Apple design chief Jonathan Ive once said “It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.” This quote kept popping up in my head during this year’s PipelinePro’s Insight 2018 show in Denver. Industry events tend to blur together at bit at this time of year with the grandeur, aspirational visions, and product pitches ringing in our ears. But Insight is truly a user conference, grounded in the practical and focused on moving the needle in ways that make their business quantifiably…better.
Insight was much larger in year two than it was in it’s inaugural year, with a solid mix of educational sessions, networking, and vendor exposure (hey, someone has to pay for all of those happy hours and mimosa bars). What’s notable about Insights is the focus on real-world stories over “art of the possible” types of strategic abstraction. Hearing real stories from the mouths of the customers, integrators, and developers lends a gravity and immediacy to the topics. They can be done now because people are demonstrating that they can be done now. The intimate format helps further these discussions and ideas as people connect and share more in-depth stories, another benefit of a user conference.
McFadyen Digital was proud to exhibit at Insight 2018 and present about migrating from ATG to OCC and how Alpha Industries re-platformed to to OCC in only 4-months. While we do enjoy leading a session, we also had the privilege of attending many of the other sessions presented by talented Ecommerce thought leaders. From our lens, here were the highlights of Insights 2018:
1) Stories from Ecommerce Practitioners
Whether it’s learning about Vermont Country Store’s journey to the cloud, occasional warts and all, or hearing from Lakeshore’s Gerald Heath about how to build a fully functional, SEO-optimized single page architecture on top of ATG, these are the battle-tested lessons that make user conferences like this so valuable.
2) Genuinely Educational Sessions
With 19 all-purpose sessions, 8 each focused on ATG and Endeca, and 6 focusing on Oracle Commerce Cloud, there was something to appeal to every attendee. The best part about these sessions, speaking to the prior point, is that most were rooted in practical applications of themes that can be applied immediately. At the two sessions McFadyen presented, the Q&A parts were some of the most interesting conversations we got to have because they were related to recent, real life experiences. I found this to be consistent at all of the sessions…the content was great, but the resulting conversation was even greater.
3) Evolving Conversations About The Cloud
This was a marked difference between Insight in 2017 and 2018. Conversations about Oracle Commerce Cloud were far more frequent this year and far more in-depth. Last year there was a good amount of skepticism among the site operators we spoke with regarding OCC and commerce in the cloud in general. This year the conversations were around the cloud as an inevitability and instead of speaking about what OCC doesn’t have, we were talking about what it does have and how the feature parity gap between ATG and OCC has dramatically narrowed in the past year (and should continue to do so with Oracle’s aggressive commitment OCC iterations). Things like out-of-the-box subscription and telco functionality (coming in 2019), and current advanced features such as experiments and audiences, used to be expensive and time consuming endeavors, now they’re built-in and drag-and-drop easy to use. ATG to OCC migrations will only heat up in the coming year+, and we look forward to helping many of you along this journey.
4) Access to Oracle Leaders
We all know that sometimes it’s hard to get specific attention from the leaders of platform and technology companies, as their time is in high demand. There are also a lot of things that individuals wish they could say in public forums that the realities of corporate communication simply don’t allow. The openness and willingness to collaborate that we’ve witnessed from Oracle’s leaders at Insight shows has been admirable, as they happily provide answers to questions that may not receive elaboration in a large group setting. This is why Oracle’s participation in the PipelinePros organization is so vitally important. It shows commitment to both the site operators and partners, and it provides us with personal access and unique relationship-building opportunities. We thank everyone from Oracle who attended and participated and we know that the other show participants and sponsors feel the same way.
5) The Event Itself
We’d be remiss if we didn’t call out the PipelinePros staff and board for putting on such a well-organized event. Just as David Lyle earned his Championship Belt as the outgoing President of PipelinePros, Anna, John, Jesse, and the entire event leadership and staff made Insight the positive experience that we all got to enjoy. Special shout-out for the Mimosa and Bloody Mary bar. It’s always nice when event organizers know their audience 😉
I’d like to close by also thanking our fellow exhibitors and sponsors for providing the financial backing to make this a reality, and of course, the site operators who attend and are the lifeblood of this user community. Be sure to check out our new white paper, Upgrading Oracle Commerce (ATG): 11.3 Platform Upgrade or Move to the Cloud?, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.
CMO & Marketing Practice Lead