The Sitecore Experience Platform 9.0 Initial Release in October 2017 was a feature release, meaning it included significant new feature functionality. More recently, in November 2018, Sitecore Experience Platform 9.1 was released and also included new features. Looking back, Sitecore Version 8 marked the beginning of the marketer empowerment era with the introduction of new Marketing Foundation features, Path Analyzer and Federated Experience Manager among many other enhancements; while the focus of Version 9 is data-driven contextual marketing. But as a marketer, you might be wondering: What am I missing out on if I don't use Sitecore 9.x? In this post we'll try to answer this question at a high level.
Three big marketing-oriented features were included in the initial release of Sitecore 9:
- Marketing Automation
- Sitecore xConnect
Sitecore 9.1 introduced Sitecore Cortex™.
Sitecore 9 brings a much-improved interface for building engagement plans that enable marketers to customize a site's experience based on the actions and behavior of individual users. The UI improvements make this feature much more accessible and useful.
Not unlike with Marketing Automation, the new Sitecore Forms brings a new user experience that makes life easier for business users. While Sitecore Forms is the future, it does lack some features currently available in the previous tool, Web Forms for Marketers. Switching to Sitecore Forms will require some analysis and the best next step will depend on your individual situation.
Sitecore 9 includes architectural changes that make xConnect available as a stand-alone service. xConnect provides the ability to collect and act on customer behavior between channels.
Sitecore Cortex – Machine Learning
Totally new in Sitecore 9.1, Cortex combines advanced machine learning algorithms with a processing engine in order to enable "Contextual Intelligence". This takes the manual work out of analyzing collected data and personalizing user experiences based on that data.
Without any doubt Sitecore’s latest release provides significantly improved features that will benefit marketers. But, as with any major upgrade, you have to weigh the benefits vs. the costs. Some of the benefits are:
- The latest version of the platform is easier to use, smarter, more flexible and more powerful.
- Now Sitecore is able to provide a real-time view of your customers, as it pulls in data stored in numerous apps.
- You can use Artificial Intelligence to help you analyze big volumes of data and produce relevant experiences for your customers.
- In addition to the features that will directly benefit marketers, there are many other improvements in version 9 that give you reasons for considering an upgrade. Read our post on this topic to learn more, or start a conversation with one of our experts.