By

Giles Peddy

Published on

February 27, 2019

Tags

CMS, customer experience, Sitecore, web development

In the first in a series of blogs, LEWIS spoke to Guy McWilliam, Director Partners & Alliances UK at Sitecore, to find out the latest trends, insights, and updates.


Thanks for speaking with us Guy. Tell us about your role at Sitecore?

My role at Sitecore is to support our partners to build GTM value propositions and related business plans. This in turn drives demand for their services and generates joint new business success and customer delight.

 

Customer experience and personalisation

 

What started as a content management platform has evolved into a fully-fledged experience platform. Have you noticed customers putting CX at the centre of their organisation to fully benefit from all the features Sitecore has to offer?

Brands are definitely realising the power of delivering individualised, dynamic, digital experiences to their customers. At Sitecore, we’ve seen an increase in the usage and impact of experience marketing in our customer base. While this is an exciting shift in the market, Sitecore is committed to helping customers capitalise on new capabilities and provide a competitive edge whilst not slowing down their growth and changing operational processes.

For instance, one of the biggest hurdles we’ve noticed is the usability and the time required to implement these changes. We’ve designed our current Sitecore Cortex™ to tackle this issue head on. Sitecore’s features encourage the use of machine learning, while not requiring companies change everything they do.

 

Do you see Headless CMS as the future?

When the competitive battleground is morphing from products to experiences and customer service, headless is absolutely the future!

Customers today demand you engage with them on any channel they choose to engage with you. The key however is the combination of headless delivery and experience platform backend creating what many call a “hybrid headless” solution.

There are two key factors in this approach. First, brands need to deliver top-notch digital experiences on every channel their customers are on. Second, even though a visitor might be engaging on a new channel the company shouldn’t forget everything they know about the visitor. Brands need to craft digital experiences that show to their customers that they know them – this is what Sitecore’s headless solution enables.

 

Personalisation is key to Headless CM, but it requires content – and lots of it! How is Sitecore helping customers automate and simplify content creation through technology and AI?

Personalisation absolutely requires LARGE amounts of content – often to the point that the lack of scalable content is typically one of the main reasons personalisation projects fail. With this in mind, we’ve set out to provide greater access to content for our entire customer base.

In many cases content is scattered everywhere; from local machines, legacy systems or servers, or cloud based storage systems. The problem is none of the content is aggregated in a place where people can actual use it. Sitecore’s acquisition of Stylelabs Content Hub™ solves this huge blocker by providing accessibility into an entire organisation’s content repository through Sitecore, unlocking content at scale.

 

Sitecore partners

 

Sitecore recently changed the requirements to its partner programme. What was the catalyst to these changes and how will it help partners and customers?

Sitecore is committed to ensuring that our valued partners have the resources and support needed to conduct productive sales conversations and to deliver quality projects, providing exceptional results for customers. To support that commitment, Sitecore has redefined what it means to be a ‘Solution Partner’ by addressing a broader view of the customer lifecycle.

This change affords committed partners a greater degree of differentiation in the market, while enabling partner program resources to be increased and focused on.

 

Sitecore recently announced an integration with Salesforce marketing cloud. In what ways will this benefit sales teams?

Our partnership with Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one of the key partnerships for our customer base, bringing synergy and scale. This partnership solves some of the biggest blockers to our customer’s growth, through integration and automation.

Companies needed to send personalised marketing outbounds, such as SMS or email messages, without manual effort in order to communicate to all of their customers. These outbounds must also be supported by a continuous digital experience on the site, one that is seamless and knows the visitor; not one that is disjointed and broken. Through the sharing of data and assets between Sitecore and Salesforce brands can send marketing at scale without the need for manual input, additionally the marketing assets are shared between the Marketing Cloud and Sitecore in order to create a continuous experience across all the channels visitors engage on.

 

Sitecore updates and changes

 

Sitecore customers have recently seen an upgrade. What are the fundamental differences between Sitecore 8.2 to Sitecore 9?

There are several fundamental updates to the 9 series. First, we’ve delivered several of the machine learning enhancements our customers have been requesting – from suggested personalisation to automated content tagging. Second, our JavaScript Services (JSS) offering is now available for all to use. Other enhancements include a brand-new tracker that allows for scaling visitor tracking beyond browsers, and Federated Authentication to allow for single sign-on across all your applications.

We’ve also focused keenly on performance and efficiency updates to support the creation of accessible site out of the box with the Sitecore Experience Accelerator.

 

What modifications do clients need to make to their IT infrastructure or marketing stack to accommodate the changes?

One of the chief objectives we focus on is ease of use for both current and future customers. There are some obvious changes customers need to make to use the new functionality but none of them we’d consider “breaking” modifications. For example, if you want to use Sitecore Cortex™, our new machine learning engine, there really isn’t too much that needs to be updated. Brands can use our engine, built off of Microsoft’s machine learning server, or they can plug in their own engine, providing a level of flexibility our customers require. It’s this level of interoperability that we design into all our functionality in order to provide our customers with the flexibility they need to deliver results.

 

Sitecore is a customer experience management company that provides web content management and multichannel marketing automation software. To find out more about Sitecore click here, or find out how LEWIS works with Sitecore to create CMS driven websites.

Do get in touch