Part of the problem with booking X4 keynote sessions to follow icons like Sir Richard Branson and President Barack Obama, is that they are undoubtedly tough acts to follow.

But not if you’re—you know—Oprah.

(more on her incredible keynote later)

First, an admission: even after a great first day, we had room to improve the X4 Summit experience. Based on feedback from our attendees, we made adjustments particularly in how we used the space and managed the crowd.

We did our best to address that feedback in the moment. Like all our customers, we need to compete on experience — and X4 Summit is no different.

Which brings us to the first keynote, from Qualtrics’ co-founders,

Ryan and Jared Smith

You’re intentionally racing to the top with experience or unknowingly racing to the bottom without it.

In their opening discussion of how brands must manage experiences today to survive, Ryan and Jared revealed the latest XM Platform developments.

Many of those advancements are covered in more detail here, but we’ll say that the biggest applause was received for XM Directory, a single system of record to help you build rich profiles of your customers and employees by combining feedback and transactional data; and Expert Review, which uses AI to capture and alert you to bad data in your research results.

After the keynote, Ryan invited SAP CEO Bill McDermott to the stage. Bill shared his personal experience and his belief in the power of combining experience and operational data, saying that there’s nothing more important than knowing “the why” behind customer and employee touchpoints.

One organization that has grown to understand the “Power of Why” is the National Basketball Association; and next we heard from its Commissioner,

Adam Silver

We’re replicating the courtside experience using technology.

The NBA knows that despite over one billion fans worldwide, less than one percent will ever step foot inside an NBA stadium. So in Commissioner Silver’s keynote, he talked about how they must know what experiences will keep viewers’ attention at home, and for that, they are collecting experience data at every possible moment.

Up next on X4 Mainstage was Imagine Dragons’

Dan Reynolds

Never take the short route. Serve your fans in the way that’s right.

Dan talked about how in their early days, Imagine Dragons turned down a contest that could have landed them on the cover of Rolling Stone, because they knew that it would be a bad experience for their existing fans. Instead, the band carefully cultivated its relationship with those fans by personally responding to emails and inviting them to events. Their breakthrough came because of their devoted following.

And who has a more devoted following than the one,

and only,

Oprah Winfrey

Your legacy is every life you touch.

Oprah made it very clear that she came to talk about breakthroughs, and it’s safe to say that her wisdom on display was a breakthrough experience for everyone in attendance.

She talked about the importance of living with intention, illuminating through her own experiences how intention inevitably follows through to results.

She also revealed how everyone she has ever spoken with (over 30,000 interviewees by her measure) asked her afterwards, in so many words, “Was that okay?”.

One of the key breakthroughs she described was to realize that what people wanted most from her was to know that they were heard. And it was that breakthrough that allowed her, in part, to impact millions of lives all over the world.

Could there be a more fitting metaphor for experience management?

What a day, and what an event! We are so grateful for the 10,000+ attendees who came to share their experiences and to reveal the secrets behind their breakthroughs.

We’re wrapping up today with a one-of-a-kind Warehouse Party featuring a live halfpipe show from skating legend Tony Hawk and a private concert from Imagine Dragons. It’s going to be amazing.

Hope to see you here in 2020!