Sitecore Symposium 2018 Day 0 & Day 1 Summary

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This blog post is first one from my Sitecore Symposium 2018 Series.

I am writing these blog posts as my reflection and summary of this year’s Sitecore Symposium.

I will start obviously with my first three days including pre-Symposium ones :).

Day “-1”

I was already traveling on Sunday 7th October 2018 to Orlando from Vienna, Austria through Frankfurt, Germany. To be precise I first had to travel from Bratislava, Slovakia to Vienna Schwechat Airport in the Sunday morning.

I started my journey at 7:30 a.m. CEST in Bratislava and ended at around 8:30 p.m. EDT in Walt Disney World Swan Hotel. With 6 hour time difference, that makes around 19 hours long journey from door to door. Totally worth it at the end!

I was welcomed at Orlando airport with this nice advertisement:


I just checked in hotel and watched a bit TV to even time difference like I always do. This always helps me to adjust to new time zone. Usually next day I am almost 100% operational…

Day 0

On Monday I have experienced almost no jet lag. Which was really great.


I went to registration in the morning to pick up my badge and already met friends from Hungary and Germany from Sitecore Community.

Walt Disney World Swan Hotel (Home of Symposium’s developer sessions and also my hotel where I stayed during Symposium)

I made a walk around the Walt Disney resort where conference was held.


Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (Home of Symposium’s non-developer sessions, keynotes and also partner pavilion and receptions)


I have attended Welcome reception in the evening where I met lots of friends from Sitecore Community from around the world. I have met and chat with Akshay Sura, Kamruz Jaman, Mark Cassidy, Dan Solovay and lots of others.  Really great talks. Unfortunately, no pictures / selfies where taken. My bad.


Day 1

Tuesday or official Day 1 of Sitecore Symposium was the day when I finally attended some sessions 🙂

Day started with nice breakfast talk and continued with keynotes.

Keynote #1: First one was “Elevate the experience to transform your business” done by Sitecore CEO Mark Frost and Sitecore CMO Page O’Neill

Mark started with four key messages:

  1. Customers are buying experiences and not products
  2. Sitecore will acquire Stylelabs to improve DAM and PIM and integrate these systems into core product
  3. Expand further integration with Salesforce
  4. Improvements in Sitecore Experience Cloud and release of JSS

Page continued with three interviews:

  1. With Rowan Holloway – Volvo
    • Presented results of their new shared economy model introduced by “Care by Volvo”
    • Rowan also talked about predictions and how they improved communication towards clients
  2. With Brian Immel – Cycling Sports Group (Cannondale)
    • Talk was about saturated cycle market and how hard is to sell new bikes
    • They came with model where based on your current history taken from Garmin devices, they can suggest you better bike that can improve your performance even further
  3. With Heather Clark – SickKicks
    • SickKids is Canadian Charity Organization
    • Raising money to build new hospital
    • Presented what they have achieved with their campaign
    • Awesome modern adds and communication
      • Here is one. Still gives me goose bumps when I see it:


Keynote #2: Continued by guest keynote speaker Mick Ebeling with his – The fallacy of “Impossible”
Very inspirational keynote about how technology can make impossible things not impossible anymore. He demonstrated it on several examples and how he helped lots of people so far. He created prosthesis using 3d printer to a boy in Sudan and then show them how to do it by themselves to fight with war effects on civilians.
Also he showed device that they have implemented for deaf to “hear” music. As they discovered later, the side effect of that device was that it was completely suppressing  Parkinson disease and people could work normally as before and even play piano. Awesome story.

Keynote #3: Day continued with track keynotes so you had to choose to go either to developer one with Deane Barker and his topic “Headless CMS and the great uncoupling” or marketing track with Drew Nessier and topic “The four traits of successful marketers”. I have obviously chosen Deane and it was great choice.
The gist of topic was that headless CMSs are not really CMS systems like Sitecore but more Content repositories. Deane nicely categorized features of content management systems and described which once headless systems are fulfilling.
I am happy that I could arranged presentation by Deane in December in our office in Bratislava with full length session about Headless as he had to cut it to 45 minutes for this keynote. Our session will be 1 hour. Looking forward to it!
I even met with Deane in person and he signed me his book. Read more at the end of this blog post. Honored!
After keynotes breakout / regular sessions continued.

