Architecting the Perfect #SitecoreSym Session Selection

Handpicked session guide is targeting those that split their time in the development world while still needing to work really close with the business. The audience here are what I refer to as ‘Sitecore Architect or Leads’, someone that has the development experience to understand and recommend the proper steps for a successful Sitecore implementation. This group of individuals needs a nice mix of technical and business leaning sessions to choose from.

If you are feeling this is a little much for you check out the other session guides.

Sessions are selected based on the limited information I can get access without spending tons of time reaching out to each speaker for more info, though that could make for an interesting series for the future, ‘a behind the scene look at creating a symposium session’…I looked at the title, session description and to some extend what I might know about the speaker (having heard them before, read their work, etc…), from that you’ve got this and the other guides.

There is still time to register for Sitecore Symposium 2018, and if you want to save some money on top of whatever general deals are running I’ve got a special $100 savings link just for you (and your friends).

Day 1 – Monday, October 8th

I’ll support you leading your team’s standup from the beach followed by a deep discussion on why Sitecore 9.1 will be a game changer.

Day 2 – Tuesday, October 9th

07:00 AM to 08:00 AM – Breakfast (is not just for champions)

Nice time to make new friends or meet up with old over pastry and hopefully bacon (lots of bacon.)

08:00 AM to 9:45 AM

General Audience Keynotes. Sit back, relax and prepare to see your Sitecore world Elevated.

10:00 AM to 10:45 AM

The best advice I can provide is the Development Keynote has always been one of the most successful session in my opinion.

If you’re a later riser, your day must start for this session. The developer keynote is not to be missed. It will set the tone for the rest of the week for you regarding the new and upcoming that your team can be excited for.

You’ll end up seeing just enough awesome to really feel the wow of the platform.

11:45 AM to 12:30 PM

The Cortex engine: Process at scale

Alistair Deneys
Lead Developer

Sitecore 9.1 introduces a new scalable processing engine which powers the Cortex Machine Learning framework and allows integration to best-of-breed ML tooling. In this session, we will run through the main architectural changes for data processing from previous versions, and how you could set up deployments to deal with scaled environments with xConnect and Sitecore Cortex.

WHY: As an architect I feel at times it would be easier to untangle a ball of yarn then connect the disparity data sets and tool a client needs on a site. This session gives me hope that new pipelines and endpoints are becoming available to help simplify this planning stage.


Seven common commerce customizations

Rob Earlam
Technical Evangelist

Sitecore Experience Commerce, including the Experience Accelerator Storefront, provides a whole heap of functionality out of the box, but you will still need to implement your own customizations as part of your implementation. In this session, Rob will go over seven common customizations you’ll see on most of your commerce projects, and how to implement them easily using Sitecore Experience Commerce.

WHY: Maybe your less worried about the robots, and more interested in getting products out the door to your site’s visitors. I look forward to this session in providing some excellent insight on how to manage the needs of our next eComm project.

12:45 PM to 01:30 PM

Sitecore and GDPR: All your personal data belong to you

Martina Welander
Programmer Writer

A practical look at how evolving privacy legislation affects your Sitecore implementation, including a demonstration of what a privacy-focused implementation might look like. Includes an overview of where and why personal data is stored and the features and APIs available to handle personal data responsibly across the platform. And memes!

WHY: We’ve read everything she has ever written, now a chance to see her in-person….once you get over the excitement, this session should provide some excellent details on how to deal with ever changing personalization regulations and ways that Sitecore can help to manage meeting.


Real-world machine learning – 30 scenarios where ML makes sense right now

Michael Greenberg
Head of Strategy

ML might be the hottest topic in marketing, but few practitioners know where or how it might work for them. In this session we will explain ML in jargon-free terms and run through 30 situations where marketers can use ML.

WHY: Maybe your still hesitant about letting the robots into the solution. I am thinking this session should provide some excellent examples of how to allow the robots on the team while keeping them properly constrained to jobs that provide actual benefits.

01:30 PM to 02:45 PM – Lunch

Will there be bacon?

02:45 PM to 03:30 PM

Horizon: Uncovering core UX and architectural concepts

Alec Orlov
Product Manager

Tech-savvy content authors and marketers increasingly expect the digital solutions at work to be as easy to use as the consumer applications they use in everyday life. This session will uncover core UX and architectural concepts inside project Horizon – the new Sitecore user interface that aims to help users create amazing experiences powered by insights.

