The Dog Days Of Hybris (Or, Musings On Hybris)

February 16, 2016

This post was inspired by thoughts shared in a post by Arthur Lawida from CommerceTools:

Let me start by saying that I’m a fan of CommerceTools, and perhaps even more so a fan of Mr. Lawida, who has been a colleague, friend, and mentor over the years. His foresight has been astounding in many ways, and it’s worth looking closely at the thoughts he shares in the aforementioned post.

In his post, Mr. Lawida does a good job of telling the tale of the “early days” of Hybris, which in many ways is the same story of other leading platforms that emerged quickly and rose to significant market share. It’s certainly true in my experience at Acquity Group – which like Ecommerce Accelerator (ECA) was one of the first implementors of Hybris in North America – that the early days of implementing the solution were pretty rough. Some of the first enterprise hybris projects I witnessed remain, like Art’s example in his post, the most extreme examples of underestimated and “off the rails” implementations I’ve ever seen. It was certainly the case that SI’s like Acquity and ECA were paying the price of an oversold and developing solution- but things got better. Quickly.

To say that 90% of the implementation issues were due to SI mistakes is probably not a fair assessment – though it could be argued technically true.

It’s important to understand where we are today. I spent the last two years growing a hybris practice and serving customers in a wide range of markets – successfully. The teams that emerged from the fray of the early days are the rock stars of today. The platform has evolved tremendously, integrates with SAP systems and products, provides robust cloud infrastructure, and a mature partner network. Early adopters like Acquity and ECA (now ICF) have a strong presence in the hybris community today, as do their early customers.

I’m writing this from my hotel in Munich, where we are seeing an energetic Hybris Summit take place, and the best of the best representing those same firms that forded the rivers of those early projects. What is perhaps more interesting, is the crop of newer firms who have been able to stand on the shoulders of the early adopters, develop the right approach, and train teams from the ground up. New firms – often seeded with the best thought leaders and talent of the old firms, have no need to pivot to new approaches because they have the luxury of starting with them.

All of this benefits the market, SAP customers, and technology teams who live for this rapid evolution of digital commerce.

From what I have seen, CommerceTools has something very real to offer – and their approach differs from many of its competitors in a forward-looking way. What remains to be seen is what role the out of the box front-end templates and business logic will play for B2B customers, and how detaching the front-end technology from the platform will impact the cost of standing up a solution.

For example, prior to running a Hybris practice, I spent four years building a Demandware practice at Acquity Group. What made standing up and maintaining websites on that platform less complex and expensive than Hybris (in many cases) was the tightly integrated nature of the front-end technology.

How a commerce platform should balance their framework, micro-service API’s, and balance back-end technology with front-end user experience is an important topic for those of us who’ve been around to see these platforms evolve – and are are always with eyes on the horizon. Am I ready to say who will emerge with the next greatest innovation? I’m not – but what is certain is that the evolution of adopting any new technology is likely to follow a similar path as the early days of Hybris.

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