Ascend 2019 has come to a close. Learn from the Diagram team the top takeaways and key insights from the conference.
With new venue, even more attendees, and an improved experience, Episerver’s Ascend 2019 conference has come to a close. The largest Ascend to date, with over 750+ attendees, offered 7 session tracks from Product and Labs, to Developer and Marketing and Strategy.
This was our 10th year sponsoring Ascend (formerly Ektron's Synergy) and this seven Diagrammers "ascended" upon Miami to learn, meet people at our booth, connect with the Episerver community and of course, get our groove on at the final night party.
This year, we were especially honored to sponsor the first Women's Lounge, which offered attendees a quiet place to recharge, catch up on work and meet other people in a more intimate space. Diagram sponsored the lounge, and rather than give out swag, donated $10 for each person who went to the lounge to Girls in Tech, a global non-profit that works to put an end to gender inequality in high-tech industries and startups.
Diagram was also incredibly honored to be recognized for our work on Shoup Manufacturing as the winner of the 2019 Episerver Web Award winner for Best Lead Generation and Nurturing campaign. For Shoup, we built a custom connector to combine data from Episerver's eCommerce platform and the HubSpot Marketing Automation to generate a personalized email marketing and workflow strategy to increase conversions.
Our very own Chris Osterhout gave two presentations this year: "10 Ways to Spend More Time Innovating Your Digital Experiences" and "How to Leverage Abandoned Carts in Episerver Commerce to Increase Revenue". If you'd like to see the decks, we'd be happy to share them.
Here's what the team has to say about their experience at Episerver's Ascend 2019.
Bill Casey, CEO
"Ascend is an event we always look forward to attending. It’s a chance to get up to speed on the latest and greatest platform news and reconnect with business colleagues and friends we’ve met throughout the years. This year was an exciting glimpse into the 2020 Epi roadmap that includes new features and functionality and a focus on growing the platform in an increasingly competitive field. Users and partners alike should have come away with confidence that Episerver is continuing to prove that they are a major force in moving the CMS industry forward and redefining how the platform is viewed and used. We’re looking forward to attending Ascend again next year and seeing what else is in store for Episerver and the world of CMS."
Dennis Kardys, Design Director
From a designer/developer standpoint, the two sessions that stood out most to me were Deane Barker's keynote "Content is the Currency of Human Connection" and Quan Mai's hand-on lab "CMS & Commerce Performance Optimization Challenge". Deane's session highlighted the fundamental importance of content in connecting people (and businesses) with their customers. With content in the starring role, he revealed how design, technology, and CMS all play a valuable, but auxiliary, role. In Quan's lab, he provided the developers with functioning code and a timer that showed how long it would take the feature to load in a browser. He then asked the participants to try to identify the antipatterns, optimize the code, and improve the load-time. It was an informative session, but also fascinating to watch how the many developers in the room solved the challenge differently (and to varying degrees). Overall the conference was a great opportunity for me to meet people from other organizations who manage, design, or develop websites built on Episerver.
Steve Stanley, Development Team Lead
Being my first time at Ascend I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised on the amount of content provided in all the sessions. I found the labs to be most beneficial as they allowed me to see and experiment with different approaches to complicated situations we encounter everyday. One that I'd like to highlight is Robust & Realtime: An Approach to External Content Replication in Episerver by Jacob Jones, a Lead Episerver Developer.
Normally when I pull content in from a feed I will do it real-time or via a custom content provider. Both of which require a custom strategy when the feed is unreachable. But for content that is simple, one way replication really shines is that the content is stored directly in Episerver and always available.
Chris Osterhout, SVP of Strategy
It's really difficult to compare Ascend 2019 to previous years because the conference this year took things to a whole other level. The product roadmap for Episerver is as strong as ever and the implementations of the platform showcase compelling reasons to take advantage of the entire toolset. Leaving the conference left me more excited than ever about the possibilities for our clients using the Episerver platform.
What I got out of the EMVP Summit
As an Episerver Most Valuable Professional (EMVP), I was invited to attend the EMVP Summit that took place the days following Ascend 2019. As one of only 57 EMVPs in the world and one of only 18 EMVPs that reside in the United States, I was honored to attend this event. At the summit, I was joined by 33 of my fellow EMVPs including members from Microsoft and the Episerver product team. While the context and content of the summit are strictly under NDA, I am happy to share that Episerver has some very exciting and ambitious plans that will continue to excite and evolve its customers' digital strategies.
Denise Baker, Account Strategist
This year’s Ascend was particularly exciting for me. Not only was this the first year attending the event as part of the Diagram family, but also this was the first time I have ever had the honor of being a part of a team that won an Episerver award. While I could do without the stage and spotlights, I was elated to be on stage with an award winning team of digital leaders in this industry as well as a few of the best clients I could hope for from Shoup Manufacturing. The Ascend conference is exciting because not only do you get to see many familiar faces and network with fellow experts on providing stand out digital experiences, but you also have the opportunity to learn more about topics such as driving great experiences online, using personalization to improve ROI, as well as where Episerver is going in this fast paced environment.Not to mention all of this is happening in the beautiful Miami Florida! The only thing that would have made this conference better would have been seeing more of our clients down there. There is always next year so make sure to put it in your budget!
Jonna Roberston, Account Strategist
There were quite a few sessions dedicated to discussion Personalization strategy. My key takeaway is that before you take the "Personalization Plunge," consider these three things:
1. At what stage in the Digital Agility Model is your organization? If you are in the crawl stage, you might have some groundwork to do before you can tackle personalization. For example, you may need to work to join or migrate your siloed customer data into a single source of truth.
2. If you are ready, what are your clear goals for personalization and do you have a solid strategy in place to support them?
3. What are the Episerver tools you need to accomplish these specific goals? Episerver offers a broad range of products to support personalization, so it’s important to understand the capabilities of each, before you dive in. Ask your implementation partner about what is the best fit for your organization.
If you'd like to learn more details about the product roadmap and other information shared at this year's Ascend, we'd love to chat. You can use our online chat or schedule a call.
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