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10 highlights from the Sitecore Symposium 2021 conference

by Ethel Crosby, Vinu Krishnaswamy, Stephanie Petrusha October 21, 2021

Earlier this month, many of us at One North were amongst the 10,000+ attendees from 70 different countries that virtually joined the Sitecore Symposium 2021 conference.

Sitecore is a global leader in digital experience platform software, and the platform of choice for many of our clients and other leading companies worldwide. One North is a Gold Sitecore Solution Partner and proud sponsor of this year’s conference.

One North Sponsors Sitecore Symposium 2021 Conference
One North sponsors the Sitecore Symposium 2021 Conference | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

The theme this year was “Unforgettable Digital Connections.” During the keynote, Paige O’Neill, Sitecore’s Chief Marketing Officer, shared insight on creating lasting impressions from brands when connecting with customers through three main themes: “Digital Differentiation is a Contact Sport,” “Intimacy Inspires Loyalty,” and “Instant Gratification is Vital.” Steve Tzikakis, Sitecore CEO, talked about Sitecore’s bold vision forward with the $1.2 billion growth plan, four strategic acquisitions, and product innovations for a fully composable, cloud-based digital experience platform (DXP).

Although our teams have attended many Symposiums in the past, this year’s conference stood out with several big announcements around Sitecore’s vision for their SaaS and composable product offerings. It’s an exciting time for the Sitecore community.

The following are our top 10 key takeaways from this year’s Symposium.

1) Composable DXP

Sitecore Product Strategy Diagram
Sitecore Product Strategy Diagram | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

Sitecore offers more choices to include in your technology stack and, ultimately, create great customer experiences. Sitecore is following the growing trend and period of transformation in our industry of moving to composable digital experiences, which is a departure from the past strategy of an all-in-one product solution. Content is the center of gravity for Sitecore’s composable solution, with Content Hub paired with tailored solutions being used to balance speed and urgency for the consumer.

It’s important to highlight that you don’t have to be in XM Cloud to use Sitecore’s latest acquisitions. Configurable DXP lets you plug and play.

2) Sitecore Experience Manager Cloud

Sitecore unveiled Sitecore Experience Manager Cloud, which is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) CMS that is headless by default, Jamstack enabled and has an open API. This reimagined CMS helps solve the problems of modern websites and positions them to be performant and personalized, while also increasing developer productivity and enabling marketers to easily define content and experiences­–and get them to market fast.

3) Sitecore Symphony

Sitecore Symphony will be the WYSIWYG editor that you didn’t even know you needed. It is slated to be released in Spring of 2022 and works with Sitecore XM Cloud. From the demos we saw during Symposium, it will seamlessly integrate multiple products of the DXP to enable marketers to create sites and pages, personalize and A/B test with ease. This will be an extension of the newish Horizon editor and combines the feature-rich experience editor with the simplicity of Horizon.

4) Sitecore CDP (Customer Data Platform)

Based off the recently acquired Boxever product, Sitecore CDP focuses on understanding visitors and returning customers, and simplifies data management of customer information. Sitecore CDP builds customer profiles using real-time behavioral tracking and data ingestion APIs. It gives a unified and consistent view of data across many channels that helps companies understand their customers and provide better customer experiences.

5) Sitecore Personalize

This is also based off the recently acquired Boxever product. Sitecore Personalize is a tightly integrated personalization editor that is embedded into Symphony. It lets marketers define A/B testing and personalization directly from the content management experience. This provides lightweight access to the CDP for personalization.

6) Sitecore XP 10.2

Sitecore Experience Platform 10.2 Release Highlights
Sitecore Experience Platform 10.2 Release Highlights | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

In the midst of releasing a slew of innovative products and approaches, Sitecore is still committed to releasing new versions of its flagship Sitecore Experience Platform. Sitecore XP 10.2 will be released in November and has a lot of exciting functionality. Sitecore XP 10.2 will support Jamstack, which would increase performance for your website among other things. It will also add on to personalization features introduced in 10.

