Organizations of all shapes and sizes are focusing on improving their overall customer experience. These improvements lead to growing conversions, loyalty, and ultimately profits—but the technology enables much of this to happen.
The Adobe Experience Cloud is a suite of clouds that give marketers the tools to create experiences. The foundation of many of those experiences rely on Adobe Experience Manager, or AEM. Like most platforms, Adobe annually updates their solutions.
For tools like AEM where the platform can be hosted in the cloud or on premise, the upgrade process is different from Adobe Analytics, in which the entire application is in the cloud and everyone gets updates at the same time.
AEM is different, and thus organizations who own it need to make their decisions wisely on when they update their versions. They have to weigh the level of effort to perform the update against other projects. Are the new features going to provide enough benefits to internal stakeholders and users? Will this accelerate organizational goals? Can we reduce spend on custom development? With the release of AEM 6.4, those discussions have started again.
We have outlined the top reasons why now is the right time to upgrade to the latest version and the benefits you should see from the update.
Old features offer less functionality and support compliance.
If you’re on AEM 6.2 or earlier, you’re already seeing a degradation in your capabilities, for both marketers and developers.
For marketers, the non-touch or “classic” UI has depreciated. The DAM evolved into AEM Assets. You may have lost some comfortable functionality already, and you’re not having a great time. Adobe Sensei was also still in its infancy when you implemented and now it’s everywhere throughout AEM. For developers, storage has been refactored and new database models have been introduced.
Additionally, Adobe only provides technical support for the last two versions. Thus, anyone on a version before 6.2 is already out of support contracts. While every organization is different on their approach to upgrades, staying in support compliance is an important factor to weigh.
Our experience has been that you should always wait for the dust to settle before diving in to an upgrade. AEM 6.4 has been out for over six months now, meaning, the bugs have been fixed, patches are out, and contributions from the community have been made. Our experts think it’s a perfect time to implement to maximize this release.
Smarter experiences require smarter technology.
Adobe continues to pour in features and functionality that are powering the next generation of experiences. In many ways, it is breaking away from the traditional “web page” development process, enabling marketers to do more with less development needs, but while also giving developers powerful tools to solve more than just a “website” content and experience challenge.
As you look to your next generation of experiences, these AEM 6.4 features should be beneficial to you.
Fragmented content management is the future.
Fragments are a modern content management approach that were first introduced in AEM 6.3. Creating fragments is a strategy of managing content as 'pieces' outside the context of a page to enable better content re-use and support omni-channel content strategy.
Before fragments, strategy involved reference components and manuscripts that tied content to pages, which had limitations--especially when leveraging content as a service. With this evolution, the reusability of content skyrockets.
In AEM 6.4, fragments are becoming more exposed via the Adobe Core Services to other areas of the Adobe Experience Cloud, like Target and Campaign, and to non-Adobe products via web services. This is providing AEM with more of a foundation for content editing and management in conjunction with other Marketing Cloud solutions you may own.
Consider your assets.
In AEM 6.3, Adobe DAM became Adobe Assets and introduced a bevy of features from experience fragments to structure changes. With AEM 6.4, Assets continues to mature and become an option as a standalone Digital Asset Management system.
If you’re an asset-heavy company, upgrading for the advancements in DAM alone would be worth moving to 6.4. Asset Share Commons is now available, responsive, and can be stood up with out-of-the-box capabilities in weeks instead of months. Taking it one step further is the release of Asset Link, which takes the Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud integration to new levels.
Finally, there is the integration of Adobe Sensei, their AI platform. Digital images can now be smart-cropped to fit page layouts and responsive designs dynamically. Sensei also brings the power of auto-tagging of assets against your taxonomy, saving users time, improving accuracy, and expediting the overall build.
Machine learning is stronger than ever.
As we mentioned before, Sensei is more tactfully woven into AEM 6.4 through increased features of machine learning. These enhancements help marketers optimize time for creating content, and the ability to repurpose materials. A few new functions:
- Enhanced smart tags—gives organizations the ability to “train” for certain custom taxonomy tagging of assets such as logos.
- Smart cropping—automatically identifying the most popular part or region of an image to crop appropriately.
- Smart layout (tech preview in 6.4)—suggest different page layouts based on KPIs and works with experience fragments
- Smart translation search—performs on-the-fly translation of search queries to support multiple language site search
- Smart form conversion (tech preview in 6.4) — focuses on semi-automation of forms conversion from any format to AEM format using deep learning
- Spam detection for communities—built to automatically flag potential spam comments
For marketers, content creators, and community managers, when you can start to build “smart” functionality which frees up time to spend on optimization of experiences, the better.
Developers see software improvements, too.
Marketers may be the ones using the platform on a daily basis, but AEM 6.4 has upgrades that will benefit your developers and system administrators as well. Specifically, Adobe is making a significant investment in core services and core service integrations.
When it comes to integrations, Adobe is making it easier for content to flow between Marketing Cloud systems such as Target and Campaign. While there is an element of this that benefits the marketers, it also benefits the developers, as this tighter integration makes overall system management easier. Beyond application integration, there is the movement from Dynamic Tag Management (DTM) to Adobe’s new tagging system called Launch. With AEM 6.4 Adobe Launch is available as a cloud service. This integration now opens up new doors for tag management of content for a multitude of applications.
AEM 6.4 also focuses on stability and support. Adobe's commitment to core components and expanding their reach and connection to other products shows their future-oriented approach to the platform. Further integration and connections to Adobe I/O and the new AEM Commerce will allow for developers to build a more seamless solution.
Progress takes time, but it’s necessary.
Upgrading any piece of software isn’t trivial. There are lots of factors that need to be considered beyond the newest features and benefits of the latest version. To that end, don’t take it lightly—especially if you are on version 6.2 or older.
All technologies iterate, improve, integrate, and upgrade from there. AEM 6.4 makes sense for just about everyone—marketers, developers, and administrators. Adobe continues to modernize their core experience platform to work better and more efficiently within their other technologies.
The updates empower marketers and developers with tools that streamline processes, personalized at every touchpoint, and help craft experiences that move beyond web interfaces.
Adobe Experience Manager 6.4 is paving the way to create experiences where your customers want to engage with you.
When we applied a human-centered approach to development of ICF Next’s loyalty technology platform, we saw huge benefits. Your customers can, too.