The Sitecore Content Hub is now an official product offered by Sitecore but is still relatively unknown within the marketplace. It is a re-branding of the platform that Sitecore gained from the late 2018 acquisition of Stylelabs, establishing a firm presence in the Digital Asset Management (DAM) market.
The launch of the Sitecore Content Hub presents another step in Sitecore’s journey to offer an integrated, full range of content management and digital marketing tools covering the entire content lifecycle and related activities. As with most Sitecore offerings, the solution offers extensive and deep capabilities to meet the most complex needs, as well as flexibility to suit most organizations and use cases.
The Stylelabs acquisition
Sitecore announced the acquisition of Stylelabs at its 2018 Symposium conference, a move that brings DAM, Marketing Resource Management (MRM) and Product Content Management (PCM) capabilities to the Sitecore platform. Since then Sitecore has been working on integrating these apps into its core offering, eventually branding the new product as the Sitecore Content Hub and launching in July 2019. As we would expect and evident at the 2019 Sitecore Symposium, some integration work is continuing as the Content Hub becomes more tightly threaded into the wider product suite.
The acquisition makes a lot of sense in advancing Sitecore’s objective to deliver a full range of digital marketing and content management solutions. Full and seamless integration between a DAM, a CMS and a content calendar, for example, helps to drive the use of a single content management and marketing ecosystem; ultimately this is more efficient for central marketing teams, and establishes standardization and governance across an extended and distributed marketing community. The toolset also provides some oversight over what is likely to be a complicated, omni-channel environment.
Introducing the Sitecore Content Hub
Sitecore positions Content Hub as an offering that covers the entire content life cycle and “helps you manage every aspect of your marketing content for all your channels with a single, integrated solution.” It presents four main capabilities:
- Digital Asset Management
- Content Marketing Platform
- Marketing Resource Management
- Product Content Management
Let’s look at each of these aspects of the Content Hub in turn.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
DAM is really the centerpiece of the Content Hub. Like any DAM platform, Sitecore Content Hub allows you to store, organize and retrieve your digital assets across a variety of different formats, including images, video, 3D assets and more. It also supports various DAM processes to make sure assets are up to date, secure and findable.
The DAM element is scalable and flexible, supporting the management of large collections of assets that need to be shared across a large number of people. This means the product can meet the needs of both global corporations but also smaller media and digital organizations where DAM is critical.
One of the key strengths of the product’s DAM element is a healthy emphasis on search functionality so users can find the assets they need at the right time. This not only underpins efficient daily operations for busy central marketing teams, but also drives the confidence in the platform required to support adoption across a wider user base. When set up correctly, the search features should avoid any perception that your DAM system is a “black hole” where assets inevitably disappear.
Among the notable search features that teams will find useful are:
- Flexibility to add metadata and tagging, and then browse collections or filter searches using these criteria
- The ability to preview results from within search screens
- The ability to define collections of assets and expose them as search facets
- Searching by thumbnails
- An advanced search facility branded as an “advanced query builder“.
Robust governance also runs through the product to support Digital Rights Management, reducing the risks associated with the use of different media. For example, you can record the usage rights for each asset, as well as automate various rules to ensure compliance with your DAM policies.
Content Marketing Platform
The Content Marketing capabilities within the Content Hub help you to plan and execute your content strategy through a variety of different tools. Campaign and content calendars allow you to plan campaigns, content schedules and more, covering a complex multi-channel environment with different target audiences. You can then also check on the status of the progress of your campaign and individual pieces of content.
There are some nice features here including a strategy board with visualizations to help define target audiences and plan content publications, flexibility to use metadata and different content types based on your own taxonomy, and the KPI and metrics boards you would expect. Again, governance is baked into the Content Hub; for example, you can set up security permissions for different user groups and drive flexible workflows.
Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
The Marketing Resource Management elements of the product adds another dimension to the content marketing platform, helping dispersed teams collaborate on different processes. If you’re still planning campaigns using a spreadsheet and email, or using a plethora of different applications, then this may be the tool for you.
Sitecore Content Hub recognizes the reality that most digital and content marketing activity can involve multiple parties and specialists, from large distributed marketing teams through to copywriters through to external digital agencies through to translators. The MRM functionality adds a collaborative layer to your central marketing calendar, providing various collaborative tools to help plan and approve elements of your marketing, with options that can also work with external third parties too. Project management templates also help to coordinate and manage the everyday aspects of a campaign or regular content schedule.
Product Content Management
Organizations that have a product portfolio or services catalog and need to maintain related channels and collateral that are always in sync and up to date, will be attracted to the product content management capability within Sitecore Content Hub. This is designed to centralize all the data that feeds websites, print catalogues and internal systems with “one source of truth” relating to your product and services data.
Again, the Sitecore Content Hub is designed to handle complex product landscapes with multiple brands and sub-brands, localized collateral potentially in multiple languages, different product versions and so on .
Having one source of truth allows you not only to effectively manage changes to product information but also keep track of where assets are being used across all your different channels including e-commerce sites and mobile apps. Here the advantages of tight integration between your DAM system and product content management capabilities start to become clear.
As with most aspects of the Content Hub product, the ease of implementing complex maintenance activities and external integrations is greatly enhanced by a new native scripting language, as well as the product’s deep integration with the Microsoft Azure platform on which it runs. Azure Functions, Service Bus, and Logic Apps in particular offer the potential for nearly unlimited customizations. This capability should prove to be increasingly advantageous as the core Sitecore products offer an Azure-based SaaS option in mid-2020.
While the automation, oversight and centralization gives you the power to properly manage your product marketing lifecycle, there are also useful governance elements such as the ability to restrict access to assets and information in order to keep sensitive product launches confidential.
A strong product for marketing teams with complex needs
Overall the Sitecore Content Hub provides an exciting option for larger organizations or those with complex needs to truly wrap content management and marketing activity around DAM and a set of complementary tools. Using the Sitecore Content Hub can help to drive a consistency of experience, minimize risk, reduce wasted effort, drive process efficiencies. establish centralized operations and ultimately give more confidence and muscle to marketing teams seeking to execute ambitious campaigns in a multi-channel environment.
We’re excited about the future potential too. We hope Sitecore will continue to invest in the Content Hub, offering other integrations and add-ons that will add value to the proposition. If you’d like more information on the Sitecore Content Hub and to discuss whether it can meet your needs, why not get in touch?