Sitecore Experience Manager Announcement

Matthew McQueeny - Relationships & Community Lead

14 Jul 2022

Note: The following is the transcription of the video produced by an automated transcription system.

Welcome, everybody. This is Matthew McQueeny from Konabos. With me is my good friend, Dennis Augustine, Partner here at Konabos, CX Architect, six-time Sitecore MVP. And we are going to talk  about a very big announcement today from Sitecore. Where they released officially their Sitecore  experience manager, XM Cloud. Steve Tzikakis, I think I had the pronunciation right there, is  Sitecore's CEO, and he had a very epic sounding  tweet where he said. "Today we announce the  most significant milestone in Sitecore history,

00:00:41:04 - 00:00:48:14 Matthew McQueeny XM Cloud". Dennis, welcome. Could you  talk about what this announcement was,  what went into it, what it means?

00:00:49:02 - 00:01:21:21 Dennis Augustine XM Cloud

Yeah. Thanks, Matt. It was...XM cloud is  Sitecore's step along the way to a full, fully SaaS content management  platform offering. Now, we've been hearing that is the future of Sitecore...most  recently, over the last few acquisitions that they've made, we've been hearing that this  is a direction towards a composable digital experience platform, sort of a strategy; which  is really where I think the marketplace is going.

00:01:21:21 - 00:01:46:08 Dennis Augustine 

So you know, we've been in Sitecore for  a while, over at Konabos, and so when we saw that direction emerging in the Sitecore  roadmap, we were enthused because we've actually been ourselves, a couple of years ago,  starting to do much more composable Jamstack based solutions. And, so, we were excited about  that and it's been cooking for a while.

00:01:46:08 - 00:02:28:17 Dennis Augustine 

And now Sitecore, what they've done is  taken the core CMS platform, the Sitecore experience platform and the other part of that  product, the Sitecore experience management or XM -- experience platform being the one with all  of the personalization features and everything else, and XM being the core content management  part of that platform -- well, in order to get to that really composable, and composable and  SaaS seem to be almost synonymous now because in order to be really, truly agile, you want  to have very rapid ways of deploying your DXP infrastructure, very rapid  ways of deploying to the cloud.

00:02:29:02 - 00:02:59:09 Dennis Augustine 

And so in the traditional model, Sitecore  had been hosted either on-prem, or on things like Microsoft Azure and PaaS,  platform as a service sort of configurations. That was a little bit bulkier, is not  truly the way that very lightweight, modern, composable solutions will be going.  So on the roadmap, what they've done is to take that XM part of the product, the experience  management and port that to the cloud.

00:02:59:10 - 00:03:21:05 Dennis Augustine 

And so that's what XM Cloud is about. It  is XM essentially ported it to the cloud. And we've also heard in this announcement  today, which was one thing that surprised me, actually is we'll also have all of the  WYSIWYG and personalization and the page composition elements that we've been hearing  about for a while, included in XM Cloud.

00:03:21:05 - 00:03:38:02 Dennis Augustine 

So it's a big announcement. And, in terms  of when folks can get it, though, I mean, that still is a little bit of a...not too  clear on how we are going to be able to get our hands on it right away, but I hope that  sort of messaging is forthcoming from Sitecore.

00:03:39:14 - 00:04:01:04 Matthew McQueeny Current Sitecore customers

So we deal with customers all the time. What does  this mean for current Sitecore customers? Maybe we break them into two buckets. Those that are  several versions behind and might need an upgrade, and maybe those who are up to date but are looking towards this cloud SaaS based reality.

00:04:02:04 - 00:04:26:18 Dennis Augustine 

Yes. So certainly the ones who are several  versions behind have been thinking about their upgrade path. And so if  you are on a Sitecore version; the earlier nine and eight version, certainly  your end of life is either soon to pass or soon to, or has passed a little while ago, and  so has the end of mainstream support for that.

00:04:27:02 - 00:04:51:18 Dennis Augustine 

So a lot of our customers are a little bit behind  and it's not uncommon in the Sitecore space for folks to be a few versions back because with  the old infrastructure models, upgrades were very onerous and so it took a  lot of effort to upgrade. So a lot of times customers would  stay put for several versions and wait for a web redesign project in  order to prompt them to do that upgrade.

