Post Sitecore Symposium thoughts

Sitecore Symposium 2016 just ended and I’m full of inspiration, new knowledge and some ideas about the event can improve in the future.

Becoming an xDB developer

The first day I attended a workshop given by Sitecore’s Martina Welander where I learned about developing against the Xperience Database. I was very pleased and I learned very much. We also learnt about xConnect coming in Sitecore 8.3 which will unify xDB development APIs for every channel. I’m looking forward to diving into this in due time.

The Sitecore Xperience Accelerator

I’ve seen a few things that I can’t wait to dig into. The Sitecore Xperience Accelerator (SXA) is one of them. Apparently it contains some 70 prebuilt components with ready to use wireframing content which then can be exported as HTML files for designers and frontend developers to create style sheets for which then can be imported back into Sitecore. This certainly has the potential of drastically reducing the implementation time of certain types of websites.

There are quite a few things the SXA doesn’t provide, like system integration and similar stuff that cannot be prebuilt. And what about searching? And how cumbersome is it to combine an SXA site with other components that might already exist? Do those components need to be converted to work within the SXA context? Or can you mix SXA pages and items with regular Sitecore pages and items? I’ll be looking into this as soon as possible.

Helix and Habitat

When Sitecore Habitat was released a while ago it was quite groundbreaking. For the first time Sitecore had provided the community with a best practice example website. Sitecore then released the Helix website where the recommended architectural and structural principles were more thoroughly described than on the Habitat website itself.

And this is how it all ties in: Helix is a set of overall design principles and conventions for Sitecore development. Habitat is a demo website based on the Helix principles.

I can’t wait for my next greenfield Sitecore project so I can follow the Helix principles from day one, but I’m also inclined to do some refactoring on existing solutions that I work with, now that there is an official recommendation to build a case against.

Marketing + technology = true

It’s pleasing that things actually are starting to change regarding the historical conflict between marketing and IT. I have been advocating a paradigm shift for a very long  time. In short, every part of an organisation should be subject to the general goals of the organisation as a whole. Regardless of whether you sell phone cases, raise funds for orphans, provide public services or build tools for other businesses you need to make sure that every part of your organisation can assist in achieving these goals. This includes digital marketing and communication. And if marketing and communication work together with IT and everyone had a better understanding of each other, chances are that the high level goals of the organisation can be fulfilled to a greater extent. Tear down the silos, remove the prestige and let marketing and IT come together.

Room for improvement

This is my third Sitecore Symposium visit and this time it was harder than ever to choose between sessions to attend. If every session was made available online after the symposium the session choosing process would be less painful. I’ve had no indication that this will be the case though.

But if this won’t be happening then maybe there should be fewer keynotes where everyone’s attending and more time slots for in depth breakout sessions. This time there were something like ten simultaneous sessions occurring and some of them were even addressing similar issues like Sitecore Commerce for example. None of this would of course be a problem if every session was recorded and made available to the symposium attendees.

Conclusion

Sitecore really seems to be on a roll. The product is evolving quickly and manages to make things easier and more flexible for both marketers and developers. It certainly is an exciting time to be working with Sitecore and I hope to be back for the 2017 symposium in Las Vegas.

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