Illuminate by Cella was an exceptional experience, with 50 top digital, marketing and creative professionals, representing more than 35 different brands, joining us in Chicago at Wrigley Field to learn about what is new, now and next in the industry. Featuring keynote speaker, Rebecca Messina, and Cella’s Consulting team of subject matter experts, we all benefited from the one-of-a-kind instruction, content, panel discussions and workshops. The theme truly shined through: Lighting Up Customer Experience with Operations Excellence

Illuminate was a conference for digital, marketing and creative leaders like no other, and we loved every minute of it. If you were there, you know what we mean. Here our top retrospectives, thoughts and takeaways from Illuminate and our top three most-attended sessions.

The Future of Work: How AI and CX Are Changing Roles and Organizations

The first and one of the biggest areas of interest and discussion was The Future of Work: How AI and CX Are Changing Roles and Organizations. David Iscove and Sue Wolski, our Technology and Creative Operations principals, led an incredibly engaging session highlighting the primary takeaway that “AI and CX make human creativity and strategy even more essential, while requiring digital fluency. With the right talent approach, technology augments versus substitutes human roles.” 

As if to echo this sentiment, our Global CEO of Randstad, Sander van ‘t Noordende, recently wrote an article for Forbes on this topic explaining how AI can actually help create more role opportunities on a global scale noting, “It will affect everyone’s jobs eventually, even those we least expect it [sic]. I believe the potential for technology to change the future of work is limitless. One group of researchers already predicts that as much as 80% of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10% of their work affected by the introduction of Large Language Modules, and 19% of workers may see at least half of their tasks impacted.” To learn more, click here for a direct link to the article.

There’s a need and desire for skill enhancement across the spectrum of the digital, marketing and creative discipline. In a recent Cella poll, 68% of digital, marketing and creative professionals said they wish they had access to learning new technical skills and upskilling at work. Offering your talent base the opportunity to acquire or improve their skills  – especially AI-related learning – on the job adds value for existing team members. It can also serve as a retention tool and increase your organization’s appeal with job seekers.

Operational Maturity

Next up were the sessions that focused on understanding and measuring your Operational Maturity. Led by our Senior Consultant, Nickole Brown, work groups came together to try to discover their own Operational Maturity placement. While it was a fun working session, it highlighted the realities and the number of challenges many companies face when starting this process. A simple question about defining goals can become a stumbling block when we fully understand how it impacts the outcomes we hope to achieve. Want to see for yourself? Try our micro version here to test and discover your maturity level. In addition, view our eBook Operational Metric Maturity and Overall Operational Maturity: The Connection to gain a deeper understanding of what it means and can do for your organization.

Mastering Complexity: Unleashing Project Management Potential with Adobe Workfront

Finally, one of our most practical and well-received sessions was Mastering Complexity: Unleashing Project Management Potential with Adobe Workfront, led by our Senior Consultant Kathy Haven. One of the most actionable sessions for users of the Workfront tool, our attendees were not only able to hear up-to-date tips and tricks to make Workfront work better for them, but they were also able to speak with their peers about their challenges and concerns. Kathy brings almost two decades of experience with using and gaining user adoption specifically in the Workfront platform. Like most experience-based technologies, it is ever-changing, adopting updates that can either hurt or help, depending on how ready you are for the change and how open your team members are to adapting to those changes. 

Our key takeaway? Workfront training is not going to be a one-time thing. Kathy can provide regular refreshers on best practices and new ways of working to ensure your investment is paying dividends. Workflow tools and processes go hand in hand. As your work requests and required skill sets change, making certain your procedures in alignment with those changes will keep you ahead of the game and your operations running smoothly. You can learn more about this in Kathy’s two-part blog series, The Importance of Process Improvement.


Illuminate gave us the chance to learn together. My key takeaway is to recognize that our digital, marketing and creative industry is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up with all of it (almost!) But this is why our Cella Consulting team exists: to do the research and legwork to understand and pressure test cutting edge tools, to watch and report on how we are delivering work and the ever-updating skill sets it requires. We are always pursuing new ways to illuminate this industry with all that we discover, learn and know so you can be prepared for the future with the operational knowledge you need and the right tools to help you achieve every goal you set. You’re on a unique journey, and we’re here to help you get there.

Looking to continue your professional development? We’re always available to help you take your next step as an organization. Ready for another roadtrip?  Cella’s hosts a variety of events throughout the year, and we hope to see you at Illuminate 2024!