Now that Sitecore Symposium is a week in the rear-view mirror, and I have power back from Sandy destroying the East Coast, I thought it’s time to get a post out about my experience at Symposium this year. So here goes…
First, I was quite happy with the venue change. I’m not really big on Las Vegas, though I think it has more to offer in walking distance than Boston did. I was however, very pleased with Aria as the hotel and conference center, and delighted by the culinary upgrade. People who know me well would consider me a “selective” eater (upgraded from “picky” – that was so 5 years ago!). I will admit, I had some difficulty finding acceptable choices last year, but not at all this year…every meal was great, and had good selection to boot!
Enough about my culinary tastes though – this is a Sitecore post after all. I thought the opening montage video for Symposium was great – my biggest regret of the conference might be that I wasn’t recording all the great facts that the video displayed. (If anyone has that, please let me know, I’d be interested in getting it!) The conference theme “Inspire and Engage” was a good choice, but I more enjoyed the keywords of “Immediate, Relevant, Predictive”. Here at Perficient, we’ve been having a lot of discussions around “Business Relevancy”, and how Sitecore is the perfect tool for companies to gain that Relevancy in today’s world, so I thought it was a great keyword for the conference.
After the keynote, there were so many sessions to attend, and so much good information, that I’m just going to highlight each session I made it to and the best piece of info to come out of that session (in my opinion).
Creating Multi-Channel, Personalized Experiences with Sitecore
People still come and say “Build me a website” – that’s not the proper thinking anymore – clients should be coming and asking for a “communication eco-system”. I completely agree with this notion – with the rise of the internet, and social media on top of traditional marketing platforms, it’s important for companies to have a consistent (and efficient) marketing model that spans channels.
How to be Successful with Your DMS Implementation
Be sure to follow Sitecore Requirement Recommendations – crawl before you walk, walk before you run and then run! This seems like such a no-brainer, yet it’s very easy for Sitecore clients to blow past the recommendations and the crawling / walking stages and jump straight to the run part. The stronger a foundation that gets built, the easier it is to run though!
Building, Connecting and Measuring Communities with Sitecore
Sitecore Social Connected module 1.3 released – looks like a super exciting addition to Sitecore to help achieve some of that cross-channel marketing capabilities.
DMS Data Model – Where’s the data at?
This was a great session for DMS developers – hard to pull out one piece of information, but anyone working with DMS who isn’t already certified on DMS could benefit by hearing this presentation
Multiple Ways to Multisite Solutions – How to Truly Build a Multisite Solution
This was easily the most impressive session of the conference…and I can admit it, Tim Ward is my new programmer man-crush (sorry Scott Mitchell, you had a good run). Again, hard to pull out one piece from this session in a post like this, but suffice to say – if you need a multi-site implementation, there are options in Sitecore. You would be doing a disservice to yourself by not knowing them ahead of time and choosing the right one. Here’s to hoping a video of this gets posted on the internet sooner than later (maybe one’s already out there somewhere?).
Guest Keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk
I was very impressed by Gary, and I was one of the people in the audience who had never heard of him before. I thought that his keynote, while not being specific to Sitecore, was absolutely right on track with the software and its capabilities. It’s hard to me to pick a favorite quote from this, because there really were so many, but I think the following sums it up nicely: Stop yelling at an empty room (push marketers)!
Pioneer Project Discovery: Helping Your Customers Discover the DMS
This was a good session, I thought it focused a little too much on picking Sitecore as a platform and too little on DMS specifically. They did have a great quote from Steve McConnell’s book “Software Project Survival Guide”: “The most difficult part of requirements gathering is not documenting what the users ‘want’; it is the effort of helping users figure out what they ‘need’…”
Sitecore Content as a Service
Another strong session I got to attend. The thing that really caught me about this session was the QR code on a business card that they gave out to the attendees at the beginning so that we could all follow along on a real-time site associated with the presentation. Talk about cross-channel marketing, great idea!
Becoming the Marketer’s Best Friend – Using the DMS API
This presentation focused on some specific scenarios and how to handle them using the DMS API. Overall, it was a great presentation, and I definitely learned some good stuff for specific scenarios from it. I think that even though the scenarios were specific, the methods and code shown could be used by the attendees to solve situations that weren’t covered specifically – which are a great tool to have before those situations arise!
Implementing and Customizing Sitecore E-Commerce Services
As a developer with a base knowledge of Insite’s Commerce package, the biggest thing I took away from this session was that it’s a great time to be a Sitecore e-commerce client. Competition between Insite and Active Commerce looks to be fierce (they both look to be strong products) and the clients will win because of that competition driving the products to be the best.
MVC and 6.6 Killer Features – Learn About Sitecore’s Next CMS Release
The last presentation of the conference for me, and it was definitely worthwhile. My best take away from this is John West’s own advocacy to mix web forms development with MVC development dependent upon the application being developed. There’s no reason to back yourself into a box of either web forms or MVC when Sitecore 6.6 gives you the ability to mix the two.
As you can see by just the sessions I attended – it was a pretty strong conference! I haven’t even mentioned all the great people presenting and in attendance from Sitecore, technology partners, implementation partners and clients. I definitely had a great time meeting and interacting with many of you! In fact, I think I really only have one complaint about Sitecore Symposium this year. Having 5 simultaneous tracks over 2 days of a conference billed as 3 days means I missed nearly 4/5th of the sessions! For next year, I hope that Sitecore considers expanding the presentations across all the days so that there is less going on at any given time and the attendees don’t have to make hard decisions about which presentation to miss in lieu of another. For anyone else who attended, please feel free to leave your comments about Symposium below, and I hope to see you all at next year’s conference!