Making a Smooth Transition to Sitecore 9

Realizing the promise of context marketing requires web content management solutions like Sitecore to bring those possibilities to fruition for today’s marketers. The web content management and multichannel marketing automation software has been empowering marketers since 2001 with growing functionality and possibilities with each new release. With Sitecore 9, marketers can build on the unlimited possibilities of contextual marketing in an omnichannel world through its numerous new features. In order to make a smooth transition to this latest iteration, it’s important to see how its new features make it worthwhile to upgrade from earlier versions.

Why Upgrade from Sitecore 6?

If you are on Sitecore 6, mainstream support has ended, so compatibility fixes and patches for product defects are unavailable. Its less than ideal visitor data accuracy hampers web traffic reporting, and most importantly, it doesn’t provide a 360-degree view of customers or multichannel marketing applications. The new Sitecore 9 feature, xConnect, enables easy data interchange with the systems that matter, so you can transfer data in real-time. Sitecore 9 provides detailed web traffic analytics for better campaign planning and audience matching.

Why Upgrade from Sitecore 7?

While Sitecore 7 facilitates multichannel websites and mobile applications use Sitecore 9 provides increased capability to manage all digital assets for seamless content sharing, customer data and analytics on both Sitecore and non-Sitecore properties. Sitecore 9 has a far more consistent user interface and greater ability for content strategy testing that doesn’t require IT team involvement. Users can view granular customer activity through customer experience data that enables granular segmentation, personalization and relevant content delivery. Sitecore9 will automatically test every change so that data is constantly updated without changing the author experience. While Sitecore 7 requires independent segment analysis and calculations, the Sitecore 9 machine learning (ML) software known as Cortex, automatically identifies visitor behavior attributes and suggests personalization criteria for them.

Why Upgrading from Sitecore 8?

Although Sitecore 8 supports advanced cloud deployment models, Sitecore 9 enables collection and connecting from anywhere while using ML capabilities to analyze the data. An omnichannel data collection scalability via xConnect extends the capability to optimize xDB while collecting and connecting data from websites, call centers, in-store visits, beacons, IoT devices and more. The new xConnect data API also delivers better CRM integration for call center merging along with Sitecore 9 connectors for Salesforce and the powerful possibilities of Sitecore and Dynamics 365 to deliver a full 360-degree customer view. Sitecore 8 is somewhat limited to MongoDB as your xDB database while Sitecore 9 provides choices of Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Azure, or Cosmos DB. Furthermore, your chosen database can be deployed and integrated with Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) and Azure Marketplace setup. Collection of forms data and automatic nurture is simplified along with single sign-on capabilities and content access to external apps.

Upgrading to Sitecore 9

In addition to a wealth of upgrades in Sitecore 9 the upgrade process is straightforward with a direct upgrade from Sitecore 8.1 onwards using a single update package. Users can also upgrade from Sitecore 6.6 using the Migration Tool. The upgrade also includes migration and conversion of data from MongoDB to SQL Server if you wish to move to a fully Microsoft stack (on premise or Azure). The process requires users to capture the tools, interactive elements, charts, and videos as well as any other types of content on their existing site in order to scrub dated, incorrect, or faulty information. This should be guided by stakeholder interviews, brand goals, personas and scenarios, and site analytics.
The next step is to define information architecture to ensure that the information structures, taxonomies, ontologies and data models are optimized for use moving forward. Clearly this is a brief introduction to making a smooth transition to Sitecore 9 that looks at reasons why you should make the transition based on the wealth of new features that deliver unprecedented power to marketers. As current and potential users explore those possibilities in greater depth through the Sitecore Knowledgebase, an increasingly stronger case for making the transition will be revealed.
We’ve been working with Sitecore upgrades since version 6.0 and are thrilled with the way Sitecore has made it easier than ever to upgrade. We all know it’s not “plug and play” but we’ve worked with our customers to deliver stable upgrades with our focus on:

  • Performance testing
  • Regression testing
  • Integration analysis, identifying any potential gotchas or opportunities for improvement
  • Development processes, taking advantage of new scripting tools available within Sitecore to get to the “easy button” deployment
  • Sitecore modules in use and customizations, including assessing items that may be eligible for retirement because they’ve been replaced by features in Sitecore (e.g. URL rewriting)
  • Strategic opportunities to deliver on context marketing using the built in tools in a crawl-walk-run (i.e. don’t boil the ocean) approach Drop us a line if you’d like to talk details on what it takes to upgrade to Sitecore 9.

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