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Perspectives
Martin Paton | 16 Oct 2018
Chief Innovation Officer, Martin Paton discusses his highlights from Sitecore Symposium 2018

Some people travel to Walt Disney World to enjoy the rides and meet the characters. AmazeRealise’s recent visit to the Magical Kingdom was no less exhilarating, even though we were there on business.

As a Sitecore Platinum Partner, we were delighted to sponsor the Sitecore Symposium 2018 at Walt Disney World, Florida. At this major annual event Sitecore experts, partners, and customers get together to learn, inspire, network, and get a first look into Sitecore’s plans for the future.

Our Chief Innovation Officer, Martin Paton was part of our event team and discusses his highlights from the conference.

Keynotes

Mick Ebeling, CEO and founder of Not Impossible Labs, was the standout keynote on the first day. I found him to be a truly inspirational man who dedicates his life to delivering technology for the sake of humanity and social causes – the very embodiment of our human advantage ethos.

His inspirational stories included a trip to Sudan to help a double amputee regain the use of their arms using the first 3D printed prosthetics. In his quest to enable deaf people to experience sound, Mick had inadvertently stumbled across a non-pharmaceutical therapy to drastically improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s sufferers. His talk was met with a thoroughly deserved standing ovation.

The headline keynote this year came from, Daymond John - an American businessman, best known recently for his role as an investor on hit US TV show Shark Tank (the equivalent of the UK’s Dragon’s Den). A true rags to riches story, Daymond founded FUBU, one of the most influential fashion brands of the 80s and 90s and one that helped drive the hip-hop revolution. Daymond took us through the journey of his life, from living weeks without electricity and heating to an estimated $250m net worth entrepreneur.

Partner Pavilion

The pavilion was a vibrant hub of activity and featured a range of Sitecore Partners, including our team from AmazeRealise who were there to help solve the problems of those attending in a very British setting.

This year’s Symposium supported Canadian charity, SickKids who aim to raise over $1bn to build a new children's hospital. One of my favourite features within the pavilion was the 3 minute cycle challenge where delegates got on a bike and pedalled as fast as they could.  Sitecore kindly donated $25 for every ride.

Tracks

The Symposium was brimming with an extensive choice of seminars, from marketing and optimisation through to technical and delivery tracks woven into a tightly packed schedule. Some of my highlights included:

Zurich insurance: Putting the Customer First

Zurich insurance provided a thought provoking seminar, illustrating the continuing disruption within the insurance industry and how they had tackled disruptors by focusing on customer first activity. They’ve been pushing the boundaries of digital experience and technology, whilst choosing key Enterprise partners to power the global estate.

Zurich appeared to truly embrace the 'customer first' approach, pioneering their own framework and methodology. This consisted of mapping out the claims journey and developing workshops and tool kits to create new experiences for their customer. This ensures they are consistently pushing the boundaries and retaining the people who matter.

Their biggest challenge? ‘Bridging the gap between customer experience and technology'. As with many worldwide firms, the technology is not seamless between regions causing inefficiencies for the global team. To address this, they have developed a modern technology stack and mapped this to the customer journey to quickly address and eradicate any customer pain points. These actions are actively promoted across regions, accelerating the digital transformation throughout the company.

It’s refreshing to see an insurance company bring the customer to the forefront of all decisions, whilst ensuring the technology stack is solid, will scale and be secure for the global markets. Zurich’s strategies and methodologies are created to ensure they are truly delivering an experience that will engage the customer, keep them and help them advocate.

Headless Revolution

Sitecore announced the general availability of their Javascript services (JSS) which provides the capability to run Sitecore in a true headless capacity, opening up a world of possibilities. We're a huge proponent of Headless at AmazeRealise as it can drastically cut your time to market, operating costs and allow you to leverage true omnichannel delivery without being straightjacketed by proprietary architectures. All this can require extensive specialist knowledge to deliver.

JSS allows developers to pull content models from the platform in standardised JSON format meaning that any apps/sites can now run without any dependency for ASP.NET on the presentation layer. This opens up the possibility of developing Sitecore powered experiences on just about any platform imaginable.

Concerns around headless systems include how behavioural tracking, authoring, personalisation and analytics function under this decoupled scenario. However, the new Universal Tracker APIs push this data into the Sitecore Experience Database (xDB), so all your favourite Sitecore features operate seamlessly. I believe this could be a gear shift in delivering almost limitless experiences powered by a central content model and I can’t wait to see the exciting opportunities it will create.

What’s next for Sitecore?

The final keynote of Symposium from Sitecore’s Chief Technology Officer, Ryan Donovan took us on a deep-dive of the Stylelabs Campaign, PIM and DAM offering. This will further accelerate Sitecore’s position as the market leader in Enterprise DXP with a rich and capable integrated marketing and commerce solution.

 

Interestingly, whilst Sitecore still offers the full Bring Your Own Cloud, On-prem or PaaS delivery options, this component will remain as a SaaS only solution for the time being. This may be a barrier to entry for some organisations who still have Cloud adoption nervousness or data sensitivities.

We expect to see the integration and amalgamation of the offering into Sitecore product lines over the next releases.

9.1 is an evolutionary release, and the more official starting point of the new release cadence which will allow for better planning and more certainty around which version to implement.   The JSS services alone make it an upgrade worth considering for those organisations wishing to explore the decoupled omnichannel approach.

If you would like to continue your conversation with the team or hear more about our work as a Sitecore Platnium Partner, please get in touch using the form below.

The AmazeRealise team had a fantastic time at Sitecore Symposium 2018 being inspired by industry experts, networking with great people and hearing all about Sitecore's plans for the future.