When one thinks of a Content Management System (CMS), the tools that generally first come to mind are WordPress, Zoomla, and Drupal. This is because of their popularity and patronization by many companies across the globe. However, more than all these three content management systems, Sitecore is touted as the next big thing in the website development and content management areas. It is becoming increasingly popular because of its control over content publishing and distribution along with digital marketing capabilities and personalization
What is Sitecore?
Sitecore is the most sought after .Net Content Management system in the world. It is not just a CMS. There is more to it. Apart from enabling you with the regular CMS features such as content creation, modification, and management, it provides the ability to manage all the aspects of digital marketing, which includes customer interaction analysis, analytics, and personalization experience, etc.
Some of the key features of Sitecore include the following:
The Sitecore Experience platform is the major feature of Sitecore. It is a combination of two components, which include Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) and Sitecore Experience Database (xDB). The advantage with the Sitecore Experience Platform is - it has an inbuilt machine learning feature and it enables managing all the aspects of digital marketing.
- Sitecore Experience Manager (XM): The Sitecore Experience Manager provides the personalization experience. It also works in providing the right content to the right audience and also helps in enhancing customer engagement.
- Sitecore Experience Manager via xDB: Another major important feature of Sitecore is its Contextual Intelligence, which helps in understanding customers in a better manner. The xDB does this by collecting customer experience data and creates a customer profile, which is called the experience profile (xProfile). The xProfile keeps getting richer with the addition of customer interaction data and helps in serving the customers in a personalized manner.
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Sitecore, basically a Danish company, came into existence in 2001 selling content management systems initially. Prior to 2001, its founders including Thomas Albert, Jakob Christensen, Peter Christensen, Ole Thrane, and Michael Seifert in 1998 were focusing on building websites using Microsoft technologies. From 2002, Sitecore started expanding its presence to other countries such as the US, UK, and Australia in 2004, 2005, and 2007, respectively. It has also gone on an acquiring spree taking over companies such as Pectora (a web publishing solutions company), Stylelabs (a marketing technologies software company), and Hedgehog (a digital consultancy). Today, Sitecore is one of the renowned companies having received many awards from industry circles and also recognition from many analytic companies.
Using Sitecore, you will have the advantages mentioned below.
- Availability of customer interaction data insights: Using Sitecore, you can understand your visitors in a better manner. Sitecore captures all the customer data, analyses it, and then provides you the required insights to engage your customers deeply so that you carry out your business profitably.
- Facility to view customer journeys: Since Sitecore XDB captures customer experience from all the systems, you can have a holistic view of your customer journeys.
- Information-rich customer profiles: Another important advantage of Sitecore is – your customer profiles will become increasingly comprehensive with time. You will have complete data about your customers including their demographics and buying behavior, etc.
- Increased customer happiness: With Sitecore, you can display the stores, which are near to your customers based on their IP addresses. They don’t need to enter the ZIP code. The result – your customers experience personalization and their satisfaction will be increased greatly.
- Marketing performance tracking: Another important advantage of Sitecore is - you can track the performance of your marketing campaigns. You don’t need to do anything manually to track it.
- Content Performance tracking: Sitecore also enables you to track the performance of your content. You can check exactly where the content is under or over performing.
- Print-ready collateral: Using Sitecore Print Experience Manager, you can share and also transform your content into print-ready collateral.
- Multi-language translation: In these days of the global business environment, one of the major requirements of any website or application is to support multiple languages. Using Sitecore Translation Services Connector, you can make multi-language translation and cater to the needs of your global audience.
- Automated marketing campaigns: Sitecore takes care of your marketing automation as well. You don’t need a separate tool for this purpose. Once the marketing campaigns and triggers are set up in Sitecore’s Marketing Control Panel, Sitecore starts responding to your customer actions with the defined behaviour.
Sitecore versus other Content Management Systems
As discussed earlier, there is a lot of difference between Sitecore and other content management systems. Here is the comparison table:
|User-friendly and intuitive interface||Easy to use front-end||Free modules in thousands||Strong community support|
|Ability to run on Azure cloud||Multilingual support||Variety of themes and templates||Extensive range of tutorials|
|A .Net based content management system||Availability of content versioning||SEO friendly||Easy to use publishing tools|
|Customizable workflow engine||Support to multi-authoring||Modern web publishing tools||Frequent upgrades|
|Multisite and multi-language functionality||Strong extensibility||Ease in payment gateway integration||SEO friendly|
|Digital marketing capabilities||Integrated user support system||Multiple authorship||User management|
|Personalization experience||-||Easy in controlling user permissions||Multilingual support|
Industries, Companies, and Countries using Sitecore
Sitecore is being used in diverse industries and by varied companies across the globe. Some of the top companies, which use Sitecore include HSBC, ADP, ACMA, Banner Bank, Canon, Cricket Australia, Department of defence, Australia, Newyork Life, Oxfam International, P&G, Royal Navy, and Toshiba, etc. Industry wise, Sitecore is being used in Professional Services with a share of 27.7% followed by Consumer Packaged Goods, and Banking and Financial services with a share of 21.3, and 14.9, respectively. The other industries that use Sitecore include Insurance, Lifesciences, Retail, and manufacturing, etc. When it comes to customers by country, the UK has a major chunk of 53.2% followed by Netherlands with a share of 34%. The other countries that use Sitecore majorly are the USA, Denmark, Italy, and Switzerland, etc.
Sitecore Architecture Components
The following are the components of Sitecore architecture:
- Content delivery server component, which enables implementation of content delivery and personalization
- Content management server component, which consists of the functionality including creating, editing, and managing content
- CMS database component, which contains SQL server databases including Core, Master, and Web
- Session state component, which is used for the delivery of content and personalization
- MongoDB component, which serves as storage for analytics, contacts registry, and automation states of engagement
- Processing and aggregation component, which transforms the raw analytics data to be used in reporting applications
- SQL Server reporting database component, which serves the functionality of storing the aggregated data
- Reporting Service API component, which provides extracting the queries and information from the reporting databases
Sequence of Dataflow in Sitecore xDB dataflow
The following information describes how the data flows in Sitecore xDB when a visitor interacts with the website:
- Sitecore xDB redirects the visitor to the nearest data center based on the geographic location of the visitor.
- The visitor will be directed by the load balancing software to the Sitecore content delivery center.
- During this period, the contact details along with the interaction data will be stored in a session state.
- Once the session ends, the stored data will be transmitted to the collection database for processing.
- Later, the processing layer groups the interaction data and stores it in the reporting database. This will be used by the reporting layer.
- Finally, the reporting database is queried by Reporting service and the reporting data will be fetched to the Experience Analytics application.
Career in Sitecore
A career in Sitecore can be said as one of the best choices for an IT professional. As discussed earlier, Sitecore is more than an ordinary CMS possessing a digital marketing platform with all the features that a modern-day marketing professional is looking for. It is not an exaggeration if it is said that more than 5000 brands trust Sitecore for its CMS features coupled with digital marketing capabilities. This leads to huge scope for the Sitecore professionals with expertise in development and customization.