Session #1: Sitecore 9.1 overview by Mark Groves and Pieter Brinkman
Probably the most visited breakout session I was on that day.
Mark and Pieter described latest changes in Sitecore 9.1.
Areas of focus for this release were:
  • Innovation – JavaScript Services (headless) and Sitecore Cortex (ML)
  • Time to market – Experience Accelerator and Partnership Integrations
  • Enhancements – Platform and Forms

JavaScript Service (JSS):

  • Complete toolkit for modern JavaScript developers
  • Build full-fledged solutions (SPAs, PWA, websites)
  • “Code-first”, beyond APIs

SXA in 9.1:

  • Creation of WCAG 2.0 compatible websites
  • Wireframe and grayscale Modes
  • Cross-site linking
  • Per-site views
  • Rendering variant component embedding
Lots of performance improvements in compare to 9.0 Update 2 version. Number of files in Bin folder drastically reduced from 529 to 296 files. Content Editor opened first times reduced from 24 to around 4 seconds. Nice! Good job.
All 3rd party libraries updated to latest versions. Content Search improvements.
Sitecore will use Identity Server 4 for Federated Authentication as named it Sitecore Identity. You shouldn’t see login screen that often anymore once you are authenticated 😉
In Sitecore 9.1 Sitecore Host will be introduced. It will be lean common runtime for Sitecore NET Core instances powering Apps and Services – Horizon, Universal Tracker and Sitecore Identity.
Preview of Horizon (new Sitecore UI) will be introduced in Sitecore 9.1. It should bring next generation experience for content management. It should contain Site dashboard, page insights & improvements and site perspective with insights OOTB.
They were also talking about Sitecore Cortex and how it’s working through ML Workers and how you can plug in easily your own. They talked also about predictive outcomes and content tagging which helps with SEO.
They introduced also Universal Tracker, new tracking service based on Web/REST API technology to track interactions as they’re occurring. You can process interactions before they go into Experience database. It is based on .NET Core.
They also talked about new Marketing Automation and changes in Sitecore Experience Cloud.
Very good overview of changes in upcoming Sitecore 9.1. Should be released in November this year.
Pieter shared presentation and also some details from this session on his blog. Check it out. Very interesting reading.

Session #2: Sitecore and GDPR – All your personal data belong to you by Martina Welander
For me the best non-technical session this Symposium I have attended. Even though GDPR is not that fancy topic, Martina made it interesting not only with her presentation but also with content. It was really hilarious! She had like 150 slides (if I remember correctly)for 45 minutes but her flow was unbelievable. Slides were great companion to what was said by Martina.
Majority of talk was on how personal data is important and GDPR is not only some European concern but should be concern of every individual. She was also talking about data grooming, personal data in interactions, and how and where to find relevant information about Sitecore and GDPR. Also importance of [PIISensitive] was described nicely. She emphasized importance of storing only personal data that is really necessary and make sure no data are used when no consent was given for those operations by contact / visitor.
Take a look in Privacy Guide if you are interested. And don’t forget to ask your lawyer before implemented anything 😉 Those guides are really helpful. I was already following them for one of my clients…

Session #3: Need help deciding which sessions to attend at Symposium? Ask our session recommendation engine by Varun Nehra and Dmytro Shevchenko
Varun and Dmytro showed how they have made their Symposium Session Recommendation Engine hosted on using Machine Learning, xConnect and Sitecore.
They were talking about differences between supervised and unsupervised Machine Learning, why they have chosen supervised and specific supervised classification.
They described also Azure ML template and its 5 steps in detail and differences between N-Grams and Unigrams TF Feature extractions. I had no idea before this that these exist. They have described the whole process nicely so also non Machine Learning experts (like myself) got the point.
Dmytro described step by step their xConnect solution starting from fetching Twitter data, saving them in facets in xConnect and then calling Azure ML webservices to get recommendation based on previous tweets and their categories.
My tweet about their app was also part of presentation 🙂 Nice and thanks 😉

Session #4: Measure, if you want to go faster by Jeremy Davis
Very good insights why to measure and how to fix performance issues using tools that Jeremy mentioned in his presentation. Most of them are available in Sitecore itself, in your Visual Studio or can be downloaded.
He covered tools, patterns and practices.
From tools he showed us Sitecore Debug in Experience Editor, Visual Studio’s Profiler, Visual Studio’s Debugger.
You can find his presentation here.
At the same time Corey Smith and Rick Bauer had their “Working with JSS Gold Master and Marketing Automation” presentation. Luckily for us, they will redo the presentation for SUGNCR. You can watch it live or on demand afterward from this link.

Closing Keynote: Daymond John
He is famous for creating clothing empire with FUBU brand.
Key takeaways were his SHARK points:
  • Set a goal – you become what you think about all the time
  • Homework – do your research and analytics
  • Amour – love what you do and who you do it for
  • Remember you are personally the brand – Put yourself in 2 – 5 words
  • Keep Swimming – don’t give up


Before Symposium I received email from Jason St-Cyr from Sitecore that I have been selected from the Sitecore community to join them at Symposium to meet with Technical Track Keynote Speaker Deane Barker! I confirmed with pleasure.

In between sessions in the afternoon on Tuesday we have met with him in person, took some pictures and he even gave me his book and signed it. Great experience!

Invitation 🙂
Signed Web Content Management book by Deane Barker



Thanks for reading summary of my first days at Sitecore Symposium 2018. More summaries to come shortly. Hope you have enjoyed reading it cause I enjoyed experiencing this 🙂 Check series landing page later on for more blog posts about Sitecore Symposium 2018.



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