What an amazing week it was! All three events took place at the same venue – Radisson Blu Convention Center within the largest shopping mall in the US – Mall of America in Minneapolis. The city has a significant Sitecore presence, not to say it is a place where OrderCloud originates from.
On Monday we started with the Sitecore MVP Summit. In my opinion, the annual Summit is the best perk of participating in the Sitecore MVP Program. For those who never heard of it – Sitecore MVP Summit was an annual event organized by the Sitecore MVP Program for eligible participants – Sitecore employees and MVPs from around the world for a few days of networking, learning, and sharing knowledge. The goal of the Sitecore MVP Summit includes:
- Knowledge Sharing: The event allowed Sitecore MVPs to share their expertise and insights into Sitecore’s products and services. It often featured sessions, workshops, and presentations on various Sitecore-related topics.
- Collaboration: It provided a platform for MVPs to collaborate with Sitecore employees, including developers, product managers, and executives. This collaboration often resulted in valuable feedback for the Sitecore platform’s ongoing development.
- Networking: The summit allowed MVPs to connect with their peers, build professional relationships, and exchange ideas and best practices.
- Recognition: The MVP Summit was a way for Sitecore to recognize and appreciate the contributions of its MVPs to the community. Often we receive our MVP trophies at this event ceremony:
I want to add credit to these wonderful people standing behind MVP Program – Nicole Montero and Tamas Varga. I admire how much they manage to do for the Sitecore Community, and the whole Sitecore Week would not have happened without their coordination and contribution.
Most of the content shared with us within MVP Summit has a Sharing Not Allowed label, so there is not too much for me to say at this moment. However, I consolidated all the sharing-permitted knowledge into a separate blog post you may want to read – MVP Summit: What We’re Allowed to Share.
Summit traditionally runs for 2 days and MVP Program organizes an MVP Party for all of us, which is always full of fun and excitement. This time it was a venue with karting, axe throwing, and plenty of arcade machines and videogames for any taste. I personally found axe throwing a challenging exercise and after a certain amount of practice managed to throw and stick axes from both arms simultaneously:
In 2023 instead of having a global Symposium Sitecore came up with the idea of hosting regional DX events: London, Boston, and now Minneapolis, later the year – in Sydney. It is an expansive series of complimentary one-day events set to unfold in regions across the world, promising an insightful day for all attendees. The Symposium of course will back next year in Nashville, October 14-17.
This time Sitecore announced XM Cloud Plus and Sitecore Accelerate to help brands accelerate their cloud transition.
Unlocking the Future of Digital Experience with XM Cloud Plus
Last year Sitecore released a groundbreaking XM Cloud, an innovative native cloud CMS. It quickly gained popularity as the fastest-selling SaaS product in the company’s history, embraced by over 100 major brands looking to revolutionize their online presence. Building on this achievement, Sitecore is taking digital experience to new heights with the launch of XM Cloud Plus, an extended solution that seamlessly combines content management, AI-enhanced search, personalization, customer data management, and analytics into a unified offering.
XM Cloud Plus addresses the needs of Sitecore XP clients accustomed to a robust single-product solution, who are now ready to migrate to the cloud. It also caters to brands seeking to leverage a flexible technology stack while benefiting from a proven product combination that simplifies deployment and accelerates time to value.
The bundle contains the most wanted products combined together for simplicity: XM Cloud, CDP, Personalize, Sitecore Search, and Connect. I recommend you to read through a blog post by David San Filippo about what XM Cloud Plus actually is.
Accelerate is another dedicated program to speed up the move from on-premises solutions to the cloud, including commerce solutions.
Spotted something new at the familiar Sitecore composable products hexagons? There is a new hexagon for Generative AI that will power many existing compostable products, such as Content Hub, XM Cloud, and a few others (Search already is AI-powered).
Hosted Platforms Future
It was clearly noted that XM/XP aren’t being sunset and not for maintenance only. Steve Tzikakis confirmed they are going to support on-prem as long as there is customer demand.
Perficient Session at Sitecore DX
I could not but attend an amazing presentation Making Sitecore CDP and Personalize Simple, Scalable, and Sustainable by my really close colleagues – David San Filippo and Megan Mueller Jensen, accompanied by Jonathan Corley from Sitecore.
What was it about? The combination of Sitecore CDP and Personalize is the most scalable, robust, and flexible data, experimentation, and personalization toolset in the industry. Yet many organizations have been hesitant to make the leap because a platform this powerful can also be complex. Most marketing teams have finite resources, so it’s our job to build an onramp that makes the road to personalization accessible, achievable, and maintainable – no matter where they’re starting.
I decided to benefit from taking the front row and recording the entire session in HD/4K, to be shared with you. So, please, enjoy it!
Perficient Happy Hour
After the busy day of the DX event, we arranged a relaxing lounge Happy Hour at a very cozy place – CRAVE in the Mall of America, near the venue. There were lots of interesting guests attending us, including those from Sitecore.
Perficient Happy Hour was a great opportunity to meet and socialize with the leadership from both Perificent and Sitecore, meet some of our clients, and of course – eventually have a chance to talk to close colleagues in person.
