Adobe Summit 2018: The Evolution of the Digital Marketing Platform


As we get back to our normal routine following the amazing experiences at the 2018 Adobe Summit, we wanted to share a look back on our session, —  “The Evolution of the Digital Marketing Platform; A case study on how National evolved the Enterprise Rent-A-Car AEM platform approach to further the needs of both brands

We focused on topics that answer the following question: How do you evolve an existing technology stack to allow for increased release velocity, and scalability?

To address that question, we targeted four main topics:

  1. Using OOTB AEM, open source, and configurable component solutions
  2. Thoughtfully integrating React UIs and SPAs into a CMS driven website
  3. Providing the ability to spin up localized domains easily
  4. Including all relevant stakeholders throughout the design process

Using OOTB AEM, open source, and configurable component solutions

In this topic, we stressed the importance of leveraging existing, proven solutions to accomplish business needs. e also dove into how to use the author dialog to provide flexible components that can be styled differently in CSS depending on the context in which they’re being used.

Lastly, we touched on how we use automated tasks to generate pages that don’t change much, if ever; such as vehicle inventory and branch information pages.

Because we presented on the final day of the summit, we had the opportunity, throughout the week, to learn how Adobe AEM 6.4 will solve many of the same business challenges that we currently solve via custom patterns; i.e. template and component styling. We look forward to using those OOTB approaches as they become available.

Thoughtfully integrating React UIs and SPAs into a CMS driven website

It can be challenging to integrate dynamic, interactive experiences into a content managed website. This includes the authoring challenges along with the purely technical challenges.

In our session, we demonstrated how we use AEM to expose content and formats in a way that JavaScript code can leverage to update the user experience.

We took the audience through how we modify the experience depending on if the user is an author or a customer, how we toggle features on and off if services are temporarily unavailable, and how important it is to use a dynamic style guide as a single source of truth for HTML/CSS patterns that get integrated into both AEM and React components.

In addition, we  discussed how we use data provided by AEM, and data returned from service calls made by the client layer to populate and trigger analytics data capture events.

Finally, we explained how we use authoring dialogs to initialize SPA (single page application) functionality. This again was interesting as a new feature coming in AEM 6.4 will focus on accomplishing the same objective; both for headless CMS approaches via content fragments, and fully integrated authoring experiences driven by React! Similar to style theming, we seem to be on the same page as Adobe in regards to the types of business challenges we solve for our clients and how we go about accomplishing that.

Providing the ability to spin up localized domains easily

Perhaps the biggest challenge we deal with on both Enterprise and National web sites is how to spin up localized domains quickly, and ensure they’re easy to maintain by a staff of content authors.

There are both benefits and pitfalls of using Multi Site Manager to create a blueprint of a single language that can be copied out to new domains and languages as needed. This feature allows authors to get new sites up and running very quickly, but an author has to be aware of the potential for missing content, overwritten content due to AEM dispatcher caching issues, as well as cross origin concerns.

It is essential to make web pages static to achieve maximum performance benefits, and the challenges involved with how to redirect users via a single JavaScript codebase when URLs can change across domains and languages.

Including all relevant stakeholders throughout the design process

To wrap it all up, we focused on the importance of including all teams throughout the design process.

The  role of our functional and technology teams is to evaluate existing service layers and determine the complexity involved with implementing a new user experience. From there, the product owner ensuresthat once we know we can build something in a given timeline, that it satisfies user needs, business goals, and branding guidelines.

Finally, we stressed how important involving content authors is to the design process. This is critical to ensure that the teams who maintain site content and the intended designs feel comfortable with the authoring experience being built, and that it will be easy to use as the site grows over time.

Thank you!

We were excited to be able to share these ideas with the Adobe Summit audience and were thankful to have had an opportunity to discuss these topics with all who attended and followed up with such interesting questions. These discussions give us insight into how we can continue to evolve our solutions as well.

And a gigantic thank you to the Adobe Summit staff for such an incredible event. We’re already looking forward to next year!