Captivating Moments from Sitecore Symposium 2018

By Gabriella Pirrone

This year, Sitecore Symposium 2018 kicked off in Orlando, FL from October 8-11th for an action packed 4-day event buzzing with inspirational keynotes, interactive breakout sessions, product demos, and networking activities. Five session tracks were also delivered including Getting Started, Developers track, Marketing track, Optimization track, and E-commerce track. The host and MC for the event was Jake Johannsen, a comedian and star of HBO.

There was also a special session held on Oct 10th called “Women in Digital” where speaker, Jodi Kovitz CEO and Founder of #movethedial took to the stage. #movethedial is a global movement dedicated to advancing the participation and leadership of all women in technology. The session had a panel of inspiring women who discussed some of the most critical challenges women face in tech (and in business in general) and offered exceptional insight on dealing with them. The session then followed up with a special plated-lunch event “Women in Digital Marketing and Technology” for those who attended.

On day one of the opening keynote, Mark Frost, CEO of Sitecore took to the stage to announce four of Symposium’s game changing announcements. He first announced that Sitecore's JSS will enable developers to use JavaScript to create Sitecore experiences with all of the features available to .NET developers. Sitecore’s Omni™, which enables design and delivery of content in headless applications while maintaining the ability to personalize data with additional intuitive powerful machine learning capabilities via Sitecore Cortex™. Next he announced their expanded relationship with Salesforce. The next phase of the Salesforce-Sitecore partnership will include bi-directional data integration between Sitecore Experience Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

The most exciting announcement of them all was their acquisition of the Stylelabs platform. The partnership will help “marketing teams own the entire content lifecycle and understand the impact of specific content assets on individual customers’ behaviour.” Stylelabs DAM and PIM will be integrated into the Sitecore platform.

CMS-Connected Event Highlights

After listening in and soaking up all of the informative keynotes loaded with tons of information on what’s new with Sitecore, their product roadmap, and the future direction of the platform, it was now time to hear the breakout session tracks highlighting how Sitecore customers are using the platform by solving real problems and showing those initiatives through their real life stories.

All of the breakout tracks were amazing but I want to quickly touch on the most captivating and inspiring sessions that really touched home for me and I really want to share those with you as well. Paige O’Neill, CMO of Sitecore took to the stage and introduced Heather Clark, CMO of SickKids. SickKids is an amazing organization fighting for sick children to raise money to build a new hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their goal is to raise $1.3 billion dollars. With the help of ValTech, Sitecore was used to revamp their monthly donor onboarding and content to deliver personalized and relevant exclusive content to their donors. To do this, they had a 3-month onboarding journey and a 12-month donor journey showing how the donor’s donation is being spent followed by an omni channel welcome package. The welcome package was both physical and digital. The physical aspect of it was most intriguing to me. Every donor is sent a ‘Bravery Bead’ once they have donated. The Bravery Bead is a program that lets children collect a bead for every procedure, pinprick and test they undergo, marking a colorful milestone in their recovery.

To top it all off, this was the first charitable cause at Sitecore Symposium and they raised $50,000 for the SickKids Foundation. Sitecore even matched donations and there was also a 3-minute bike challenge to raise money for the cause. I highly recommend that you check them out and maybe even donate if you choose to join in on the fight!

Another remarkable story was from Mick Ebeling CEO & Founder of Not Impossible Labs. With the help of Mick’s team and breakthrough technology, they are able to improve the lives of individuals. So far, Mick’s astounding initiatives have included:

  • VirbroHealth - Creating a non-pharmaceutical therapy to improve motor systems disrupted by Parkinson's
  • Hunger: not impossible - Using mobile technology to create a network to reduce hunger amongst those struggling with food insecurity
  • Project C.O.D.I - A wearable allowing young children losing their hearing and vision to better traverse the world around them
  • Vaccine: not impossible - Overcoming the "Last Mile" obstacles that prevent vaccines from reaching remote communities
  • Build: not impossible - An educational program that empowers youth to become leaders in creative thinking, innovation, and problem solving  within their communities and beyond. 

I also highly recommended you check out some of his videos and see the amazing things that Mick is doing. Mick also published a book entiled “Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn't Be Done” which follows Mick’s journey on changing the world and shows you how you can can do it too.

Speaking of all of the new technologies out there, my colleague Laura Myers also had the chance to sit down with Mark Floisand, CMO of Coveo in a captivating interview where they discussed the considerations beyond the immediate need that organizations are trying to fill and why marketers are still resistant to embrace those needs. I won’t spoil the interview too much but make sure you check back for the release of this video interview we captured on site!

Our aim for this event was to bring forward insightful stories from some of the most innovative and talented members of the huge enthusiastic Sitecore community. At the end of the event, we definitely accomplished what we hoped for as all the interviewees from various vertical industries brought a unique and brilliant perspective based on their experiences.

The Fun Continued After Sessions

Besides the delicious food and cool swag that comenced after a jam packed day of sessions and interviews, we had the opportunity to check out all the really cool vendor booths that were set up. There was one booth in particular that caught my eye, a VR flight experience that was set up for anyone wanting to try out the experience first hand.


On the second night, we also had a chance to listen to a presentation from Scott Liewrhr, Industry Analyst and Founder of Digital Clarity Group. Scott discussed keys findings from NECXT, a report launched by Verndale, a customer experience agency. Scott held a wonderful 30 minute presentation on the future of CX through the lens of technology evolution in voice, AI, augmented reality, IoT and more.

Ending Notes

At the event, I had someone ask me “When was the last time you were truly inspired?” and I actually turned to this person and flat out said that this event was one of my most inspiring moments thus far. In the upcoming days, you will have a chance to tune in yourself to all of the insights and inspiration that myself and my colleague Laura Myers captured from Sitecore executives, partners, and integration partners and we will be sharing those exclusive interviews here at CMS-Connected, so stay tuned!

About Falcon-Software
We are a digital experience agency, incorporated in 1993. With offices in Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, Toronto & Victoria, we offer web-based consulting, marketing, design, development, implementation and support services. We specialize in web content management, eCommerce, digital marketing, CRM, DAM and portal solutions for mid-market and enterprise-level clientele such as Brandt, Microsoft, Ingram Micro, Texas Instruments, ASPCA, Globalstar, Canadian Forces and Western Union.
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