7) Sitecore Developer Portal

With all the new products and a new way of working together, it was critical for Sitecore to support developers on how to develop on these products. Sitecore has done just that with the release of a new developer portal. It is full of examples and videos on common gotchas and product know-hows. In the week or so since the Symposium, new videos have been released, which shows Sitecore’s commitment to keep it updated.

8) Sitecore Health Cloud

Sitecore has also shown a commitment to traditionally regulated industries by releasing a HIPAA-ready solution targeted to the US healthcare market. Sitecore Health Cloud is a specialized offering of Sitecore XP in Microsoft Azure that provides a secure and compliant environment required for the healthcare industry. It will be available in Spring 22, and it was also announced that Sitecore Content Hub will also be HIPPA compliant around the same timeframe.

9) Cookieless Future

There were multiple sessions on the phasing out of 3rd party cookies by browsers and ecosystems as privacy rules and user expectations take hold. When given the choice, users overwhelmingly choose not to share data between platforms and websites. But they also expect personalization from brands that they do business with. First-party data becomes even more important in this environment. The Sitecore ecosystem, and the composable DXP, helps use the data collected by your properties to personalize the experience for your users. The Sitecore CDP plays a key role here.

10) New Product Name Branding for Product Acquisitions

Sitecore Product Platform Diagram
Sitecore Product Platform Diagram | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

  • Boxever = Sitecore CDP & Sitecore Personalize
  • Four51 = Sitecore OrderCloud
  • MooSend = Sitecore Send
  • Reflektion = Sitecore Search & Sitecore Discover

Keep an eye out for some upcoming additions to our Sitecore glossary, which will be updated soon with new terms coming out of the latest Symposium.

With key acquisitions and integrations, Sitecore is enabling marketers to go to market faster–and with more purpose–with the vision that has been laid out. Overall, it is an exciting time to be in the Sitecore world!

Sitecore Symposium 2021 Must-See Sessions

The Symposium sessions are still accessible on-demand now through Nov 7, 2021, so we highly recommend checking them out or reaching out to our team for more guidance on what these new changes and innovations mean for your company. Below are some of the sessions we know you won’t want to miss.

Day 2 Opening Session with Dave O’Flanagan, Sitecore Chief Product Officer (32 min | Start at 24:35 to 56:10)
If you missed the Sitecore Symposium conference or only attended/watched part of it, this is one of the most important sessions to watch, as it covers Sitecore’s new product announcements, roadmap and strategy.

Our Vision for Content Management with Roger Connolly, VP Product Management, Sitecore (17 min)
After watching Sitecore CPO’s session, watch this for a deeper dive into the details of the new product changes, including Sitecore XM Cloud, Sitecore Symphony, Sitecore Personalize, Vercel partnership, Sitecore Search, Content Hub 4.1 and product roadmap details. As Roger mentions, the heart of Sitecore will always be content. Sitecore is focusing on the customer needs of flexibility, agility, relevance and speed.

Our Vision for Experience and Personalization with Eoin Doyle, Senior Director, Product, Sitecore (19 min)
Another helpful session to watch after watching the CPO’s session. This session goes deeper into the details of DXP, Sitecore CDP, Sitecore Personalize, Sitecore Send, Sitecore XP 10.2 and product roadmap details.

Cookiepocalypse: 5 reasons why you need a CDP with Kristian von Magius, Senior Digital Strategist, Sitecore (17 min)
This session helps explain the recent changes for third-party cookies getting phased out and strategies to overcome these changes by using first-party customer data like a CDP (Customer Data Platform). As more data privacy regulations increase, these are best practices for organizations to be aware of.

What the heck is Composable DXP anyways? with Nabil Orfali, CEO, TechGuilds Consulting Inc. & Sana Kamalmaz, Director of Digital Strategy, TechGuilds Consulting Inc. (16 min)
This session helps demystify what composable means and why it’s important. They discuss basic terminology, benefits of composable architectures and challenges.

