With 100+ speaker sessions centered around the theme of “Human Connections in a Digital World,” Sitecore Symposium 2019 was an amazing opportunity for our team to soak up knowledge and stay up to date on tech trends. Here are five of our takeaways from Symposium Week in Orlando.
George Haeger, Sitecore Technology Lead
Symposium is always a great place to go and meet up with your fellow peers in the Sitecore development community. This year, there were a few things that had me eager to learn more. The first was the buzz around Artificial Intelligence. At Symposium this year, it was great to see two sessions on AI: one led by my colleague Shane Smyth on how to use Cortex to automatically assign content, one led by Sitecore’s Nancy Lee that introduced Sitecore AI, Sitecore’s new Artificial Intelligence tool.
Sitecore AI has the potential to be a game changer. This machine learning tool allows you to serve up personalized content based on how users are clicking on content on your website. This could change the way we personalize content. We no longer need to define a one-for-one content strategy, we can just turn it over to Sitecore AI.
The most intriguing story that came out of Sitecore Symposium 2019 was the introduction of a multi-year plan to move Sitecore to a SaaS model. This shift to a cloud-based solution that you can easily spin up and add components and content to is intriguing and makes me wonder how my role as a developer will change in the next few years. Sitecore always keeps moving forward and introducing things that better the product.
Arturo Mendiola, VP Client Strategy & Services
The biggest takeaway for me was regarding CX. I attended Foresters Trend Analyst Brendan Witcher’s session, and it was definitely enlightening to hear Brenden reinforce the need for companies to put CX at the center of their business. To be truly effective at CX, they also need to lead with data.
Brenden used Amazon as an example. When was the last time you logged out of your Amazon account? Probably never, right? Amazon ensures users stay logged in so they can truly personalize and individualize product recommendations on a 1:1 basis.
But personalization goes beyond product recommendations. 75% of companies surveyed are personalizing content (vs 49% personalizing product recommendations). The Golden Rule of personalization and data: Be overt when collecting data, but covert in using it to deliver personalization.
Shawna Kenyon, SEO Lead
As a first-time attendee of Sitecore Symposium, I was overwhelmed by how much information there was to consume. So many sessions and seemingly not enough time. Sitecore’s capabilities really came to life in these rich customer success stories, and the thread that seemed to connect them was the use of data to empower decisions.
What stood out to me was the extent to which we are advocating the use of this data—from powering personalization to informing CX strategies to simply leveraging data to better understand what consumers want and then giving it to them. That was the focus of our session with Formica: “Deliver More Relevant Website Experiences by Leveraging Analytics.”
In today’s digital world, customer experience is increasingly the difference between the winners and losers. Implicit and explicit data points will continue to shape these experiences and further our ability to meet our customers where they’re at.
Phani Abburi, Senior Technology Lead
Sitecore is no longer just a developer-oriented, .NET-based Content Management System. From rewriting the Microsoft commerce server from scratch to acquiring companies like Stylelabs, Sitecore has come a long way. At Symposium 2019, Sitecore demonstrated how it can break down data silos and unify systems through innovative products to address the various growing needs of enterprises in their digital transformation journeys. Read more of my Symposium takeaways here.
Halie Vining, Senior Marketing Manager
Working in marketing, I’m lucky enough to attend several conferences each year. Over the past few years, the theme at these events has been “The future is now.” In order to meet CX demands, businesses are frantically making an effort to tackle AI, IoT data science and other tech trends RIGHT NOW. This often creates a mindset where companies are overthinking what a great customer experience really is. They become focused on the spectacle or the biggest, baddest tech rather than focusing on what really matters—their customers.
What I loved about this year’s Symposium is that many speakers were talking about getting back to basics, defining roadmaps and setting achievable, long-term goals. During one of my favorite sessions, CTO of SilverTech Derek Barka got to the heart of this by focusing on building a CX roadmap with Sitecore and Salesforce. He outlined four essential steps for achieving CX success:
- Become modern and relevant.
- Focus on improving engagement and reducing friction.
- Leverage data to provide more predictive and personalized experiences.
- Lastly, implement conversational experiences.
Oh yeah, and he didn’t say do it all RIGHT NOW. These four steps are often rolled out over 5+ years. To me, this theme of identifying the right technology need at the right time was really refreshing. And we saw it shine through in product keynotes, sessions about the newly dubbed Sitecore AI, etc. Overall, it was refreshing to hear speakers step back and provide achievable CX.