For the first time in Symposium history, Sitecore’s signature event of the year was brought to attendees in an all-digital format. Livestreaming to thousands all over the world, Symposium is the event I look forward to the most every year to hear digital marketers and developers share their successes, provide inspiration, and offer insights that everyone can use as a springboard into 2021.

Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill led off the festivities with her keynote, “Moments That Make Experiences”, which is also the theme for this year’s event. It’s no secret that 2020 has been an unprecedented year, with a series of challenges that no one could have predicted. As she said, our world has shifted, and we’ve all had to adapt to a new normal, both in our personal lives and for our businesses. 

“Whether it’s digital or physical, meeting these moments (for customers) is going to be the expectation as we go forward,” O’Neill said. “We’re just not going to go back to where we were before.”

Accelerating our digital transformations have become an imperative because consumer behaviors have changed, including how we bank, how we shop, and how we’re receiving healthcare these days.

As Paige noted, research is showing that 75% of people who are using digital channels for the first time say they’re going to keep on using them. Businesses are going to need to adopt a “moment to moment” mindset, delivering a CX experience that shows you understand your customers’ needs at each step.

Paige was then joined by Aaron Watkins, Sr. Director of Internet Strategy and Digital Content Marketing at Johns Hopkins Medicine, which is the No. 1 online source for coronavirus-related information. Since the onset of the pandemic, Johns Hopkins’ website traffic has increased 4x and they’ve seen a huge 370% on their social channels.

“When it comes to our content strategy, we’re really trying to meet them where they are,” Watkins said. “We want to be in the places where they’re looking for health information. And very often, we know that’s a search engine. That’s where people will turn when they have a health concern in the middle of the night, just received a diagnosis, or are taking care of a loved one. … So, our primary strategy is creating high-quality content that will perform strongly in search.”

CEO Steve Tzikakis outlines his vision

Making his first public appearance as Sitecore’s CEO, Steve Tzikakis revealed some product news. In early 2021, there will be a new version of Sitecore AI – Auto Personalization available, and it will come standard out of the box with Sitecore Experience Platform™ 10. Customers will now be able to take advantage of the innovation that brings the power of quick and simple personalization to customers, without a budget increase or long hours dedicated to the effort.

Tzikakis also spoke about the potential he sees in Sitecore, and where he wants to take the company as we continue to grow.

“Our goal is to accelerate innovation and grow our position even further in the market,” Tzikakis said. “And here’s my bold statement: we want to become the Number 1 digital experience company in the world. We want to be the undisputed leader in the content-to-commerce market … [and] we’re going to be associated with the very best digital experience and personalization this industry has to offer.”

The Power of Moments

I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Dan Heath, the best-selling author of The Power of Moments. In his keynote, Dan shared his four guiding principles for creating peak moments that create long-lasting memories for customers.

A great story he shared revolved around a little place in Los Angeles called the Magic Castle Hotel. You’d probably be shocked after you learned why travelers have ranked this rather nondescript hotel so highly on TripAdvisor when compared to the far-more recognizable brand names – the Popsicle Hotline. Kids can pick up a phone poolside and a “butler” in white gloves will deliver an assortment of popsicles on a silver tray, making this hotel unforgettable for families.

Sessions for All-Access attendees

If you were looking to get a glimpse into what Sitecore has planned on our product and innovation roadmap, then the keynote featuring Sitecore Executive VP of Product Management, Desta Price, and CTO Tom De Ridder was for you. They provided insights into how we plan to help our customer advance their digital transformation.

The dozens of breakout sessions were where our attendees could really start digging into the details, focusing on topics like business resiliency, CX, and managing content. Customers, partners, and Sitecore experts shared success stories, provided tips and advice, leaving everyone excited and ready for more on Day 2.

Speaking of Day 2, we’ll be announcing the Ultimate Experience Award winners, and you’ll definitely want to be in the virtual room where it happens for Leslie Odom Jr.’s keynote. The Tony and Grammy winning actor, musician, and star of the Broadway hit Hamilton will have a Q&A with Paige and give a special singing performance you absolutely won’t want to miss.

Zarnaz Arlia is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.