Sitecore Symposium

Sitecore Symposium
14th November 2019

Sitecore Symposium 2019 and the MVP Summit were packed full of exciting talks and our heads are bursting with new information. Find out what we learnt and what’s new for Sitecore Symposium 2020.

Sitecore Symposium is the annual gathering of the Sitecore community. Over 3000 Sitecore developers, strategists, marketers and customers come together to talk everything Sitecore.  It’s been revealed that Sitecore Symposium 2020 will be held in Chicago.  Over the two and half days, Sitecore experts will be presenting a range of exciting topics that will benefit the community.

We were proud to be Gold sponsors of Sitecore Symposium 2019. We had a great time chatting with the Sitecore community and watching some excellent attempts to beat our buzzwire game, even from Sitecore CEO, Mark Frost himself.

Sitecore Symposium 2020

What did we learn from Sitecore Symposium 2019?

Sitecore Symposium 2019 looked at ‘building human connections in a digital world’, a theme we can certainly get behind. Customers’ needs have changed a lot in the past few years, and don’t look to stop evolving anytime soon. It’s important for organisations to evaluate how technological advancements can meet their customers’ expectations and how they can leverage Sitecore to gain competitive advantage.

Here’s our run down of the key take-aways that are going to be driving our future Sitecore work:

1. SaaS is coming! You’d better get ready

Mark Frost and Desta Price both discussed this topic in their sessions. This has the potential to be the biggest change in how we work with Sitecore in years. The transition to a software platform that can run as a pure SaaS solution has started. We’ll see the first version of this in the Summer 2020 release if all goes to plan. This will cover a small set of cases around Content Management scenarios.  They’re targeting roughly a five-year transition process overall. We’ll start to see the first fruits of this work in the upcoming v9.3 release. There’s been a lot of work on improving the experience for running Sitecore Docker containers. The step towards a completely different style of deployment for Sitecore will be key to the future changes.

Next year’s release will give us the first visibility of the other keystone of SaaS – where it needs to run at scale in the cloud and be easily upgradable. Much like Microsoft had a mountain to climb moving SharePoint from on premise deployment to Office 365, Sitecore have to achieve the same types of change. This means the software we’ve been using to poke around the innards of, needs to become opaque to us. It’s not feasible to manage upgrading many thousands of cloud instances, if you have to worry about the different configuration patches everyone has applied to their instances. So we’re going to have to get used to our customisations and integrations living outside of Sitecore. This will be a big change for many of us, but it will lead to interesting new opportunities – imagine wiring Sitecore workflow events and your company’s MS PowerApps systems with no code.

Developers are going to get a whole new development process and toolset based around these changes. We’ll be writing .Net code which is much closer to the current JSS Headless CMS model than anything we’ve written before.  It’s going to be fascinating to see this as it evolves, and people work out how best to make use of these new tools and processes.

2. Ethical AI is possible – but you have to think about it

The keynote from Rana el Kaliouby was a fascinating insight into the things that can be done with vision systems and AI, while working hard to be ethical about it. It was great to hear someone talking about how they tackled the problems of gender and race bias in vision systems for once.

She demonstrated a collection of interesting uses for computers which can determine the emotions in your facial responses. The more obvious uses of this technology are for watching people in TV focus groups, and how they respond when they watch a new programme or advert. There was also some discussion of the idea that this could allow a TV broadcast to “personalise” its plot and content to match what makes you respond positively. Similar to an advanced version of Netflix’ Bandersnatch experiment.  But she also showed some fascinating work on allowing something like Google Glass to give autistic children easy to read visual cues about the emotional responses of people around them.

3. The guidance around Helix has been updated. Make sure you catch up

Nick Wessleman leads Sitecore’s work on developer experience. Working with their internal team and a group of community contributors, they have recently released an updated version of the official guidance for developer best practices. The changes are aimed at making the information they publish clearer for developers, and to make the approach easier to follow by emphasising the “why” of the guidance. They’ve released new training for developers to help cement these ideas in project teams.

When we acquire new customers and audit their current solutions, issues with how the Sitecore Helix guidance has been followed are a common challenge. So, it’s great to see further effort being made to help development teams understand this better.

4. Automatic personalisation will help with your carpal tunnel problems

It’s often a challenge with personalisation, that if you have quite a few states to personalise for and you have many pages to set up, then the number of Sitecore personalisation rules to define can grow significantly. But relief is in site for this problem, as the “Auto Personalisation” features coming to the platform will address this head-on. Rather than having editors explicitly set up individual rules for their scenarios, there will be an “enable automatic personalisation” button which will make use of machine learning to decide on a set of rules for you and apply them to pages.

While there wasn’t much detail given about how this will work under the surface, it’s being used now by Microsoft for their Partner Portal site. Their staff were pleased with the results when spoke about.

You don’t need to wait for Sitecore Symposium 2020

Fortunately, if you’d like to know more about the latest version of Sitecore and what it can do for your organisation we’re here and ready to chat.

We have over 20 years’ experience building, designing and optimising innovative website solutions for enterprises. As one of a select few UK Sitecore Platinum Partners we’d love to show you more about Sitecore before you make any decision. Book a demo to learn more or if you already use Sitecore, but don’t think you’re getting the most out of it, talk to us about a Sitecore audit. For more information, speak to one of our Sitecore experts today.

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