Bilot has helped customers with SAP-integrated Magento B2B ecommerce for some years, but didn’t become a Magento partner until very recently. Obviously, the first thing to do as an official partner was to go “all in”, by attending Imagine 2017 in Las Vegas.
Magento Imagine is the biggest annual event for Magento customers, community members and independent software vendors to meet, learn and expand their horizons. This year, close to 3000 persons got together for 3+ days packed with tech deep-dives, customer case studies, product news, trainings, a constant flow of totally spontaneous networking – and the occasional party and sports activity.
Summarizing the overall Imagine experience, here are my top takeaways:
#1: Community is king
Magento Commerce comes in two editions – Community Edition and Enterprise Edition – but when people talk about The Community, they do not refer to these licensing flavors, but rather to the huge ecosystem of devoted partners, developers, agencies and merchants who live and breathe Magento.
Compared to the partner landscape around many commercial enterprise software products I’ve experienced, the one around Magento one is clearly different. This is due to the open source nature of Magento. Partners truly collaborate, share knowledge, code and best practices, and do their best to influence the product code base — all for the greater good.
Key takeaway #1: Community members work on making the cake bigger and better, rather than fiercely competing over the same parts of the cake. Everybody wins.
At an event like Imagine, the community spirit becomes really tangible. Developers, who during the year collaborate on Github and Twitter, get a chance to chat over beer, deliver official talks (like SnowDog’s Bartek @igloczek who was on stage about how Magento UX should really be done) – or go for a voluntary run with like-minded. This year, the community-enthusiast-driven #BigDamRun took nearly 200 orange Magento people for a sunny 10 km trail run in the hills by Hoover Dam, and ended up in CEO Mark Lavelle’s keynote deck.
#2: The product is booming
Since Magento hasn’t perhaps been in the hottest spotlight of analyst reports (watch out for the upcoming Gartner quadrant, though!), and has had a bit of a bumpy ride in terms of previous ownership, the occasional bystander could perhaps assume that Magento isn’t the most “happening” platform in the game. Big mistake!
Looking back, 2016 was very active: Magento acquired RJMetrics and turned it into Magento Business Intelligence, a cloud based all-in-one ETL & DW & visualization package for commerce analytics. Magento acquired BlueFoot CMS, which will be integrated in Magento 2.3 slated for H2 2017. Magento launched Digital Commerce Cloud for those who prefer to let the vendor take care of sizing, hosting and platform management. Magento launched its own Order Management module. And made Magento Commerce 2 a lot better. (FitForCommerce presented a semi-scientific study on total cost of implementation, indicating that implementation efforts have decreased as Magento 2 has matured!)
Key takeaway #2: Magento is investing heavily in expanding the platform in many different directions at the same time. This is a clear signal: Magento means serious business. With the help of the community, it’ll be hard to fail.
What next? Imagine 2017 had some launches to unveil: Magento Shipping simplifies integration with shipping providers. Magento Social takes your commerce to Facebook etc. The Magento B2B Module, scheduled for 2.2 in Q3, brings a host of serious B2B functionality to Magento Commerce. B2B features which previously required 3rd party extensions or custom coding will now be available out of the box, e.g:
- personalized / shared catalogs
- bulk ordering
- recently purchased items & requisition lists
- corporate accounts with hierarchical buyer organization modelling
- fine-grained user permissions
- self-registration of corporate accounts
- RFQ and quoting process
Obviously, most bigger clients will need to integrate these B2B features with their backend system such as SAP ERP, but it’s great that the basic functionality is available. Partners like Bilot are available for the end-to-end integration magic.
As silence falls over Vegas…
Well, Las Vegas never goes silent, but Imagine does come to an end. Thousands head back home, reversing their #RoadToImagine trips, taking new insights and inspiration with them to their daily lives as merchants, developers, ISVs and Magento employees.
I can warmly recommend Magento Imagine to anyone interested in hooking up with community members, learning about the platform, or hearing real-life customer success stories related to Magento. Definitely happy that I joined this year. And I’m glad I brought my running shoes!