How To Evaluate Your Adobe AEM Project Success (Before You Start)

Check out the big brain on Brad

 

A long time ago in a school system far, far away (Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be exact)…

I spent the first ten years of my school life in accelerated programs and split classrooms. I had off-the-charts test scores, attended special schools for academically talented students, and hated every second of it. In the paraphrased words of Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction, I was a smart mofo. In 9th grade, I transferred to a public school and discovered the magical art of complacency and laziness. It was all downhill from there.

Since I was new to the school, breaking into the already-established social groups was a slow process. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of the various social groups in a typical midwest American high school (sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, and dickheads), you would find me sitting smack-dab in the middle – in the Venngina, as I like to call it. I didn’t fit into one particular social clique because I was a little bit of everything – an amalgamation of all. I normally sat the back of the class with the Metallica potheads, goth girls wearing black wedding dresses, and other clock-watching loners who counted down the minutes until 4:20 PM. No reading, writing, and arithmetic back there, just puff, puff, give.

To say that my high school grades sucked because of my complacency is an understatement. I went from being the next Doogie Howser to barely scraping by. I got straight C’s and D’s my senior year in one of the worst schools in Michigan. My high school has only a 55% graduation rate, my history teacher is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of a prostitute, and we made national news when a basketball player dropped a sack of weed onto the court during a game.   When you barely graduate from a school like this, you’re a dumb-ass. Even Joe Gunchy, the world’s worst Adobe Architect, could graduate with honors from here. To me, high school was a four (nearly five) year sentence that I had to serve because my parents and Michigan law forced me to attend.

Related: MEET ADOBE AEM’S BIGGEST ENEMY – JOE GUNCHY

Sometimes in class (when I wasn’t skipping), we were allowed to trade papers with our our neighbor to grade each other’s tests, reports, or quizzes. When that happened, no matter who in the Venngina I sat next to, I magically got all A’s.  Other times, we were allowed to grade our own papers. When that happened, I got A+’s!  The rest of the time, our papers were graded by the actual teachers (the ones who weren’t in jail). When that happened, I got F’s.

But, then I got wise…

Instead of reading books, I learned to read people. Instead of studying the subject, I studied the teachers themselves.  Understanding how a teacher prepared their lectures and graded material provided great insight into how to prepare for quizzes, tests, and exams to achieve top scores.  It isn’t cheating, it’s simply understanding the evaluation criteria and details of what good looks like before doing the work.  When I figured out this secret, my grades changed drastically. I spent less time doing unnecessary B.S. and had more free time to do more important things in life – like mope around, play Hacky Sack, and listen to The Cure.

Checkin’ Homework

Why do you suppose my self-evaluated grades differed so greatly from my instructor-evaluated work? According to me and my lenient peers, I was on course for an Ivy League life.  But, according to 100% of the Michigan colleges that didn’t agree with my D’s get degrees philosophy, I was on course for a life as a Walmart cashier.  The difference is, as a self-reviewer you have personal stake and pride-in-ownership which leads to overlooking the small details and errors. These ultimately add up to large errors when aggregated and break the proverbial camel’s back. This is why having an impartial reviewer is important.

Related: YOUR BABY IS UGLY: HOW EXPERIENCE, CANDOR, AND EMPATHY CAN SAVE YOUR ADOBE PROJECT

As consultants, we’re often called upon to evaluate a client’s Adobe AEM platform to determine how flexible, scalable, and (re-)usable it truly is. We effectively get to grade their homework and we need to do it thoroughly and impartially. Unfortunately, this engagement usually happens after the fact, when the platform is already live in production. So, the remediation of the findings often remain unattended, or fixing them causes significant refactoring of code and regression testing of the platform until it becomes entirely unusable, unmaintainable, and is scrapped entirely.  

Start. Right. Now.

What if you knew the grading criteria of a best-in-class Adobe AEM implementation before you began? That is, what if you knew the definition of good as defined by industry best practices, my kick-ass blog, and Adobe then designed your platform to those standards right from the start? This article does just that.  I will show you the evaluation criteria I use as well as additional input from Adobe to ensure you start your project the right way.

