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Merkle recently sent a team to Sitecore Symposium, including two of our MVPs Jeff Rondeau (4x) and David Starkweather (3x). Below is a conversation between Jeff and David recapping the conference.


David: Hey Jeff, we just got back from Symposium. This was my first time attending, but you've done this a few times, how did this year stack up against previous Symposiums?

Jeff: Well, it's always fun to attend Symposium and to see what's new with the platform, but this year it was just so great to be able to meet people in person again. Having the opportunity to not only get together with our global team from Switzerland and Germany but to also connect with the Sitecore community again is a highlight of any Symposium.

David: I agree, it was great seeing that team in person and watching them receive the Sitecore Partnering Excellence Award. As a first-time attendee, it was great to put a face to a name with many of our colleagues on the Sitecore side and have some deeper conversations around the future of what Sitecore is rolling out and where they are trying to take the platform. Specifically, I loved Steve Tzikakis' 1% challenge - essentially helping marketers do more with their limited content budget (on average about 1% of their overall budget is dedicated to content). It's a great perspective for us as a service provider to help create solutions that maximize the content budget that our clients have.

Speaking of, Sitecore made some pretty big announcements with their product launch. Personally, I was really excited to hear about Content Hub One - the integration of its DAM functionality with a headless CMS and an easy-to-use interface will be a huge win for marketers. Combined with XM Cloud, this can give marketers the speed and flexibility to address customers’ needs quickly and efficiently but also the scale and ability to extend those experiences across all of their customer touchpoints. Sitecore has always been a great platform but giving business users the ability to have more control over their end-user experience is huge! Beyond the speed to market, the simplicity of the tool is going to make it a lot easier for our clients to keep those experiences up to date with fresh content. What stood out to you?

Jeff: There were a few areas that really stood out to me this year. The first was XM Cloud. This move to SaaS means we no longer have to concern ourselves with the complexities that can come with a Sitecore upgrade. Plus, if you combine this with Sitecore Experience Edge and Vercel you now have an entirely SaaS infrastructure that you no longer have to be concerned with managing and scaling. Content Hub One also stood out to me. This is another SaaS offering from Sitecore that will look to compete with platforms like Contentful in the Content as a Service (CaaS) space. If your requirements are primarily around basic content editing, content modeling, and the ability to deliver content across multiple channels, Content Hub One could be a great fit. Finally, I also thought that Connect, Sitecore's new integration platform was great. A low code / no code interface allowing you to connect Sitecore to all the different pieces of your existing technology stack will be very convenient. Plus, with over 1,000 connectors expected it should really decrease time to market. It's evident that Sitecore is not just going all in on composable but doing it with a focus on playing well with other technologies.

David: Good stuff. You know the other thing that I heard over and over again was Vercel.  I know our partnership with Vercel was announced during Symposium but in nearly all the tech-focused talks that I attended, they were talking about Vercel. Can you give me a little more insight into who Vercel is and how we use them on our Sitecore projects?

Jeff: Vercel is a platform made by the creators of Next.js and designed for Next.js applications. We've used it on multiple headless Sitecore projects and it has been a great experience for our engineering teams. Now that we are headless, we need a place to host the front end, or head, of our site. Vercel's global edge network not only hosts our site but also takes care of scaling intelligently. We are also using Vercel to take care of our front-end builds and deployments. It's as easy as develop, preview, and ship.

David: That makes sense and it’s great to hear that Sitecore is leaning into that technology the same way we are. I’m looking forward to building on our partnerships with Sitecore and Vercel to develop intelligent web experiences for the brands we work with. There are so many updates and platform relationships that will make it faster and easier for our clients to go to market.


If you are interested in seeing some of Merkle's Sitecore work in action, read about a seven-brand website transformation with Focus Brands in our latest case study.