WHY: Seeing something new and fancy is a nice way to push off the post-lunch nap. Looking forward to understanding the new benefits a team gains from these new screens.


Need help deciding which sessions to attend at the Symposium? Ask our session recommendation engine

Varun Nehra
Sr. Sitecore Solutions Architect
Dmytro Shevchenko
Sitecore Solutions Architect

If you are unsure about which Symposium sessions are right for you, let machine learning (ML) solve your dilemma. Check out our implementation of a Session Recommendation Engine built on Sitecore XP 9 using Sitecore xConnect services and Azure’s cognitive services. This ML implementation creates contextual insights from social media interactions, performs segmentation and presents personalized recommendations for the user, showcasing a prelude to what is possible with Sitecore’s ML engine Cortex.

WHY: To many carbs at lunch? This session should prove to be a ‘magical’ session looking at how all that data which is piling up can be used. By the end of the session you might even have an idea how a human made list like this compares to the robot generated, a case study without the work.

04:15 PM to 05:00 PM

Inside Cortex

Colin te Kempel
Senior Product Manager

In today’s world, everything is data driven, more so when you start to think about driving value with machine learning (ML). We have spent a long time finding the right architecture for machine learning in Sitecore, so that our customers and partners can take advantage of the wealth of experience data that they collect. In this session, we will walk you through the features that our new Cortex Machine Learning framework provides in 9.1, and how you can take advantage of the new and powerful tooling.

WHY: You potentially started the morning looking at how to scale Cortex, this session should take us up a level looking at some of the practical uses that we can build upon Cortex.


Take your Sitecore project to the next level With Nodejs

Anastasiya Flynn
Sitecore Architect
Arke Systems

Many Sitecore developers still see JavaScript as just a client-side language that’s used to enhance the UI. This session will prove that JS belongs server-side as well, showing how to use Node.js to automate server-side processes. We will cover how to break up client-side JavaScript into component-level Helix-friendly modules that are testable and reusable, and then use gulp to compile them into a single CDN-ready aggregate file. This approach makes code easier to maintain, makes environments more stable, and reinforces Helix principles of simplicity, flexibility, and extensibility.

WHY: It is always nice to have a handful of options when discussing dev-ops. This session should prove to provide just another arrow in the quiver that leverages technology you maybe a little less familiar with.

05:15 PM to 06:00 PM – Closing Keynote

06:00 PM to 07:30 PM – Happy Hour!!!

Day 3 – Wednesdays, October 10th

07:00 AM to 08:00 AM – Breakfast

Coffee first, then bacon. Coffee first, then bacon…

08:00 AM to 08:45 AM

.Net Core and 9.1 architecture

Kern Herskind Nightingale
Senior Product Manager
Stephen Pope
Senior Technical Product Manager

Underpinning the 9.1 release are several platform enhancements that, while not immediately obvious, are driving the future of the Sitecore platform. Embrace the revolution to the .NET world that .NET Core represents and discover Sitecore’s journey from monolith to services and the benefits and challenges encountered along the way.

WHY: We can safely assume 9.1 is coming at the time of this list creation and it seem to have some new and exciting pieces to it. If you missed the general overview on day 1, this should be a must attend to really understand the pieces and parts you’ll be working with and planning for.


The science of Cortex

Niels Kuhnel
Platform Architect

We believe that the real value for machine learning (ML) lies in the data in the Sitecore Experience Database and exposing and reporting on information that can be used for analyzing valuable business trends and the discovery of new and previously not-thought-of segments. We know that within each vertical market you work in, the data will be unique to how your customers behave, but there are generic algorithms that can help you get started with ML. In this session, we will give practical examples of how Cortex works and how you can bring your own data-science practices and algorithms into Sitecore.

WHY: Cortex is coming and the need to understand how to feed it the right the data is going to be important for future Sitecore implementations. I foresee coming out of this session with a bit of a headache as you try to take in the data-science behind Cortex, but once that evens out, you should be better off for the future of analytics.

09:00 AM to 09:45 AM

Guest Keynote….who will it be?

10:00 AM to 10:45 AM

Multiple pulse points of innovation

Matt Webb
Global CTO

As marketers, we need to know what consumers are thinking and doing and how this will shape the experiences that companies ultimately need to create. Simply storing, monitoring, and adjusting content based on existing data is no longer enough. Join us for this session as we look beyond “what we have” and ahead to “what we can do.” We’ll discuss using Sitecore components to create highly relevant clusters based on real-world data (i.e., world events, stock market, local news, and even the weather) to deliver innovative experiences that people want, and businesses need. They just don’t know it yet.