Evaluation Overview

I’ve broken down the evaluation into three major sections: Component and Template Reuse, SEO Best Practices, and the Authoring Experience. We will do deep dives into each section in future articles.

Only use this evaluation if the following statements are true:

  1. You renounce the idiot Adobe ArchitectJoe Gunchy and all his work and ways (and all his empty promises) and surrender yourself to the Adobe Best Practices Gods
  2. You are creating a reusable platform consisting of templates, components, and services to be used by more than one brand or business unit to create independent websites or micro-sites
  3. Your platform will provide the flexibility for a brand to create a best-in-class unique site, while keeping within enterprise standards and guide-rails. Play with whatever you want, as long as you stay in the yard, if you will
  4. The primary user of the platform will be a brand manager or business-level user, not a nerdy developer
  5. Your SEO mojo needs help and you want to improve your ranking, easily

Component and Template Reuse

You will review component and template documentation, architecture, and code to validate its capabilities for reuse and ensure the platform’s readiness for the creation of additional sites.

  • Verify proper use of component inheritance for maintainability and extensibility
  • Verify proper use of composite design in component architecture
  • Verify components and templates are void of styling in the markup

SEO Best Practices

You will review template dialog options for the integration of SEO Best Practices.

  • Reconcile inventory of templates and components against a checklist of brand-specific SEO recommendations to ensure inclusion of Schema Markup, canonical tags, social integration, and more.

Authoring Experience

You will find opportunities for simplifying the Authoring experience.

  • Ensure proper use of contextual help, field labels, dialog field validation rules, component and template naming conventions, paragraph system, and more.

Evaluation Execution

Again, I will dive into the details of each in future articles. For now, munch on this:

Component and Template Reuse

To ensure the platform templates and components follow best practices for creating reusable, extendable components and services:

  • Verify there are no styles, colors, or brand-specific functionally embedded into the components that cannot be re-configured without custom component development efforts.
  • Verify proper use of composites in component and template design to maximize reuse and simplify the extension of the components for brand-specific functionality that deviates from the platform baseline functionality.
  • Verify no embedded site-specific labels or copy are used in templates or components that cannot be changed through properties or placeholder labels and values
  • Verify proper use of overlays for overriding platform functionality that will not affect other sites hosted in the environment
  • Verify ability to display custom, site-specific error and exception pages independent of other sites hosted in the environment
  • Verify supporting Java models are void of brand-specific functionality or configurations that would require code changes to incorporate into a new site
  • Verify components do not duplicate functionality for ease of maintanance
  • Verify use of Touch UI, versus Classic UI for editing pending deprecation of Classic UI in 2018 (and deprecation of Coral UI 2.0)
  • Verify proper use of the paragraph system in templates to maximize flexibility
  • Verify consistent authoring experiences across components
  • Verify flexibility of AEM Tagging hierarchy for use on other brands
  • Verify flexibility of workflow processes for other brands

SEO Best Practices

To ensure the platform templates and components incorporates industry SEO best practices into the framework:

  • Verify ability to auto-generate site-independent dynamic sitemap XML
  • Verify ability to customize page URLs
  • Verify ability to include Canonical tags into pages
  • Verify ability to include Meta description and custom Meta tags into pages
  • Verify images include Alt Text
  • Verify ability to include Schema markup (JSON-LD) in pages
  • Verify ability to include OG tags in pages
  • Verify ability to easily adjust page Redirects
  • Verify ability to include Meta robots tags into pages
  • Verify platform follows best practices to reduce Page load time
  • Verify ability to generate Robots.txt
  • Verify ability to display custom, site-specific 404 , 500, and general exceptions pages
  • Verify ability to include Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools integration

Authoring Experience

To ensure the platform templates and components incorporate industry authoring best practices and integrations into the framework:

Evaluation Categorization

The output of the evaluation should label its findings into categories to simplify future prioritization of the recommendations to enhance the platform for more flexibility or reusability. I use a high, medium, and low scheme:

  • High – Immediate need to modify or update platform functionality to accommodate additional brand sites into the platform. Failure to modify or update this feature would not allow additional brand sites to leverage this feature.
  • Medium – Limitations of platform functionality that require future modification or update to accommodate addition brand sites. Workarounds or simple configuration exits for the interim until planned updates can occur to update the component or template.
  • Low – Simple recommendations such as Authoring inconsistencies that still allow platform adoption by other brands, but limit usability.

