On March 3rd 2021, Sitecore announced that it was acquiring customer data platform Boxever, an acquisition that was completed on March 18th 2021.
The media release that Sitecore sent out about the acquisition mentioned some interesting details about Boxever:
If you think it sounds pretty similar to Sitecore XP, you’re not alone. I thought the same and was very keen to learn more about it, and whether or not it would replace Sitecore XP, or work together with it.
Let’s take a look at what I found out.
At the end of January 2021, Sitecore made a big announcement that it has received a $1.2B investment - the largest martech capital investment in history.
Sitecore’s CEO Steve Tzikakis, said that the investment will enable Sitecore to:
Since fueling product innovation is on the roadmap with their big investment, they invested in Boxever, a disruptive technology that will help them reshape the market.
Boxever has been leading the way in personalization and digital experiences, and Sitecore wanted to take what they’ve developed and build and expand it into the future with an incredible cloud platform.
Anyone who has implemented all the bells and whistles of Sitecore XP knows that the entire set-up and consulting process is not an overnight activity or a quick implementation.
Sitecore received feedback from clients that they want more predictable and faster time to benefit solutions. Particularly ones through a cloud provisioned player.
Rightly so, clients are now wanting more urgency to deliver on the promise with end-to-end solutions, that Sitecore can now deliver through SaaS products like Content Hub and now with newly acquired Boxever and Four51.
According to Boxever’s website, Boxever started as a company that ‘used data to make customer interactions smarter’.
If you’re wondering what they mean by that, they believe that personalization should go beyond just cookies and advertising, to determine the next best action for each customer regardless of the channel.
Basically they want to deliver a data-driven, relevant experience for each customer regardless of how they choose to interact, from the ads they see on Facebook, to website interactions, mobile apps and right through to the service they receive in the contact centre or the messaging they receive in-flight.
Consumer expectations have become increasingly elevated over the last ten years, thanks to apps like Uber, Amazon, Air BnB and Netflix, which are offering unparalleled personalized and relevant customer experiences. Boxever is enabling all brands to be able to provide that personalized experience using data.
This kind of data-driven personalized experience is a win-win for both the customer and the brand, because it’s an exchange of value. As a brand, you’re showing that you’re working to create something relevant and useful for the customer. And in return, the customer feels valued and ultimately spends more.
Boxever says they didn’t develop this solution to chase customers around the web with cookies and targeted ads, they wanted to help organizations to build enduring products that customers engage with, which they claim have delivered incredible ROI.
There are 3 main components to Boxever as a product: A Customer Data Platform (CDP), a decisioning capability and experimentation.
Quite like Sitecore XP’s Experience Profile, Boxever has a customer data platform that is focused on building customer profiles that can be used for building better experiences and getting more insight into your customer base. Boxever aggregates customer data from a number of different sources. It can connect to any website, mobile device, back end operational systems, order management systems, CRMs or more.
It brings all the data together into one place and uses identity resolution to combine profiles and match and merge them to create a unified profile of each customer regardless of the channel they were using to interact with.
Boxever’s CDP also builds profiles for anonymous users and fully logged in customers that they can then connect back to CRM data and build rich profiles with. These profiles are built in real time, and then are available for marketing and targeting campaigns, as well as analytics, which are customizable so you can build your own analytics capabilities.
Boxever’s decisioning capability is a wysiwyg tool that allows you to create decision strategies around what the next best experience is for the customer.
In a canvas fashion, you can drag on different logic nodes to assemble a decision strategy. The logic can be powered by:
Which can all be merged together to determine the next best action.
Boxever claims that editing the rules in the Boxever interface is as easy as editing an excel spreadsheet. So you don’t need any special technical requirements to build rules and do powerful things with it.
As I understand it, Boxever’s experimentation capabilities are like fast A/B tests. They allow customers to use a backlog of digital experiences, test on isolated experiments, identify ones that convert or resonate with customers and deploy them across every channel, while culling the ones that don’t work. This allows for very fast experimentation and deployment.
