Rupal Bhandari Author's Perspective
3 Minute read

Creating Unforgettable Digital Experiences: Highlights from Sitecore Symposium 2021

72% of brands find it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves basis digital experience. At this year’s Symposium (held Oct 5th to 7th, 2021), Sitecore addressed precisely this challenge for brands, by centering the conversation on building ‘unforgettable’ digital experiences.

COVID-19 turbocharged digital adoption. While businesses and customers have been embracing digital channels so far, cracks are finally beginning to show 18 months in. So, how can brands be confident about retaining customers that entered via digital channels during the pandemic, and how can they continue to provide a connected digital experience that encourages retention and loyalty?

Sitecore Symposium 2021 answered a lot of those questions, or at least provided direction for brands to work with. We’re bringing you some of those insights in this article. So, here are some highlights from Sitecore Symposium 2021 -

Paige O’Neill’s Keynote On The Landscape of Digital

Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill took to stage to kick-off the Symposium and set the conversation. She talked about how even though digital shopping is more common than ever, customers want a mix of physical with the digital once the pandemic is over.

Here’s a gist of what she said - Keeping customers happy and coming back is about understanding what they want and being able to provide it seamlessly. Brands need to hear customers, feel them, and be responsive to their needs in real time. They need to give customers personalized content that is in context, so that it leads to an easier buying experience. While that sounds easy, it is not, and there are no shortcuts to delivering connected digital experiences.

CMO Sitecore- Paige O'Neill

She also shared important numbers about today’s digital landscape, some of which are:

  • 48% customers worldwide plan to shop ‘mostly’ online, while only 17% say they are going to shop ‘mostly’ in person.
  • 36% customers don’t see a need to return to in-store shopping experience after the pandemic is over.
  • 42% of the silent generation says they will not return to in-store shopping post pandemic, highlighting that the shift towards digital is not driven solely by the younger generations.
  • 3/4th of customers want a blend of in-store and digital. 70% also say that a positive in-store experience makes them more likely to go and interact with the brand online.

Steve Tzikakis On Building a Composable DXP

Sitecore’s CEO Steve Tzikakis took to stage to talk about the exciting developments in the realm of digital experience platforms (DXPs). He went on to talk about the three commitments Sitecore made to brands a year ago – Innovation, Customer Centricity, and Ecosystem.

He highlighted how Sitecore accelerated innovation by doubling the size of the research and development team, making it 22% of revenue and way above the benchmark of 16%. He spoke about how customer-centricity continues to be at the center of what Sitecore does, as Sitecore tripled the size of the customer success business. He then talked about Sitecore’s four acquisitions this year – Boxever, Four 51, Moosend, and Reflektion – and what possibilities these bring for the brands using this DXP.

CEO Sitecore- Steve - Stathiz

Steve also talked about respecting the choices of the brands using Sitecore, and thus providing them with an ecosystem where they can select the capabilities they want, and not be forced into choosing the entire ecosystem. Such is the infrastructure of a composable DXP and it allows brands flexible, scalable, and feature-rich platforms to deliver revolutionary customer experience.

He also mentioned the possible advantages brands could gain because of Sitecore being first movers in first-party data ecosystem, especially in a world where Google, Apple, and Facebook recently announced that they would no longer be supporting third-party data.

Sitecore Experience Awards

Sitecore announced winners for Sitecore Experience Awards 2021 on day 1 of the Symposium. These awards highlight brands that are using Sitecore platforms to “drive digital transformation in innovative ways”. The three winners for ‘ultimate’ customer experience were Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Aston Martin Lagonda, and UnitingCare Queensland.

Best DXP Sitecore Award - AMETEK

We, at Altudo, also received four honorable mentions for our projects. These projects were as follows:

  • FIS: We helped FIS upgrade from legacy Sitecore 8 to 9.3 SXA platform. This included migrating content from over 3,000 pages published in 10 different languages to the new platform, and implementing a custom bootstrap/grid layout in SXA, which accommodates all the functionalities of FIS's sites.
  • Hogan Lovells: Hogan Lovells was looking for a website revamp, including everything from content authoring processes to security standards. We helped them improve their overall digital presence by optimizing content, URLs, SEO, search experience, and social sharing.
  • McCormick: We helped McCormick & Company move over 45 sites to Sitecore Experience Accelerator, to create a single-user experience across and accommodate functionalities across dozens of consumer-focused brand websites.
  • Ametek: We helped AMETEK improve event performance by 47%, news release performance by 51%, and mobile engagement by 10%.

