An inspirational day. Quality people with great stories to tell. Time well spent. These are some of the ways that hundreds of marketers in many different roles and companies reflected on our inaugural European marketing event. I was delighted to see such high energy and lively conversation taking place throughout the day, from presentation rooms to the exhibition hall and across all of our digital communication channels. Be sure to watch this fantastic highlight video of the day’s events.

A look inside

Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill set the tone with her opening keynote address, which focused on the challenges facing marketers who are driving the digital experience. Drawing on research conducted by Sitecore and our partners over the last few years, she covered several common roadblocks that interfere with digital transformation efforts — and suggested ways to get past them.

The entire audience participated in this keynote session, responding to several questions during the talk. Live-poll respondents cited “access to data” and “unsure where to begin” as their top challenges to personalization. They also built a real-time word cloud to describe the state of their organizations’ content. Not surprisingly, words such as “average,” “slow,” “messy,” “chaotic,” and “unstructured,” and “disorganized” dominated the poll, but not a single positive description was shared!

After this reality check, Wired magazine’s Executive Editor, Jeremy White, took us into the future of e-commerce and reminded everyone that although AI and machine learning technology are still in the early stages, change is coming fast. Citing examples of next-gen digital assistants, chatbots, and blockchain applications, White discussed the rise of the Chief Digital Officer, the disruption of mundane products, and the rapid shift toward mobile internet. Companies overlook these fail-fast developments at their own risk, he said. Leaders are wise to bring new technologies into their businesses, if only in basic ways at first.

Over lunch, my colleague Francine Anthony, Senior Director of Global Partner Marketing, moderated a thought-provoking panel discussion with several Sitecore MVPs on the many ways in which diversity fuels innovation and drives business results. The event then broke into three separate tracks that went deep into the topics of Personalizing with Precision, Connections Driving Commerce, and Solving the Content Crisis.

In good company

A number of longtime Sitecore customers and trusted partners participated in the event. Senior Product Manager Rowan Holloway spoke of the digital transformation journey at Volvo Cars. Daniel Fulbrook, head of digital marketing for real estate powerhouse Carter Jonas, shared a perspective on how the company implemented a bold new personalization strategy to drive audience engagement and customer satisfaction. And Rosie Slater-Carr, CIO of British Red Cross, revealed the amazing story behind her organization’s new donations platform, powered by Sitecore.

Avanade’s Pam Maynard, President of Product and Innovation, shared her views on bringing women to the table in a fireside chat leading up to the diversity panel. Later in the day, Avanade CX Strategist Amir Dehnad spoke on a special GDPR panel. Valtech’s SVP for North America, Allison Simpkins, rounded out a full day’s agenda with a closing talk on “Adapting to the Ever-Changing Consumer.”

Many of these conversations that started onsite continued to develop in digital channels. #SitecoreEXP was trending locally the day of the event, reaching 2.6 million impressions and generating some 600 Twitter posts. “Lots of insight into the arts of #ContentMarketing, #ContentStrategy and #WebContentManagement,” tweeted one attendee. 

Sitecore’s marketing team took the opportunity in London to unveil a new look and feel, and so far, our refreshed brand is making a strong impression. Like many of our customers, we have embarked on a digital transformation journey that began with re-examining how we tell our story to the marketplace. We wanted every part of our brand — the visuals, the words, and the actions — to show how we create human connections in a digital world. In the coming weeks, you may notice a bolder, more modern, and simplified look rolling out across all our channels of communication.

During this exciting event, I was reminded that now more than ever, customer experience is mission critical to all organizations. As marketers, we are on the frontlines of radical change, and it’s our shared responsibility to stay on top of the trends, make quick progress, and share the results. Let’s continue the conversation.

Ready to advance your marketing to the next level? Learn what else transpired during Sitecore Experience 2019.

Zarnaz Arlia is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore