I just recently returned from the 2018 Liferay Symposium for North America (#LSNA18) in New Orleans or N’Awlins as some like to say, and since this was my tenth Liferay Symposium, I figured it was time to write about my reflections from this year’s symposium – a full four years after I last wrote about a Liferay Symposium in 2014.
This year’s symposium was a cozier affair than 2014 but you can see Liferay growing as a company – beyond being a single product company. Liferay, Inc. has reinvented itself from being The Portal Company to now offering a platform that enables enterprises to deliver a much fuller and richer Digital Experience, and their pace of innovation is speeding up (more on this later) to match the frenzied pace of technological advances that are happening all around (I talk about this in my Forbes.com article Seven Disruptions That Are Shaping Customer Experience Today).
So, what were the highlights other than Liferay’s own transformation?
Liferay DXP Cloud Announcement
Liferay, Inc. announced the release of Liferay DXP Cloud that reduces the friction in adopting Liferay DXP – it greatly simplifies the deployment, management and scaling of Liferay DXP with Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities. In many ways, this was long overdue. However, it is here finally and I am excited about the possibilities this offers for the typical enterprise – it greatly reduces the need for IT to maintain and manage their own infrastructures and enables them to focus on delivering new services and value for the business. Liferay DXP Cloud promises the typical benefits of cloud solutions and more – elasticity, autoscaling, governance, high availability, zero downtime deployments, monitoring, application management, backup and recovery, and security. Liferay is rolling out this new product offering incrementally over the coming months.
Liferay Analytics Cloud
Liferay, Inc. had announced the release of Liferay Analytics Cloud back in July along with the release of Liferay 7.1 but shared more details about the product at LSNA18. Liferay Analytics Cloud, is a complementary offering to Liferay DXP, available as an add-on SaaS subscription that enables you to aggregate data into a single customer view and help business users understand customer activity. Liferay Analytics Cloud differentiates itself from other non-integrated analytics offerings in a number of ways including –
- It offers named single user analytics allowing you to see a given individual’s interests, activity history and more.
- It provides the ability to segment users into groups, and analyze segment membership (how the user population in a given segment has changed over time), topics of interest, and distribution (based on demographic property such as company or job title).
- It offers more than page analytics – it allows you to analyze portlet and content interactions out-of-the-box.
- It allows you to take a content-centric view and determine which assets on your sites are generating the most interest and activity.
- It integrates with Liferay’s audience targeting feature and allows you to personalize the user’s experience in a more performant and scalable manner.
I am excited about the possibilities this has for improving customer experience – whether the customer is external or internal (an employee).
Liferay Commerce Uncovered
Like Liferay Analytics Cloud, Liferay, Inc. had announced the release of Liferay Commerce back in July, but shared more details about the product at LSNA18. The most important differentiation of Liferay Commerce versus integrating another Commerce product into Liferay is the deep integration that Liferay Commerce offers – it is built from the ground up to just work with Liferay DXP. Secondly, Liferay Commerce is built to serve the B2B use case which is the sweet spot for Liferay DXP and does not have the limitations that most B2C commerce products have. All in all, once Liferay Commerce achieves general availability in Q1 2019, it offers the promise of a fully integrated front-end experience for users through the entire purchasing journey and making it easier for marketers to manage the product catalog and leverage the content and power of Liferay DXP in enriching the overall digital experience.
You can learn more about the features of Liferay Commerce at https://www.liferay.com/products/commerce/features, and I am sure you will spot many that enable B2B transactions.
Liferay Product Roadmap
Ed Chung, Liferay’s VP of Product Management, presented the Liferay product suite roadmap with his product managers providing additional details on the products they manage. Clearly, Liferay is investing in its product suite and improving the customer experience of its customers. When you look at some of the functionality coming in the next 3-6 months, Liferay is doing a great job of addressing some of the key weaknesses that partners like us (XTIVIA), customers and analysts (Gartner, Forrester) have called out – the lack of a cloud offering, lack of integrated analytics, the need for stronger user experience personalization, and needed usability improvements to web experience management. Not only is there a ton of new functionality coming, it is coming fast and furious – there are many product releases as you can see in the timeline graphic (standard disclaimers apply) below; the pace of innovation is certainly speeding up and the Liferay community will benefit significantly if Liferay can execute per plan.
Some key highlights of the roadmap
- Liferay DXP v7.1 was released in early July 2018, and v7.2 is expected to release late Q2 or early Q3 2019. Liferay is looking at targeting annual releases of the core DXP product with a focus on delivery dates and more flexibility around scope to provide better release predictability. 7.2 is expected to focus on delivering personalized experiences at scale (which includes usability and capability improvements in web experience management), streamlining business operations (which includes enhancements around forms, customer profiles, and workflows), and more.
- Liferay DXP Cloud is generally available in the Americas and will roll out incrementally elsewhere in Q1 2019.
- Liferay Analytics Cloud is expected to be generally available shortly (end of October 2018).
- Liferay Commerce is expected to come out of its current limited release (v1.0) and be generally available in Q1 2019 as v1.1.
While the increase in the number of products and releases from Liferay, Inc. is exciting, it also presents challenges to Liferay as it requires a transformation in every aspect of its business – from engineering to support to sales to marketing and more. I will be rooting for Liferay to succeed, and as a long-time partner, we will do what we can to help, so that the entire community can benefit.
Summing it up
Last, but not least, the Liferay Symposium was also a great opportunity to hang with old friends and XTIVIA customers as well as form new relationships, have compelling conversations, learn, and just have fun. And as usual, the closing keynote from Bryan Cheung brought things full circle about why Liferay exists, and about leaving the world a better place than we found it. This message resonates deeply with me and ties into my personal ethos of lifelong learning and continual improvement, which starts with challenging the status quo, having unreasonable aspirations, and pursuing mastery. You will never achieve mastery, but the journey will be worth it.