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Three Surprising Takeaways From Sitecore Symposium 2018

James Gardner

James Gardner, head of Market + Business Development for MedTouch, recently attended Sitecore Symposium 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The company’s annual gathering attracted over 3,000 developers, marketers, and others with a shared passion for Sitecore and marketing technology, including a large contingent from MedTouch.

SitecoreSymposium1As most of you know, Sitecore builds an enterprise content management system that powers thousands of websites around the world. Many, many hospitals and health systems rely on it and it’s an important part of our company’s business, too.

I’ve been to more than a few Symposiums and yet always come away impressed. It seems like every year there are more attendees, more presentations, more conversations, and more fun. This 2018 Symposium was no exception: 3,000 registrants from 53 countries attended over 100 sessions — all record levels.

CEO Mark Frost’s opening keynote set the tone. Building on the conference’s “Elevate the Experience” theme, Frost stressed that experiences are how all businesses will soon compete. While most products and services can be easily copied, experiences are much more difficult to clone. Compelling and unique experiences are thus increasingly why people select one brand over another. Frost made the obvious point that Sitecore’s role as a sophisticated digital experience management platform makes it a critical foundational tool.

In addition to Frost’s vision for Sitecore’s future, three things really stood out for me:

  1. Sitecore’s top-down commitment to diversity and inclusion. Sitecore is not alone in their struggle to create a fully diverse and inclusive community. Women developers, in particular, are woefully underrepresented. Paige O’Neill, Sitecore’s new Chief Marketing Officer, acknowledges this dynamic and has SitecoreSymposium2made clear her commitment to change. I like her candor on this topic a lot.

    SitecoreSymposium3At O’Neill’s invitation, the Symposium hosted a special luncheon with Jodi Kovitz, founder and CEO of #MoveTheDial. They’re a global movement dedicated to advancing the participation and leadership of all women in technology. Her point? There's a correlation between gender diversity and profit — making better inclusion of women not only a social good but also a business imperative.

    Kovitz rounded out her discussion with a lively panel featuring O’Neill, Mirum’s Julie Koepsell, Valtech’s Allison Abraham Simpkins, CBRE’s Rose Manjares, and O’Neill’s Sitecore colleague Francine Anthony. Time will tell, but I sensed energy in the room that I can only hope will lead to real change.
  2. Sitecore’s exciting new healthcare business team. Healthcare’s an incredibly unique industry, no less so our world of hospitals, health systems, and health plans. We appreciate its complexity since it’s all MedTouch does.

    Sitecore LogoNo surprise, I’m really excited to see Sitecore’s commitment to healthcare made formal with last week’s launch of an integrated, dedicated sales and client service team. As we jointly serve our clients, I’d expect our Sitecore partners to increasingly be smart about healthcare’s needs, conversant about its best practices, and able to keep up with its changing landscape.

    So, look for Mar Brandt, Dave Wilson, and their team to soon be immersed in what we all do every day. We’re by far Sitecore’s leading hospital implementation partner so you can imagine our excitement at seeing them commit like this! Welcome, Sitecore, to our world!
  3. Sitecore’s clever fundraiser for Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children. SickKids, as Canadians like me know it, is a beloved pediatric hospital in Toronto, Ontario. With tools powered by Sitecore, they fundraised an unbelievable $1.3B to replace their crumbling home facility. Along with a made-me-cry SitecoreSymposium4advertising campaign (here, here and here) and a brilliant offline donor relationship program, sophisticated digital experiences were a big part of the fundraising effort’s success.

    SitecoreSymposium5At Symposium, Sitecore shrewdly partnered SickKids with another client, Cannondale, to raise additional money. The offer was simple: In exchange for a few minutes of spinning on a Cannondale bike, Sitecore would contribute a generous $25. Get fit and help kids? I loved that idea and probably told 25 people to find the bikes and get riding!

    By Symposium’s end, we’d all learned about SickKids and almost 1,000 of us had tried Cannondale’s cool bikes. Better yet, $26k was raised (and then kindly matched by Sitecore) to help kids get better. Smart, very smart.

If Sitecore’s part of your marketing technology stack and you didn’t make it to Symposium this year, think about putting in on your calendar for 2019. I’ll be there and you should be, too.

P.S. I didn’t even mention the talk by MedTouch’s CEO, Paul Griffiths, and CTO, Dan Persson on agile consumer journeys in healthcare. Fortunately, since I know the presenters, I’m more than happy to share that bit of Symposium with you directly! Email or call me at (617) 553-4729 and we’ll set something up.

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