Big Changes Ahead!

Towards the end of 2019, the world of consultants in the Adobe Experience Cloud eco system changed.

First our product management announced some changes for WorkspaceCustomer Journey Analytics“, then Aaron Hardy, Joe Khoury, Justin Grover, and Jenny Medeiros posted an announcement about a unified Javascript library.

Those are huge!

I’m not sure if you have all noticed, but they are also related.

These, dear readers, are the first steps into a new era. For Analytics, for Audience Manager, for Target, for Launch, for the way we think about data in digital marketing, and for all of our industry, generally.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating, but let me explain those things in my own words.

The Workspace thing

Officially called “Customer Journey Analytics”, this is a novelty that has two big parts: one is the Adobe Experience Platform, a suite of services and tools around “Experience Management.” The other is that fact that Workspace is now open to ingest and visualise data that comes from sources other than Adobe Analytics.

Adobe Experience Platform is pretty big in terms of opening up. There are parts of it that have names, such as “Customer Journey Analytics”, or “Real-time CDP”, and those are applications of the technology that directly fit into a use case you might have.

Underneath, there is a multitude of systems and services, that allow the platform to integrate with pretty much anything, including 3rd-party algorithms and AI/ML.

We will very likely see more and more application services and intelligent services on top of the platform. It makes a ton of sense, since all of those would access, use, and modify the exact same pool of data, eliminating duplication, batch processes, and other nuisances.

For the Workspace-related part of Customer Journey Analytics, my colleague Ben Gaines said this:

[screenshot]
Ben Gaines on “Customer Journey Analysis”
To me, it looks like Analytics has been split into two. We now have a front-end (“Workspace”) and a back-end. The front-end is in the process of becoming more flexible, and that means more data, more abilities to link it up, and more potential for analysis as a result.

If you think about those two, we are starting to see the old, acquired applications open up, and a new, standardised platform emrge. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do with a setup like that, and I’m sure we will!

The libraries thing

The official name for the unified Javascript library is the “Adobe Experience Platform Web SDK”. Right now, it is the official way to get data into the Adobe Experience Platform, so should you be one of the early adopters out there, you may already be using it.

At the very core, the Web SDK is a single Javascript library that contains functionality similar to 4 other libraries: Visitor API, Analytics, Target, and Audience Manager. It also is structured differently, to give implementers more control about what happens at what point.

The official documentation is a good starting point if you want to learn more, or check out the code itself, if you’re so inclined.

There are already a ton of articles around about how it works, what it can do, how it works with the Experience Data Model (XDM), so I won’t say more about that.

The most important thing, in my mind and for the audience of this blog (remember, you’re a developer!) is that we finally do away with eVars, props, and events, completely.

Everything that you send is a key-value-pair, there is a schema that you can/should/must follow, and it even looks like the timing will no longer be critical (in the sense that you can amend already sent data).

For me, that sounds like implementing the Web SDK will be a ton easier than implementing the current JS libraries.

To an extent, even tag management is going to be easier, at least for you, the developer. The idea is that data will be redirected server-side, using the existing Launch interface. The data you send can therefroe be used in a variety of tools, and you don’t even have to worry about that.

Our product people are not the only one going in that direction, either. Some other companies have been doing it for a while, and even Google is adding server-side tag management to their deck.

I think this is absolutely great!

I hope it will lead to both, more stable and simple, deployments.

Expected Result (long-term)

The result, as far as I can see from my vantage-point (which is that of a far-removed soldier in a trench, miles away from the command chain’s top, so to speak), is that we will all have to re-learn analytics.

I love that!

Out with the eVars, no more discussion about whether props are important! Forget about events, and absolutely forget about s.t() versus s.tl().

If what I think is actually going to happen, our work with data will be simplified to a small number of principles, and a custom data model on top of that.

For me, that is a bit like Analytics goes Lego. And I mean the Lego from my memory, with a finite number of building blocks, which we combined into amazing structures, just because. The Lego of “looks — uhm — interesting, but see what it can do!”

If you tell me just using simple bricks will not allow you to do what you want to do, I object. It is the combination of those simple blocks that makes stuff happen.

Notes

I have been sitting on this article for a couple of months, never quite sure whether it was too early to release it.

The longer I waited, the harder it was to push it back, week by week, until this week, I gave up and left it scheduled as is.

There is now enough information out there for those of you who want to know more, and we are getting closer to a time when for a “standard”, rag, tag, and bobtail deployment, we will use the Web SDK. So here we are.

If you want to know more about any of the above, or if you want to see Adobe people being excited about what this means, go to the Adobe Global Summit site and watch some of the breakouts. This will be big!

2 thoughts on “Big Changes Ahead!

  1. Exiting changes for sure. And long overdue. I’m excited about where Adobe it taking things. Yet I also recognize what a LARGE amount work for those of us with old, complex implementations full of customized code (some of which is so convoluted it’s hard to understand). This will require a complete reimplementation for these companies if they want to modernize what they have and fit it into the new improved model. For many of us it will also require a restructure of some internal teams which traditionally have operated separately to implement the different Adobe solutions.

    Very worth it in the long run, but still a whole LOT to think about and plan for.

    Like

    1. Hi Cleve,

      Agreed. There will be a lot of adapting, changing, and re-inventing over the next years.

      But I also agree that it will be worth it in the end.

      Cheers,
      Jan

      Like

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