Jackie (Jacqueline Baxter, Digital Strategist): All right everyone let’s get this party started! Welcome to our Hedgehog live chat. Today it’s all about Symposium, the biggest event of the year! Let’s start with the fun question - what is your favorite part of attending Symposium?
Una (Una Verhoeven, Senior Solutions Developer): This really is the only place where shiny shoes and sneakers get together and unique opportunity to meet people with different interest and aspects from all around the world. And of course, catching up with the usual suspects.
Sean (Sean Holmesby, Solutions Architect): Learning all the latest and greatest things.
Michael (Michael Greenberg, Head of Strategy, Sales and Marketing) : Its where the business and technical trends emerge and create the narrative for the next 12 months. Will it be headless? Or machine learning? Or Sitecore 9.1? Or SXA? It’s hard to predict which way the community will go, but this is the place to figure it out.
Jackie: That’s one of the things I find the most interesting about Symposium as well - what you THINK will be popular going in isn’t always what the community decides to elevate. And at Symposium that kind of information surfaces quickly.
Michael: Exactly. And there's also always something new that seems to come out of nowhere, usually from one of the presentations or keynotes.
Charlie (Charles Turano, Solutions Architect): I'm looking forward to seeing SC 9.1 and what the future holds for Sitecore. I'm also looking for new product ideas and new feature ideas for TDS/Razl.
Jackie: Symposium is a great place for gathering ideas like that. People are not shy with sharing their opinions. I admit, I like that they move it each year. Pretty typical with conferences but it adds a little extra excitement for me since I’m never 100% sure what things will look like.
Michael: Well, then let's hope for Paris or Bora Bora next year.
Jackie: I one hundred percent suggested Rome when asked.
Michael: I could definitely live with Rome. I know a great hotel next to the Pantheon. Great rooftop bar.
Una: We need some place with snow, for après ski events.
Jackie: We’ve got some first-time attendees too. What are you looking forward to?
Sean: Bring an extra luggage bag for all the swag you’ll be taking home.
Charlie: I agree with Sean about the swag. Whoever gets the most swag wins!! There is usually lots of good swag. I also really like meeting everyone from the community. It's a chance to see all the people who I chat with over the last year.
Leticia (Leticia Shene, Marketing Manager): Honestly, I'm really excited about seeing my coworkers speak onstage.
Michael: It’s not like we sing and dance up there.
Leticia: Oh. Then never mind.
Una: But this may be a perfect chance for Michael to showcase his dancing skills
Leticia: I'm excited to meet the people from the community that I have only admired from a far on twitter
Michael: That would guarantee this is the last time I ever speak in public.
Una: A small sacrifice for the smiles on your colleagues faces.
Leticia: I’m also excited about the swag.
Jackie: The swag is a highlight, for sure. I almost feel like I should tell people to bring an extra suitcase for the swag.
Leticia: I really am just going with an open mind looking to soak up as much info as possible. Very excited about the women in tech event.
Jackie: ME TOO!! The lineup for the lunch panel is incredibleThat one is for sure on my must list. Anybody else have must-attend presentations?
Leticia: The beer crawl. Oh wait, that’s not a presentation
Charlie: I like to see what other people are going to. I suspect the MVP conference will contain some of the better presentations. There is usually more technical detail in the MVP conf.
Jackie: Since they can guarantee our silence. Seriously though, it’s my first MVP Conference. I’ll get to learn the secret handshake and pick up my decoder ring.
Leticia: I’m interested in anything talking about Machine learning.
Sean: Whatever the Sitecore 9.1 overview talk is.
Una: I am really looking forward to hearing Colin’s and Alistair’s Cortex talks and of course, the first ever female panels.
Michael: Patrick Wallace's Personalization to Individualization talk looks interesting.
Jackie: There’s so many great presentations this year - I feel like every year the bar just goes up. I usually tell first time attendees to make a must list of their own. Anybody else have tips to share?
Charlie: Sign up for the presentations early if they have signup. Sometimes they fill up.
Sean: Sleep as much as possible. There’s not much of it available at the conference.
Una: Plan your schedule ahead and do not forget to register for the talks. There are many people and you do not want to miss your favorite session because you forgot to register for it. Socialize, do the networking and most importantly, have fun! Last but not least, try to sleep as much as possible before the Symposium, don’t say I did not warn you.
Michael: Wear comfortable shoes.
Jackie: Hydrate. And BYO band aids and painkillers.
Michael: Walk the partner floor. How they tell their stories says a lot about where the community is going, since they make up a lot of the community.
Jackie: And like Una said, it’s a great chance to network and meet more of the community. This is an event so many people go to, but technically it’s a corporate event. How would you say the community impacts Symposium?
Una: In the end, it is all really about the community. This is a great chance to get together with people which I haven’t see from the last year’s Symposium, to catch-up, to brainstorm new ideas. Ofc, I can expect tiny amounts of sleep.
Michael: I would say, though, that attendance has increased a lot in the last couple of years. So while there is still the core community, there are a lot of new folks in the Sitecore world. There's a lot for everyone to see and learn, which in turn helps influence direction. At least from what I've seen, there's a lot more marketers active at Symposium now. Where the core community is heavily weighted towards development, its more diverse now.
Jackie: I agree, Michael. It’s one of the things I like best - more of a strategy and marketing presence than there used to be, which shows that growing user base.
Sean: And it means there’s always plenty of people to catch up with.
Leticia: Anything that I should absolutely NOT miss??
Michael: The closing keynote usually focuses on the product roadmap. I keep missing it, and I'm always mad that I do. This year I will absolutely make it. (edited)
Leticia: Besides the sessions do I need to register for anything or do I just show up?
Jackie: For the conference wide events (like the party and the beer crawl) you just show up with your badge. But you MUST have your badge. I think I slept in mine last year so I wouldn’t forget it.
Charlie: Don't forget your conference badge when going to the party. It's your ticket into the party. The evening party is always fun. Not sure what it is going to be this year.
Jackie: It’s at Universal Studios. Probably going to be wild.
Leticia: Anything special to pack besides aspirin? Do I need an evening gown?
Jackie: Yes. Bring one. I beg you
Una: Naaaah, you need to dance comfortable in something
Jackie: Last but not least...anybody want to hint at Hedgehog surprises we’re bringing to Symposium?
Leticia: Ooooh, swag!
Una: There are plenty of surprises and I am not allowed to own a single of them. Not fair…
Michael: Hmmm. Not without giving something away. But assuming that hedgehogs are involved is a safe bet.
Jackie: I think it’s safe to say that stopping by our booth and following us on Twitter and Facebook is a solid plan.
Michael: Given there are more marketers than ever at Symposium, its only fair that they have product to check out now too.
Jackie: We’re all about content authors this year, aren’t we? Good for us!
Michael: Why should developers get all the cool toys?
Jackie: A question I ask daily. And that concludes our live chat. See you all in Orlando!