From new features to a client award... Akeneo Unlock 2022: our expert review!
- 28 Mar 2022
By Jelmer Tick, Solution Consultant at SMILE Benelux & Akeneo Implementation Specialist
“On march 14th, 15th and 16th I was in Paris to attend Akeneo’s Unlock 2022 event. This yearly event is about gathering the Akeneo community together , sharing use cases/best practices and discussing what’s next on the product roadmap. It’s like Apple’s WWDC, but then for the Akeneo community . Traditionally the first day of Unlock was dedicated just for partners. Therefore, we have surely been there since Smile is a proud Gold partner of Akeneo.
Akeneo is accelerating its growth at breakneck speed
Numerous were the topics discussed during these sessions on Partnerday, focusing on the growth spurt Akeneo is going through at the moment. In 2021, alone over 100 new people joined Akeneo across the globe. Even though the biggest growth is still in the EU, Akeneo is putting its foot down on American soil. This is something that I have noticed personally as well with my US projects: Customer Success Managers and consultants are joining the company making it easier to deliver these US projects, while partnering with local Akeneo resources.
Another indicator of success, apart from some KPI’s, was that in 2021, Akeneo was recognised as a leader by 5 (!) different research firms. IDC MarketScape, Forrester wave and Ventana to name a few of them. If that isn’t good news enough, it was announced during the keynote speech that Akeneo raised another $135M in a series D funding! For me, this shows that I’m not the only one who likes to work with Akeneo and believes in its capability as a strong business enabler.
Customization: the new engine of Akeneo version 6
So, putting my inner numbers-geek back in its cage, it’s time to reflect on some of the features and product related topics.
For Flexibility users, the release of Akeneo 6 was also announced during Unlock. Flexibility is the PaaS solution that Akeneo offers, which allows us (as integration partner) to customise the application to our customers’ needs. These customizations can range from smaller features like adding flags to custom locales to larger customizations such as advanced permissions based on multiple variables/dimensions or introducing a completely new attribute type.
Flexibility is updated with new features once per year, which means that Flexibility customers need to wait for the next release to get their hands on new features, whereas Serenity’s (Akeneo’s SaaS solution) customers can enjoy new features or improvements almost every month.
We can find some long awaited features in Akeneo 6, to name a few:
1. Table Attribute -> enables you to manage multidimensional data in your PIM. Take, for example, managing an ingredient table, nutritional facts or packaging information. Very neat addition to the 17 already existing attributes.
2. Tailored Exports -> this feature allows you to tailor your exports (what’s in the name…) based on the needs of your stakeholders or channel requirements without having to change your attribute or attribute values in the PIM. This is particularly useful when you need to send information to vendors or resellers in a specific format. You can even do some basic manipulation of the data, like concatenations or changing the attribute values (e.g. from ‘Burgundy red’ to ‘Red’).
3. Attribute guidelines -> when we implement a PIM, our goal is to make the life of the people, enriching the data as easy as possible. One of the ways we do this is by limiting the options one can choose from. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. With this feature you are able to guide the person enriching the product data during the enrichment process. For example, you have a free text attribute for your product name and you always follow a certain syntax for this name, using the attribute guidelines you can share this syntax with the person enriching the product data. Yay for product information gouvernance!
4. There is an app for that! Yes, part of the new release is the Akeneo App Store and Akeneo apps. The idea behind it is that the store shows you all the apps, connectors and bundles that are compatible with your Akeneo version. The apps themselves are new to Akeneo, but it’s not a new concept for us tech-savvy folks. The idea of apps is similar to those on your mobile device. Technical partners create the apps to work with their solutions, and as a user you can activate those through the store. Installation, or should I say activation, is a breeze. App permissions can be set via the UI and when installed, the user should not be bothered with it again. This might be the end of the connectors as we know them now…
Long awaited new features…
Other neat features in this release are the mass edition of asset attributes, user duplication, user import and export, advanced API logging, managing spell-check dictionaries, increased size for asset families (up to 10 million assets per family!) and some UI tweaks. It might not seem a lot, but most of these features are pretty useful once you work with Akeneo.
So, no new features announced then? Au contraire! But I have to be very careful with disclosing them… Let’s give it a try ;)
We can look forward to the release of:
1. Tailored imports: this feature allows you to manipulate data you receive from vendors etc. to meet your data needs. From a productivity point of view a big win as this eliminates the need for cleaning up data every new import. Just create a tailored import profile once and use it for every new product upload from that particular vendor. Easy peasy!
2. Product ID generator: this feature allows you to create your product ID/SKU in Akeneo. This means that you can put Akeneo before your ERP in the product life cycle. The biggest benefit is that you start enriching your product data before the product is born in the ERP; this removes the ERP dependency and thus increases your time to market! Another cool part is that you can define more ID’s for products. For example, you can mark your vendor’s ID as such as well.
3. Import/Export automation for Serenity users: this would allow SaaS users to automate their imports and exports and put them on a dedicated folder on the server. Files can be picked up from this location by 3rd party systems and Akeneo in case of imports.
Big disclaimer here: I don’t know when and if these features will see the light of day. This is all in the hands of Akeneo. You can check the Akeneo roadmap on their website. There are some features on my wishlist that would be beneficial for my clients, but I will keep that between Akeneo and myself. For now ;)
As you can read, quite some new and useful features are announced or released, but that is not all we did at Unlock. I’m saving the best for last, so please stick with me for a bit longer :)
A strong and growing community around PIM & e-Commerce issues!
Community. There is a big community around Akeneo and it is growing. Most of my time spent at Unlock involved (re)connecting with the community and listening to use cases and best practices around the implementation of Akeneo. As implementing a PIM, for me, is also about changing organisations and adding value based on experiences, this was quite a vital part of Unlock. Listening to the implementation successes at LVMH, Royal Canin, Boohoo.com and others gave me quite some new perspectives on how much a company changes during the implementation of a PIM. For the good certainly, when done right implementing a PIM will increase efficiency and effectiveness. Community is not only about customers; it also involves technical partners and other software vendors connecting to Akeneo. Part of my job is to know these Marketplace vendors to identify their added value for my customers when implementing Akeneo. Examples such as DAM and syndication solutions are good to know to be able to add more value during the implementation process. In the next few weeks, my calendar is booked with meeting various vendors to stay up to date with their offerings.
“Together with our customer Azelis we won the 2022 PXM Champion Leadership Award!”
One more thing… We won an Akeneo PXM Championship Award with one of our projects! This is a great recognition for the project team (both customer and SMILE) for their work done. The award we won is the Leadership Award. This award is given to the company which either has a high adoption rate of the solution, increased efficiency by implementing Akeneo and therefore being able to spend more time on strategic subjects, or when new positions were created to enable further growth by using the PIM.
Looking back at the event, it has been a great few days with the award as frosting on the cake. I’m looking forward to next year’s event and project with which we’ll be competing for an award next year!
If you have any questions about Akeneo, the event or implementing a PIM, please feel free to contact me!”
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