Adobe has released the latest version of its Adobe Experience Manager, part of its eight-pillar Marketing Cloud. PHOTO: midiman

Adobe today released the latest version of its web content management system. The update includes enhancements designed to extend digital experiences beyond traditional content channels and into relatively uncharted territory.

The San Jose, Calif.-based provider unveiled its Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) 6.3 in anticipation of next week's Adobe Summit. Officials stated the latest version will help users build experiences through “affiliated properties” like partner websites, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and emerging content channels like connected car dashboards.

“We see the importance of owned properties but there is also the need to build out experiences and content to other affiliated properties,” said Loni Stark, director of product marketing and strategies for Adobe Experience Manager in an interview with CMSWire. “Content is the fuel of digital experiences.”

AI-Powered 'Fluid Experiences'

Adobe Experience Manager is part of the company's eight-tier Adobe Marketing Cloud. It also includes Adobe Analytics, Adobe Social, Adobe Target, Adobe Audience Manager, Adobe Campaign, Adobe Media Optimizer and Adobe Primetime.

Adobe’s updates in AEM 6.3 are designed to help users build out “fluid experiences.” Stark said this refers to “content that flows and adapts to its context with the help of AI/machine learning, powered by Adobe Sensei.” 

Adobe originally announced Adobe Sensei as an integration for its Creative Cloud at last year’s Adobe MAX conference. Sensei is an AI and machine learning framework that provides image matching and document sentiment and analysis. 

Bringing Experiences to New Touch Points

Loni Stark

WCM users want a digital foundation based on a content management, analytics and personalization strategy, which Stark called the “trifecta” of content needs.

But they also need to connect their customers’ experiences through a plethora of devices and channels beyond the traditional web, mobile and social content pillars.

“These areas are where we are focusing our innovation around Adobe Experience Manager,” Stark said.

The AEM 6.3 release includes “Experience Fragments,” which the company stated will help users deliver new packets of content in experiences outside of traditional channels. Fragments extends AEM to “power not only web and mobile experiences, but also well-structured touch points like ATMs and Pinterest to emerging less-structured mobile app and IoT experiences.”

“It makes it easier to pull in data models and content models, connect to JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and preview experiences,” Stark said. “And it extends to IoT and native mobile app experiences where there may not be best practices yet.”

What should the screen in a connect car look like? We've seen some interesting designs, but, Stark said, there isn’t much around best practices.

“What should be on the left and what should be on the right?” she asked. “Should this be responsive? There are still things to figure out on the need to manage content and distribute it.”

Updates to Livefyre Integration

AEM also updated its integration with Livefyre technology, a content curation and audience engagement platform which Adobe acquired last May.

Livefyre enables Experience Manager Assets (its digital asset management solution) to source and obtain permission for user-generated content from within its interface. 

“This,” Stark said, “combined with continued improvements in the integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, drive greater content velocity.”

Adobe Livefyre

Other enhancements in Adobe AEM 6.3 include production-ready components, UX best practices and tools aimed to help users connect digital experiences to data in enterprise systems like CRM.

“There are trillions of transactions that go through the Marketing Cloud,” Stark said, “and we’re surfacing it in features like anomaly detection, past history and potential anomalies through predictive capabilities. The challenge is so large with all this data and content. AI and machine learning will help businesses make sense of it.”

Recognition and Questions for Adobe

Forrester once again named Adobe AEM a leader in its most recent industry report on WCM platforms. The analyst firm reported customers showing a preference for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) deployments, which provide application development and deployment tools abstracted from the underlying cloud infrastructure.

Adobe earned a "1.0" — a weak rating. Forrester analysts noted that AEM Sites’ only option is a managed-hosted flavor of PaaS.

Asked how Adobe views deployment methods, Stark said that when considering “fluid experiences,” there is no “one size fits all.”

She doesn’t see delivery needs in WCM being “mutually exclusive,” adding she’s seen examples of users working with developers for a more “headless” fashion while others go other routes to build experiences.

“With all the challenges business have in order to move the ball forward in becoming digital, yes, you can build your own web content management, but why would you do that?” Stark asked. “Why not divert your resources there to looking at building out what the next IoT experience is? In those cases we’ve got all these different ways to connect with AEM in a ‘headless fashion’ and that’s where the value is.”