Sitecore Symposium 2018: Top 4 Things I Learned as a Speaker on Sitecore Experience Commerce

And then it was over. You can hear the applause from the audience and the shifting seats as some begin to walk out while some begin to approach. The endless congratulations soon came after and followed by the pats on the back. Weeks of preparation for our talk titled “Cooking Up Smart Product Recommendations” and it was all over less than an hour.

It was my first time to talk at Sitecore Symposium and here are 4 things I have learned during that experience.

Lesson #1 – Strength in Numbers: Always best to work in pairs

Let’s face it. We all have our regular work to take care of and preparing for something as big as a Sitecore Symposium talk needs and demands quality time. Splitting up the work with a partner is very ideal as it not only lessens the pressure of getting it done, but it also improves the quality of the output by giving you the chance to focus on specific areas of the talk.

On some occasions, having a demo piece raises the workload even higher as it requires one to put in software development and QA time. Having a buddy to brainstorm with and work with eases that part and improves the chances of conducting a successful talk.

Figure 1: Picture of the author and his co-speaker Kautilya Prasad at the start of the talk

Lesson #2 – Manage Expectations: You can never really predict who your audience is

We prepared to have mostly business users and marketers in our talk as advised. However, a lot of technical people showed up. Not that it we think that the talk was a failure, we just think that the audience wanted more of the technical nitty-gritty than what we were prepared to give at that point in time.

Lesson learned here is that we must find the balance always and prepare to adapt as needed depending on the turn out. It would also be great if one can manage the expectations right off the bat in the talk’s description. That would give any attendee an idea of the level of technical depth the talk is going to have.

That way, it will save time for people who thinks its not a fit for them and save us the grief of seeing the eyes of lost audiences. Yes, you can see it in an audience’s eyes if they are lost during the talk or conversation…not a pretty sight.

Lesson #3 – Make it Enjoyable: Add Humor

One of the most important ingredients of any talk is to make it enjoyable. And nothing can make it more enjoyable than adding a dash of humor. Please take note that I said, “a dash” and not “a gallon” since it can be a double-edged sword. Too much and too often would be distracting and too little can make it boring. Always go with Goldilocks’ rule of “just right”.

Figure 2: Presentation slide by the speakers in an attempt to inject humor

Lesson #4 – Sitecore Experience Commerce is Ready for Prime Time

One key takeaway during the talk is on how much potential Sitecore Experience Commerce has. Not only is it super flexible that we can build a lot of things on top of it in terms of plugins but that there is so much room nowadays for innovation and creative extensions.

Sitecore has really created a very nice framework around it and only your imagination is the limit at this point.


Talking during Sitecore Symposium 2018 is one of the best things that I have done in my professional life. It was an honor to talk about making Sitecore Experience Commerce stores smarter and learning a lot of things along the way.

Learning and finding takeaways is a necessary process so we can evolve and do better in the future. We hope to apply these learnings in more Sitecore Symposium talks in the future.

References: Talk presented during Sitecore Symposium 2018 in Orlando, FL with Sitecore MVP Kautilya Prasad.