Sitecore Symposium Sessions for Seasoned Pros

The goal of assembling a list limited to six Sitecore Symposium sessions geared towards the seasoned Sitecore professional proved to be a challenging one. My list of top sessions to attend easily reached 15. With topics that cover the flavors of: professional development, community, product roadmaps, inspirational, etc., there is truly a buffet for everyone. To narrow my recommendations down to two sessions a day, I chose to select a group of sessions that would give a technical minded attendee a diverse experience that challenges them to think outside of a single team role. 

Day One

Build JSS websites with Blazor

Who Is Speaking? Corey Smith, President at Corey Smith Consulting. Gary Wenneker, Principal Architect, Macaw Netherlands. 

When Is It Happening? Tuesday, Nov. 5th at 3:40 PM in the Swan 7-10, Swan.

What’s It About? Blazor is Microsoft's latest and greatest new web development framework that enables you to build rich client-side web UIs completely in C# instead of JavaScript. Blazor allows you to leverage existing .NET libraries and share code between your client and server. Sitecore MVPs Corey Smith and Gary Wenneker will walk you through the architecture and benefits of Blazor and then showcase Blazor running on top of Sitecore's JavaScript Services -- finally bringing true .NET Core component development to the core CMS.

Why Attend? I’ve had so many conversations with colleagues that included the question “what is Blazor?” that I couldn’t leave this one off the list. With the direction of development and the mementum headless CMS architecture has generated, Blazor is more than just a blip on the radar. 
Sitecore JSS already supports popular frameworks Vue and React, but the addition of Blazor allows developers comfortable using c# to use their skills throughout the full stack.

Effective Sitecore governance, whether on-premises or in the cloud

Who Is Speaking? Kelly Rusk, Sitecore Architect at Rackspace.

When Is It Happening? Tuesday, Nov. 5th at 2:35 PM in the Swan 1-2, Swan.

What’s It About? If you cannot govern it, you do not control it… Stop runaway Sitecore applications by establishing and following a documented governance plan! Whether in the cloud or on-premises, governance -- not code -- is what holds your Sitecore application together. In this session, we will discuss the core pillars of a Sitecore governance plan, from the establishment of an ongoing “Sitecore Governance Committee” to the actual planning around critical areas such as devops, monitoring, scaling, disaster recovery, security, search, analytics, commerce, and upgrades.

We also will discuss common pitfalls and what you are missing by overlooking governance. Everyone has a role in good Sitecore governance practices… so come learn about yours!

Why Attend? If you’re attending the Symposium, you are most likely a key stakeholder with Sitecore in your organization. Often, team members work in isolation and focus on each issue at hand. Understanding system governance as a team allows a broader perspective and better long-term sustainability that is often neglected.

Day 2

Marketers' guide to getting started with Sitecore Cortex personalization suggestions

Who Is Speaking? Una Verhoeven, Managing Partner, AmpleEdge

When Is It Happening? Wednesday, Nov. 6th at 10:30 AM in the Southern Hemisphere II, Dolphin.

What Is It About? With the introduction of Sitecore Cortex, the power of machine learning is very accessible. It promises to reveal what users want, even before they know it. What are the first steps you need to take to realize this potential? This session will help you navigate the right path toward bringing machine learning capabilities into your Sitecore Cortex-enabled way of working. Learn what's needed to have Sitecore collect the appropriate data and work together with ML to give suggestions for personalizations rules you can apply. The session will be practical and packed with lessons from the field, as well as live demonstrations of Sitecore Cortex in action!

Why Attend? AI and machine learning is a common theme in many talks this year. A few years ago, this concept may have been a budding idea, or fun demo concept. Today it is more and more being built into the fabric of marketing strategy. The future is today, and I’m excited to see the many case studies this year. 

10 cool things to do with Federated Authentication

Who Is Speaking? Kern Nightingale, Principal Product Manager, Sitecore

When Is It Happening? Wednesday, Nov. 6th at 11:35 AM in the Swan 5, Swan.

What is It About? A countdown of 10 things you can do with Sitecore's Federated Authentication feature, covering basic configuration to advanced token authentication, and everything in between.

Why Attend? The Sitecore platform has a lot of tools to accommodate marketing automation and business objectives. More often then not, however enterprise companies rely on third party systems for several reasons that have to play nicely with Sitecore. When multiple platforms are used by your visitors, it is crucial to provide a seamless experience. Sitecore’s federated authentication not only helps accommodate this, but utilizing it effectively can really bolster your personalization opportunities.

Day 3

Sitecore AI: First look

Who Is Speaking? Nancy Lee, Product Management, Sitecore

When Is It Happening? Thursday, Nov. 7th at 9:40 AM in the Southern Hemisphere II, Dolphin.

What Is It About? Introducing the initial offering of Sitecore AI. Be the first to check out the newest innovations on personalization through Sitecore by leveraging machine learning and AI. Organizations in all industries are starting to take advantage of machine learning and AI to transform and optimize the customer experience on their websites by delivering on-target personalization and tailored engagement. Sitecore’s solution is the key to driving and accelerating this transformation, by providing the most cost-effective tools that are easier and better for organizations to use. In this session we also will focus on key scenarios for success from the Sitecore AI Pilot Program, with best practices and tips on implementing Sitecore AI.

Why Attend? I know this is a second session bout AI on this list. However, I would feel remised if I didn’t recommend this session. With the speed of technology advancement in the AI arena, Sitecore has embraced the value here and will be extending its AI capabilities. I’m excited to see what they have in mind as well as best practices and tips for going to market. 

How male allies can support balance for better

Who Is Speaking? Allison Abraham Simpkins, SVP, North America at Valtech. Matt Fairchild, VP of Technology Delivery at Mirum. Rich Foehr, Chief Legal Officer at Sitecore. Ali Olson, VP Project Management Office, Horizontal Integration. Udo Waibel, EVP Engineering, Sitecore.

When Is It Happening? Thursday, Nov. 7th at 10:45 AM in the Southern Hemisphere I, Dolphin.

What Is It About? Research shows there’s a sure path to improving innovation and performance: increased diversity. Diverse people bring new experiences and perspectives to frame issues and find solutions. It’s in everyone’s interest to champion diversity, but the underrepresented often carry the burden, which impedes organizational progress. It’s time for men to step up, and this requires difficult skills like attentive listening and humility. Join Sitecore Chief Legal Officer Rich Foehr for a fireside chat with Allison Abraham Simpkins SVP, North America at Valtech; Matt Fairchild, VP of Technology Delivery for Mirum; Udo Waibel, EVP Engineering for Sitecore; and Ali Olson, Director Project Management at Horizontal Integration. Hear their real-world examples and practical tips for being a better male ally.

Why Attend? This session struck a chord with me. Many of my daily meetings and interactions are primarily with the male species. And while many of my colleagues and key player are female, the disparity in numbers is quite obvious. The digital world requires diverse and out of the box creative thinking, so diversity on a team is important. 


As with any conference, attendees who want to walk away with something absolutely will. Here are a few considerations as you’re finalizing your journey:

  • When planning your track through the sessions, don’t be afraid to think outside of your own development and consider what may be valuable to the wider team. Consider a divide an conquer approach with other team members.
  • Going to sessions that are in your expertise may not stretch your thinking as much as a topic that applies more indirectly. 
  • Know your aptitude for picking up specific types of content on your own. If there is a topic that you’re confident you can research on your own, pick another topic. Just make sure to give yourself a task later to look into your initial interest.