symposium 2018
POSTED : September 27, 2018
BY : Jeff Cram

As the start of Sitecore Symposium 2018 is quickly approaching, we are all packing our shorts for sunny Orlando, FL. This year, Symposium will be at the Dolphin and Swan resort in Disneyworld. The event runs from October 8th to the 11th. This year looks to be a pretty fantastic conference, and there are a few presentations I am eager to witness which I’ve detailed below. Beyond the presentations, there are also a few things I think attendees should experience this year at Symposium.

If this is your first time attending, expect to be blown away by all of the talented professionals in the Sitecore community presenting on the latest and greatest technologies at Symposium 2018, including Sitecore Experience Commerce, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and IoT.

100+ sessions are spanning five different tracks of focus areas including Development, E-commerce, Getting Started, Strategy, and Sitecore Optimization. So, what are my most anticipated presentations? They are listed below and mostly involve the most innovative uses of the Sitecore platform. Because I am a Sitecore Technology MVP, most of the presentations I’m eager to attend are focused on IT topics, but I think there are a few topics that everyone, even those non-technical, would enjoy.

Sitecore Symposium 2018: Where Machine Learning Meets Social #thinkyouknowme – Una Verhoeven

When: Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 at 2:45 – 3:30 PM EST in the Swan, Mockingbird

Description: Learn how a social network (Twitter) can be combined with machine learning (ML) and leveraged to enhance the user experience. During the presentation, we’ll focus on building an online book store using Sitecore Experience Commerce, SXA, xConnect, Twitter API, IBM Personal Insights, IBM Watson, and PowerBI. Most impactfully, we’ll see how companies can produce true business impact through user experience WITHOUT storing a user’s personal data (gender, twitter name, location, tweets). Using ML techniques, the trained model will recommend products (in this case, books) for the user. We will explore how users based in the Netherlands may have similar interests and needs as users in the U.S.

Why: This is my most anticipated presentation at Symposium. It covers so many awesome topics and then brings them all into one in the Sitecore platform. As a Sitecore MVP that uses Twitter frequently, I’m extremely interested in learning how ML can be combined with Twitter and other social networking platforms. My hopeful takeaways from this session include new ideas related to commerce, machine learning and using social media platforms to improve our customers omni-channel strategies.

EXM Live! The Magic of Email Automation – Pete Navarra

When: Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 at 4:15 to 5 PM EST in Dolphin, Northern Hemisphere A4

Description: Sitecore XP’s introduction of Email Experience Manager (EXM) in Sitecore 9 brings together the power of Marketing Automation and connected experiences to the email inbox. Experience a live, interactive demonstration of email automation using EXM powered by Sitecore’s Marketing Automation in a fast-paced, audience-driven exercise. Explore the history of EXM and how to scale out its capabilities to send millions of emails.

Why: This looks to be an exciting demonstration of Email Experience Manager and why every client should consider using it combined with their Sitecore platform. The biggest takeaway I look forward to is the opportunity to see a live example of opportunities that would be available for our clients while utilizing the Email Experience Manager.

Sitecore Symposium 2018: How to Create Customer Loyalty Programs Using Sitecore Experience Commerce and Email Experience Manager – Kamruz Jaman, Akshay Sura

When: Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 at 10:00 – 10:45 AM EST in Dolphin, Northern Hemisphere A2

Description: Using Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) and Sitecore Experience Manager (EXM), we’ve created a modern loyalty program for our restaurant brands that has helped to reduce churn, increase retention rates, and drive category sales online through marketing campaigns and marketing automation. In this session, we will show you how we implemented the solution and how our clients and their customers have reaped the benefits of loyalty programs.

Why: This is a session presented by two of the biggest names in the Sitecore community. I personally haven’t used Sitecore Experience Commerce yet, but this will provide a great introduction into some of the potential use cases combining EXM with XC. I expect my takeaways from this session will be the chance to see XC in action and real-world use case to bring these tools to achieve a business case.

Elevate Your Career Experience: Empowering Women in Technology – Paige O’Neill

When: Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 at 3:00 – 3:45 PM EST in Swan, Pelican

Description: It’s no secret: Diversity in business is smart business. Yet, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women only make up 26% of the workforce in computing professions. Join our global panel of 18 female Sitecore MVPs as they discuss why ensuring gender equality is good for business; how your company may inadvertently be contributing to a gender gap; and how we can all take steps to close this gap in the tech industry. Panelists include: Allison Abraham Simpkins, Isabel Tinoco, Ethel Crosby, Deepthi Katta, Elizabeth A. Spranzani, Ishraq Fatafta, Amanda Shiga, Jill Grozalsky, Pamela King, Angela Gustafson, Jacqueline Baxter, Kelly Brennan, Hetal Dave, Wendy Derstine, Sandy Foley, Una Verhoeven, Margaret Wise, Christina Hauge Engel.

Why: As a Sitecore MVP myself, I have always looked up to some of these well-known Sitecore MVPs and this is definitely a challenge currently taking place in the IT field. I’m interested in hearing responses by this talented group of female professionals. My hope after listening to this panel, is to see where females see challenges in entering this industry, and how I can help them to break that barrier.

That concludes my thoughts on the sessions I think you should check out at Sitecore Symposium. If you are attending the event, you should start planning your sessions before you arrive. Each year Sitecore releases mobile apps which are used for booking your agenda, so make sure you download the Symposium app for this year’s event and reserve your seat for the sessions you want to attend.

I will be at Symposium this year with a great team from PK and hope to see you there! Come meet us at one of our charging tables for a quick chat while you charge up. In the meantime, learn more about our Sitecore practice.

About the Author

A picture of Jeff CramJeff Cram co-founded Connective DX which joined forces with PK in 2019 and currently serves as a Partner of PK and General Manager of the Boston office. He is responsible for helping to shape the Boston office’s strategic direction, partnerships and service delivery. Jeff is an active member of the digital community as a blogger for Fast Company and a frequent speaker at national events on topics including experience design, analytics, and content management.