Sitecore 9.0: What’s New?

June 15, 2018

By Thom Howard

Sitecore’s latest major upgrade to the Sitecore platform and its most powerful version to date − Sitecore 9.0 was released in October 2017. Since its first release in 2008, Sitecore has grown from a simple web experience platform to a multi-faceted context marketing platform that delivers personalized content across channels and devices.

The updated version of Sitecore is packed with great new features and according to Sitecore, it is the only cloud-enabled platform that natively integrates content and commerce. Read on to find out what’s new in Sitecore 9.0.

Sitecore 9.0: Everything that’s new 

1. Sitecore Experience Cloud

One of the highlights of the Sitecore 9.0 announcement was the introduction of the Sitecore Experience Cloud – a new approach that not only gives marketers a holistic view of customer data but also encompasses the three key areas of the platform – Sitecore Experience Manager (XM), Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), and Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC). Within the cloud, marketers can now make far more efficient use of the rich troves of data at their disposal.

2. xDB

Sitecore 9.0 includes major updates to xDB, the first being that users can deploy it on Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SQL Azure in addition to MongoDB. Another new feature, Sitecore xConnect, dramatically improves xDB by allowing the collection and interchange of customer data across channels and at scale.

3. xConnect

One of the most far-reaching changes is xConnect, a set of APIs and services within XP that enhances the potential for much deeper personalization by freeing Sitecore xDB to exchange data with other data sources in your company (like CRM or ERP systems, among others). As a result, Sitecore data from campaigns and actions can also be exchanged with the CRM so that both channels know exactly what the customer or prospect has been doing —a major step to creating a 360-degree view of the customer in real time.

4. Cortex

Cortex is an incredibly powerful machine learning platform that uses advanced algorithms to perform several functions that improve marketing performance. By applying machine-learning algorithms and a data processing engine within Sitecore, a combination of customer data and machine-generated insights is generated to help marketers optimize experiences in real-time.

5. Headless Content

One of the key improvements in Sitecore 9.0 is the steps taken to minimize work by front-end developers and maximize control by the marketing team. Now, developers with no Sitecore or .NET experience can deliver amazing experiences powered by Sitecore and controlled entirely by the marketing team. Sitecore 9 separates content from context in such a way that content managed in Sitecore can be delivered to a device or application that isn’t managed by Sitecore, making it truly headless.

6. Forms

In another area, Sitecore Forms and marketing automation have been completely redesigned for today’s marketers and developers to ensure that more quality customer data can be captured and acted upon seamlessly. New Sitecore Forms bring drag and drop functionality for quick and easy design. The forms become reusable and re-skinnable assets with real-time data capture and management.

Upgrade to Sitecore 9.0

Any upgrade to Sitecore XP 9 is more than a simple technical decision, however. An upgrade provides a great opportunity to revisit your content strategy and clean out the content in your WCM that is outdated or ineffective. It’s also the perfect time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy and develop new plans that enable the creation and delivery of unified, contextual customer experiences. Some of the activities you and your marketing users will want to do prior to any upgrade include:

1. Content audit

Take the time to document and evaluate the content on your digital properties. If there’s content that is outdated or not viewed by customers, it’s not content you need to migrate to your new Sitecore XP 9 platform. A content audit will tell you what content is worth keeping, what needs to be updated or built upon, and what you need to archive or delete.

2. Creation of customer journey maps and personas

It’s not about your products or services, it’s about your customers. To create lifelong customers, you need to understand who they are and their journeys to a decision and beyond. Without this information, you are working in the dark. Start by defining a small number of personas and map their journey to conversion. Don’t forget to identify how they expect to interact with your brand after the purchase. The customer life cycle doesn’t end with the sale, and retention is a critical component.

3. Review and revamp your information architecture

With clearly defined personas and customer journey maps, you can now build an information architecture for your website and mobile apps that supports those journeys while aligning with your business and content strategies.

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