Impressions and takeaways from SUGCON 2022

Impressions and takeaways from SUGCON 2022

Where was it this year?

With the event being remote the last two years it was nice to finally reconvene as a community. This year, they chose one of my favorite European cities – Budapest!

Who attended?

I was lucky enough to attend in person again, joined by Velir colleagues current and former MVPs Dan Solovay, Daniel Delay, and Chris Sulham. There were approximately 500+ attendees largely made up of MVPs, developers, savvy clients, a Sitecore reps.

Why did we attend?

Over the past few years, Sitecore has moved away from its home-grown, self-contained platform and began acquiring products that would help speed their transition to a cloud-native platform that is more composable in terms of features and functions.

For many of us, this was a massive paradigm shift and one that left many of us feeling a bit unsure what we do and don’t know about the solution and its direction. We went to SUGCON seeking some answers.

What did we learn?

Sitecore’s CEO, Steve Tzikakis, kicked off the show.

Key takeaways:

  • Doubled R&D spend over next 4 years (22%)
  • Focus is firmly on strategy and building out the composable DXP
  • Doubled the number of employees across the organization – 60% of staff have only been at Sitecore a year or less!
  • Widening presence with offices like Boston and Dubai
  • The affirmation that “We will always be a CMS solution”
  • Commerce is being totally redefined 

Sitecore’s CPO, Dave O’ Flanagan followed up.

  • Not trying to sell customers the whole Sitecore stack but just the parts they really need
  • XM Cloud coming soon!
  • Content is still the center of gravity for the platform
  • Cloud native, headless by default, Jamstack ready, analytics/testing/personalization really baked in
  • New successor to XP is XM Cloud so the upgrade path would be here since personalization and analytics are included but for more advanced needs may need to add CDP
  • Sitecore search rearchitected from Reflektion to be generic
  • Sitecore portal coming for DXP management 
  • All visual user interfaces will be rethought for cloud based Sitecore
  • Dusting off Horizon and adapting elements of it
  • Sitecore announced a lightweight/decoupled version of Content Hub branded “Headless CMS”. It could be an alternative CMS like Contentful or Storyblok.

Conclusions and Takeaways

  • Sitecore is keeping XP for now, but the big sales push from Sitecore is XP > XMP (Sitecore XM + Personalize).
  • Upgrade path could be complicated for clients currently on xDB and have complex personalization rules. May require starting over data-wise.
  • Personalization configuration will at first be less turnkey for BSAs and Digital Marketers. Requires JS code and developer involvement.
  • You can’t just swap component data sources in Sitecore like you can in XP right now. You need to somehow get that content over to Personalize. More like an ad server or Adobe Target.
  • Overlapping capabilities from the acquired products still being resolved.
  • Composable systems don’t have visual editor for the web or any channel so this is one of the trade-offs
Expose Dictionary items in Sitecore Experience Editor

Expose Dictionary items in Sitecore Experience Editor

I frequently make heavy use of Dictionary items in my content architecture for chrome content that does not often need to be updated and that may need translated versions so we can cut down the number of managed data fields a content author needs to see on a daily basis. Currently, it is not easy to know where Dictionary items may have been used on a page. New content authors are often unaware that certain values are editable and even experienced content authors have to search for an item in the Dictionary tree, hoping that items were clearly named and organized. Sometimes, certain roles don’t even have access to this folder at all.

Making the items more explicit in Experience Editor solves this problem!

In collaboration with fellow Sitecore MVP Mark Stiles, we have created a method for allowing Dictionary items to be identified and edited without leaving Experience Editor.

1. Add new option to the View tab for “Show Dictionary items”

2. When “Show Dictionary items” in selected, display a Dictionary icon linked to the corresponding Dictionary item

3. When clicking on a Dictionary item value, reveal a custom experience button that allows access to a modal where the Dictionary item can be edited without having to leave Experience Editor.

This has had an immediate impact on content authoring for the sites we have used this method on so far, reducing the number steps takes to complete the task.

If you are interested in adding this feature to your solution see the GitHub and Marketplace module.

Impressions from Sitecore Symposium 2019

Impressions from Sitecore Symposium 2019

This was my third time at Sitecore Symposium as a speaker and it is interesting to compare the experience year-over-year-over-year, especially at the same venue the second year running! Plenty of buzz Velir’s booth with our theme of storytelling and how we can use Sitecore to better communicate those stories and foster human connection in a digital world. Some of the highlights were talks by Platon, Dr. Rana el Kaliouby, and Paige O’Neill.

As usual, it was great opportunity to learn more about the latest release of Sitecore and what’s on the future road map. Some themes emerged that I am really excited about.

Looking forward to installing Horizon (Sitecore’s author experience overhaul initiative) as part of next Sitecore release which promises anew interface that will be more intuitive, reduce context switching between Experience Editor and Content Editor, and integrate page level analytics to provide better context for making decisions.

ContentHub promises platform maturity, owning more of the creative process and end-to-end tasks so content authors need not work in as many solutions. In particular, CMP is and its evolution will be something to watch. And finally, machine learning is beginning to be applied for practical use in the authoring and personalization space via Sitecore AI. Some call it magic, we just call it science.

Overall, I walked away encouraged and excited to be part of what comes next!

Sitecore MVP 2019

Sitecore MVP 2019

Humbled and pleased to announce that I’ve been again named a “Most Valuable Professional (MVP)” by Sitecore® for a second year running (2018, 2019), winning in the area of the Strategy. A lot of hard work and focus on solving clients’ problems via the Sitecore platform has paid off once again. Looking forward to another active year in the community!

Some info about the program below:

Now in its 13th year, Sitecore’s MVP program recognizes exceptional professionals from the Sitecore community who actively share their expertise of Sitecore products to advance the future of customer experience and drive organizational change. A distinguished group of 315 Sitecore experts from the more than 12,000 certified developers and more than 20,000 active community participants, Sitecore MVPs’ are awarded for the quality, quantity, and level of impact of the contributions they make by sharing their product expertise and mastery of the Sitecore platform with other Sitecore partners and customers.

“The Sitecore community is renown as a place where members can easily collaborate and benefit from the vision and technical knowledge of one another,”

Pieter Brinkman, Senior Director of Technical Marketing at Sitecore.

“Within this community, MVPs set the standard of excellence for product expertise, enthusiasm, and willingness to donate time and energy to help customers and partners realize the full power of the Sitecore platform. Their passion is instrumental to the ongoing success of the Sitecore ecosystem.”

The Sitecore Experience Platform™ combines web content management, omnichannel digital delivery, insights into customer activity and engagement, and strategic digital marketing tools into a single, unified platform. Sitecore Experience Commerce™ natively integrates content and commerce so brands can fully personalize and individualize the end-to-end shopping experience before, during, and after the transaction. Both platforms capture in real time every minute interaction—and intention—that customers and prospects have with a brand across digital and offline channels. The result is that Sitecore customers are able to use the platform to engage with prospects and customers in a highly personalized manner, earning long-term customer loyalty.

More information can be found about the MVP Program on the Sitecore MVP site: http://mvp.sitecore.com