Adobe Promises Software Change is Good EVOLVE14

You commit to a new software platform for your business. You migrate your content. You customize solutions to support it. And then the vendor makes some big changes. 

Sound familiar?

Today, users of the Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) got a glimpse into how that happens from Adobe group product manager Cédric Hüsler, who shared the company's investment rules for software development. 

Here's how that works. The rules recognize that customers make three investments: buying the software, moving content and customizing apps. "We can break any of those, but never more than one," said Hüsler. 

The Price of Progress

"If you don't break any of the three rules, you lose and your customers lose," he said. "There has to be a balance between, yes, we need to make changes and we want to take everyone along for the ride."

With that, Hüsler provided an update on what Adobe changed in AEM 6.0, which was released in May, and what will be available before the next full upgrade in the spring.

Version 6.0 was a major upgrade, he said, but for the most part it allowed users to choose between existing features and new ones. The biggest change was shifting the user interface from the classic design to a touch-optimized version that Adobe plans to adopt across all six of its marketing cloud segments.

"The challenge is we're in this transition now where people say, 'Well I liked the old one,'" he said. But he added that users can decide when to switch UIs "on your own terms, on your own time. We know this is a big change."  

Other changes were more technical and some barely noticeable. For example, Adobe replaced its 13-year-old CRX 2 repository with a new one called Oak 2. It also changed its community component, page tagging and Java development environment. 

Soon, it will release an update to client-side personalization. The current version, Client Context, predates Adobe's $240 million acquisition of Day Software in 2010, will be replaced by ContextHub, Hüsler said

Another change is a step in integration of Campaign, the email system Adobe acquired through last year's $600 million purchase of Neolane. Previously, AEM users needed to copy content over, but they can now reference it from within AEM. 

He said a bigger change towards full integration of Campaign is on the way. "This is where you can see us not just doing bandages between applications, but actually bringing solutions together," he said.

Integration Pace

Attendees, some of whom voiced concern about the pace of integration beforehand, seemed pleased with Hüsler's update. "I thought it was great to hear the thoughts that go into how to manage the migration at Adobe. Also, seeing how they're bringing things together in the marketing cloud is really exciting," said Kate Goodwin, a manager at United Healthcare who attended the conference with her development team.

Tony White, founder and CEO of web experience consultant Ars Logica, said that Adobe had a reputation in the past of having "little aptitude" in producing or integrating enterprise software.

"The acquisition of Day Software signaled to some that this could possibly change, but the pace at which Adobe is bring together the pieces of a critically important part of its enterprise software offerings brings back old memories," he said. " Adobe has been great at communicating its vision for the marketing cloud, but it's now high time for execution."

In his presentation, Hüsler assured his audience that the best is yet to come. "I personally think we're just getting started," he said. 

That comment echoed comments last night in a panel discussion on the state of digital marketing. The panelists there agreed the art of digital marketing remains on the low end of its anticipated hockey stick-like growth.

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Title photo by Tom Murphy.