SUGCON North America
This time I was a proud member of the organization committee for the event, which we thought over the past 15 months. Our organization committee consists of 7 very enthusiastic Sitecore MVPs as well as 2 volunteers – is a very diverse group who brought the full range of thoughts and opinions to the table (left to right: Madhu Anbalagan, Ben Lipson, Maulik Darji, Sana Kamalmaz, myself – Martin Miles, Lisa Saltsman, Eric Ramseur, and Nabil Orfali.
We were responsible for a wide range of tasks – hundreds of them! For example, my primary responsibilities were arranging the session recording, building the event website, choosing the speakers from the speech proposals for setting the agenda, and several more. Not to say – each of us served as Room Captain for each and every session on Thursday and the majority on Friday. Some of the decisions were not easy for us as a group, but eventually, communication was the key to success and we made a wonderful event. I am very thankful to my organizing colleagues as well as the people running the Sitecore MVP Program – thank you very much for the amazing job, together we made a fabulous event!
As it is traditional for each SUGCON, a night before the day we usually hold a Speakers Dinner event, where organizers meet and greet the speakers with fine meals and drinks. That is a nice way of saying thank you for everyone coming to share the knowledge with the community, as well as speakers identifying their Room Captains and syncing up on their plans and any potential requirements. We chose Benihana – an authentic place where they cook food in front of you, turning it into an actual show.
The next morning the actual event starts, as usual, with the Keynotes.
We had three keynote speakers. CEO of Sitecore, Steve Tzikakis opened up the conference. He spoke about the products, some roadmap, and the importance of the Sitecore Community – all of us contributing to the success of the Sitecore family of products. I absolutely like the way Steve talks – he chooses simple words but uses them from his heart. It sounds very appealing!
After Steve, I invited Jake Hookom on stage, a VP of Commerce and Analytics at Sitecore. An interesting speech indeed, and this time I recorded it to share with you:
I also really enjoyed the final keynote by Pieter Brinkman, VP of Product Marketing & Developer Relations, where he compares Digital Experience with a team sport. What a great metaphor, expanded into a proper meaningful presentation with a live demo:
At SUGCON North America Perficient was represented by three speakers with two sessions.
Tiffany Laster stepped into with “Content Hub DAM Maturity Model” which itself became very mature over the years of Tiffany’s experience with Content Hub. being Taffany’s mentor over the entire 2023 I am very proud of her achievements and despite serving as a Room Captain in the other room, still came to cheer up before the actual presentation.
Speaking about myself – as an organizer, I was obviously ineligible to present at own conference simply because of a conflict of interests. More to say, I served every single timeslot as a Room Captain, taking care of the recording and needs of chosen speakers – not a single minute for a rest, not to say an individual presentation. One simply cannot combine an organizer’s T-shirt with a speaker’s podium.
Therefore, after routine needs were completed I typically enjoyed the presentations from speakers whom I invited to the stage. Here are all the sessions I’ve served:
- Sitecore Back to Basics by Rob Reilley
- 5 Ways to Integrate OpenAI with Sitecore by Mo Cherif
- Build for XM Cloud according to the Architect of XM Cloud by Andy Cohen
- Raiders of the New Tech Stack: The XM Cloud Adventure with Children’s National Hospital by Chris Sulham and Matthew Richardson
- Sitecore Send Power, bringing Seamless Marketing Campaigns closer to everyone by Augusto Davalos
- No Compromises in XMC: On-Demand Revalidation with Experience Edge by Justin Laster
- Learnings of going XM Cloud by Rob Habraken
- Search Smarter, not Harder: Unleashing the Power of Sitecore Search for Marketers by Meghan Fishburn and Steve Hamilton
All the session recordings will be available at some time later, once processed and published by the official SUGCON channel.
Training and Certification
Learning@Sitecore team brought us the chance to enhance Sitecore skills with complimentary workshops right at SUGCON NA!
Correct, complimentary for anyone who purchased a SUGCON NA ticket! These workshops cover the hottest topics as of today – Sitecore Connect, Pro, XM Cloud Developer as well as XM Cloud Developer Basics. They also offered lower-priced exam vouchers helping with additional savings.
Within the past couple of years, I collaborated with this team on various matters, from beta training to more complicated projects as a Sitecore SME. From the very recent XM Cloud-related activities I can name participating in XM Cloud Developer Fundamentals beta course and Tips & Tricks series where I showed in real-time how easily one can deal with new Components builder (parts one and two).
I was pleased to meet (again) these wonderful people (left to right): Andrew Vieau, Daria Bogdanova, Lynn Marie Viduya, and Deyana Hodali. Hope we’ll make even more learning enablement over the coming year!
At the end of SUGCON, there was a surprise. Please watch and enjoy it yourself:
In general, that was a vibrant and in some way emotional week of meeting old good friends, learning tons of new stuff, familiarizing myself with new ideas and approaches, and of course – a successful effort to organize SUGCON North America. Last but not least, our sponsors deserve special gratitude, we’d not be able to run the event without their contributions.