Adobe Best Practices

Adobe has a ton of information on development and implementation best practices. Start reading the links below to get you on your way.

https://solutionpartners.adobe.com/home/enablement/training/aem_training.html 

Implementation Guides

Step-by-step technical guides to help implement a single Adobe Experience Cloud solution.

Implementation Best Practices

 

Laziness and complacency forbid me from writing conclusions. Therefore:

If you like this blog, leave a comment or SHARE it on your social channels.

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Free Adobe Training Resources (for the People)

If you know me at all, you’d know that “free” is my second favorite F-word.  So what could be better than some effing FREE Adobe training?  Nothing legal, that’s what.

Check out these helpful links for getting up-to-speed on Adobe’s platforms.

free

AEM Community 

The Adobe Experience Manager Community is a place to ask questions and learn from Adobe’s experts, customers, and expert developers. It is a platform to connect with your peers — quickly seek out answers to get the support you need, talk with other developers, exchange examples, discuss the best practices, share experiences, useful blogs (like this one) and get help from the Adobe experts.

See https://blogs.adobe.com/experiencedelivers/experience-management/aem_community/

AEM GEM Sessions

Gems on Adobe Experience Manager is a series of technical deep dives delivered by Adobe experts. This series is a complement of the product documentation and of all the other technical channels, allowing developers to get in touch with one another and have deep-dives on specific topics.

See https://docs.adobe.com/content/ddc/en/gems.html

AEM Ask the Community Sessions

Ask the Community Sessions are monthly webinars hosted by Adobe/Community members for the community on the topics asked by YOU.  Topics vary from how to study for AEM ACE exam to deep technical topics like configuring a Dispatcher.

See https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/topics/ate-sessions.html

 

AEM How-to articles

Super useful articles on how to do everything from using HTL to creating a throttled Twitter component. Tons of content here.

https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/topics/how-to.html

AEM 6.3 New Features and Help Videos

If fancy book learnin’ isn’t your thing, then how about watching some safe-for-work (SFW) videos for once?  Check out these links to helpful videos:

Assets: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/assets/index/aem-6-3-assets.html
Sites: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/sites/index/aem-6-3-sites.html
Project & Collaboration: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/platform-repository/index/aem-6-3-projects.html
Platform: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/platform-repository/index/aem-6-3-platform.html
Forms: https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/forms/index/aem-6-3-forms.html

AEM Cross Solution Help Articles

I’ve been preaching Multi-solution Architecture for a while now. If you haven’t heeded the warning, you need to start learning how to integrate AEM with other solutions.

Start here:

https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/using/integrate-digital-marketing-solutions.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/using/aem_campaign.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/forms/using/user-profile-data-integration-feature-video-use.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/assets/internal/livefyre-integration-user-experience-improvements.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/experience-manager/kt/forms/using/user-profile-data-integration-feature-video-use.html


Cross Solution Recipes

I refer to these slides often when working through multi-solution integrations. These get into the value proposition of connecting two or more solutions as well as how data is exchanged across the platform.

See: https://helpx.adobe.com/marketing-cloud/how-to/use-cases.html


AEM Community YouTube Channel

You won’t find any Harlem Shaking, ice bucket challenges, or mall hauls here. Just a one-stop shop for information about the AEM Community.

This video sum up everything about the AEM Community.

IMMERSE 2018

IMMERSE is a global virtual conference for the Adobe Experience Manager developer community held in May. You missed the 2017 conference, but you can get on-demand only access to the 2017 sessions and Adobe is making the 2016 sessions public this week!

Stay tuned for a 2018 link, but get great IMMERSE content here:

https://docs.adobe.com/dev/products/aem/events/0416.html

Big thanks to Kautuk Sahni, Scott MacDonald, and Charlie Shafton at Adobe for helping me compile this list.

