When I decided to write a recap of Symposium 2021, I anticipated that I would probably have some trouble deciding what I wanted to include. Little did I know just how difficult that was going to be. Symposium’s theme this year was “Unforgettable Digital Connections,” and over the past two days, I certainly experienced a lot of them! Here are just a few select highlights:

Hearing from the Sitecore team

After seeing them almost exclusively via videoconferencing for the past 18 months, it was great to be live on stage again with some of my Sitecore colleagues and in front of a small group of Sitecore employees in the London studio. As our CEO Steve Tzikakis said, “Experience is everything!” and he laid out his bold vision to keep innovating so Sitecore can continue to help our customers better engage with their customers both physically and digitally.

Since last year’s Symposium, we’ve doubled the size of our research and development organization, tripled the size of our customer success organization, expanded our partner ecosystem, and added four world-class technology companies to our family with the acquisitions of Boxever, Four51, Moosend, and Reflektion.

Later, Sitecore Chief Product Officer Dave O’ Flanagan followed up on this theme by announcing the launch of Sitecore Experience Manager Cloud — the first entirely cloud-native content management system that offers the design flexibility, integration-friendliness, and authoring experience for business users to create and deliver personalized digital experiences. With this new addition to the Sitecore Digital Experience Platform (DXP), we now offer the first SaaS offering of its kind that reimagines how content, experience orchestration, commerce and analytics support modern enterprises.

Guest keynotes

This section could be an entire blog post on its own; there is just far too much ground to cover. Let me just say that my conversation with Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John was nothing short of remarkable. Bozoma, aka “Badass Boz,” is a true trailblazing marketer and talking CMO-to-CMO with her was as much fun as it was enlightening. We discussed a range of topics, including ways to tap into the power of empathy, why it’s imperative for marketers to continually stoke their creativity, and how now, more than ever, we all need to bring our authentic selves to work. (Registered attendees can watch the keynote on-demand here.)

I also had an incredibly inspiring conversation with multi-platinum singer songwriter and activist John Legend. “I’m in the experience-making business,” John told me, as we discussed how he is continually adapting to new ways to connect with fans, whether that’s on digital platforms or via in-person backstage VIP experiences. Meeting John, seeing him perform, and sharing all that with the Symposium audience proved to be a great example of how the digital and physical can combine to create truly meaningful experiences.

Sitecore Experience Award (SEA) Winners and Ultimate Experience Winners.

It was also inspiring to hear from many of our SEA winners and learn more about their stories. The Sitecore Experience Awards recognize companies that use our solutions to accelerate their digital experience transformation in innovative and successful ways. This year, 12 winners were recognized from more than 140 submissions in the 2021 Sitecore Experience Awards, with three taking the top honors of Ultimate Experience Winners.

  • Aston Martin, in partnership with WPP, for developing a platform that brings together Aston Martin real estate on one platform and provides a consistent, flexible and transparent customer experience. The digital team at Aston Martin utilized Sitecore to improve three key areas: customer-first innovation, data-driven decision-making and to create a path for growth.
  • Cracker Barrel, in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, for extending its legendary hospitality through the launch of “Digital Store,” a unified experience for web, mobile web, and mobile app. Through the company’s work with Sitecore, Cracker Barrel guests can seamlessly purchase to-go food, catering, and retail, and also enjoy a streamlined in-store experience with waitlist, curbside check-in, and dine-in check payment.
  • UnitingCare Queensland, in partnership with Triggerfish, for providing upwards of 2,000 Covid-19 contact tracing check-ins per hour in healthcare facilities across Queensland through digitizing its existing manual, paper-based procedure. As one of the largest healthcare providers and charities in Australia, UnitingCare Queensland now can screen people across 150 locations, with the ability to scale further to 500 when required without affecting the customer experience.

Symposium Cares

This is one of the most special and meaningful features of Symposium for me. Each year, Sitecore makes a commitment to bring awareness to an important cause, and in the past, we have supported one non-profit at each Symposium. For 2021, we decided to support three different charities, one from each global region Sitecore serves (Americas, APJ, EMEA). This year, the charities we supported were:

  • National Wildlife Foundation (NWF), America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and over 6 million members and supporters. Its mission is to unite Americans to ensure wildlife thrives in a rapidly changing world through programming focused on conserving wildlife, restoring habitats and waterways, expanding outdoor opportunities, connecting children with nature, and addressing climate change.
  • ReachOut, Australia’s most accessed online mental health service for young people and their parents. With its trusted self-help information, peer-support program, and referral tools, ReachOut has been championing wider access to mental health support since launching its online service more than 20 years ago.
  • Refuge, a national charity committed to a world where domestic abuse and violence against women and girls is not tolerated and where women and children can live in safety. Supporting more than 7,000 women and children in England and Wales on any given day, it aims to empower them to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear. Its refuges, outreach, and community-support workers provide a range of lifesaving and life-changing services.

Sitecore will be donating $1 USD for every Symposium registration, $5 USD for every session survey completed, and will match attendee donations, giving up to a total of $10,000 USD to each organization. We appreciate everyone who helped us absolutely crush our goal, and we encourage you to continue to support these organizations throughout the year.

And of course, none of what I listed above, or any Symposium for that matter, would have been possible without the help of our sponsors and all of our partners, customers, and employees — thank you for your support in making this event such a tremendous success. I’m also grateful to everyone who attended — we had a record-breaking 10,000+ people attend either virtually or at watch parties around the globe, and I’m thrilled that we were able to share so much education, collaboration, and inspiration. Remember, if you missed a session, you can catch much of Symposium’s 2021 content in replay. Access to on-demand sessions will be available until November 7.

So, that’s a wrap on Symposium 2021. Here’s hoping that we will all be back together next year for an in-person event, but either way, rest assured Sitecore will continue to make unforgettable connections like these available digitally, as well.

Paige O’Neill is CMO at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.