Imagine a scenario where software vendors shift their strategic direction so drastically that it leaves their existing customers with crucial technological strategy decisions they weren't planning for. If you happen to be using Sitecore XP or XM, it's time to confront this reality head-on. This isn't optimal, but there are steps you can take that provide an excellent opportunity to ensure that your go-forward martech strategy advances your company's goals.
This article will delve into the potential impact to your martech strategy based on the upcoming changes to Sitecore's product roadmap, as revealed at Sitecore Symposium 2022. Additionally, we will explore strategies you should consider when transitioning your organization to adapt to this change and provide outstanding customer experiences.
The Future of Sitecore XP
At Symposium 2022, a roadmap was unveiled for Sitecore's future product strategy. The focus? A Composable DXP, anchored by cloud CMS offerings, with XM Cloud taking center stage and ancillary products such as Experience Cloud including CDP, Personalize, and Send supplementing their new "Composable DXP" product strategy.
A noteworthy reveal was the implied end-of-life (EOL) timeline for Sitecore XP. The symposium announced the release of version 10.3, promising one more dot release (10.4), likely to be released in late Q4 2023 based on Sitecore's prior release schedule. Additionally, it was clear there would be no more major releases for Sitecore XP after 10.4.
This doesn't mean immediate abandonment of Sitecore XP, though. Sitecore's mainstream support will continue, likely for three years post-release. It gives existing customers a window . . . but the clock is ticking.
It is important to note that there isn't a tool or plan to migrate existing Sitecore XP implementations to XM Cloud easily. Moving to XM Cloud essentially amounts to a complete rebuild and re-platforming. With a total rebuild at hand, many Sitecore XP customers are considering the marketplace's broader options. Solutions that are more mature than XM Cloud. Regardless if you're considering XM Cloud or want to look at the broader market, it makes sense to start planning resources and budget now - consider this your call to action.
Evaluate All Your Options
Sitecore throws its hat into the ring with a new offering: XM Cloud. With the requirement of a full rebuild, Sherpera strongly recommends evaluating the entire CMS marketplace to decide what platform is best for you go-forward. Perhaps it is XM Cloud. We'd suggest that other, even more mature market offerings should be considered. To quote Tony Byrne from the Real Story Group, in an article entitled Whither Sitecore, Now?, "If you license Sitecore XP today, don't automatically transition to XM Cloud (plus the add-on modules). Take your time to review your web publishing operation and consider the raft of marketplace options -- some lighter and more modern -- before taking on the hard work and additional expense of converting to Sitecore's new product models." This also points to the need to begin building your Composable DX platform where your Content Management System doesn't attempt to do everything, like personalization and application presentation. Replatforming off of Sitecore XP is more complicated than just content management.
Planning for the Future
Given the complexity of re-platforming, you must evaluate your options, understand your business needs, and select the right platform to meet your requirements and drive your business forward. Think about aspects like scalability, adaptability, and the capacity to give individualized and captivating encounters to your clients. It is essential to think about your overall Martech platform strategy.
With the market clearly driving towards a Composable Digital Experience and leveraging a MACH Architecture approach, look for a platform that allows for this approach to set yourself up for a long, healthy future.
Start the conversation with your team and stakeholders. Discuss the implications of re-platforming and its potential benefits to your business. Get buy-in from key decision-makers and ensure that everyone is aligned on the path forward.
You must also allocate the necessary budget and resources for the re-platforming project. It's a significant undertaking, but with proper planning and execution, it can set your business up for success in the future.
Why Rush? The Answer is Simple
You might be scratching your head, thinking, "Why the hurry?" Well, here's the scoop. Sitecore XP will likely hit its end-of-life stage post-2023 - no more hefty updates and mainstream support likely ending in the next three years. It feels like a lifetime away, but trust me, budgeting, selecting, defining, and rebuilding a website while also secretly hoping to add features and functions currently missing from the platform is measured in quarters and years, not days and months. Get busy now.
4 Steps to Select a New Content Platform
The journey towards picking the right Content Management System (CMS) can be daunting, but we're here to make it easier. Below are four key steps you need to take when choosing your next platform.
1 - Needs Analysis
To start, you must understand what you truly need from a new platform. This means taking stock of how your current Sitecore XP implementation is performing and identifying areas where more functionality would be beneficial. It's not just about troubleshooting; it's also about recognizing chances to advance and expand.
A comprehensive list of features, use cases, content types, and channel presentations that align with your present needs and future goals will effectively guide your decision-making process. Below is a list of high-level list of areas of concern. It's not exhaustive, but it is a good starting point.
- Platform Vendor History, Health, and Roadmap - Are they a healthy company that is philosophically aligned with your company?
- Preferred Technology - Do they support the tech you prefer?
- MACH Architecture Support - Does it support an entirely cloud-based, headless architecture with open APIs
- Does the platform support multi-site / application management?
- Does the platform support multiple languages?
- Content Management - How are content types created and managed in the platform?
- How are application (including website) presentation and layouts managed or integrated?
- How is media handled?
- How is content personalization handled?
- Is there workflow management, including content versioning?
- Is the platform truly SaaS, PaaS or Installed?
- And many, many more.
It is not uncommon for platform questionnaires that Sherpera prepares to have several hundred questions for the vendor to answer. Remember that the goal is not simply to replace an old system with a newer one but to get a solution tailored perfectly to your specific requirements.
2 - Identify Suitable Vendors
Once armed with this understanding, look out for vendors whose offerings match or exceed those expectations. Consider their reputation in the market, user reviews, and past performance indicators like uptime scores, customer retention, and customer service response times.
You might want to create a shortlist based on these factors before reaching out directly. Ask them questions about their ability to meet each requirement on your checklist - remember, every detail counts.
3 - Develop Your RFP
The Platform Vendor Request For Proposal (RFP) stage requires careful thought and preparation because this document outlines all aspects related to your project. This includes specific selection criteria, which will help you to narrow down the potential vendor list even further. This isn't to be confused with a Development Vendor RFP. This would come next after you've successfully identified the new platform you wish to utilize.
Your RFP should also outline your decision-making process so that vendors know what they're getting into. It's about being clear and transparent from the start - a two-way street for both parties involved.
4 - Execute The Selection Process
The final step is executing your carefully planned proposal and selection process. This involves going through all responses received. Shortlisting those who seem most promising based on their RFP responses, followed by product demos or presentations where needed.
Remember, the effort you expend now will pay off significantly in the future.
We Can Help
Does this sound daunting? You wouldn’t climb Mount Everest without an experienced Sherpa, right? The same logic applies when selecting a new platform; having someone who knows the way will save you from many pitfalls along the journey. With over 18 years (you read that right) of Sitecore experience involved in our first Sitecore build in 2005, Sherpera is ideally suited to guide you through this process with our extensive knowledge of Sitecore.
We've helped numerous clients navigate the complex digital transformation landscape, and we have a time-tested approach to help you successfully select technology platforms.
It's clear - Sitecore XP end-of-life is on the horizon. The future of Sitecore is centered around cloud CMS offerings, like XM Cloud. A transition is inevitable, not a 'maybe' but a 'certainty'. Weigh your options wisely and understand the pros and cons before migrating to any platform. It's about making strategic choices based on what you need to deliver the customer experiences that give you the marketplace edge.
When it comes time to pick a new CMS platform, take deliberate steps: needs analysis, identifying vendors, developing RFPs, and executing vendor proposals precisely. Last but not least, once you've selected your next content platform, you must choose an implementation partner specializing in successfully deploying it. Our next blog will touch on this process. Stay tuned!