Your Baby is Ugly: How Experience, Candor, and Empathy Can Save Your Adobe Project

U.G.L.Y. You ain’t got no alibi. Your Adobe baby is ugly, there’s only one way to fix it.

Some Adobe clients are saying they are not seeing an appropriate “time-to-value” of the Adobe Experience Cloud platform. Time-to-value is fluffy corporate jargon that means the client bought into the vision of the software, took on the implementation themselves or with another partner (despite having little to no experience), blew through timelines and budgets, then pointed the finger at the tool they used to build it. They are effectively blaming the hammer for building a leaky boat.

To address the time-to-value concerns, Adobe established an Architecture and Launch Services team to validate the architecture, design, and go-live processes for all net-new Experience Manager, Audience Manager, and multi-solution licenses. In Adobe’s words, Architecture and Launch Services is required “to address the growing intricacies of multi-solution implementations and to ensure our customers receive the appropriate level of help for their business success.” In my words, Adobe has introduced a diplomatic, much-needed way of holding a mirror up to your work to show you how ugly your baby really is.

Saying, “Your baby is ugly” is a way of expressing that your client’s own process, product, or project is horribly flawed. But, it’s never said aloud; it’s normally whispered when the phone is on mute during conference calls and expressed as, “Sounds good!” when the mute button is off. This lack of transparency between a partner and the client only perpetuates and accentuates the slowly rotting fruits of their labors throughout course of the project and makes it increasingly unmanageable. When the mess becomes completely unusable, the Hot Potato of Blame is passed around from party to party and is always left sitting in the same place: in the lap of the platform itself.

Me, circa 1976

Babies aren’t born ugly (well, maybe a few); they are transformed into ugly. I was a cute kid until my seemingly insensitive parents gave me a bowl-cut and dressed me in hand-me-downs that likely belonged to my sisters. It wasn’t until I started liking girls did I realize the dork I had truly become. To my parents, I was still the adorable little boy they birthed. To the girls I had my puppy-love crushes on, the bowl-cut and fanny pack were simply a deal breaker.

Fast forward.

In the past 12 years, I have appeared in over 15 television commercials, but I’ve auditioned and lost out on hundreds more. Casting directors have told me I’m “too short”, “too old”, or “too bald” (the bowl-cut is long gone). They know their business well, know the look and type they need for the part, and won’t just settle on an actor because it’s the sensitive thing to do. They aren’t willing to put their client’s project at risk for the sake of hurting an actor’s feeling. Casting directors have candor and aren’t afraid to use it.

Candor is “the quality of being open and honest in expression.” It is frankness, truthfulness, forthrightness, directness, plain-spokenness, and bluntness. When candor comes from someone without the credibility and experience to give it, it just comes across as asshole-ness. But when it comes from a seasoned, trusted source, the transparency is refreshing. This is why we’re so intrigued by people like Gordon Ramsay, Judge Judy, Simon Cowell, and that bald dude on Shark Tank. They don’t tell you what you want to hear; they tell you what you need to hear to help you excel. They have candor.

Now imagine working with a qualified Adobe partner with the experience and, dare I have the candor to say, the balls to tell you there’s a better way to do it before Adobe’s Architecture and Launch Services is forced to tell you how ugly your baby has become. Wouldn’t honest, informed insight help you succeed more than a firmly bitten tongue? Candor is a dying quality that could save your project.

In the book Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation dedicates an entire chapter to honesty and candor. He says, “Believe me, you don’t want to be at a company where there is more candor in the hallways than in the rooms where fundamental ideas or matters of policy are being hashed out. The best inoculation against this fate? Seek out people who are willing to level with you, and when you find them, hold them close.”

Seek out a partner with both the experience and candor to help make your project a success and you will ask yourself why your other partners haven’t been more forthright. Catmull continues, “Any successful feedback system is built on empathy, on the idea that we are all in this together, that we understand your pain because we’ve experienced it ourselves.”

We AEM geeks understand the challenges an organization may be facing because we’ve been there too. We didn’t start as Adobe Experience Cloud experts, we became experts through trial, error, and ultimately proven success grounded in Adobe and industry best practices.

Speak up, and help make your client’s ugly baby beautiful again.