WHY: Future looking sessions give you plenty to ponder as you design and plan your next release. I foresee this session to provide interesting components that take into more than just context of who a person is in the content that is shown.


Automated personalization that “just works”

Marcos Guimaraes
Vice President, Chief Data Scientist

Sitecore’s Chief Data Scientist Marcos Guimaraes will outline our plans to leverage xDB analytics to individually optimize visitor journeys in order to maximize customer success. Through the use of machine learning, our goal is to minimize any burden of setting up segmentation and personalization rules, transitioning to a system where the intelligence “just works” out of the box. Come learn about the latest innovations, our partnership with Microsoft, and our future plans for automatic and scalable personalization.

WHY: Another step in letting the robots do the tedious work around personalization. At the rate of machine learning I expect Symposium 2019 to have a fully automated Cortex session.

10:45 AM to 11:45 AM – Break

Time to discuss new opportunities over coffee in the Partner Pavilion. (Or catch a quick swim…hmmm…decisions are hard.)

11:45 AM to 12:30 PM

Omnichannel retail: personal and contextual experiences!

Ishraq Al Fataftah
Applez Tech

Technology trends have significantly disrupted the way commerce works. Customers expect a seamless and consistent experience across all channels of the retail process. Omnichannel retailing is providing a more powerful experience that is combining online services such as product pricing comparisons/reviews and in-store kiosks and NFC technology. In this session, we’ll explore Sitecore Experience Commerce as an enterprise solution that delivers an integrated, omnichannel personalized experience throughout the customer lifecycle. By leveraging online and offline channels across a single commerce platform, Sitecore is providing the right tools to achieve a personalized customer experience that is relevant to the individual customer and consistent across all points of interaction.

WHY: Commerce is an important part of the Sitecore ecosystem’s future. I enjoy seeing how others have worked towards the omnichannel usage of Sitecore, and this should prove to have some insights on how to make it work.


Personalizing the customer lifecycle with Marketing Automation and EXM

Ben Burns
Product Manager
Jacob Nielsen
Software Architect

Modern marketing is increasingly focused on the consumer and their personalized experiences. This is done by delivering timely and engaging content, with campaigns built around the customer lifecycle. In this session, we will explore key lifecycle marketing business themes and best practices, with practical guidance on using email and automation campaigns, all within the context of real-world scenarios such as commerce. We will also showcase the ease of use, flexibility, and versatility of the EXM and Marketing Automation products, along with new features to inspire marketers’ own campaign strategies.

WHY: Marketing Automation and EXM might not be the fanciest areas for developers to be, but for the business side it is a critical piece to having implemented Sitecore. Attending this session should give you the knowledge you need to assist the business as well as make proper development decisions to support them.

12:30 PM to 02:00 PM – Lunch

Can I have a side of coffee with that?

02:00 PM to 02:45 PM

Taxonomy & rules-based profile mapping: Go from zero user profile tracking to 100% coverage with a single pipeline extension and no content tagging

Nick Allen
Technical Architect, Digital Consultant & Founder
Think Fresh Studio

Assigning visitors to profiles is a core tenant of a content personalization strategy, however many organizations struggle with the initial setup and maintenance of content tagging, especially as the site grows. The task becomes even more challenging when you are working with sites that have large product catalogues or make use of “virtual” URL techniques such as wildcards or dynamic item resolving. In many cases, the profiles we want to associate with our users are based on meta data and taxonomies that already exist in our websites. In this session you will see how you can extract this meta data and taxonomy information to automatically profile users across the entire website without content authors having to tag a single content item.

WHY: Being able to provide the business side of the house a quick way to get moving on personalization is an excellent way to win some street cred with them. I foresee this session concluding with you gaining insight how to simplify and push the site towards personalization faster than the business can plan.


Beyond the SXA toolbox

Adam Najmanowicz
Senior Product Manager
Mark van Aalst
Senior Technical Evangelist

Learn what the Sitecore Experience Accelerator offers besides the toolbox and see for yourself why SXA is the way forward for 99% of the sites that you nowadays build on top of Sitecore. We will show you what SXA offers, how you can leverage and customize it, and all the latest improvements we have made.

WHY: SXA is an interesting module that when used properly can provide some quick and easy wins during site builds leading to long term flexibility of content and design. What I have found is understanding the shift in mindset required by SXA, which should be explained and demonstrated in this session for a successful launch.

