In its place, Sitecore is directing its attention towards organizing more intimate regional events—like the Sitecore DX event in Boston this year—comprising of more composable focused sessions.

One North had the opportunity to participate in the Sitecore DX event held in Boston on May 9th. The gathering brought together about 400 existing and potential Sitecore clients, with a strong representation from marketing professionals.

The Sitecore DX event left us with five overarching themes that we carried with us:

  1. Doubling Down
  2. Composable DXP (Digital Experience Platform)
  3. Sitecore Search
  4. Generative AI
  5. Baby Steps

Doubling Down

In recent years, Sitecore has successfully launched an impressive array of Composable DXP products—which have not only elevated Sitecore to new heights but have also marked a significant SaaS milestone with the introduction of XM Cloud. Their strategy in the near future is to focus on maturing their product offerings with enterprise-level features and inter-connectivity between them.

The primary objective of the Sitecore DX event centered around the education of both existing customers and prospective clients. This included high-level insights into the Sitecore Composable DXP and its product portfolio. Furthermore, Sitecore placed emphasis on empowering and guiding their existing customer base through the migration process onto these platforms, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition that maximizes the benefits of the new ecosystem.

By consolidating their focus on education, support, and migration assistance, Sitecore demonstrates their commitment to the success of their clients, partners and the broader community. Through the Sitecore DX event and their continued dedication to the Composable DXP products, Sitecore is paving the way for an elevated digital experience landscape—empowering organizations to thrive in an ever-evolving digital era.

Composable DXP

One of the central focal points of the event revolved around Sitecore’s Composable DXP, where “DXP” denotes Digital Experience Platform. The term “composable” signifies the ability to selectively assemble the desired components to form a tailored solution.

In contrast, many legacy CMS platforms were classified as monolithic systems—where a single CMS platform encompassed the most necessary website features. Custom development was often used to incorporate necessary features. Users also found themselves paying for unnecessary and unused features within the CMS platform.

With a Composable DXP, users have the flexibility to hand pick and/or combine each component for their solution, based on their specific requirements. Moreover, users have the freedom to start small and gradually add components as needed. These components, constituting the Composable DXP, are typically Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based and are hosted and managed in the cloud, utilizing various cloud providers.

This approach empowers users to curate their digital experience ecosystem by selecting components from different vendors, opting for best-of-breed solutions or components that align most closely with their specific needs.

Sitecore boasts a diverse range of Composable DXP products within its offerings, several of which have been added through strategic acquisitions from reputable industry-leading companies. Throughout the event, Sitecore dedicated time to review each product, illustrating how they integrate within a composable ecosystem.

Sitecore Search

Sitecore placed a heightened emphasis on showcasing their newer Composable DXP offering, known as Sitecore Search. Sitecore Search is built upon the foundations of Reflektion—a company that was founded and developed by former engineers from Google and acquired by Sitecore in 2021. Leveraging machine learning capabilities, Sitecore Search delivers a personalized search experience that surpasses traditional search methods by providing more relevant and tailored results.

The significance of search functionality on a website cannot be understated, as it often serves as the initial point of interaction for users. Sitecore Search is emerging as a pivotal player in this domain.

To exemplify the implementation of Sitecore Search, Sitecore showcased its successful integration on their own website. They underscored the simplicity of the offering on their site, showing that a single developer could implement Sitecore Search within a month. The demonstrated return on investment and increased conversion rates after implementing the offering served as a testament to its effectiveness.

Sitecore Search is delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, seamlessly integrating into a Composable DXP architecture. This plug-and-play capability further enhances the adaptability and ease of incorporating Sitecore Search into your digital ecosystem.

Generative AI

Amidst the growing excitement surrounding ChatGPT and Generative AI, the Sitecore DX event placed particular attention on this area. A dedicated keynote presentation by guest speaker Ann Handley delved into this topic, highlighting its future.

During a prior Sitecore DX event in London, Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis announced the upcoming deep integrations of OpenAI’s ChatGPT into several of their products. This announcement was reiterated at the Sitecore DX event in Boston. Sitecore XM Cloud and Content Hub were unveiled as the first two products to feature this integration. It is worth noting that these integrations will prioritize security, ensuring that any content shared with Generative AI remains confidential and not shared with any external entities. This approach effectively addresses concerns related to the potential leakage of intellectual property.

To further emphasize the relevance of AI in the marketing landscape, Sitecore conducted a survey revealing that 79% of US marketers consider AI as the most crucial investment in marketing technology. This finding underscores the increasing recognition of AI’s transformative potential in driving marketing strategies forward.

Ann Handley’s talk “Chat Has Entered the Room” summarized that Generative AI is not a copy-paste shortcut but, rather, an efficiency acceleration. She provided 3 action items:

  1. “Invest in AI Literacy: Follow the fear.”
  2. “Be a change agent in your organization: don’t wait for the world to get smarter around you.”
  3. “Embrace new responsibility.”

Baby Steps

Transitioning from an existing monolithic implementation to a Composable DXP can entail significant costs. Instead of undertaking a massive leap, we can adopt a more gradual and manageable approach. As previously mentioned, a composable architecture affords the flexibility to proceed at your own pace, enabling the migration of specific portions of a site over time.

The initial steps towards embracing a Composable DXP involves decentralizing the site’s functionality. One way to accomplish this is by extracting search functionality from the monolith and utilizing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) search solution like Sitecore Search. Subsequently, the next step could involve transitioning personalization capabilities away from the monolith and leveraging SaaS-based offerings such as Sitecore Personalize and CDP (Customer Data Platform).

Each step in this incremental journey adds value and contributes to the overall preparation for a smoother transition to Sitecore XM Cloud in the future. This systematic approach ensures a more streamlined migration process, minimizing potential challenges along the way.

One North offers ongoing improvement and managed hosting services that provide a worry-free, predictable and high-touch experience for Sitecore clients. We go beyond “hosting.” One North’s Managed Lifecycle services are designed to ensure Sitecore applications perform, thrive and grow. Looking for better performance, greater output and increased efficiency of resources? We might just be the perfect partner for you.

Photo Credit: Jason Leung | Unsplash

Mike Skutta

As an Architect within the Technology Labs group at One North, Mike works to research, test and integrate new technologies for both One North and its clients. He is also a 5 time Sitecore Technology MVP – a distinction received by very few people worldwide – and holds more than 14 years of experience architecting, designing, developing software and leading technology teams. Based in Florida, Mike is often seen wheeling around the office via our robot.

Favorite vending machine snack: Doritos

Most unusual job: Working as a Serf at Medieval Times