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5 Thoughts on SUGCON Europe 2024 in Dublin, Ireland

Mj And Dave O

SUGCON (Sitecore User Group Conference) Europe 2024 was the second SUGCON I’ve attended, with the first just being six months ago in Minneapolis. There are few things that remind me how much I love my job more than being surrounded by the Sitecore Community. I’ve developed real friendships with folks from literally every corner of the world and it’s only once or twice a year we get the whole “Sitecore Family” together. Here are five thoughts that I’ve been chewing on since I landed back in Minnesota last week:

1. It’s a new world with Dave O’Flanagan at the helm

When he took the stage in Dublin, he was still technically the ‘interim’ CEO, stepping into the shoes of former CEO Steve Tzikakis, who had just steered the organization through a very rapid evolution. It was just announced yesterday (April 24) that he has officially been named CEO, which is a great big thing AND a big great thing for Sitecore. When Dave enters an MVP happy hour or takes the stage at an event, he’s typically in stylish sneakers and a hoodie. He’s a ‘man of the people’ and doesn’t hesitate to smile for a selfie or ask for input about our experiences using Sitecore products. The enthusiasm and confidence he has from the Sitecore Community is pretty remarkable. He’s trusted for being a “Product Guy” and the developers and engineers I’ve spoken to love the fact that they share an educational and professional background.

2. XP isn’t dead

I’ve been preaching this for the last year and a half, but it’s been reinforced by messaging from Sitecore and from Dave O’Flanagan himself. Version 10.4 is due to be released by the end of this month (literally any day) and the improvements prove that Sitecore isn’t abandoning clients who are comfortable staying on XP. Many of us in the Sitecore Community were a little nervous that longtime loyal Sitecore customers would feel pressure to jump to XM Cloud before they were ready; this commitment to supporting, improving, and innovating their flagship CMS should give confidence and breathing room to those folks.

3. Liz Nelson is a GEM

Liz is the XM Cloud Product Lead and gave an inspiring talk on The Future of Developer Experience (even inspiring for marketers like me!) where she outlined Sitecore’s efforts and roadmap for making life easier, work more efficient, and change more manageable for Sitecore Developers. I will be honest, I can’t wait for the day when Sitecore assigns someone to Strategist Experience but I’ll contain my envy and instead be grateful for Liz’s contributions. She’s clearly brilliant, funny, and warm. And, like all Sitecore product managers, she’s very open to input which I find admirable and welcome.

4. AI was the buzz

Nearly every session I attended included at least passing mention of AI or LLMs in some capacity. From AI capabilities coming to XM Cloud to demos and tips on incorporating AI functionality into implementations and strategies, it kind of became a running joke… the AI drinking game WILL kill you. It’s interesting that a lot of what we’re talking about in April 2024 has advanced tremendously since SUGCON six months ago and the conversation will be completely different again at Symposium this October. Things are evolving so fast right now that as soon as you finish your research for a talk, a new platform or technology has already peeked over the horizon. I’m very much looking forward to the agenda for Symposium in Nashville this fall to see how our approach, perspective, and capabilities change in just six short months.

5. The Sitecore Community is UNBEATABLE

There are typically 3-4 SUGCONs organized throughout the year in different parts of the world. With support from Sitecore and sponsorships from very generous partners and vendors, these conferences are largely organized and executed by a small team of volunteers. Volunteers who also have client work to do, families to raise, and obligations to tend to. The number of hours over many months preparing for these events doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated and the hard work that has to be done the entire week of the event is… a LOT. Great big thanks and high fives to the committee of SUGCON organizers who worked so hard to hold one of the most well-thought out and successful events I’ve attended. Even the food was fantastic! Well done. Alexei Vershalovich; Anders Laub; Anna Brundel; Koen Heye; Lukasz Skowronski; Peter Nazarov; Pushpaganan N; Rasmus K. Mortensen; Tamas Tarnok and Tobias Studer.

If you ever feel inclined to submit a proposal to talk at a SUGCON, my advice is to think through your topic, consider your audience (Sitecore Community), and just do it. I submitted for Dublin on a complete whim, assuming I’d be turned down. But instead I got to spend a few great days with some of my best friends from around the world, learning about their families, communities, and cultures, and learning from the smartest folks working with Sitecore products today. Can’t wait for next time!

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Megan Jensen, Portfolio Specialist

Portfolio Specialist at Perficient. Sitecore Strategy MVP. Marketing Strategy enthusiast. Behavioral Economics nerd. Experience Design fan. SEO geek. Dataphile. Consultant, idea-haver, figure-outer of things.

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