00:04:52:09 - 00:05:20:12 Dennis Augustine 

Well, a lot of I.T. companies, especially now with  all of the recent -- a lot, with all of the recent challenges that we  [organizations] have been having with security, are saying "we need to stay current with our  support. And so an upgrade is necessary." Well, if you've been hearing that, and you're  hearing that from your I.T. department and now you're faced with the need to upgrade,  and all of a sudden it's like Sitecore has thrown a wrench into it by saying,  well, there's this new thing coming.

00:05:20:19 - 00:05:49:05 Dennis Augustine 

I'm sure a lot of customers are wondering,  "should I upgrade my current XP instance to XM? Or should I, 'sidegrade'?", as my partner  Kam [Kamruz Jamen] likes to call it. Because XP and XM are two slightly different  market products. Should I do that to get to the XM cloud? What is my path?  So there's a bit of a...customers are going to be wondering what should  they be doing about their upgrade.

00:05:49:12 - 00:06:10:03 Dennis Augustine 

If you are somebody who is, you know, up to  date, but looking ahead for your roadmap, certainly the question of when can I get my  hands on XM Cloud? Is it the right step for me?  If you're thinking about it, and you should  be, thinking about a composable future and staying with the Sitecore stack,

00:06:10:03 - 00:06:31:18 Dennis Augustine 

then perhaps XM Cloud is that next step  for you. But the question, you know, we always pose as engineers is, you know, is it  really the right product? So we've been in the Sitecore space for a long time at Konabos. We've  got...a quarter of our company are Sitecore MVPs, so we're very much committed to the product.

00:06:31:19 - 00:07:06:05 Dennis Augustine 

But having said that, we also work with  other content platforms, Contentful, Kontent, ContentStack, and so forth. We  really want to say, "hold on before you make those decisions around what  will be at the core of your content strategy, or your content platform for your  digital platform, let's have a talk about  what's the best fit for you." Because right  now we're getting a lot of -- I don't want to say hype -- but I mean, we are getting a lot  of excitement and it has to be self-serving

00:07:06:05 - 00:07:30:01 Dennis Augustine 

excitement from vendors about their products being  the next best thing or the right direction for you. But I think it's wise for customers  to take a step back and really talk to engineers around what does this mean? Should  we do that upgrade now? Should we wait a little bit and go do XM Cloud? Do we go from XP to XM  as an intermediary step and then to XM Cloud?

00:07:30:13 - 00:07:45:16 Dennis Augustine 

Or do we just decide to cut the cord and  go straight to something else? I think it's interesting ahed for sure, for anybody who's  faced with those decisions, whether you are many versions behind or  looking forward to what's next.

00:07:47:14 - 00:08:25:07 Matthew McQueeny 

In your position, you speak with a lot of  decision makers, technical, marketing in large organizations. How do you strategize and plot  this discussion for Sitecore customers of how an upgrade works, how a pivot maybe to headless  works, whether it's in Sitecore or one of the big things with with this composable marketplace  is Sitecore is but one product on the block with others who might be able to vie and compete for  those customers wallets and hearts, if you will.

00:08:25:14 - 00:08:29:10 Matthew McQueeny 

How do you, how do you walk through that?  It's really educational, I would imagine.

00:08:29:23 - 00:09:00:02 Dennis Augustine 

For sure. I think it is very educational.  And I think that the first people I need to be educated are your technical and customer  experience architects about what your goals are, before those platform choices are made. So,  when we hear about new products or upgrades, new releases, the temptation is to jump on to  the bandwagon of there's this shiny new toy, we should go and get it because  we need the latest, greatest.

00:09:00:16 - 00:09:23:23 Dennis Augustine 

But ultimately platform choices should follow the  choices that you make around the purpose of your solution, what you're trying to achieve. It's  this 5-P framework that Ken [Gray] and I would talk about for a while, which is that, you know,  the purpose and problem of your business problem, the purposes of your interactions with your  customers, how are your people working today?

00:09:24:18 - 00:09:48:08 Dennis Augustine 

Does the solution that you currently have worked  well for them? Do the certain pieces that your marketing team is used to working with, are those  suitable for them right now?; before you get to analyzing the processes that you typically  use in your marketing and what your instinct should be, and then talk about your platform. So  I really would want folks to educate themselves,

00:09:48:08 - 00:10:22:10 

Dennis Augustine yes, about the products, but if you're on the roadmap to  composable especially, and you should be, it is really about taking a step back and thinking  about all of the things that precede that, before you start making platform choices. And certainly I  would again, advise folks to make platform choices in consultation with customer experience and  technical architects before you start going out to get sales pitches from the various vendors, no  matter how exciting the new shiny toy might seem.