 

Adobe offers Multi-Solution Architecture Training Options

Adobe is now offering multi-solution integration training courses to the partner training inventory.   Currently, there are two sessions available from instructor Varun Mitra for AEM to Campaign integration for simplifying email creation and Target to AEM integration for personalization. Both are common use cases and you should attend to start your Multi-Solution Architect training path.

Follow this link to the Partner Portal: Gain Multi-Solution Expertise with AEM Technical Integration Training

Gain Multi-Solution Expertise with AEM Technical Integration Training

Customers are tackling complex challenges, sometimes best solved by more than one solution. Developers and Architects are invited to register for an upcoming Adobe solution integration training designed to introduce the fundamentals along with guided instruction and hands-on exercises. Two sessions are now available, with more to come.

The courses are free to Adobe Partners. Again, if you’re not currently a partner, you should enroll with your company as a Community Partner. After approval, you’ll be granted access to the training, news and presentation material online.

Adobe Solution Partner Portal link here.

 

How Much Does the Adobe Marketing Cloud Cost?

One of the first questions a client asks when I recommend solutions of the Adobe Marketing Cloud is, “How much does the Adobe Marketing Cloud cost?”

“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

-Joe Gunchy, the world’s worst Multi-Solution Architect (read more about Joe here)

Adobe generally will not just give you pricing for a few reasons. One, they will not lose a deal to a competitor on price alone. Their words, not mine. Second, they sometimes offer discounts for bundling solutions if you’re procuring more than one product, which you eventually will.  In fact, it’s estimated that 83% of Adobe’s top clients own three or more solutions of their marketing cloud.

Got AE?

Some accounts may not have a dedicated Account Executive (AE) tied to your client. Whether you get an AE or not is determined by who your client is and what major industry vertical they operate within. The sales team is divided into Adobe’s strategic accounts (the top ~60 global accounts across all verticals), vertical-specific accounts, and the rest of you.  Knowing this is important because the AE is not only responsible for managing the overall relationship with the client, but also helps provide the coordination and orchestration of the individual Solution Sales Representatives to execute against your digital strategy. See also: bundling.

When there is not a dedicated AE, the wrangling of sales reps may come from you, which looks just like this:

“I wish I had an AE.”

 

Pricing Pre-work

To start the pricing conversation with Adobe, some pre-work needs to be done by you (and client) before you ever engage with the sales team.  Each solution is priced differently, requiring some product-specific information gathering. Here’s a good starting point:

Analytics:  Number of server calls per year.  Page views is a good proxy (also include mobile SDK usage and secondary server calls for multiple report suites).

Target:  Server calls per year. Number of page views per year is a good proxy (also include mobile SDK usage and secondary call usage (like email integration)).

Campaign:  # of active contact records, they don’t charge CPM. It is also product tiered (Standard/Premium/Ultimate)*

*Adobe has gone through more name changes than P. Diddy.  -me

Media Optimizer:  % of spend display, search and social.  CRM for Dynamic Creative Optimization (number of records).  Per click charged for click tracking on non-managed channels (redirects from emails, search engines, etc. – for attribution tracking)

Audience Manager: based on events (page views, log ingestion events, CRM ingestion events, etc)

Social: Price based on number of social profiles (Facebook accounts and twitter handles) and users of the solution (seats).

AEM Sites (On-premise)

  • number of content authors
  • page views per day (if there are peaks that we should be concern about)
  • Page caching level (usually 95% and higher)
  • Require Commerce Framework or connector
  • Require Multi-site manager – charged for Author only

AEM Assets

  • number of asset users / workflow users
  • number of assets being working on or changed daily
  • Is there a need for Branding portal  – SAAS offering
  • Is there a need for Asset Share – publish instance required
  • Dynamic Media or S7 – SAAS by monthly server calls
  • InDesign Server – catalog producer or InDesign manipulation

AEM Communities

  • Number of instances to support the volume
  • For Enablement Module – number of users

AEM Forms – licensed by CPU Core

  • Number of transaction per day
  • Complexity of the form

AEM Mobile

  • Use cases (1-3 apps; department solution; enterprise solution)

For AEM Managed Services, also consider:

  • SLA – 99.5% (basic), or 99.99% (BIG price difference here. Choose wisely based on your client’s needs)
  • Amount of storage requirement – primary for AEM Assets
  • Additional environments – dev, test, …
  • Additional backup requirements
  • Additional network I/O
  • Additional CDN (Cloudfront) storage
  • Additional CEE hours – for the managed services staff

Don’t forget to allocate a bucket of consulting hours for potential engagement of Adobe Professional Services for provisioning, setup, and guidance.  That’s a nice way of saying, “Don’t F it up.”

