Symposium 2018: Empowering Women in Technology and #movethedial

Another Symposium under the belt.  For me, this was the best one yet. The content of the sessions I attended were decent (see other post) but the bonding was my big takeaway.

Women in Digital #movethedial luncheon

The Wednesday luncheon was extra special.  The stage was owned by 6 well-spoken, smart, inspiring women.  However, they weren’t the only actors in the room.  At one point during the session, the panel called out to the men in the audience to thank them for attending.  It appeared that there was perhaps one man per every two to three tables.  (Thank you for attending!!)  I was taken aback when I realized how different the energy of the room was.  This was the polar opposite ratio that you’d expect at a tech conference and I finally felt like I truly belonged.  It’s now apparent to me that my gender somewhat drives my confidence in my career interactions; I hadn’t realized this before.  I’ll save my musings and stories for the Women In Sitecore blog that is coming soon, led by Amy Winburn.

Elevate your career experience: Empowering women in technology

I met some fabulous women at this year’s conference. We initially ‘met’ (virtually) over the summer after the Women In Sitecore panel session was approved but getting to hang out with them, see them in sessions, in the hallways, and at the parks was special for me.  For once I felt the kinship that I had seen by others at other Symposiums.  We had practiced our timing and words several times and each time, at different points each practice, I was moved to the point of tears, including during the session. I had always figured that other women MUST be experiencing the same trials and tribulations as me but it seemed awkward to reach out.  Again, I’ll be writing more about my past experiences and bonding in the upcoming Women In Sitecore blog.


Men and women both, please consider contributing and learning with us in the Sitecore Slack community channel:  #womenofsitecore.

My Symposium 2018 Takeaways and Sketchnotes

This symposium was a different one for me.  The sessions dedicated to women and the session LED by women were truly inspiring.  Also, I tried a different note-taking technique this year, sketchnoting.  See my previous post.  Here are my sketchnotes and some quick takeaways from each session:

The Cortex Engine:  Process at Scale

“Cortex is to Sitecore processing like xConnect is to xDB.”

Cortex is a set of components used to gather large amounts of data and process it via machine learning into marketing-ready information.  It uses tasks (distributed tasks and deferred actions–lower priority) to do the processing that is normally done manually by a marketing team.

A big takeaway from this session is that you’ll need a data scientist to provide direction to the developer to fine tune the Cortex model and then to be able to consume the processed data. Cortex will be available in Sitecore 9.1.

cortex engine

Where Machine Learning Meets Social #ThinkYouKnowMe

In an age where many details about individuals are at our fingertips, it’s important not to overrate what you have on hand.

In this session, my big takeaway is that the static demographic info provided by social media is not always the smartest dataset to be used for personalization.  This creates a broad stroke reach which is the opposite purpose of personalization.  Gather data only after the user converts on a goal and look at keywords and tags, not the demographics of the person.

machine learning

.NetCore and Sitecore 9.1 architecture

In this session,  we learned the goal of the Sitecore 9.1 architecture, which has components built in netcore, is to make Sitecore have smaller, testable components that leverage netcore whenever possible (like for diagnostics and logging … why re-invent the wheel?)

The new Sitecore Host lays the groundwork for a single way to start Sitecore applications.  It’s lean, versatile and has a low-hosting cost.

Sitecore Host is currently the base for the following three 9.1 components … Sitecore Identity (which controls everything auth-related including federated auth features), Horizon (drag-n-drop tool to eventually replace our friend the Experience Editor), and Universal Tracker (which gathers and quickly processes large amounts of mobile data before it eventually ends up on xDB).

Netcore and 9.1

Universal tracker and mobile analytics

Sitecore Universal Tracker – a new approach for tracking interactions in mobile.

Sitecore Universal Tracker is built to quickly process the huge amounts of data coming from mobile devices prior to it eventually going into xDB.  It alleviates some of the processing that xConnect does and does not use Web Tracker. You can configure channels that have a pre-filter (get rid of garbage data), enrichment (where the action is), and post-filter (further filtering).  Performance/pass rate of interactions/second goes up with DTU units.

Sitecore 9.1 Universal Tracker will include the SDK and Analytics recording.  Personalization will be included in a future release.

Universal Tracker

How to go faster: When Sitecore squadrons feel the need for speed

How to structure your dev squads to maximize collaboration and productivity.I had another session in mind for this timeslot but the speaker of this session, Adam Simmonds, was wonderfully complimentary on my sketchnotes so I simply had to attend his session. And I’m glad I did!

It was great to see what was accomplished on Open Universities Australia’s site to speed up deployments.  My biggest takeway was the documenting done in the value stream mapping session that reveals the bottlenecks.  I can apply that today.

Clean up -> Reduce -> Automate

need for speed

Sitecore Symposium 2018 – 3 Opening Keynotes

So you didn’t attend Symposium but wanna find out about the Keynotes?

I tried my hand at sketchnoting for the conference and below I’ve included three notes:  Mark Frost CEO Sitecore, Paige O’Neill, CMO Sitecore, and Deane Barker, author of ‘Web Content Management: Systems, Features, and Best Practices’

Mark Frost CEO Sitecore – Opening Keynote

Main takeaways:

  • “Elevate the Experience”
  • Acquisition of StyleLabs – asset management tools
  • Integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Advanced personalization with Cortex
  • Use JSS (Sitecore JavaScript Services) for faster time to market
  • Sitecore to adopt a public charity each year; this year, Canada’s SickKids
  • Women In Technology was a big theme for the year; stay tuned for a separate post on the topic

Mark Frost keynote


Paige O’Neill – CMO Sitecore, Opening Keynote

Three case studies with companies optimizing Sitecore:  Volvo (“Cars as a Service”), Cannondale (personalized bike recommendations based on habits), and SickKids (Award for best Acquisition Campaign after making their donation mobile-friendly with unique, personal follow-up).


Deane Barker @gadgetopia – Technical Keynote

This was primarily a discussion on why software continues to get bigger and is it possible to shrink it?  Of course it is but not without losing functionality and alienating at least some of the audience.  Going headless (separating the presentation from the product), means faster time to market but at what price?  Is this trend going to stick around?

For now, there are two directions software can take:  continue growing the existing tool and add headless capabilities OR begin with headless and gradually add additionally desired features until you have the full tool.

Technical Keynote - Headless CMS