With Magento Imagine 2019 wrapped, its time to review and understand some of the key messages revealed by Adobe during their first (and possibly last) Magento Imagine event. There was a lot to take in, but the following stood out as something to be excited about whether you are a merchant or solution provider.
1. Adobe Sensei
First and foremost, Adobe has already confirmed they now consider Magento a core part of their evolving business product line, announcing Adobe Commerce Cloud during their recent Adobe Summit conference. Magento Imagine continued this revelation, with Adobe confirming they are actively working on the integration of Adobe Sensei within the Magento platform.
Adobe Sensei is Adobe’s answer to the machine learning and data crunching problems faced by businesses today. It powers a number of important technologies in Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Marketing cloud including smart search, predictive analytics and personalised targeting. Now they are adapting the technology for Adobe commerce cloud.
First up we will see an ability to set up targeted product recommendations using a rules-based system with results served to product pages and blocks throughout the site natively. They are also working to expand functionality to have access to additional external data sets to increase the effectiveness of targeting using predictive analytics. All of this will be achievable directly from the Magento admin panel! No doubt that will just be the start, I expect targeted banners and blocks to come shortly after, allowing full customisation of a customers user experience.
2. Commitment to Open Source
The team were also quick out of the blocks to reconfirm their support and commitment to Magento Open source, the free, Adobe and community supported versions of Magento which still enjoys massive support and use in eCommerce land. Gary Specter, VP of Commerce Sales for Adobe revealed that approx 75% of total revenue earned on Magento platforms is accrued via the Open Source version of Magento, and because of this, Adobe sees it as a key application within their lineup.
On the face of it, this may seem confusing as they don’t necessarily make any money off of a free platform. However, as with some of their other products (photoshop anyone?) they seem to recognise that merchants who do well on the free version are more likely to upgrade to the advanced features and options available in the paid versions of the product, they are effectively leads just waiting to be picked up once they get big enough.
Either way, this is great news for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the significant existing community of extension and solution developers, who up until this point we’re not sure what would happen to this version with Adobe in control.
3. Improved Magento Cloud offering
Adobe also revealed a revamped product offering, including news about Magento Shipping, Magento BI and Magento Order Management. Up until now, these products have been marketed largely separately, leading to some confusion around the benefits of each system and how it can complement the overall Magento functionality available. There had also been some speculation that the BI offering would stop being supported in favour of the implementation of Adobe analytics, however, it seems now Adobe has doubled down on support of the BI tools and no doubt we will see some sort of integration of the two in the future. The product team have recognised the need to modify their approach and announced two key changes to the product offering going forwards.
First, Magento will now offer two versions of Magento Commerce. Magento Commerce Starter will include access to a package including Magento Commerce, Magento Shipping and Magento BI. This is similar to the current Magento offering, however, it will now be offered as a unified package for new customers with more emphasis on the utilisation of Magento shipping for backend fulfilment needs and improved support for the BI tools. Magento Commerce Pro will include Magento Commerce and Magento Shipping, as well as being joined by Magento BI pro a more advanced version of Magento BI that allows amongst other things, connection to multiple third-party sources for complete freedom when it comes to data analysis. Most importantly, Adobe confirmed that the aforementioned Adobe Sensei recommendations will be available natively to all customers on the Magento Commerce Pro platform, meaning advanced user targeting will become a native feature for anyone on this plan.
4. Improved Infrastructure and developer tools
Alongside these new offerings, Magento product team announced improved support for their cloud offering. This includes options to setup Magento on Microsofts Azure product stack, perfect for business users taking advantage of Microsofts product stack as it should allow closer integration with other Microsoft cloud business applications, as well as intention to expand to other platforms as well.
They also announced improved infrastructure implementations including automated horizontal scaling for all cloud users. Got a sale coming up? Dont worry about it! Going forwards, automated horizontal scaling will be implemented to ensure that when the traffic piles on, the servers to handle the load do too. They also confirmed they are working on an automated rollback tool; in the event of a failed deployment or update, a single button click from the cloud admin panel should see customers back up and running within 5 minutes, including automated restoration of the last good build and corresponding rollback of database changes!
Finally, they announced they are aware of an issue with access to server logs for various functionalities this is a necessity in some senses to ensure security is maintained to the high standards offered by the cloud platform. Adobe has promised however to provide Magento logs via Sumologic, a log aggregation service that should make the process of examining and identifying issues a quick and painless job should something go wrong. Moreover, Sumologic provides code analysis and can be used to proactively identify issues or slowdowns and can provide notifications to customers about potential issues that require resolution. All up these changes will provide a significant improvement in the ease of use of the cloud platform and should reduce the need for support tickets and empower solution providers to fix issues quickly.
5. PWA maturity
Last but not least, Adobe revealed that significant progress has already been made with the Magento PWA studio tools released early this year, with a number of stores already up and running with a PWA theme built using the tools at the start of the conference. It’s extremely promising that this is possible in such a short time, it means that mobile optimised improvements can be designed developed and deployed to production in just over a quarter allowing merchants to see significant gains in site speed and conversion with relatively low investment.
Adobe confirmed their commitment to continue supporting the studio with plans to increase the API offering to cover B2B updates as well as improving the default Venia theme to support B2B functionalities including shared catalogues.
There are already a number of 3rd party offerings that allow for quick and convenient setup of a PWA theme and I am excited to see what the second half of the year brings.
Overall the conference was extremely reassuring for attendees, it is clear that Adobe has well-considered plans for the platform and understands the challenges that many merchants and solution providers face today. I look forward to the realisation of these updates and hope that future developments follow in the same vein.