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Takeaways from the 2018 Sitecore Symposium

What a conference! This year the Sitecore Symposium was held in the Sunshine State at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Packed with developers, marketers, and industry experts, Sitecore’s annual conference is always a must-attend. Looking back on the four-day Sitecore Symposium, our team compiled some of the major takeaways.

Inspiring and Informative Presentations
The Sitecore Symposium is known to have excellent sessions, and this year did not disappoint. Starting off with guest keynotes from Shark Tank’s Daymond John and a truly inspiring presentation by Mick Ebeling. Mick’s work with Not Impossible truly makes us all want to be better people- check out his amazing work here.

iMedia’s Lead Architect, Jed Goski, shared “I found the best sessions I went to were presented by the well-known Sitecore MVPs.  They seemed to have a good grasp on reality and an even better knowledge of where Sitecore was going.” There was a great split of sessions for developers and marketers. Some of our team’s most memorable presentations included topics such as:

  • Headless JSS
  • How to improve time to market for Sitecore development
  • Sitecore’s most common tools
  • Marketing Forms and Personalization
  • GDPR

Jed continued, “Having the opportunity to immerse yourself in Sitecore’s culture and community for a few days, once a year, really opens your eyes to the direction of the company and what the community has been asking for.”

Sitecore also showed their commitment to social change via a special session with Jodi Kovitz, the CEO and founder of  #movethedial, a movement dedicated to advancing the  participation and leadership of women in technology. There was a great panel discussion with Jodi and several other women in leadership positions in technology.  Sitecore has also pledged to support #movethedial by sponsoring their global summit.

Technology Updates
Each year the Sitecore Symposium is known for announcing the latest and upcoming features to the Sitecore ecosystem. This year’s updates included the acquisition of Stylelabs, an innovative digital asset management (DAM), marketing resource management (MRM), and product information management (PIM) solution. By acquiring Stylelabs, this enhances Sitecore’s ability to provide marketers an end-to-end platform for the entire content lifecycle. Sitecore announced that they will be structuring future releases around their new “Sitecore Content Hub” which is based on the Stylelabs product so look forward to lots more on this big announcement.

Another big announcement is the imminent release of Sitecore 9.1. This latest release brings several technologies that were previously in tech preview into full release:

  • JSS: Sitecore JavaScript Services will be generally available. JSS allows Sitecore to run in a totally headless mode and supplies SDKs for React, Vue.js and Angular so that the process of building display elements can be pushed down to front-end developers.
  • .net Core: Sitecore continues to move its product architecture from an monolith to .net Core by slicing off identity services into Sitecore Identity. These changes continue the work done for xConnect and, as new features are added to the platform, we’ll continue to see the product migrate away from and into .net Core.
  • Sitecore Cortex: Sitecore is making Cortex generally available with 9.1 as well- this will harness the power of machine learning to more effectively personalize sites using not just site data, but, using xConnect, data from anywhere in your organization.  Cortex will be able to effectively analyze all of this data to identify segments, run tests, and optimize content.
  • Sitecore Horizon: Sitecore gave everyone at Symposium a glance behind the curtain to show us the latest version of the Sitecore user interface, code named “Horizon”.  Horizon will give marketers a more integrated view of their content and analytics which can lead to improvements in engagement.  Plus, it just looks fantastic.

Conference Culture
The Sitecore team always does an impressive job making the conference informative, yet a fun and memorable experience. The cocktail receptions and networking opportunities gave our team the chance to speak with likeminded individuals and share experiences within the industry. Lead Architect, Matt Reale shares, “The part I like about conferences is it gets my brain working a little differently and gives me the opportunity to approach things in a slightly different perspective. I love seeing how other people do things because I think it helps us to hone our process.”

Taking up a notch in the spirit of “elevating the experience” the Sitecore Symposium party was hosted at Universal’s Island of Adventure. Taking over the part park and CityWalk, attendees got exclusive access to Universal’s top rides and attractions. It’s safe to say we are looking forward to the 2019 Sitecore Symposium!