Software upgrades can often be more style than substance. More mundane maintenance than sweeping digital transformation. Once the fanfare fizzles out, they ultimately deliver little noticeable impact to your business. But here’s the good news—Sitecore 9.3 offers much more than your average upgrade.
Sitecore’s cutting-edge toolset transforms it from a simple content management system (CMS) to a powerful end-to-end experience platform. From drag-and-drop functionality to AI-driven personalization to time-saving deployments, the latest version of Sitecore offers a bounty of shiny new tools that make things easier and more efficient for both marketers and developers. Here are the 10 features in Sitecore 9.3 that we’re most excited about.
Top Sitecore 9.3 features for marketers
Horizon UI: User-friendly content editor
Sitecore 9.3’s brand new user interface makes life easy for marketers during the page-building process. Horizon’s auto-save feature (without having to wait for the page to reload) and accurate desktop, tablet and mobile previews solve for two of the Experience Editor’s biggest pain points. While Sitecore will likely add more functionality in future versions of Horizon, the current tool is ideal for quick edits, submissions and previews. Horizon’s features include:
- Undo and redo
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Content tree pane for easy site navigation
- Edits and previews across devices
- Instant page creation and publishing
- Marketing insights at the page level
Sitecore Forms: Drag-and-drop form builder
Create lead generation and customer retention campaigns powered by personalization, customized fields and conditional form logic. Sitecore Forms makes it easy to build re-skinnable forms you can replicate across sites, campaigns and devices. Plus, you can track the performance of individual fields. While Sitecore Forms was first introduced in Sitecore 9.0, enhancements in version 9.3 include:
- File uploading with options to limit number, type and size.
- Email confirmation—have visitors re-enter their email address.
- Ability to publish forms with the Forms Editor.
Are you still using Web Forms for Marketers (WFFM)? Sitecore’s legacy form builder isn’t an option after version 9.1. Since Sitecore Forms is not a drop-in replacement, you’ll need to migrate away from WFFM before you start using the new tool.
Cortex: Customer insights via machine learning
With Cortex’s machine learning algorithm, you can convert raw data into high-value market segments and patterns in customer behavior. This AI engine is wired to process data from websites, apps, social media platforms and IoT devices. By uncovering new market segments, you can predict what your customers want, perform A/B testing and provide more personalized content.
Sitecore AI: Automated customer journeys and results
The announcement of Sitecore AI at Symposium 2019 had everyone buzzing—especially since Microsoft was revealed to be the first user of this tool. While Cortex is all about predictions, Sitecore AI takes the manual work out of personalization. It recognizes customers from previous visits and automatically personalizes content based on demographics and user behavior.
Sitecore Experience Manager (EXM): Drag-and-drop marketing automation tool
With EXM’s new drag-and-drop interface, marketers can easily enroll contacts into engagement plans and track them throughout the journey. Using data points like demographics, contact attributes and preferred device, you can build precise automated marketing campaigns. To help you get started, this tool comes with a library of pre-equipped sample templates: Announcements, Alternating Columns, Call To Action Focus and more.
Built-in GDPR support: Out-of-the-box compliance features
Thanks to the GDPR-compliance features in Sitecore 9.3, you don’t have to worry about getting sued by the EU. With data protection controls embedded directly into the software, you can anonymize data, annotate it and treat it as sensitive—depending on your needs and configuration choices. The newest features include:
- Out-of-the-box tools for identifying PII, configuring data collection and processing customer data preferences.
- Privacy-by-design—identify and secure PII that may be introduced when you install extensions.
- Encryption of data at rest (data storage) and in motion (data transport).
If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation on how Sitecore supports each GDPR-protected right, we recommend giving this whitepaper a read: Sitecore & GDPR whitepaper.
Top Sitecore 9.3 features for developers
xConnect: Easy data extraction and streaming
xConnect makes it easy for developers to connect the dots between Sitecore and third-party applications: CRMs, marketing automation tools, CDPs, PIMs and ERPs and more. Thanks to Open Data Protocol (OData), you can use a push or pull integration model (or both) to exchange contact and user behavior data, aligning your sales, marketing and service. The end goal—a 360-degree view of each customer’s journey.
Federated automation: Streamlined single sign-on (SSO)
Sitecore’s database is no longer your only option for authentication. With Sitecore 9.3 and OAuth, SSO extends to Microsoft Office, Azure Active Directory, Google G Suite and social media accounts. This allows IT to easily manage:
- Single Sign-On
- Reduced Security Risks
- Increased Organizational Productivity
- Unified Management Experience
Sitecore Installation Framework (SIF): Simplified configuration and deployment
SIF simplifies your upgrade path from Sitecore 8 by allowing you to deploy entire instances of the Sitecore Experience Platform. And to help you streamline your installation, SIF simplifies the server configuration process. To get a feel for SIF, check out Tom Dufield’s post about installing Sitecore 9.
Sitecore JSS/Headless: Streamlined content management across channels and devices
Getting started: Planning your upgrade to Sitecore 9.3
With Sitecore 9.x, Sitecore continues to transform the way companies manage digital experiences. By rolling out these new and improved features, Sitecore is making the vision of an omnichannel customer experience attainable for more and more businesses. The “Why” to upgrade should be evident—but the “How,” can be a bit complicated. As you build out your Sitecore roadmap, set up your project for success by checking out our downloadable step-by-step upgrade guide: Everything you need to plan your Sitecore 9 upgrade.
Ready to get your upgrade off the ground? Schedule your Sitecore consultation today.