Sitecore Experience Platform 9.0 was recently released and the product takes a significant step forward in both flexibility and feature set. I have had early access to a pre-release of the product and here are some of my favorites things that have changed since Sitecore 8.2.
We have utilized Web Forms for Marketers heavily, empowering authors to create forms and capture data but also integrating custom payment features, encryption and custom fields into the product for our clients. When walking a client through the features of Web Forms for Marketers, it almost always elicits the exact same reactions:
- Does it have to look like that? This is a pretty basic looking form and we want to ensure usability for our users.
- When forms get long, can we break the questions up into multiple pages.
The exciting news is that Sitecore Forms addresses both of these complaints. Learn more here.
When organizations are considering Sitecore, one of the hosting implications is hosting a noSQL database called MongoDB. This database stores the analytics information about interactions on the site and drives personalization, email experience manager and other marketing automation components. While there are cloud solutions provided by Sitecore, mLabs and others, many organizations prefer to be in direct control of this type of data. However, most organizations don’t have the in-house technical expertise to host MongoDB, back it up and keep it healthy.
Sitecore 9 allows organizations like this to use alternative databases to store this type of information. Utilizing MongoDB, SQL Azure, SQL Server 2016 or even Azure’s DocumentDB, organizations can store their analytics reliably in a technology they feel comfortable with.
Given that most of the organizations we work with have Active Directory domains, a common requirement s to set up a way for users to use their Active Directory credentials to log into Sitecore. This is possible in older versions of Sitecore using a provided module, but there are specific limitations and configuration choices that often mean that this is not an option, especially when hosting in the cloud.
With the move of many organizations to Office 365, Azure Active Directory is now already enabled in many organizations and the changes in Sitecore 9 allow for easy integration with this services using ASP.NET Identity. This allows for users to log into Sitecore using a common set of credentials without hosting limitations.
Better Marketing Automation
Under the hood, Sitecore 9 has completely overhauled the way that marketing automation works. Sitecore 9 is now set up to be omni-channel and to take action on data coming from any system using XConnect.
The end result is that the experience to an author and to the end user of a personalization or optimization experience is seamless and powerful. The interface for marketing automation, now no longer needing Microsoft Silverlight, is slick and easy to use.
Overall, Sitecore 9 is a significant update that provides better long-term flexibility to the platform and delivers important features that users have been waiting for. More to come in the next few weeks.