From Cultivating to Activating: Building an Inclusive Culture with Nancy Row, Inclusion & Diversity Lead, Publicis Sapient, Torin Perez, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant, Globally Bold, & Channa Bannis, Senior Director, Campaigns Marketing, Sitecore (33 minutes)
Building an inclusive culture is important to help organizations deliver personalized customer experiences. This session had helpful tips on navigating this complex topic and best practices for inclusion and diversity around recruiting and retaining diverse talent.

Agile and Successful Tactics with Hershna Langworth, Director, Global Ecommerce, Kerzner International Management FZE and Suzanne Foster, Director of Content Marketing, Like Digital & Partners (35 min)
Watch this session to see how Kerzner International, a leading global developer and operator of destination resorts, ultra-luxury hotels and residences (Atlantis, One&Only and Mazagan brands) adjusted its marketing activities in 2020 due to the extreme challenges that COVID-19 presented for the hospitality industry. They took an agile approach to deliver business successes.

Under the hood: Personalization strategies for creating moments of customer serendipity with Stephanie Pierce, Director of Marketing Technology, Arkansas Children’s and Teri Sun, Vice President, Brand Strategy, White Rhino (35 min)
This session described how Arkansas Children’s hospital used personalization strategies to create moments of support for families as they understand, navigate and coordinate care, leading to greater engagement and business growth.

Guest Keynotes–Bozoma Saint John, Netflix CMO & John Legend, Singer-Songwriter
Unfortunately, the Guest Keynotes from the inspiring Bozoma Saint John, Netflix CMO, and the talented John Legend are not accessible on-demand, but they were memorable and worth mentioning.

Sitecore Symposium Guest Keynote - Bozoma Saint John, Netflix CMO
Symposium Guest Keynote–Bozoma Saint John, Netflix CMO | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

Bozoma Saint John shared how her leadership style is to be driven to do great work by any means necessary and discussed the importance of showing up as your authentic self. We particularly liked her track analogy: when you are in your lane, you stay in your lane, but you need to be aware of other lanes. If you just pay attention to what everyone else is doing, you wouldn’t be where you could be.

Sitecore Symposium Guest Keynote - John Legend, Singer-Songwriter
Symposium Guest Keynote–John Legend, Singer Songwriter | Source: Sitecore Symposium 2021

John Legend shared how digital has helped the music industry by better connecting with fans and ultimately leading to better experiences. It was interesting to learn about his early career at Boston Consulting Group, prior to becoming a musician. Watching John Legend’s performances, including “All of Me,” provided an enjoyable break during the Symposium.

If you are looking for an experienced Sitecore partner to help your company maximize its Sitecore investment, we’d love to discuss how we can help.

Photo Credit: Dim Gunger | Unsplash

Ethel Crosby
Director of Technology Operations & Offerings

As Director of Technology Operations and Offerings at One North, Ethel is responsible for the management and execution of leading digital technology solutions and product management, continuously identifying new strategic technology opportunities for One North and its clients. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Ethel once zip-lined, upside down, in a rain forest in Costa Rica.

Favorite movie quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spiderman

Favorite hobby: I love to cook. Delicious food makes everything better!

Vinu Krishnaswamy
Director, Solutions Architecture

Vinu is the Director of Solutions Architecture at One North, defining technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Strategy and Design teams to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.

Stephanie Petrusha

As an Architect, Stephanie provides clients with quality products and services to ensure 100 percent satisfaction, continuously working to find best-in-breed technology to improve testing capabilities and solution performance.

Favorite breakfast food: Pancakes all day!

Most unusual job: Growing up on a farm, every summer from about age 10 I was a “bean walker.” A bean walker walks down a designated row in a bean field with a hook and cuts out weeds from the fields. This job of course no longer exists thanks to technology and chemicals.