Connecting and Integrating Sitecore 8

Jason Sindel Jason Sindel
January 27, 2015
Sitecore , Digital Marketing , Web Strategy

At Roundedcube, we’re interested in implementing the best Sitecore solution for our clients while also looking for ways to extend customer experience management (CXM) to other parts of their business. This includes building universal (social and web) user profiles, integrating with my customer’s CRM and allowing bottom-up content creation through innovative social intranets. The new Sitecore 8 release promises to make this effort easier-- If there’s one thing that is exciting to me about the new Sitecore 8 release it’s connectivity. Sitecore 8's new UI and Launchpad offers a streamlined user experience with powerful connectivity to applications. In addition, Sitecore has developed or partnered to create an ecosystem that promises powerful connectivity from data and analytics with the xDB to commerce and social connections.

Sitecore CEP integrations and connectors

In addition to the sleek SPEAK UI interface that recalls the cultishly cool Adobe CQ dashboard, Sitecore 8 brings an update to the powerful Experience Database, xDB (formerly part of DMS) that tracks users through their entire journey on the website allowing for profiling and personalization like never before. The new platform is unique since it is based on leveraging cloud infrastructure and integration with external datasources. While DMS data was isolated and hard to integrate with other analytics, xDB accepts and connects data from outside sources easily. Since 7.5, the xDB has allowed for relational data tables in a NoSQL architecture. For Big Data parsing and multi-channel analytics, this move was a must.

The SPEAK UI interface brings style to powerful application connectivity.

Microsoft Dynamics, CRM and the xDB

Sitecore’s relationship with Microsoft has always helped drive its appeal to established IT organizations; and Microsoft and Sitecore have continued collaborating to build a Microsoft Dynamics connector as an add-on module with plans to release this January. In addition, Sitecore is working with a technology partner to integrate Salesforce for those utilizing a cloud-based CRM solution and there’s a CRM connect module on its way that promises to import/export and consume data from any CRM. In addition, utilizing xDB Integration Manager, other external data sources can now be used to populate the xDB using pull and push data handlers, moving Sitecore 8 closer to a universal analytics platform than ever before.

Email Experience Manager

But wait there’s more; Email Experience Manager is now integrated into the platform and allows for custom email engagement on the fly. This can be based on a website visit that triggers more than just a sales follow-up since Sitecore marketers can design an email experience based on website interaction, DMS business rules and xDB data. There’s still a SaaS fee based on volume if you use Sitecore’s mail transfer agent (MTA), but the integrated software makes replacing expensive third party email managers and MTAs one step easier.

Social Connectivity

The beleaguered Social Connect module is now fully supported for Sitecore 8, after some updates to long-standing bugs and a renewed commitment by Sitecore to keep the connector up-to-date. Interested in bringing social network management back in house and freeing up some marketing resources? Digital Marketers can reduce that agency retainer and install Komfo’s Sitecore Social, a data-driven social listening and management tool that Sitecore took a major stake in last year.

Content from the Cloud & DAM

The media library is opening up as well. In addition to a Digital Asset Management (DAM) connect module under development and partnerships with companies like House & Co for their DigiZuite product, Sitecore is leveraging its enterprise status into further integration in the broader sphere of digital asset management. There’s also the Brightcove Video Cloud connect module that brings cloud-based content delivery into the Sitecore and an Azure connector (due later this year) so content marketers can utilize a private cloud solution or other CDN if they desire. Multi-language video streaming and media management just got easier.

Commerce Connectivity

We’re still waiting for the Sitecore Commerce module update, but that product acquisition back in 2013 gives B2C and B2B websites a choice of options—The former Microscoft Commerce server (built for B2C) and Insite Commerce which is positioned as a B2B ERP-friendly solution. Either way, the customer experience world is integrated now with products, sales support and marketing content all in one system.

For Sitecore, 2015 promises to be the year of connectivity, but don’t just take my word for it, contact us for a Sitecore 8 Demo and we’ll show you how it will transform your multi-channel marketing efforts on the web and within your organization.

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