Sitecore’s first DX event took place in London, attracting customers and partners from all of Europe. These regional events will be held throughout 2023, with the next event occurring in Boston on May 9th with additional events planned for Sydney, Dubai, and Chicago later in the year. These events fill the gap left by their Symposium event, which should return next year.
Unlike Symposium, these events take place over a single day, with more of a focus on customers, as attendance for partners was limited based on sponsorship and relationships with attending customers. That being said, the London DX event was well attended, with well over 300 customers attending.
Perficient was a silver sponsor of the event and we had a booth in the partner pavilion situated right between our partners Sitecore and Vercel. I flew in from the US to represent our Sitecore practice and was joined by members of our local UK office: Juliet Silver and Rudolf Coetzee.
The day before the event, Sitecore invited its partners for a “Partner Connect” event. This was a great opportunity to learn about Sitecore’s partner strategy and priorities as well as discuss the challenges we’re seeing in the market.
This was followed by a reception where we had additional time to connect with other partners and some of Sitecore’s leaders.
The first hour of the event was for registration and networking. They had refreshments and snacks, but the highlight was a personalized coffee drink maker that would print your picture on top of your refreshment of choice.
What a cool experience and impressive engineering. The machine itself had a window where you can watch your face being printed on the top of your coffee.
After introductions by Sitecore’s EMEA president Jose Valles, Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis presented the opening keynote “CEO perspectives on the composable future.” The room was packed as Steve talked about Sitecore’s accomplishments, focus and roadmap.
Some noteworthy highlights from his keynote:
- Some Customer’s reported return on investment for moving to XM cloud in 9-10 months.
- Sitecore’s first mover advantage with the acquisition of Order Cloud and focus on Headless Commerce. Both Adobe and Salesforce have recently announced new focuses on headless commerce.
- Headless commerce brings agility, quickly solve for adding commerce capabilities where they are needed: think “Selling T-shirts on Instagram & Tiktok”
- Focus on no need for upgrades and seamless experiences, like what you’re used to from Apple iPhone upgrades.
- In each of the last downturns, huge innovations have come from it. Generative AI is what’s emerging now.
- Generative AI will be integrated across the product line: “Content hub, Search, XM Cloud, Commerce Search.”
- Adoption of ChatGPT has been incredible (majority of the audience has used it)
- Continuing to innovate. Focus on Search working within the firewall.
After the keynote, there were a few customer highlights, followed by a feature about the DX Europe charity: The British red cross. This was followed by a short break for refreshments in the partner pavilion.
The Product Keynote was delivered by Chief Product Officer Dave O’Flanagan. There were several areas his keynote focused on including:
- A focus on the entire customer journey for the adoption of their SaaS products, to make sure customers are able to get value from their investments.
- Importance of Interoperability, including the ability to use Sitecore Components, Sitecore’s front end as a service to use content from other source.
- The value of performance that can be attained with XM Cloud (Some impressive google lighthouse scores).
- The ability to use content across channels, not just on your website. That no matter what technology trends come and go (think Metaverse) that you’ll be able to support it with XM cloud.
There were also some new representations of composable strategy and mappings of Sitecore’s products to DXP capabilities that I found useful for communicating the concepts and value.
He showed a series of slides that mapped each product to the capabilities it offered.
Dave O’Flanagan also talked about “Unified Tracking,” which will unify the events and tagging needed to track visitors across all of Sitecore’s composable products.
He then talked about Sitecore Connect and the Sitecore Recipes that will make it easy to connect data in and out of Sitecore products, including the ability to migrate xDB data into CDP.
The last thing he showed was an impressive demo that connected Content Hub with Open AI to generate content through prompts. It was a preview, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we see more and more generative AI features integrated directly into Sitecore products.
Sitecore’s Own Composable Journey
XM Cloud Roadmap Guide
XM Cloud is the future of enterprise content management offerings. The new sites, pages, and components tools offer an efficient content author experience that is not available with other CMS systems.
In the next session, Hannah Grap, Sitecore’s VP of corporate marketing presented on their adoption of Sitecore’s new products, including their target marketing stack.
In the session she talked about their gradual adoption of products, starting with Content Hub and the DAM. They then added CDP and personalize, then Sitecore Send followed by Sitecore Search in the fall. Now they are moving the rest of the site to XM cloud.
They also noted that three of their sites are already running on XM cloud: SUGCON, MVP and President’s club sites.
Lunch at the Partner Pavilion
After that session, we broke for lunch which took place in the partner pavilion.
I chatted with customers at the booth.
Instead of a standard giveaway, Perficient made donations to the Make A Wish foundation for everyone that joined us at the booth and placed a Perficient poker chip in our container.
After the main sessions, Sitecore partners hosted different sessions that the attendees could choose from. There were three different options in three sessions for the rest of the afternoon.
The first one I attended was “Building the case to move to XM cloud, practical insights and how to build your plan.”
At the beginning of that session, there were some live polling of the audience using Menitmeter, including an interesting word cloud that was generated when the audience was asked what was holding them back from moving to XM cloud
There were some interesting metrics presented about the value of XM cloud and how it helps with operational agility.
XM Cloud Roadmap
And they gave a good overview of their recommended approaches for adoption XM cloud, which seemed pretty aligned to some of the approaches I described in my XM Cloud roadmap blog post last year.
The next session I went to was “Modernizing the MarTech stack – the why, the how and the when. This session covered some of the basics of composable and headless but did offer three different approaches to getting to headless.
The last breakout I went to was “Automate personalized omnichannel experiences with GPT presented by Sitecore and Microsoft. This was truly an amazing session. They started with an overview of what you can do with Open AI and what use cases you can use it to solve for.
But then they quickly went into a full demo of using GPT to generate blog posts and offers on a travel website, and how based on what you did on a site, they used GPT to generate images and content on the fly, and then create relevant offers for similar topics.
All of this was powered by a Decision model in Sitecore Personalize that handled the calls to Azure Open AI.
In the demo, they went to the decision table in the model that chose what region to use to generate content for. They short circuited the model so that every call returned “Mars” instead of the location they were searching for. They then cleared the session and went to see it recommend a “Single Hikers in Mars” article, which was generated on the fly complete with images.
It’s a little scary what this technology is already capable of.
Special Guest Speaker – Our Human-led digital futures
After the breakouts, we returned to the main hall for a special guest speaker, Shivvy Jervis who had a thought-provoking session about understanding the human aspect when marketing, including the science behind motivation.
Customer Panel & Closing Remarks
The last session was a customer panel moderated by Sitecore’s Chief Customer success officer Lee Miles. Each customer talked about their journey with Sitecore and their plans for the future.
My biggest takeaway from that discussion is that most of these customers were pretty early on in their transformations, and there is a long road to full adoption.
It was a great event, with interesting content, insights from Sitecore, it’s partners and community. I definitely recommend attending the other regional DX events if you are able to make it. I’ll be at the Boston event, so please stop by our booth there to chat if you’re going.