These awards help us remember that each client is an opportunity for us to push ourselves to be more innovative and creative, to put our design thinking hats on, and to bring empathy to addressing customer experience challenges. It was wonderful to see our hard work and grit recognized by an industry leader such as Sitecore. We will continue to bring the same to each project we work on.

Sitecore’s Announcements on Day 2

On day 2, Sitecore’s Chief Product Officer Dave O’Flanagan took to stage to follow up the CEO’s excited rhetoric on the composable DXP. Dave went into the details of Sitecore’s product and innovation roadmap, and talked about how there are three core pillars to Sitecore’s products — Content, Experience, and Commerce. He then went into the details of new offerings and modules in the pipeline for Sitecore, and what these developments could entail for the brands using this DXP.

Sitecore Announcements

Bozoma Saint John on Leadership, Creativity, and Business Success

In the guest keynote for day 1, Netflix’s CMO Bozoma Saint John – aka Badass Boz – talked with Paige O’Neill about the importance of personalization and connecting with customers. She also talked about her different leadership roles at companies like Apple, Uber, and Pepsi. The conversation revolved around how being your authentic self can help you as a marketer and in your overall career path.

CMO at Netflix - Bozoma Saint John

John Legend On Connecting With Fans In The Digital Landscape

In the guest keynote on day 2, Grammy award winner and multiplatinum artist, John Legend, sat down with Paige O’Neill. They talked about the evolution of the music industry over the years and how musicians now are taking advantage of digital channels to connect with fans and create memorable experiences.

John Legend - Multiplatinum Artist

Sessions From Partners and Sponsors

Sitecore gave partners and sponsors the opportunity to present sessions on a variety of topics in the realm of building digital connections. Of the few dozen sessions over the days of the Symposium, we from Altudo presented the following popular sessions:

  • Activating massive omnichannel personalization without breaking a sweat: Delivering consistent omnichannel personalized experiences can become costly if the right tools, framework, and processes are not in place. Our Senior Director, Sitecore Architecture, Vasiliy Fomichev took this opportunity to talk through the process of setting up intelligent content for personalization at scale with Content Hub and personalize it using Sitecore XP and Boxever across various digital channels.
  • Unifying multi-brand experience management and digital operations with the power of Sitecore: The nightmares of managing multiple brands don't need to be imagined. They're quite obvious - high maintenance costs, lack of consistency in digital operations, and now way to make across-the-board changes. But no more. Our SVP Digital Solutions, Varun Nehra, explained how we are helping businesses achieve multi-tenancy and unify digital operations for as many brands as they need with OneWeb, our own signature approach to DXP.
  • Transforming Fintech digital operations with speed and agility, using the power of Sitecore: A complete SXA rebuild, Marketplace app launch in 3 months, and launch of multiple website domains in 10+ languages – in the session SVP Customer Engagement, Ankit Sethi, sat down with Lance Korsun from FIS to about how we helped them.
    These sessions can still be accessed via Sitecore’s Attendee Portal. Get through to them here.

‘Braindates’ For Attendees

Sitecore took the Symposium as an opportunity to enable attendees to get together and talk customer experience, personalization, analytics, technology infrastructure, content, and more. It enabled this through a platform that supports ‘Braindates’ – aka knowledge sharing conversation that participants can have one-on-one or in a group, on a topic of their choice.

Altudo All Braindates Housefull

‘Braindates’ with our experts were a hit at Sitecore Symposium 2021! Vasiliy Fomichev and Varun Kashiv have had some of the most popular ‘Braindates’ both days, with their sessions being a full house. Radoj Glisik, Rodrigo Peplau, and Yonas Keflemariam also had some interesting sessions that saw a full house.

With those highlights, Sitecore Symposium 2021 was a wrap! While we tap into the excitement from this and dive head-first into bringing the latest of Sitecore’s innovations to our clients, we also await Sitecore Symposium 2022 and all the new developments it might bring.

Rupal Bhandari

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