CMS-Connected Takes the Partner Pavilion at Sitecore Symposium
In early November, Sitecore experts, marketers, developers, partners, and customers from all over the world assembled at Symposium 2019 and CMS-Connected was thrilled to be on scene capturing many of the deep discussions from the industry’s thought leadership. We were privileged to connect with many of the attendees and bring back exclusive video from the event to share with you, our audience. You can read about our Sitecore Symposium 2019 event wrap up here.
In CMS-Connected’s first video showcase of the Orlando conference, I took to the Symposium’s Partner Pavilion at the Walt Disney World Resort Swan and Dolphin to chat with the event’s sponsors made up of representatives from Sitecore’s partner network. We were interested to learn more about why they were at the event and delve into how each of their companies’ shared value propositions aligned with Sitecore’s. We’re always keen to get to know the cooperative relationship between partners and vendors.
We also touched upon the main theme of the conference: ‘Human Connections in a Digital World’, and asked each partner to give a customer story or other anecdote about what they do to create that human connection.
Our interviews feature thirteen of Sitecore’s largest partners: Avanade, Rackspace, XCentium, Brightcove, EPAM Systems, LanguageWire, Connective DX, Valtech, Coveo, Horizontal Digital, Just After Midnight, NIIT Technologies Ltd., and ITWorx.
Why are you at Symposium?
One of the biggest take-aways from speaking with all of the partners was just how excited they were to have had the opportunity to attend Sitecore’s Symposium and how the event is revered as one of the top events in the industry. Several of the partner companies have been involved with Sitecore for a number of years, and it was impressive to hear about the synergy and longevity of their cooperative enterprises.
“Of course, this is the event of the year for the Sitecore community. Sitecore is a very important thing for us; we have over 750 people that do Sitecore work globally. We are a global partner. So, we operate in the Americas' Europe and Asia Pacific,” said David Mead, Global Head of Sitecore Competency at EPAM Systems. “[We’re here] connecting with clients, with Sitecore, seeing the latest developments and just being here and showing folks what EPAM is about.”
Multiple sponsors expressed to CMS-Connected how Symposium provided a wonderful opportunity to learn and connect. “Sitecore Symposium is one of the best places for both agencies, clients, developers, [and] marketers to really get together and learn about the platform,” Pete Navarra from Connective DX tells us. “For us, being an agency, it is one of the primary areas where we can actually promote ourselves but also bring support to our developers, bring support to our marketers, and everybody is going to learn something.”
I loved hearing the value that Sitecore’s partners get out of Symposium. They recognize that the networking and learning opportunities are endless, and they are stoked to be working together with Sitecore to offer the best customer experiences possible.
It’s the culture of collaborating and sharing insights that make this event what it is. “We have a lot of folks in our practice who are not only focusing on delivering great results for clients but also on innovating with the platform,” XCentium’s Director of Client Services, Samantha Goble explains. “So we’re here to learn from our peers as well as to share the different things that we’ve developed.”
Jasmin Guthmann, European Lead for Partner Marketing at Valtech, shared with us, “Really, it’s about smart people, [and] smart minds coming together to create smarter, better, more innovative solutions for our clients.” Personally, this statement perfectly sums up the reasons to attend Sitecore Symposium.
“Really, it’s about smart people, [and] smart minds coming together to create smarter, better, more innovative solutions for our clients.”
A Partner State of Mind
I also wanted to know more about how these companies align with Sitecore. What value proposition do they share? What is the common goal? The answers I received were revealing and insightful. It was clear that the most significant goal on everyone's list was, you guessed it, customer experience (CX). CX is arguably the foremost priority for a brand’s digital experience right now. Every customer has unique needs, and nearly every brand is strategically jockeying to find that coveted ‘sweet-spot’ for their end-users’ digital experience. Ashley Dodge, VP, Global Marketing at Horizontal Digital told us a shared value proposition between Horizontal and Sitecore would be, “you’re only as good as your worst customer experience.” That’s definitely a value that keeps CX in the dominant position of requirements!
“A very important part of digital experiences these days is personalizing that experience for every individual and I think we’ve grown up to share that value in that our enterprise customers are constantly having to compete against the likes of the Amazon’s and the Netflix’s of the world who have raised the bar on what these digital experiences mean,” says Mark Floisand, Coveo CMO. “We together help to do that for large enterprises and brands so that they are also able to deliver these highly valuable, relevant, tailored experiences using AI and data and all the technology under the hood.” Mark touches on the point that Sitecore not only recognizes their partner brand has CX targets but empowers those brands to reach them.
“Meeting clients where they are today in their customer journey and that ties in very well with what Sitecore is providing especially around their manage cloud premium product which is a product backed by Rackspace as well,” John Swanson, Global Alliances Manager at Rackspace tells me. These partnerships between Sitecore and their partners are truly essential for the end success of customers.
Beyond all of the sentiments touting delivery of the best CX, several brands expressed the imperativeness to provide the means to follow through. “We are all about enabling our customers and our partners to execute on the customer experiences that they promise their customers,” said Kris Croucher, Co-founder, and CEO of Just After Midnight. The key to great customer experience is to ensure that it is deliverable.
“You’re only as good as your worst customer experience.”
Human Connections in a Digital World
Given that the theme of the event was ‘Human Connections in a Digital World’, I was eager to learn how each partner related to that idea. Partners shared customer stories and anecdotes and expressed how their companies were making headway to having that human connection in the digital world where we all live and work.
From Mohamed Cherif of ITWorx explaining to me how they were able to help deliver streamlined communication to the employees of a massive airline, to Sean Doherty of NIIT Technologies illustrating how they were able to drive personalization for a global insurance firm — internally and externally — everyone's stories were unique and demonstrated the human connection.
Many of the partners had moving stories related to healthcare. Avanade, Connective DX, XCentium, and Rackspace all shared stories about how technology has assisted its clients in the healthcare space — specifically helping patients in various ways. I found these stories so touching. It’s incredible when this industry makes a demonstrable difference in people's lives. It is truly what CX is all about.
XCentium and Rackspace are both involved with The American Heart Association, and both were committed to raising awareness and funds for the cause at Symposium. The American Heart Association had a presence at the event with a CPR simulation race that donated every time someone participated. Rackspace was also donating $1.00 to the cause every time someone came up to talk to the Rackspace crew at their booth to reach a donation goal of $3000.
Naturally, the partners at Sitecore Symposium want to bring a human connection to their end customers, but it culminated with everyone at the event connecting on that human level and collaborating to bring success moving forward. EPAM’s David Mead encapsulated the belief by saying, “being here in person, I mean, is totally human connection and that’s really the reason to be here. Everyone gets to see each other [and we] get to hear from clients... and really just hear what people's challenges are and how we can help solve them.”