Conclusion

I skipped school the day they taught writing concise conclusions, so instead I’ll leave you with this picture from 2017 Adobe Summit. Here’s me and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen:

Shantanu: Yo, Brad. What’s good, homie? Can I take a picture with you?
Me: Fine. Make it quick. Ryan Gosling is about to give a crappy interview…

 

Blurry like a Big Foot picture

 

 

Finding the Unicorn: The Role Your Organization is Missing (and May Never Find)

Adobe states that over 80 percent of their clients own three or more solutions of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, including six of the ten highest revenue Pharmaceutical companies. This number will likely grow, as Adobe saw a record 26% increase in revenue Q1 of 2017. The true value of the Adobe Marketing Cloud comes when these solutions are connected together, to provide a consistent, relevant experience across channels and devices. Finding and retaining talent with the ability to connect multiple solutions of the platform is now a mandate. In the Adobe world, this rare role is called the Multi-solution Architect (MSA).

The mandate for an organization to retain a Multi-solution Architect was evident at the 2017 Adobe Summit, as the majority of technical sessions involved combining two or more integrations such as, Adobe Experience Manager integration with Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, Audience Manager & Adobe Analytics: Your data management power couple, and The Dynamic Duo: Adobe Campaign & Adobe Analytics for real-time re-marketing. Last year, it was estimated that there were only about 15 true Multi-solution Architects worldwide at Adobe. In agencies, there are likely none.  And with an already steep investment on the platform itself, hiring this rare consultant would break even the largest organization’s implementation budgets.

Computer Futures is one of the leading supplier of Adobe talent in the U.S., with Adobe themselves being one of its largest customers. In their 2017 Adobe Market Report, they state that, “the true multi-solution architect will be the most valuable individual in the marketplace.” Currently, there are an estimated 40 open positions for an Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) developer alone, and even more for an Adobe Campaign developer. An individual with the experience to connect both systems (or even three or more solutions) would be like finding a unicorn. And with new legislation on the table that would effectively double the salary of H1B workers to a minimum of $130,000 per year, the available talent pool to fulfill these roles will decrease as the low-cost developer pool shrinks.

“For the most part, ‘true multi-solution architects’ are working for Adobe directly. This is where they naturally receive the best training and gain the most project exposure year on year. There are some that have flown the proverbial nest or exist outside of this, but they are extremely hard to come by.” -Dave Fox, Computer Futures

It’s important for you to heed the call and extend your AEM practice to multi-solution consulting and execution to align overall solution architecture to digital marketing strategy and goals. This ensures marketing campaigns are fully integrated to deliver a consistent, personalized experience and messaging across channels, and are continually measured and refined through data-driven insights.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Since you won’t likely won’t find an MSA, you have to make one.  If it’s you, how do you get up-to-speed on your multi-solution architecture practice?

The Adobe MSA acts as the facilitator between the business and the individual Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for each solution, so there are soft skills needed in addition to the nerd stuff. Even the greatest musicians need a conductor. Assuming your organization’s offering is silo’d (like most), it’s the job of the MSA to provide the connective tissue between your web, relationship marketing, social, media, data, and insights teams. Although the technology was created to provide the horizontality across these silos, your antiquated, pre-digital business model and processes will hamper its effectiveness. You are the glue.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Tell a story: “When Dr. X visits our homepage, we identify he is a Cardiologist who has never prescribed our drug. We dynamically show content in the hero space specific to first-time prescribing Cardiologists and a clear call to action to contact a sales rep in his area. When he clicks the button, we take him to a Contact a Rep Form. Blah, blah, blah.”  Notice the story has no Adobe solutions (or any technology solutions, for that matter) listed whatsoever.  You first need to define the what before the how.Your story should always tie back to a measurable business goal. In this case, it is to increase registrations and rep engagement. Now, it might not be your job to actually create the story, it is your job to bring the story to life.
  • Start small. Too often, organizations take the Joe Gunchy approach and choose the largest implementation as their ‘pilot’.

