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Three takeaways from Sitecore Symposium 2018

Three Durable staff members, each with different areas of expertise, attended the Sitecore Symposium in Orlando, Florida last week. Here are takeaways based on their individual perspectives.

Sitecore has its sights on the headless space; and the DevOps race is on.

Headless CMS isn’t new, and the number of vendors continues to grow, as do capabilities and features. It seems that Sitecore’s new headless CMS offering is an acknowledgement of the competition and a pushback against headless competitors that are encroaching on their fully-fledged CMS space. This, along with their growing JavaScript Services (JSS), is opening up Sitecore to all those who want to use it with an (ever increasingly popular) JavaScript framework sitting on top.

The popularity of the numerous DevOps sessions at Symposium suggests that development teams are struggling to deploy as quickly and consistently as they’d like. Agile methodologies go hand in hand with DevOps, and more frequent releases demand a smooth and fast process. Various techniques for minimizing down-time and speeding up the build and deploy pipeline sparked a lot of interest and discussion, hinting that we all want to go faster, but aren’t quite there yet.

—William Chislett, Engineering

For most organizations, context marketing is still in a nascent state.

Sitecore’s built-in personalization features are one of the primary reasons companies select Sitecore as their enterprise CMS solution. And it’s a topic that has been front and center for many years in the Sitecore community.

But based on attendee responses in the four break-out sessions I attended addressing personalization, only a small fraction of Sitecore users have implemented personalization. It appears that many organizations consider personalization a “Phase 2” goal, but then struggle to move beyond Phase 1.

Personalization is a potentially complex undertaking, so it’s understandable that companies would proceed carefully. But on the other hand, if you want to be well-positioned to take advantage of machine learning and AI, the time to begin Phase 2 is now.

—Peter Gassiraro, Client services and strategy

Sitecore is taking a more active role in promoting gender diversity in the tech community.

A highlight of this year’s Symposium was the special session featuring Jodi Kovitz, the founder and CEO of #movethedial, a global movement dedicated to advancing the participation and leadership of all women in technology.

Kovitz did a great job of balancing some pretty bleak statistics (for example, just 13% of the average tech company’s executive team are women) with optimism and actionable advice about how audience members can take action in their own workplaces and communities. Salesforce’s effort to eliminate their gender pay gap was highlighted as an exemplar, but throughout the session and panel discussion that followed, it was emphasized that simple everyday actions such as mentorship and sponsorship help “move the dial.”

It’s fantastic that Sitecore facilitated this conversation, and it was encouraging to see a diverse group of both women and men in attendance, including CEO Mark Frost. But I hope that gender diversity isn’t just something that gets talked about once a year at Symposium. I heard in one of the panels that a mere 8% of the 2018 Sitecore MVPs worldwide are women, but couldn’t find any official reporting on this. I look forward to continuing the conversation with Sitecore and the larger community about how we can benchmark and improve diversity at all levels, from early-career tech professionals through to MVPs and other leadership roles.

—Angela Wolak, User Experience Design

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