Boxever shares some of the same capabilities as Sitecore XP such as scale, identity resolution and integrations into external systems, however Boxever does so more significantly.
While Sitecore’s main personalization features are the personalization of components on a webpage, Boxever sees personalization as a much bigger playing field than just on-page website conversion, stretching it as far as interactions with customer service centres, and believing that no matter what platform the customer is using, they should have the right proposition, at the right time.
Sitecore’s personalization comes down from the content editor, whereas Boxever personalizes from the data up. So they work out who the customer is, what the next best action is, and then deliver that into the channel where the customer chooses to interact, rather than personalizing components.
One of the things Boxever has designed from the ground up is elastic scale for the cloud, which allows for a very large number of profiles that you can segment in seconds.
Boxever (soon to be rebranded to Sitecore CDP) won’t replace xDB as the data management solution, rather you’ll have the option to choose from either one.
Sitecore says that the shift to SaaS is really important, however they’re still committed to Sitecore, Sitecore 10, XP, XM and the install base, promising that they will continue to invest in product lines and make significant investments there as they have over the past year. So they'll remain fully committed to both ecosystems.
However as the demand for more cloud based products grows, Sitecore says you’ll likely end up with a hybrid product, where you’ll have some cloud components attached to your installed service that you’ll be able to leverage. It sounds like Sitecore is going to be about choice.
Sitecore has said that Sitecore CDP will have the ability to integrate the output of AI models (like Sitecore AI personalization) natively into the platform to combine that with the real time CDP data. At the moment with Sitecore personalization you personalize on a component level, however in the future Sitecore says they’ll have a bottom up integration with Sitecore CDP.
Boxever (Sitecore CDP) will be fully integrated into XP and will become Sitecore CDP as a standalone solution that can be integrated into your stack or fully integrated as part of Sitecore XP.
On Boxever's website, they have case studies that span a wide range of industries, including:
Let's take a closer look at what they did for their customers in some of those industries.
Gathering a tremendous amount of data about usage, the smart home provider has a suite of products that they upsell alongside their flagship product using Boxever.
They used Boxever to understand who their website visitors were, what products they were already using and how active their products were. Integrating Boxever with Salesforce, the smart home provider could deliver consistent messaging across all channels, even using Salesforce service cloud to pass data into their contact centre, so the customer had consistent communication and the provider could use the data for cross-selling at all communication points.
One of Boxever’s customers is a large gaming company that uses Boxever for real time personalization across their ecosystem. This allows them to offer bets to players on live actions that happen during the game, like who will get the first red card for example, adjusting their model in real time to continue to be changed based on the evolution of the game.
They also use Boxever to regulate responsible gambling by recognizing when players are gambling outside their means or depositing too quickly, allowing the company to intervene and moderate their behaviour.
To summarize, they’re profiling all their customers in real time, making recommendations for bets when they’re having fun and playing responsibly, and also intervening and moderating play or shutting the app down for customers who are not gambling responsibly.
Some of the biggest airlines in the world use Boxever for their CDP and personalization engine. One airline uses it primarily to power their acquisition strategy - driving the audiences they want to target on their advertising channels to drive more traffic and convert more effectively based on recommendations and past browsing behaviour.
Boxever also powers their business class upgrades. It sources the number of seats that are available in business class and the price they’ve available at, and runs an algorithm across all the customers in economy class to work out their willingness to pay and whether there is any cannibalization of people who would upgrade anyway. It then messages each individual customer via Oracle marketing cloud with individually priced upgrade offers.
While Sitecore XP’s features can take months to integrate from consultation to testing and go-live, customers are expecting a faster time to value now with their technology. Boxever claims that a typical implementation with pre-created tags can be done quite rapidly, and will take longer to QA than to implement.
For big organizations with data aggregated from a number of different sources, it can take up to six weeks depending on the complexity, however Boxever hopes that with the Sitecore integration in the future, basic out of the box integration with a website CMS or similar would be as simple and straightforward as implementing Google Analytics.
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