DX Summit 2016 attendees
DX Summit 2016 attendees work on taking practical digital strategies back to their organizations. PHOTO: Robert Levy

In my four years covering the digital customer experience space I've listened to tales from business leaders, marketers, CIOs, CMOs, integrators, engineers, analysts and co-workers, and I've arrived at one universal truth.

Poor digital customer experience is an epidemic. And it will bring down the largest of companies no matter their bankroll.

"Today's organizations are finding it difficult to get a handle on just how complex digital transformation can be," CMSWire researchers wrote in their second annual Digital Customer Experience Survey released last year. "The results of [the 2016] survey reveal that, although most companies understand the importance of digital transformation, many are just beginning to grasp the scope, perhaps prompting them to re-evaluate where they fit on the transformation curve."

Experience Era

We’re in the experience era. Follow-through is expected on promises. Prompt service is a mandate. Disconnected experiences are cause for outrage. 

After all, if we’ve got amazing technology to connect with our friends and family, why can't businesses connect with us on such an intimate level, too?

Last year, I documented my frustrations with poor digital customer experience following my own negative experience with my cell phone provider. 

That awful experience now defines that company for me. I couldn't care less that my phone is great, gets awesome service, allows me to work on the road and lets me plan my Little League practices, all while listening to a good dose of Hall & Oates when the time is right.

But it's that poor experience that still dominates my narrative about that company. Whenever someone asks me about my cell phone provider, I go directly there: reliving the dark days of poor CX.

Talking DX

But hey, there's an upside here — getting digital experience right is a passion for many of our industry's brand leaders, practitioners, analysts and vendors. We've no shortage of inspiration and conferences are a great way to tap in.

As we hurtle past the halfway point of 2017 (yikes, already?), here are five conferences — including our very own DX Summit 2017 — that should figure prominently on your fall calendar: 

Content Marketing World

Cleveland, Ohio Sept. 5 to 8 (conference site

The first reason to attend Content Marketing World? To get a glimpse of Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi’s trademark bright orange suit during his keynote.

The conference grew to 4,000 attendees last year. This year, organizers are touting the chance to network with some of the world’s greatest minds in content marketing. It will feature more than 120 workshops and sessions on strategy, integration, measurement and more.

More than 225 speakers will be on hand, including Linda Boff, chief marketing officer at GE, Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “The Underground Railroad,” and Casey Neistat, American film director, producer and activist YouTube vlogger.

Joe Pulizzi

Inbound 2017

Boston, Sept. 25 to 28 (conference site

The first cool thing about Inbound? Michelle Obama will be there. HubSpot, a marketing automation provider based in Cambridge, Mass., will once again host the marketing conference that has become a rite of fall. 

HubSpot has promoted the inbound marketing concept, which discourages “spray and pray” marketing tactics like mass emails. But Inbound has become a learning event that goes way beyond just HubSpot customers. In fact, Inbound brought nearly 20,000 to Boston in 2016. 

Inbound organizers promote the opportunity to consume content, get educated, network and take in some outstanding entertainment. 

Speakers this year will include Brené Brown, professor, author, TED speaker and Oprah favorite, Piera Gelardi, co-founder of Refinery29, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love," which spent 187 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and became a hit movie starring Julia Roberts.

HubSpot at Inbound 2016
HubSpot headquarters at INBOUND 2016 inside the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

MarTech Boston

Boston, Oct. 2 to 4 (conference site

Scott Brinker’s conference is coming back to where it all began: Boston. MarTech debuted in 2014 in Boston with 400 attendees and now hosts more than 1,000. The aim is to make sense of marketing technology and marketing strategy in an overwhelming MarTech world.

Brinker is the co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, a marketing apps creation and testing platform. He's also editor of Chiefmartec.com and the author of "Hacking Marketing," a nontechnical guide to managing marketing with a new generation of “digitally native” practices and frameworks. 

“MarTech is a tech conference for marketers and marketing conference for technologists,” conference organizers said. “Management, as a discipline, is an integral and essential part of the program.”

Speakers include Anuj Agrawal, chief marketing officer of Earth Networks, Frank Bifulco, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Staples, and Rishi Dave, chief marketing officer of Dun & Bradstreet.

Forrester's CXSF

San Francisco, Oct. 19 to 20 (conference site

Sponsored by Forrester, CXSF is an event for customer experience leaders, innovators and practitioners who must grapple with emerging technologies that are “revolutionizing the practice of digital CX as we know it — including AI and machine learning, conversational interfaces, the long-promised blurring of the physical and the digital through augmented reality, and more.” 

Speakers include David Isbitski, chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo for Amazon, Harley Manning, vice president and research director for Forrester, and RJ Pittman, senior vice president and chief product officer for eBay.

DX Summit 2017

Chicago, Nov. 13 to 15 (conference site

CMSWire’s DX Summit 2017 conference kicks off its third year in gorgeous Chicago.

And might we say, this is our favorite digital customer experience conference — and not just because it's CMSWire's flagship event. This year we're featuring speakers from brands like Google, JP Morgan Chase, The Washington Post, Caterpillar, Nasdaq and the Chicago Bulls.

The conference doubled in attendance last year as DX practitioners continue to recognize the get-this-right-or-else mandate in the area of customer experience. This year, we're once again bringing together digital leaders for three days of education, inspiration and networking. 

This year's DX Summit is organized around four tracks:

  • Leadership, Vision and Culture — DX visionaries will explore the impact and expectations of artificial intelligence (AI), creating a customer-centric culture, how to build powerful VoC programs and the state and future of customer data management.
  • DX Project Success — Attendees will learn about CX operating models and roadmaps, RFP development best practices, technology procurement strategies and case studies for building teams, as well as project management among other facets of DX projects.
  • Commerce and Experience — It’s hard to deny the value of commerce in the digital customer experience era. And we’ve got sessions about trends in virtual, augmented and immersive retail experiences along with ways to model and quantify lifetime customer value.
  • Analytics, Insights and Action — Digital leaders and practitioners can advance their practical analytics skills, take a journey mapping workshop, build AI chatbots, learn how machine learning is impacting CX and talk growth hacking with ex-Twitter employees.

Speakers include Nandini Anantharaman, principal analytical lead for food, beverage and restaurants for Google, Chris Avore, product design lead at Nasdaq, and Dan Moriarty, digital director for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Come join the fun!

Diane Magers