Sitecore’s acquisition of Boxever

Jeremy Davis
Solution Architect and Sitecore MVP, UNRVLD
July 8, 2021
5 minute read

As a tool that provides user analytics data management, personalisation decisions and “experiences”, it seems as if it duplicates a chunk of what Sitecore does already with its xConnect framework.

So why is this an interesting purchase?

The key lies with the move towards “as a service” solutions to our content management challenges. The landscape for CMS is changing with the rise of JAMStack, Content as a Service and similar buzzwords, and this acquisition forms part of Sitecore’s strategy to meet these changes head on, and provide the benefits we’re used to from their systems in new ways.

Where Boxever fits in

Sitecore’s first foray into the SaaS market is focused around their Content Hub product. They’ve brought a Headless CMS approach to market there, and they’re releasing new hosting technology with their “Experience Edge” products, to help you move away from the need for Content Delivery servers. But what’s been missing from this roadmap so far is any talk of how personalisation should work with these new ways of delivering content. And that is where Boxever fits in.

Firstly it’s solving the problem of how you manage and track your website users in a SaaS world. Its descriptions are very similar to that of xConnect. It tracks customers and their interactions. It allows real-time gathering and querying of this data. And it allows you to mesh this information with your other business data. But because it’s SaaS you don’t have to host it. And that removes one of the challenges of xConnect – data tends to grow over time, and for smaller organisations, that data can become a challenge. So the Boxever acquisition gives Sitecore a way to offer these features to their CaaS websites without the infrastructure challenges their existing technology might bring.

Decision-making system

Secondly, it provides a decision-making system to take your analytics and business data, and use these to make real-time choices about what content to show customers. This is similar sounding to the Rules Engine behaviour in the current Sitecore CMS, but it’s more visual and more easily extended for SaaS sites than the traditional model. Boxever’s model gives you a visual decision editor, which allows you to combine data sources to make decisions from. You can pick data from your site analytics, but also from external systems that your admins plumb in. External data sources like order management or loyalty systems can work, but also external Machine Learning or AI systems help categorise data. And you can bring this data together using decision tables (which anyone familiar with Excel should be able to use) or JavaScript code for more advanced scenarios. These decisions can be integrated into your website to help it make choices about what content to show to which users, bringing personalised behaviour into the JAMStack and CaaS world.

Customising to match needs

Thirdly, Boxever gives you a framework for testing the effect of these decisions on your site, and analysing the outcomes of the tests. You can configure these tests in their product, and customise them to match your needs - what percentage of users see a test at all and which segments of users see which variants in the tests can be set via a simple UI. And you can also run “silent” tests, where it will measure what would have been personalised on your site without changing anything – allowing you to prove to yourself your setup works before releasing it to your users. Unlike the Sitecore CMS, Boxever’s approach isn’t tied to a specific delivery mechanism, so it’s worth considering that this approach can be used with phone apps, kiosks or other channels you need to run.

More flexibility

Overall this acquisition doesn’t bring a radically different approach to personalisation, but like the rest of the CaaS concept, it provides you with flexibility. You now have an as-a-service alternative to xConnect which you can use for your JAMStack sites, elsewhere in your omni-channel landscape. If this model fits your project plans, then it’s available to use now. And if your needs lie more with the more traditional approaches, then the Experience Platform is still the right place to start. And hybrid approaches based around Sitecore’s JSS offerings are likely to be helpful to some organisations too.