Akeneo PIM 2.0 is almost out… like every year, now it’s time to lift the hood and have a chat with Emilie – Head of Product and Nico – Head of Engineering, to better understand the philosophy of this new major release.
The Akeneo PIM 2.0 will be launched on September, 28th. What are the key drivers behind this new release?
Emilie. Customers are struggling to match applications to the speed of their business demands. We introduced earlier this year a first step towards a complete Cloud offer providing a modern, scalable and service-oriented platform to solve this challenge. This release is the second step to complete this plan. Initially, we proposed the Flexibility mode, our cloud-hosted On-Premise software which offers strong customization capabilities and a new API. The new Serenity mode is a full Software-as-a-Service distribution built on the very latest standards and includes automatic major and minor updates. Serenity clients will gain business agility and all the Akeneo PIM 2.0 family of solutions will benefit from the new delightful User Experience and a stronger API.
Nico. Creating a full Cloud Culture at Akeneo is an important addition to our existing DNA. We significantly boosted our DevOps Team to support it and they are now 20% of our R&D team. The challenge was to first transform our Software into a Service:
- Interoperability was improved and enhanced through our API
- We built in more capability to manage settings directly from the User Interface to ensure that more core features are reachable without codes.
- We rationalized our data model to give clients native access to complex products with improved scalability and performance.
In addition, the User Experience is now totally redesigned and it’s also a big deal!
We simplified, harmonized, and rationalized to be able to accelerate and bring much more innovation on a more regular basis.
The first move to the cloud happened with the launch of Akeneo 1.7, six months ago. Why a 2.0 today? And not a 1.8?
Nico. It’s a real transformation and not only a simple adaptation of our product that we had to operate. We shaped the new platform to answer tomorrow’s needs.
- One Single Storage will facilitate implementation while improving the scalability and the performance of the overall platform.
- Search capabilities will be improved as Elastic Search will be native for everyone.
- The new release management is already scheduled to bring innovation on a more regular basis, with more transparency, to reduce the impact on growth and budget planning and allow users to benefit from new released features more quickly.
But we are anticipating and preparing this transformation for one more than a year now. We want to make the transition as smooth as possible so that the upgrade from 1.7 to 2.0 is as simple as possible. That’s why we launch simultaneously with the release 2.0 a Migration Assistant (more about that very soon) and will continue to invest in this type of change management technology in the future.
Emilie. We rationalized the data model to guarantee that the platform will be totally scalable to host a massive number of products. Our biggest challenge was actually to build a model flexible enough to manage both very big catalogs with simple products, and small catalogs with complex products. Marketers will now be able to model more use cases for their business in a very simple and intuitive way.
Why 2.0? Simply because of our new release management process; we needed to start on a round number.
What is the added business value for our End Users??
Emilie. for our Enterprise Edition Clients, both On Premise and Cloud Edition users were heavily involved in our roadmap, participating in more than 30 interviews, and a roadshow including 10 customer visits. We hope they will enjoy this totally new User Experience with a stronger and more robust API.
The 2.0 Marketers will feel more comfortable in their daily work with a lighter interface that is simpler, more intuitive and more contextual.
Nico. Indisputably, our Community members inherited a lot from our new core features and will benefit from:
- a completely new User Experience
- a simpler technical stack that relies on the most current and durable technical standards/frameworks e.g. PHP7 and Symfony 3
- the ability to natively manage complex products
- More powerful search capabilities.
A lot of people will say we are totally crazy to offer this quality of service for free.
And what is the impact for our solution-partners?
Nico. Clients will still need their support to design the perfect Online and Offline strategy, to implement Akeneo PIM in complex IT ecosystems, and to carry on a part of the change. A PIM remains a central system as the unique source of truth for your product data. It needs to be connected to third-party applications to maximize its value.
So concretely, what is going to change?
With One Single Storage, all their clients will get the exact same technical stack so they won’t have to multiply skills.
We made our API more stable, enabling greater work usability across a longer timeframe. Their investment in innovation might be more profitable. The API can be used to build connectors and to bring much more innovation inside Akeneo PIM with advanced capabilities. We will encourage its use.
Emilie. If our partners make wide use of our API, upgrades will be much easier for the On Premise & Flexibility Editions. We will provide automatic upgrades for the Serenity Edition.
On one hand, we want to guarantee more stability for clients and partners. On the other hand, we want to recover more freedom with the core system to bring more innovation.
Software-as-a-service does not mean you don’t need a solution partner anymore. A PIM project remains a deep digital transformation in your business model and you will still need to rely on experts
What are the next steps for Akeneo PIM?
Emilie. In the future, we will continue to invest in our key themes: productivity, collaboration and openness.
We have noticed that more and more personas are now involved in the Product Enrichment Workflow. If you are a retailer, you will escalate to the supplier, so collaboration with suppliers will be enforced. If you are a brand, it is exactly the same with your wholesalers/retailers.
This user expansion within the catalog management process implies more visibility to better measure and streamline the Return On Investment (ROI) with Akeneo PIM, and to better address a more structured audience.
Today, we have a strong portfolio of clients and noticed that some of them share specific business needs. We will probably propose packaged distributions and include some preset data directly inside their initial PIM.
The Cloud is an amazing opportunity for us to create a deep and strong relationship with End Users. The “Interactions between the End User and the Software Vendor” is a very promising green field that we want to explore. We already have many use cases in mind.
Nico. We learned a lot in the past years, with a fast growing number of customers and partners and strengthened our expertise in Product Information Management. The result is that now, we have this great opportunity to strike the right balance between being more stable and robust for our solution-partners on a long term basis, yet remaining capable of accelerating our innovation for our clients.
Today, more than 50% of our new customers choose the Cloud Edition. It’s a true success for an offer we launched only 6 months ago and we hope to see accelerated adoption of the Serenity mode. Anyway, it’s a fast moving ecosystem and a fantastic direct relationship that we will use to explore many new areas.
Bisous, Kiss, Kuss,