Following an eventful week in Chicago, and a few months of meticulous planning, we are finally in a post-Symposium world for this year. To be honest, it feels a little bittersweet. While the past week was filled with so many amazing presentations, conversations and celebrations, you can’t help but have that feeling of your birthday party passing when you were a little kid. You are so happy that it happened, but sad that it is over until next year.
There are so many key people involved in planning for this event, both outside and inside the Americaneagle.com organization, and at times it can feel a bit chaotic. That said, the conference went off without a hitch and all of the planning was well worth it. The biggest excitement for me, as well as many others I’m sure, is that this year was finally back to being in person. Having attended the virtual conference in 2020 and spoken at last year’s 2021 virtual conference with Renown Health, I was happy to finally be in the same room with so many talented individuals and not experience the event via computer screen.
To breakdown the excitement of the conference, here are some of the highlights.
Sitecore Symposium Set Up & Events
The setup of Sitecore Symposium was well executed. The first day was filled with great keynote sessions from leadership at Sitecore which really gave people a feel for what the conference would be the next few days. The idea of a composable world was highlighted from the get go and during the keynote from Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis who gave an encompassing message that set the next sessions up for success.
The main stage was located right off the exhibitor floor – which allowed many of the attendees to catch the important talks while allowing for the varying booths to have the right level of exposure during downtime. The first day saw a ton of action on the booth floor and allowed for our team, as well as others, to meet with so many partners, customers, and prospects.
The next two days were focused heavily on the breakout sessions, which were grouped by track and allowed you to seamlessly move from one session to the next on your own schedule. The booths were still active and it helped to be able to talk to attendees about different sessions throughout the day.
Following the second day, there also was a large after party event at the Museum of Science and Industry. Being a Chicago native my entire life, I did not know what to expect as I spent many field trips at that museum as a kid. But as they shuttled attendees from McCormick Place to the event, you could see the lit-up entrance and hear the drumline going from a few blocks away. As you made your way inside the museum, they had lively music, plenty of food stations made up of Chicago favorites, and all of the exhibits open for each attendee to enjoy. It was truly sensational! It was a fantastic night and gave people a chance to see just how exciting inventions can come from a group of people thinking outside of the box – which seemed to be an echoing lesson of the entire conference.
This Year’s Key Sessions
While there were so many amazing presentations throughout the conference, there were a few that really stuck out to me as the week ended.
Lee Miles: “The Sitecore Customer Lifecycle”
Sitecore’s Chief Customer Success Officer Lee Miles gave a keynote presentation on the lifecycle of a Sitecore customer and how Sitecore is bringing together the right people, best practices, and strategic services to unlock the full power of the Sitecore portfolio. He used this session to highlight the new customer success plan, Sitecore360. This new initiative will be focused on the customer and how they can leverage active support, trainings, certifications, and more to get the most out of their Sitecore experience. The emphasized note throughout the presentation was how this would complement the partners, who work day in and day out with these clients to maximize their use of Sitecore. This is an exciting addition and I am interested to see how it works for us but more importantly, our clients.
Dave O’Flanagan: “The Future is Composable: Delivering Standout Digital Experiences Across Every Customer Journey”
Kicking off early on the second day, Sitecore’s Chief Product Officer Dave O’Flanagan gave a deep dive into just exactly what the roadmap looks like for Sitecore and its clients. We got a quick glimpse into what is ahead, while also hearing more about their new product offerings: Content Hub One, Sitecore Search, and Sitecore Connect. Sitecore Connect really caught my attention as the idea of all of these new SaaS products having a more seamless integration with one another is enough to get anyone in the agency space more excited. This will allow for a more streamlined approach to bringing this suite of products into each respective organization as needed while helping to keep implementations and timelines more consistent. This was just the session that everyone needed to get more excited about the breakout sessions later that day.
Mindy Kaling with Sitecore’s CMO, Paige O’Neill
I’d be remiss not to mention the opportunity to see Mindy Kaling. As an avid fan of The Office, I was very excited to see her announced as the featured keynote speaker. Her interview with Paige O’Neill, Sitecore’s Chief Marketing Officer, was all about her experiences in the entertainment industry and the challenges and opportunities she faced as a minority female. While the topics were serious at times, she put a great comedic spin on them that was both hilarious and insightful. One quote that she mentioned that stuck with me, one she says she always tries to live by goes as follows: “Do the best you can and when you know better, do better”
Jacqueline Baxter, Megan Engard, and Derek Hunziker: “Powering Next-Level Optimization: CDP Personalize on XP”
This was probably my favorite of the breakout sessions, minus the ones from my fellow Americaneagle.com colleagues of course. Here, we had two veteran members of Sitecore’s strategic team, Jacqueline Baxter and Megan Engard joined by Sitecore’s Director of Digital Technology Derek Hunziker to talk all about their own implementation of CDP on Sitecore’s XP Website. They covered the why as much as they did the how, providing insightful knowledge around what CDP and Personalize are, what they can do for your business, but also how you can implement it, and who you will need around you to do so. The session even came with a real-life example via QR code of how the new product will work. Having been working in Sitecore for nearly five years now, the idea of personalization has always excited me. I loved the honesty that came from this team around the known “workarounds” needed for the current tactics in XP. It helped to build trust around this new product and that those things were considered by members directly working at Sitecore. It sounds like CDP & Personalize will be a new hot topic as it gets implemented across more organizations and I am excited to be a part of it as we take on more projects.
Sitecore Symposium 2022 Biggest Takeaway
The conference was a large success and I think the buzz around this new path forward with Sitecore has everyone eager to get moving on new strategies and implementations. I think the biggest takeaway from this year’s conference is truly, to think outside of the box. In the past, Sitecore has had this monolithic platform that has come with a group of bells and whistles to help your organization – but the key piece they are honing in on now is that not every organization is the same. That is why, I believe, they have put so much focus into this new suite of products and the strategy behind them because not one size will fit all.
Some organizations may strongly benefit from CDP & Personalize while others might rely solely on Content Hub – and eventually, they may be ready for both. The nice thing is, your organization can grow into its needs and take things a step at a time – all while Sitecore and your partner are taking the steps with you. To really think about what products are going to help drive your business goals and create a strategy around the best approach was a note that left attendees ready to go. I was inspired by the presentations and excited for what is ahead in this new, composable world of Sitecore.
I’m looking forward to hearing all of the new success stories at Symposium 2023!
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