00:10:23:10 - 00:10:52:21 Matthew McQueeny 

The 5PAnd I think much to the point that you were  speaking of there with the 5-Ps, the issue with a pivot approach in composable DXP is really, if you  think about it in a monolithic way, you can get completely overwhelmed, paralyzed by the decisions  before you. But on the flip side, Composability allows you to quickly pivot and pilot on any  single layer of your stack to kind of test it out.

00:10:53:04 - 00:10:56:21 Matthew McQueeny 

Is that what the balance of that  conversation can come down to?

00:10:57:04 - 00:11:31:01 Dennis Augustine 

I think it can and I think that, what you've kind  of alluded to, is taking on a particular piece and then piloting that. So that it's a gradual  transition towards Composability. And Matt, you and I have talked about this before, it's  evolution towards a composability rather than a revolution. Just because there is this new thing  released, don't think that your next move needs to be a wholesale redesign of your whole customer  experience platform, because that is a revolution.

00:11:31:01 - 00:11:53:06 Dennis Augustine 

And we know that revolutions are not without  martyrs, and your team does not want to be one. And so we really want to look at, what is the  highest value change that we can make? Where are the problems in our processes, the bottlenecks?  Are we having a content platform issue? Are there highest value things  that we can do right now

00:11:53:06 - 00:12:16:18 Dennis Augustine 

with regards to doing that personalization, that  we may have not done for the last few years? Is that the highest value thing? So I think  those things need to be all considered, and then to, yes, to make the the gradual  transition and piloting certain changes to your platform along the way, gradually,  can be a good way of doing that for

00:12:16:18 - 00:12:17:01 

Dennis Augustine Sure.

00:12:17:22 - 00:12:24:01 Matthew McQueeny 

The Next Step I know that there were so many people  interested in this conversation. Last question is, what's the next step?

00:12:25:09 - 00:12:46:14 Dennis Augustine 

Well, the next step, I think, is, as we said,  to just pause. Because Steve just threw the wrench into the works when it  came to your plans. I think, if you weren't paying attention during the  acquisitions and have not been clued into there being -- if you're a Sitecore customer --  there being a real shift afoot in the road map.

00:12:46:14 - 00:13:16:09 Dennis Augustine 

This announcement and the excitement and  focus, single minded focus, of Sitecore towards composability and a headless approach should  make every customer, especially customers who are on XP and XM in a monolithic way, take a  pause, before you decide whether you're going to upgrade. Whether it's time to maybe change  a little bit of a piece or to perhaps pivot, upgrades are large efforts,  especially if you're a big brand,

00:13:16:09 - 00:13:37:20 Dennis Augustine 

so you have a number of options and  number of permutations of decisions that you should be making. So I think the  first thing is just to stop. Stop and think, and then consult somebody who can be a  guide for you in that decision making, and of course, we at Konabos have been  in the composable space for awhile.

00:13:37:20 - 00:13:55:01 Dennis Augustine 

We've been in Sitecore for quite a while.  We've been working with wonderful platforms like Kontent, Contentful, and ContentStack.  And so we don't have horse in the vendor race, but we're really here for our customers, to help  guide them through that decision making process.

00:13:56:05 - 00:14:03:03 Matthew McQueeny 

Look, before you leap, pause before you pivot,  talk to Konabos if you're unsure. Thanks, Dennis.

00:14:03:15 - 00:14:05:00 Dennis Augustine 

Pleasure, Matt. Good talking to you.

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Matthew McQueeny

Matt is a digital marketing professional and web project manager with over 15 years of experience.  He has worked with clients ranging from Fortune 500 to startups. Industries of digital project experience include healthcare, publishing, technology, telecommunications, education, retail, entertainment, manufacturing, and transportation. In 2023, Matt was awarded his first Sitecore MVP, in recognition for his work in the Sitecore community. 

He loves the intersection of technology, marketing, and communications.  Throughout his career, he worked with many licensed and open-source content management systems, in editorial, social media strategy and advertising, search engine marketing, lead generation, analytics, and podcasting.

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