    “Go big or go home.” –Joe Gunchy

    You need quick wins, so start with a short story (not a novel), then map the data, content, and technologies needed to bring your story to life:

    • Homepage (AEM)
    • Doctor speciality data (first and third-party data in Audience Manager)
    • Doctor prescriber data (first and third-party data in Audience Manager)
    • Geolocation data (browser info in AEM Context Hub)
    • Behavioral data (Analytics data shared with Target)
    • Contact a rep form (AEM/Campaign)

When you identify a missing piece in your technology landscape, you need to weigh the value of acquisition/customization.  Is it easier to modify the story or the technology landscape to achieve quick wins while still achieving your business goals?

  • Connect the dots. Study the Adobe Use Cases  found in the Adobe Solution Partner Portal. If you’re not an Adobe Partner, you can register as a Community Partner to access this content. The use cases show how data is exchanged between solutions for a variety of scenarios. Understanding these will give you a foundation for implementing their connectivity.  A multi-solution connected diagram looks like this:Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.44.01 AM.png
  • Follow best practices.  Check out the Build a Digital Foundation using the Adobe Experience Cloud tutorial for tips on how to integrate AEM with other solutions. Also, read the  Integrating with the Adobe Marketing Cloud documentation then actually try some hands-on execution of a small use case. Start by simply personalizing a single piece of content in AEM using the out-of-the-box Context Hub for geolocation or other available trait, then eventually move up to AEM + Target integration, then Analytics to Target to AEM, then AEM to Campaign, etc. Fail fast, and learn.

    “E pluribus unum (Out of many, one)”

  • Out of many, one.  This is the opportunity to organize around your team of internal SMEs to help with the connectivity between solutions to bring your story to life – a journey manager, of sorts.  Do you have to know every detail of every Adobe solution? Nope.”You don’t have to know how to push every button, you just need to know there’s a button to push.”   Let the SME’s do their SME’ing while you retire back to your cubicle knowing you’re the rarest mofo in the org.

    #unicorns4life.

How to get trained in Adobe AEM

After posting my last article, Jumping into Adobe AEM Development,  I received an email from a reader with a very valid question: What training resources are available for those who are not a Partner and wanting to learn more about AEM?

Great question. This short answer is, there are training options available for non-partners. But first let me tell you what’s available as a Solution Partner:

As a Partner, any contact can utilize the Solution Partner Portal and get:

  • AEM Download (Sandbox available for Business-level Partners and above)
  • Access to the Adobe Demo Hub
  • Access to free subsidized online training (270+ courses)
  • Communications and Updates on Solutions
  • Access to hundreds of assets and collateral
  • Discounts on Adobe Training Services (ATS) courses
  • And more. I personally use the Solution Partner Portal at least once per day.

But if you’re not with an approved Partner, or don’t work for a customer who has purchased AEM, then your access and resources would be very limited.

This is a huge issue since the AEM community does not have access to experienced, fresh talent.   A company can’t hire someone unless they’ve been part of the Partner ecosystem at some point and has learned the product through that means. So, the company has to blindly hire the smartest developer they can find, cross their fingers, and put them through either on-the-job training or formal Adobe Training Services training – all while the project finish line never moves. Just throwing them onto a project without AEM exposure means cutting corners or understanding AEM development best practices.  So, if your organization it not a Partner, get enrolled now. I can’t stress that enough.

If you’re not a Partner, the main resource would be Adobe Training Services, where you can pay for AEM Courses and get hands-on experience with the Solution and, during the course period, get hands on access to the software. I would recommend using Adobe Training Services as the primary training resource to learn more about AEM. You can also access – for free – the Adobe Experience Manager Developer Site, which contains lots of helpful information on AEM.