I had the pleasure and honor of attending and presenting at a WebSphere Commerce User Group meeting on Monday, May 6. It was a beautiful day with sunshine in Columbus, Ohio where the headquarter of Abercrombie & Fitch is located. We were joined by a list of elite customers such as Carhartt, Cardinal Heath, Sherwin Williams, Wasserstrom, Parker Hannifin, Cornerstone Brands and Chute Genderman. The event was well attended and we developed a real sense of camaraderie and collaboration throughout the day.
John Beechen opened the meeting with a thorough introduction of all customers, followed by partners and IBM employees. The meeting started with an update from HCL and IBM on status of the closing of the HCL transaction. We were briefed that the everything is in order and the transfer will likely take place by the end of the month. There is a heartfelt optimism from the IBMers in attendance who have accepted positions with HCL and cannot wait to start their new journey.
David Dobrindt of HCL, joined us remotely via Webex and gave us a warm and reassuring message from HCL that WebSphere Commerce is an investment and focus for HCL which he intends to deliver.
Next up, while we waited for lunch to be brought in, Brian Gillespie did an impromptu review of the roadmap since there were questions from the customers and sorry, you have to be under NDA to see it. IBM will own the roadmap until end of Q2 and afterwards, it will be owned by HCL so while we are excited about the future, Brian could not officially announce anything yet. In any case, Brian reviewed the latest Administrative APIs that were released, and we learned the new business toolings will rewritten using the new APIs, and released as an Angular SPA as a separate container. There will be new storefront APIs, and new dataload APIs. He touched on “guardrailed customization” which is a concept to allow customizations to live in the transaction server instead of splitting them out into the “xC2 server”. The goal is to preserve the investment customers made over the years in customizations and speed up the adoption of the V9 migration. Interestingly, Commerce will support a 3-tier product model to allow variants in the product hierarchy which is a welcome capability for the apparel industry. BODs will be removed. There is talk about other CMS being considered such as DX, Drupal and Adobe.
We had a delicious lunch and saw awesome presentations from Ben Philyaw of MJDinteractive, your truly on Mobiecom, iX from GBS, and Michael Rasmussen of Zilker Technology. There is exciting work that is being done around the world using REST APIs so it was very educational. Interestingly, John noted that all 3 of the projects presented are done in ReactJS.
We concluded the day with a customers-only private round-table while IBMers and partners chilled out in a separate conference room. Oh, by the way, did I mention that HCL is looking for a catchy name to rename WebSphere Commerce? I could hear some brilliant minds churning away and I look forward to a new announcement soon from HCL.
On a bright note, before parting, Rizwan Abdul of A&F and Sankar Kalla of Carhartt agreed to be the permanent co-hosts for the future local user groups in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you, A&F for hosting the meeting and John Beechen for getting us together for a good time to be had by all!
If you’d like to join one of the other WC User Group meetings, here is the schedule and registration links:
May 23 – Austin TX (host : National Instruments)
June 4 – Toronto, Ontario (host : IBM Software Labs)
May 22 – Virtual (host : Webex)