The Gist

  • No Symposium. Sitecore, a digital customer experience software provider, has announced it will not hold its Symposium show this year. It will go with regional conferences tailored to meet the specific needs of different global markets.
  • On the road again. Other digital customer experience software vendors, such as Optimizely, Acquia and Uniform, are ramping up their conference plans for 2023 with bigger events, roadshows and seminars.

No Sitecore Symposium this year. What happened?

Sitecore, a 22-year-old digital customer experience software provider, returned to its signature in-person event last fall for the first time post-COVID-19. However, it’s made the move to go to an every-other-year format for its Symposium show and will return in 2024. In between, it will host a series of one-day events.

Why the big move, first made public on Twitter this month?

“Our decision to alternate Symposium with regional conferences was in response to feedback we had from our customers and partners for more targeted, regional events that were personalized and tailored to respond to specific challenges and opportunities in global markets,” Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill told CMSWire.

Is Gloomy Economy Playing a Factor?

Is this a sign of the times in an economy that has seen record layoffs in tech? Are digital customer experience vendors pulling back on signature, larger-scale events like this? It wouldn’t exactly be a shocking tale in this economy.

However, Sitecore’s O’Neill maintains the October 2022 in-person Symposium was a hit in Chicago.

“Sitecore Symposium 2022 was a huge success, and our highest performing Symposium to date, bringing together thousands of partners and customers to engage, inform and celebrate digital experience,” O’Neill said. The roadshow approach isn’t new to Sitecore: The company tested the waters last year with an “On Tour” events in Dubai, London and several other cities “which proved to be hugely popular,” O’Neill added.

The biggest benefits of the multiple-show approach are cost and relevance, O’Neill said, adding attendees will appreciate the lower cost of travel in their own geographical region. The first event will be held in London on April 24, with another to follow in the US shortly thereafter and events in the Middle East and Asia Pacific in the fall.

“Efficiencies are being sought by all companies, and it is far easier for potential attendees to travel to an event in their region rather than one across the planet,” O’Neill said. “Additionally, individual markets are at various stages in their digital experience journey. Regional events allow Sitecore to better tailor talks and customer storytelling to meet the specific needs of the market.”

Related Article: What's Behind Sitecore's Accenture Partnership?

Layoffs Hit Tech Companies

Sitecore, a private company, got a $1.2 billion private investment a little more than two years ago and is about seven years removed from a private equity investment that valued the company at $1.14 billion. Other financial news for private companies tends to only leak through employees on LinkedIn or hearsay, so it's hard to tell generally where these companies stand.

However, it's hard to escape the bad economic news in tech lately. Companies like Salesforce, Google, GitLab and Microsoft haven’t been immune to staff reductions, and tracks tech companies that have made cuts: 392 tech companies have had layoffs affecting 108,901 employees this year alone. Last year, 1,045 tech companies cut 160,997 employees.

Are digital customer experience software vendors going through some cuts? Search for layoffs (insert vendor here) on LinkedIn and some activity pops up in the arena of digital customer experience and marketing technology. So we know they're not immune, too.

Digital Customer Experience Conference Plans

Still, many vendors are ramping up conference plans for 2023. What’s going on conference-wise at some other digital customer experience vendors?

Learning Opportunities

Optimizely: Opticon and Roadshows

Shafqat Islam, CMO at Optimizely, said the company has completely different plans from last year. “In 2023, we're going bigger and leaning into conferences and events more than ever before,” Islam said. 

In 2022, Optimizely team members attended industry conferences, held events and hosted Opticon (its user conference) in San Diego, London and Stockholm. This year, Opticon will be hosted in the same cities, but it is planning for all three events to have much larger audiences. The company will be from March until May hosting a roadshow in six US cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

“While that's a lot to gear up for, in addition to those events, we plan to attend more customer events and are scheduled for appearances at dozens globally throughout 2023,” Islam said. “This may be the polar opposite of what other vendors are doing this year, but we believe that right now is the perfect time for us to invest in events to continue building our brand and generate demand for our products."

Acquia: Engage Freedom Tour Rolls Through NYC, London

Tom Bianchi, VP of corporate marketing at Acquia, told CMSWire the company is planning to continue what it started in 2022 with its Acquia Engage Digital Freedom Tour. That started in Miami last October and continues through to Paris in June. There was a stop in Chicago in November, and Acquia plans to hold shows in New York and London coming in March and May, respectively. It will take a break over the summer and then start its 2023-24 tour again in the fall. 

Engage itself started as a standalone conference earlier last decade in Boston.

“In 2022, we changed Acquia Engage to the format of a roadshow, rather than one ‘big bang’ event, to make it more accessible to customers all over the world,” Bianchi said. “We also have ‘Experience Acquia’ events, which are half-day, in-person seminars that take place in other markets. Acquia uses all of these events to showcase customer and partner stories and launch our product updates to the community.”

Uniform: Composable Roadshow Looms

Darren Guarnaccia, president of Uniform, said his team’s virtual Digital Experience Composition Assembly in November 2022 sparked numerous requests from customers, partners and prospects for more discussion forums on how to overcome the challenges posed by monolithic DXPs or solutions glue-coded together into MACH monoliths. 

“We’ve heard loud and clear that brands want to brainstorm those topics more interactively, and localized events appear to be the best way to reach that audience,” Guarnaccia said. “Given the evolving nature of the digital experience space, we felt it important to hold immersive sessions that facilitate mutual learning between us and our audience and that help brands skate over the roadblocks preventing them from efficiently delivering the experiences customers expect.”

Conference-wise, Uniform is going with a composable roadshow of in-person sessions and workshops tailored for partners, customers and prospects to foster a dialogue among digital leaders and their agencies.

“We at Uniform believe that the market for composable technology is still in its early days, with a lot of pioneering and learning still happening,” Guarnaccia said. “We seek to nurture and, to that end, have chosen key venues where much of all that is taking place.”

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