While AEM customers all use the same cross-channel content management system, someattendees are grumbling about the pace with which Adobe is integrating AEM withthe five other areas of its high-profile marketing cloud -- analytics, campaign,media optimizer, social and target.
The conference,sponsored by Adobe but produced independently by 3 SHARE,is a chance for AEM users to get training, share tips and air gripes. It's alsoan opportunity for Adobe to strengthen ties with its customers, many ofwhom have yet to adopt version 6.0 of AEM, which shipped in May.
"I'm very interested in pushing Adobe to offer much better integrationfor all their offerings," said Sean Browne, senior director for webmarketing at SuccessFactors, acloud-based human resources company that is part of SAP. "That's why we went to Adobe. They promised they had all these thingsthat they're offering. You want to see them start to integrate thembetter."
To be sure, Browne, who will be one of the presenters at the gathering, toldCMSWire he's "100 percent" committed to AEM and that he has integrated"a lot of cool things" into his own sites. Still, he thinks Adobe'scloud could be tied together better, and he's not the only one.
Another presenter, Jacqui Kearns, senior vice president for digital,operations, analytics and technology at Dunn & Bradstreet, complainedthere's "no easy way to go between areas," which complicates thingswhen setting up the system for business users in different departments. "It's not a real good flow," she said. "It feels like a bunchof things that use to be separate are now just umbrella-ed."
Adobe, once best known for creativity software like PhotoShop, hasassembled the pieces of its marketing cloud through a multibillion-dollarshopping spree over the past five years. AEM itself stems from the $240million acquisition of Day Software in 2010.
Other purchases include $1.8billion for Omniture, now called Site Catalyst; $600million for Neolane, aka Campaign;$120 million for Auditude, a video ad platform; Efficient Frontier, a privately held cross-channel ad-buying tool; and Demdex,a privately held data management platform.
Understandably, it takes time to wire all that technology together into aunified system. In an interview last March, Jeff Allen, director of productmarketing for Adobe Analytics, explained that Adobe doesn't rush the deepintegration of its acquisitions. "We let them come in and live inside Adobe for a littlewhile," he said. "Then after a year, we’ll begin to figure out how to rationalize the deeper stuff."
Working On It
CédricHüsler, group product manager for AEM who joined Adobe as part of theDay Software buyout, is well aware that the community is eager for advances. In akeynote address on Tuesday, he plans to outline new features that have becomeavailable since 6.0 went on sale. Some of those advances, he said, were originally scheduled for 2015,but "because we're finished, we're already shipping those," he said.Another feature pack is due out in January.
"Some of those packages have already been released, and others will beannounced shortly," he told CMSWire. "I will be pretty open, giventhis is a community event, about the things we've done and what we're going todo."
Hüsler said Adobe is working diligently and spending money to improveintegrations. "We're not talking too much about what we're doing," hesaid. "Behind the scenes we're bringing all these solutions together ...We're starting to really interlink these things."
That will certainly be welcome news at the conference, but it isn't the onlychallenge Adobe faces in the wake of its acquisition spree. Kearns, for example,said she's also struggling with "ease of use" issues and with the fragmentedAdobe sales team.
"The one thing they do that is a disservice to Adobe is to have separatesales reps on those products. That makes it really hard" she said. "It'sfive different people coming at five of my leaders, and it doesn't make iteasy."
Sharing and Learning
There will, of course, be benefits at the conference for AEM loyalists in terms of sharing theirsuccessful strategies and experiences with other members of the community.
"It'll be great to hear whateveryone else is doing," said Browne, who is eager to learn the latest onpersonalization in content delivery. "That's kind of hogging the spotlightin the world I'm trying to support," he said.
Kearns said she hopes to come away with a better understanding of how others use AEM in their day-to-day roles: "Are they like me as a businesslead? Or are they on the dev side? Or are they trying to determine if this isthe right tool because they're not a day-to-day user?"
She was pleased to hear Hüsler will update the group about newproducts.
"I think that's huge in terms of making easy for us to understand anddigest and produce an environment. Right now, that's our struggle," shesaid. "I literallyhave to schedule and put people on teams based on how fractured it's been.They've done a better job at trying to get it together on the userexperience side, but that generally doesn't hold through" the rest of AEM.