With the release of HCL Commerce v9.1.4 we have finished the first part of our tooling journey and taken the next steps on our journey. What we have completed is pretty impressive – a complete rewrite of the tooling from Accelerator, Org Admin Console, and Admin Console into one whole new extensible architecture, embedded into the Management Center. What is even more exciting is where we’re going next.

 

The new tooling capabilities that have been added so far gives you a taste of where we’re headed. We want to provide our customers with the tools that they can easily customize to meet the needs of their business. With an Angular front-end and an API back-end, that’s becoming a reality. Now customizing your tools is as easy as modifying your storefront, and the only skill-set you need from your developers is front-end development. This is the direction we will accelerate in 2021 and beyond, as we enhance how you use ‘core’ tools like Search and Catalog, and add new capabilities like RFQ.

 

But there will be a difference from what you’ve seen so far. The simpler, Accelerator-style tools were essentially ported from their old toolset into the new. While the style and ease-of-use has certainly been improved, they are effectively the same tools with the same capabilities. Now, with the core tools, we are starting ground-up redesigns. To that end we are meeting with customers and partners to understand their needs and how they use the tools and what they need for the future. We don’t want to, for example, take the existing Catalog tool and simply “fix” it. We want to start from scratch, understand what the user is trying to accomplish, and figure out how we can help them accomplish that faster and easier. To that point, we are adding what I’m calling “Embedded Analytics”. Analytics have become a core part of how our customers “see” what happens on their site. Products such as Google Analytics capture events and provide a multitude of visual dashboards to show what’s happening. Simply providing analytics is not enough. What our business users need is insights to identify issues, and then be able to solve those issues by taking action. To do this, we will embed analytics directly into the workflow or process. Not just reams of analytics data, but targeted analytics data that matches the metrics and KPIs that are important to the user of that particular process. And then we’ll give them the ability to take action on that data, to solve the problems surfaced by the insights.

 

To this end we’ve taken our first step in v9.1.4, with an out of the box integration to Google Analytics. This integration includes the pre-tagging of our Emerald and Sapphire sample stores, but it also includes native dashboards inside of Management Center that will become the jumping-off point for taking action. You will see in future releases how we build out those dashboards to provide greater visibility into the health of your business, and also how we enable the actions to be taken on those insights.

 

Beyond the dashboard, each tool, starting with Search, will contain its own analytics where it makes sense to do so. We’ve never had a dedicated Search tool in the product for managing the commerce platform, but with the new capabilities given to us with ElasticSearch, the time has come for it to be a stand-alone tool. As such, it will have embedded analytics that will expose issues with search results and enable the user to fix them quickly and easily. We’re working closely with customers to ensure that the data and capabilities provided in this tool align with our customers’ needs. After that will come some new functionality, such as Quotes and RFQs, and with that a new Seller Dashboard that will display analytics for sales/account reps about their accounts and customers, as well as of course taking any actions needed.

 

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in being one of the customers that we work with as we redesign our tooling, please get in touch with Amand Chan at Amanda.chan@hcl.com. If you have ideas or suggestions for changes or enhancements to existing capability in HCL Commerce, you can access our Ideas Portal here: https://commerce-ideas.hcltechsw.com/portal_session/new

For those of you on v9.1.3 or above, you also have a direct link to the Ideas Portal in your Management Center menu. Just select “Click here to submit an Idea” from the pulldown menu.

 

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