It already seems a long time ago that Imagine 2017 drew to a close, but here we are just 5 days after we landed back in the UK with some of our key learnings, experiences and thoughts from the 7th annual global Magento conference.
Road to Imagine…
Our journey to Vegas this year was far less eventful than previous years and I finally broke my jinx on flying with Virgin Atlantic as we arrived within 1 minute of our scheduled arrival time in Vegas, a journey of over 4,500 miles – now if only my commute in to London each day which is only 40 miles could be so efficient.
It never ceases to amaze me about how big a draw it is to attend the Magento conference. There is clearly a large majority of the delegates originating from North America and Europe, but we were lucky enough to meet delegates from the Middle East, Australia, Hong Kong and Argentina to name just a few. The below image tracks twitter users on their #RoadtoImagine (courtesy of http://imagineallthetweets.com/ – which if you like stats and numbers you should check out)
What did we learn…
Quite a bit actually…. Let’s start with some facts and figures:
- There were over 800 merchants at Imagine this year, around a third of all attendees which is a significant increase from previous years. 30 of these merchants were presenting and endorsing the use of Magento products and solutions during the conference. Good stuff Magento!
- Magento products are currently supporting over $100b of sales worldwide, and this number is forecast to reach $224b by 2020 – that’s more than double in the next 3 years!
- Gartner release their new magic quadrant on the 17th. We don’t know what the ‘fact’ is behind this one other than the date – but it’s fair to say Magento seem pleased about their position in it.
- 40% of all new Magento Enterprise contracts are signed up on the Cloud edition. This makes sense given the commercials are more attractive than buying the hosting and infrastructure separately, as well as the option for monthly billing for merchants. We’ve had access to the cloud environments for some time now, but the message to those partners who have not was ‘be ready – merchants are demanding it’
So that’s the key facts and figures, there were also some key messages throughout the conference and a number of product announcements:
- Throughout our time at the conference there were a number of sessions that highlighted there will be an increased focus on quality going forward. For us and the other certified partners, this can only be seen as a positive move and will involve more regular customer satisfaction surveys and post implementation reviews carried out by Magento. Together with the tightening of acceptance criteria for extensions to the marketplace announced last year, these are all in our view positive, and the right things to do to support properly trained and certified partners.
- Linked with the above point, is that Magento are actively pursuing the strategy of getting as many clients on the cloud version as possible. There are many benefits of this, not least for merchants from a commercial standpoint, but also as it will give Magento better visibility on quality, routine patching and maintenance together with performance of websites using their products, and they will be far better positioned to support sites that are not being maintained properly or performing.
- There was an openness from Magento which was refreshing when they acknowledged that early versions of Magento 2 had not been ideal and that both partners and merchants faced some challenges with the new product. However, there was also real confidence in the latest versions ( 2.1.4 and 2.1.5 ) that those challenges were now a thing of the past and this is backed up by our experience of projects using the more recent versions. There are still around 3,500 Magento Enterprise customers operating on versions 1.x who will need to migrate. Those who were ‘waiting and watching’ might now feel the time has come to make the move.
- Quite a few new names, changed names and announcements – we think we got them all but if not please let us know which ones we missed:
- Magento Commerce Cloud – Although this isn’t reflected on the Magento website yet, there were a number of references to the Magento Commerce Cloud as the suite of products they are now offering – sounds similar to something I’ve heard before…..
- Magento Business Intelligence – Originally Magento Analytics following the acquisition of RJ Metrics, and now renamed. The core offering is now becoming available to clients with different tiers/levels available that should suit different sizes and types of merchant.
- Magento Social – A new one, allowing brands to connect their websites and social feeds to generate more sales and make the social purchasing channel more streamlined.
- Magento Advanced CMS – Another renamed, what was Bluefoot CMS and then Magento CMS, is now Magento Advanced CMS. The full release of this within the core of Magento 2 is scheduled for the second half of this year and we think this is a vitally important and significant upgrade to the functionality available.
- Magento Shipping – Not so new this one now, our friends at Temando partnering with Magento to enable their range of shipping and fulfilment solutions which is due out in the next release within the next few months.
One other thing, we learnt that autocues are probably better placed at ground level and not attached to the ceiling, but I’m sure that the presenters will have already fed that back to the Wynn for next year.
Our favourite things…
We’ve had to work really hard to keep this section succinct as there are so many things to remember and enjoy, but here is a shortlist of those that featured for us:
Quotes: Every conference has some defining quotes that stick in the mind, and you know what they are when you see people reaching for their phones to tweet them out – us included! Jamie Clarke, who as ever was full of energy and enthusiasm, (apart from the morning after the night before…) with a very simple quote captured what Imagine is all about when he said “If knowledge is power, then shared knowledge is really powerful”
Mosaic: On arrival on the Saturday, what would later become a defining image of the conference was just a blank canvas with lots of intrigued delegates wondering what would appear. Those clever people @Creatuity and @JoshuaSWarren had done something I’d not seen before and the end result (not quite the end as I had to fly home…) was the below:
Again, encapsulating the conference by building an end product through the collaboration of all of the community and attendees.
Serena: The theme of securing some of the top sporting talents of all time continued from Magic Johnson’s appearance last year to Serena Williams this year. Serena shared with the audience her journey to become the greatest athlete ever, regardless of gender and how even though she is the best, how she always has to keep innovating and improving to remain the best.
Commerce Conversations: Probably our favourite breakout session since it was originally introduced 2 years ago. Hosted this year by Craig Peasley, the format encourages partners, merchants and Magento staff to discuss topics which this year ranged from site performance, B2B use cases and responsive vs progressive mobile design. An excellent couple of hours and really useful and informative discussions.
Understanding the TCO/Time to Implement Magento 2: Analysis of the TCO of Magento and other platforms is something we regularly help our clients with, so this session was a ‘must’ attend for us, and for many others given the room was packed with people standing across the back. I think the key takeaway from the analysis by Fit4Commerce was that Magento Enterprise versions 2.1.1 onwards are being implemented and launched significantly quicker than those that have been using 2.0.x versions. This came as no surprise to us given the number of implementations we have now completed over the last 15 months, but somewhat re-assuring that some of the challenges we faced on earlier versions were felt by many others too.
It rains : Yes, it actually rained while we were in Vegas. Torrential rain, high winds, thunder and black skies…
We had some news of our own to share…
On the last day of the conference, we were pleased to be able to announce some news of our own with our latest promotion to Enterprise Solution Partner status. This is recognition for our highly experienced team of the work they have been doing with Magento and merchants over the last couple of years. You can read more about this here.
Only 378 days to go…
But there are only 365 days in a year? Yep, next year the conference is slightly later in April with it all kicking off officially on 23rd April 2018 at the Wynn Las Vegas which now appears to have become a 2nd home for Magento – but I’m sure we’ll see many of you again in the days prior to allow ourselves time to acclimatise and adjust to the time zone…..