03:00 PM to 03:45 PM

Understanding digital strategy from a marketer’s POV

Jason Fields
Brandon Rozelle

The concept “being digital” can mean many things. That’s also true of “digital strategy.” Even in today’s post-digital world, far too many companies struggle to develop and implement effective digital strategies. In fact, research shows that upwards of 75% of the companies surveyed have no digital strategy in place. In this session, we’ll explore the what, why, and how of digital strategy from the marketer’s point of view.

WHY: I find myself sitting in meetings listening to requests for a new feature, thinking that seems like a stupid idea. I look forward to this session helping to enlighten me a little more about why the bushiness thinks something should be a great idea.


Marketer’s Guide to a Sitecore Upgrade

Katrina Arey
Digital Marketing Manager

Migrating multilingual websites to a new version of Sitecore at a large enterprise is no small feat. From building the business case to user acceptance testing and training, there are many moving parts. Hear from a fellow Sitecore customer who’s just been through an upgrade and learn tips and tricks for navigating the process.

WHY: Upgrades can get ugly fast, between coordinating infrastructure upgrades, code needs, and any active or soon to be active marketing efforts on the live site. With so many possible spinning plates, it will be interesting to hear how someone else has successfully managed the near impossible.

03:45 PM to 04:45 PM – Break

Seems like a good time to see what free stuff can be found in the Partner Pavilion.

04:45 PM to 05:30 PM

Will Smith

06:30 PM to 11:30 PM

Party like a Potter

Leave your Muggle worries behind and join Sitecore for the most magical bash of the year!

Day 4 – Thursday, October 11th

07:30 AM to 08:30 AM – Breakfast

Can the lights be turned down a little? Just coffee this morning, please.

08:30 AM to 09:15 AM

Guest Speaker

09:30 AM to 10:15 AM

Universal tracker and mobile analytics

Alexey Vaschenko
Product Manager

Understanding a customer’s behavior is key for delivering the best user experience. In this session, we will dive deep into Sitecore Universal Tracker – the brand-new approach for tracking interactions in mobile and processing data and storing it in Sitecore xDB.

WHY: I am not clear what the universal tracker is, but it sounds fancy and a solver of many headaches. Hopefully bi-location devices will be provided so we can learn about ethically leveraging universal tracking.


Who watches the watchers?

Jason St-Cyr
Technical Evangelist

We are all guardians of the digital spaces our audiences live in. We control what data is collected, how it is used, how it is stored, and potentially how it can be abused. With advancements in machine learning, personalization, and individualization, we are looking at a new world of improved customer experiences. How do we ensure this is done in an ethical way? How do we protect individual privacy? How do we avoid bias in our algorithms? We will explore these questions and others and empower the audience to take ownership of these issues.

WHY: This maybe a tricky one to follow a night of partying, but I see it as critical to have the conversation of how to ethically leverage all the data collected.

10:30 AM to 11:15 AM

Learning to SPEAK. Impress your customers and colleagues by taking Sitecore customization to the next level

Olga Kogan
Senior Developer
Julia Gavrilova
Lead Architect

Getting started with Sitecore can be overwhelming. If you are a developer who is just starting with Sitecore and would like to impress your customers and colleagues by building an application within Sitecore that looks like all other Sitecore applications, this session is for you. We’ll show how to create a SPEAK 3 application from start to finish.

WHY: We’ve all been in the situation that a request comes in for something a little non-standard but critical to the business. In the past trying to fulfil this within the context of Sitecore was a bit tricky, but the session should prove that this is no longer the case.


Faster, faster, faster! A Helix approach to DevOps in the light of the Sitecore micro-service architecture

Thomas Eldblom

Sitecore is no longer a monolithic Architecture but has recently introduced a number of micro-services which has made deployments more complex. In the spirit of Helix, we want to keep it simple and flexible to reduce cost of maintenance and reduce time to market. The session will introduce a scalable, decoupled, layered and technology independent approach to DevOps which can immediately be implemented in your business. Sitecore micro-service architecture. Configuring prerequisites and infrastructure using PowerShell, Docker containers, and/or ARM templates. Packaging techniques in a micro service architecture. Item serialization and database changes. Deployment strategies, Blue/Green. Reconfigure SIF or ARM templates.

WHY: By this point in the week, we’ve all heard about the new micro-services in Sitecore. I look forward to seeing how these new micro-services are not a problem but a benefit to the future of Sitecore development.

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Closing Keynote


UPDATED 9/17/2018 – Removed expired discount links.



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