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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
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:

10 tips for optimizing the author experience and operational efficiency in Sitecore CMS

10 tips for optimizing the author experience and operational efficiency in Sitecore CMS

This year, along with Dominic Hurst of Valtech, I was very fortunate to have presented at the Sitecore Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both Dominic and I have worked on a variety of Sitecore installations and over the years have noted some mutual industry observations:

  • The role of the Content Author in modern CMS solutions has evolved into a multi-dimensional job. Too often these every-day heroes have to fight inflexible and uninspiring solutions to overcome the even smallest tasks
  • Many organizations spend the lion’s share of their budgets on CMS implementation, yet pay little attention to the efficiency of the operational processes that enable it
  • Poor authoring experiences can lead to UX erosion over time. Bad AX → Bad UX → Bad CX
  • Content authors are rarely empowered to aid in design, personalization, and performance analysis

Together at the Symposium we decided to address these observations and present our top 10 tips for organizations to empower their content authors to deliver real value on a daily basis. Many they can enact right away. Below are links to 10 blogs posts that cover each of these points in greater detail. We hope you enjoy these posts and, of course, please reach out to either of us to continue the conversation. Dan – @sitecorelations; Dominic – @dh_analytics)

  1. Provide access to non-explicit fields in Experience Editor
  2. Simplify rich text embeds
  3. Make it easy to do the “right” thing
  4. Optimize data template architecture for greater usability
  5. Dynamically nest local components with pages
  6. Use branch templates to create structured content models
  7. Get your content authors involved in the design process
  8. Be a custodian for chang(ing content)
  9. Embrace governance, add guard rails not gates
  10. Combine the authoring experience with analytics

Special thanks to Nicolai Winch Kristensen of Sitecore for coordinating and moderating our Sitecore Symposium presentation. May the force be with you!

Using Sitecore branch templates to create structured content models

Using Sitecore branch templates to create structured content models

Three of the guiding principles I always keep in mind when trying to build usable systems in Sitecore are:

  1. Reduce the number of decisions a content author has to make
  2. Reduce the number of things that require editing in the first place
  3. Make it easy to do the “right” thing

One of the greatest tools for ensuring that these three things are achieved are Sitecore branch templates. Branch templates allow creation of item hierarchies in a singled click using dynamic placeholders. You can instantly create complex but predictable multi-tiered structures so that an author need not recreate these manually.

A content author creating yet another news article need not see a blank slate each time when it’s likely that this content type is highly structured and will have instances of the same components in the same layout, at least as a starting point. Below are some examples of branch templates for pages that specifies a core collection of default components to be included with each new instance of the page.


This is even more useful for creating multi-tiered structures such as office microsites or any other repeated content grouping that all have the same basic hierarchy. Why have content authors doing data entry for content objects that are predictable and repeatable? This is time-consuming, prone to error, and discourages consistency. Companies tend to treat content authors time as expendable, but it’s really not when you consider the cumulative total of all of these tasks and micro-interactions with the CMS.

Leveraging branch templates requires a holistic approach to content modeling that is best done when a platform is being constructed as it requires some forethought and consensus on standardization. That said, it’s not impossible to inspect existing structures and create supporting branch templates for use moving forward. Finding ways to accelerate repetitive tasks may just improve content author morale as much as their efficiency and free them up to do higher value work!