Finding the best campaign content with Elastic
The expression "content is king" is well known among marketers. But the truth for many companies is that "content is complicated." That’s the challenge Sitecore seeks to solve. Founded in 2001, Sitecore is a leading supplier of customer experience management software that enables businesses to track their marketing assets, including photographs, imagery, and videos. By greatly simplifying digital media management, businesses can more easily deliver personalized customer experiences across websites, social media, and other digital channels.
Sitecore’s customers include some of the world's best known consumer brands, from L’Oréal to Procter & Gamble. "We want to make it as easy as possible for our clients to find, combine, and publish their content to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers and respond to fast-changing business conditions," says Alex Stewart-James, Sitecore Director, Technical Program Management.
Fast access to the right campaign assets
A core component of Sitecore’s digital experience platform is Sitecore Content Hub. Sitecore Content Hub unifies content planning, production, collaboration, and management with a single, integrated solution. Within the digital asset management (DAM), component clients can centralize all their digital marketing assets for use in Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) or integration with their own content management systems. For large organizations this may involve hundreds of thousands of valuable images, video, and other media.
Storing such important content is one thing but finding it again and monitoring its use is another. This is why Sitecore puts great emphasis on providing enterprise search capabilities to make content discovery and findability a simple task. In the past, the company used a legacy open source enterprise search tool, but one that lacked a structured support network.
"We wanted to move to a system which had the backing of a team of software architects and other resources who understand the Sitecore business and provide long-term advice on how to get the best out of the deployment," says Stewart-James.
This led Sitecore to incorporate Elasticsearch as part of Content Hub. Elasticsearch enables clients to quickly find the best content for their campaigns, while also accounting for factors such as digital rights management, which determines how and where assets can be used.
Elasticsearch is also faster and more responsive than Sitecore's previous search solution. "We have hundreds of clients, some of which store more than 10 million content items," says Stewart-James. "Elasticsearch can reach into this content ocean and bring back the right asset in the blink of an eye. It's one of the fundamental benefits that convince our clients that Sitecore is the right platform for their digital content strategies."
Elastic on Microsoft Azure eases demand on Sitecore IT resources
Sitecore achieves substantial operational efficiencies by using Elastic Cloud Enterprise. Sitecore has built out an internal Elastic platform-as-a- service (PaaS) offering on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. "This means that all development teams can easily use all Elastic solutions while allowing the platform team to manage all Elastic clusters in a centralised and governed way. ECE also greatly reduces the effort needed to build and maintain the infrastructure behind it," says Tim Van Gehuchten, Vice President of Platform Engineering at Sitecore. "It significantly reduces the burden on our Platform team, saving time and reducing costs," he adds.
The partnership is also beneficial to Microsoft. Chris Longo, Senior Partner Development Manager, Azure at Microsoft says, "By including Sitecore and Elastic in our Azure ecosystem we're able to offer Microsoft customers a market-leading content management system supported by equally advanced enterprise search."
Under an enterprise licensing agreement with Microsoft, Sitecore can add more solutions hosted on Azure as needed. "We don't have to purchase or look at additional types of licensing. All of the products and features of the Elastic Stack are included for us to use as soon as we're ready," says Stewart-James.
For example, Sitecore leverages Elastic Observability for Content Hub to provide a comprehensive view of how clients are using the software. "With Elastic Observability we can collect all of the metrics, logs, traces, and other key information to understand how clients are using our applications, where there might be issues, and how we can improve their experiences," says Stewart-James.
The APM capabilities of Elastic Observability are another area that the Sitecore team leverages. "We're always looking at ways to improve our processes and pass on the benefits to clients," says Stewart-James. "Elastic APM enables us to dig into how clients use your products in granular detail and apply this knowledge to make improvements to our service. For example, using traces, Sitecore can quickly identify performance bottlenecks across the entire application stack and implement improvements with surgical precision."
Protecting valuable digital assets and looking to the future
Elastic Security enables Sitecore to give clients peace of mind by protecting marketing content and data. A single video or photo shoot can be worth tens of thousands of dollars and must be protected against theft and incorrect use. "Our clients can set different team and region permissions so that individuals can access only the assets appropriate for their product group, brand, or region," says Van Gehuchten.
Sitecore is also exploring the potential of Elastic App Search. "Improving the search experience for our clients is an ongoing quest. Elastic App Search would give us the opportunity to offer a refined set of APIs and intuitive dashboards to drive even more advanced search capabilities," says Stewart-James.
In such a fast-moving sector, Sitecore welcomes ongoing input and support from Elastic. "We benefit from regular sessions with the Elastic team. We provide updates on our business roadmap, understand where Elastic is heading, and then make sure that we are ready to take advantage of new developments in their service suite as soon as they become available," says Stewart-James.
Looking to the future, Van Gehuchten returns to the richness of the Elastic Stack. "Previously we worked with lots of databases and search technology that was hard to manage. Elastic changed all that," he says. "The simple licensing model along with continuous support from Elastic means we can add features that align with our roadmap and ensure we deliver on the marketing needs of our clients that in turn enable them to provide optimal experiences to their customers."