In the last episode of Talk Commerce for 2022, we speak with Rani Mani, the Digital Media Customer Communication Lead at Adobe. We talk about all things community and why some companies get community wrong.
Rani Mani is deeply passionate about making customers successful and harnessing the power of customer feedback to improve the overall customer experience.
Rani does this at scale over social media and is constantly looking at new and exciting ways to pinpoint areas where companies are making it especially difficult to do business with them.
Rani is skilled at working with cross-functional teams across the company to figure out ways of reducing customer effort. In addition to being keenly interested in reducing customer effort, she is equally schooled in strategies for providing exemplary support over social channels and cultivating and nurturing community engagement so the company can be a community-driven business.
Brent: Welcome to this special New Year’s Eve version of Talk Commerce. Today I have Rani Mani. Rani, tell us your role, what you do daily, and maybe one of your passions in life.
Rani: Yeah. Hi Brent. So my day-to-day at Ajovy is telling the story of our individual customers, so predominantly our customers using Creative Cloud. I’m incredibly passionate about doing amazing things in the world just because people are truly changing the world. Adobe happens to power that, so that’s been super satisfying to be a part of.
Brent: We met through the Adobe Insiders Program in 2019. Can you believe that? At the Adobe Summit, right? Or Yes. Yeah. So we met right around that time. And you are no longer with that group, so you’ve moved on to a group, but you’ve so graciously been involved in our little mini insider group that you’ve so kindly come on to the podcast today.
Rani: Oh yes. No, there’s no way that I could be too far away from the group with so many friends, and it’s so much more about the people than anything programmatic about the program. So yeah, I thrill to be here, Brent.
Brent: Good. Thank you. Before we get into our content, I think one of the things we’re going to talk about is community.
Brent: You have graciously said that you would participate in the #freejokeproject, so I’m just going to tell you a joke, and all you have to do is say, should this joke be free, or can somebody charge for it at some point? All right, here we go.
Brent: Thanks. I was going to preface it with that. Most of my jokes are not worth saying, but free is very liberal. Thank you so much; all right. Community in our green room, you just mentioned briefly about that it’s sometimes community gets lost and how people do community is lost.
Brent: Can you expand on that?
Rani: I think people lose sight of the fact that community is all about the individual, right? And what’s in it for them, what makes their heart sing, and how they can band together to support and share with one another. That it’s not meant to be transactional.
Rani: And a lot of companies, and even individuals, even nonprofits that I see trying to rally the community, make it about other things other than the individual. And I often wonder Brent is it not the most obvious thing that the community should be about the people that are in it? And why are we making so much of a big deal around the cause?
Rani: or the corporation or whatever the external thing is, as opposed to diving into the people. Because I feel like once you dive into the people and they are loyalists, and they’re bound to one another, no matter what the thing is, they will stay intact. Which I think is a real testament to how our insider program.
Rani: I could come in and out of it. Adobe may or may not be a part of it, but I feel like that group will forever last. Now the way we’ve set it up, I feel very confident about that because you are all so connected to one another that it’s a real thing of beauty to watch.
Brent: Yeah, I like what you said about not transactional, and I think leaders in positions that look for ROI want to figure out how can this transaction give us value.
Brent: And I think that’s the first mistake anybody would make in building community. Maybe just tell us a little bit more about how you feel and what you think about it being about the person. How focusing on that person helps build community. Cause some might think that’s backward like it should be focused on the community.
Brent: But I agree with you that it is about the people in the community and focusing on each of those. People help the community to become stronger.
Rani: Yep. I feel like there is no community without the individual, and a community happens to be the sum of multiple individuals. And so, to me, the most basic attack.
Rani: Adam of that community is individual. So I need to not. I need to. I want to focus on who you are, Brent, and what makes you sing, right? What lights you up and what are you trying to do in the world, and how can Adobe and how can I be a part of that? And how can this community assist you in that, right? Like when you start with that premise, it’s a win-win for all.
Rani: But I feel like it’s no different, Brent, than anything in life, right? Whatever it is that you’re doing in life, if you don’t start with the individual and what does success look like to them and what gets them out of bed today, and what are their hopes and dreams like, how are you going to get to the heart of anything if you don’t start at that very basic level of the person?
Brent: The flip side would be that some company wants to create community, and they want the community to be about the company, and then everybody loses focus on the people in it because there’s no common bond between the people. It’s all just the company and the.
Brent: Whatever they’re trying to do is driving that community. Where organically community should be built because people want to participate in it,
Rani: And the company should and can be a part of it. Like I feel like our Adobe Insiders Group has and will continue to do Somers results for Adobe, right?
Rani: I feel like this group does amazing things on behalf of Adobe and is very quick to defend and promote and all of that, for which Adobe is incredibly grateful. But in the event, Adobe was to ever step out of that community, I really firmly believe that, Because you all have established such a bond, and there are so many connective tissue threads within the group that, it’s really wonderful.
Brent: Part of the way I got into the Adobe community was through Magento, an Adobe acquisition. And I can say that the Magento community operates in a similar fashion, where the community really is the driver of everything around what the corporation would like to see, but there’s no oversight from some big brother saying you as a community have to do this.
Brent: And I like what you said about, they’ll do somersaults over it cuz they’re passionate about what they’re doing right. Like everybody in the community is passionate about some aspect of what they’re in it for,
Rani: right? Everybody gets something slightly different, and there is no overarching you need to attend this many meetings, and you need to tweet this many times.
Rani: And I very purposely left it that way. Because I just felt like there were many, much bigger things that bound us together as people. That would have a much greater staying power than providing some arbitrary structure like that,
Brent: Talk a little bit about the difference of how we can help to tell each of our own stories rather than a company story.
Brent: As a community, does it really help the community to tell the story about the company, or does it tell, is it help the community to tell the story about individuals who are in the community??
Rani: I don’t see it as a mutually exclusive thing. If you think about it, Brent, our community does both, right?
Rani: Our community gives the name and faith, and personality to the Adobe logo, as you tell different things that you’re doing using Adobe products, it’s your story, but ultimately gets wrapped up into Adobe story as. , right? So I feel like both need to happen for it to be a really compelling, memorable story.
Brent: I can remember in Magento Imagine the last one was 2019 and then the Adobe Summit followed up. But during that, we got Adobe Rush as a free gift for attending blah, blah blah. And I remember sitting there in that Adobe. I attended one of the Adobe Rush specific like there was some kind of a tutorial event or some
Brent: kickoff event and said, Hey, this is what it actually does. And I did CR I, and I remember him creating a short video during the session that said, Hey, I’ve made this while multitasking in my Adobe Rush session on Adobe Rush using Adobe Rush. And then, I published it by the end of the session.
Brent: I think it just, that kind of gives to how we can be passionate about a product and also promote a product while doing a product and sitting in listening about a product. I don’t know where I’m going with this story but was true. It was still fun.
Rani: Very true. But not all products and services lend itself to that, right?
Rani: Adobe is in an absolutely unique position to have such an iconic brand and so many products that are within the fabric of our culture that, it lends itself to exactly what you’re talking about.
Brent: It’s not as exciting to say, Hey, I’ve created an integration using Adobe io. While I was doing my Adobe IO session, and now I can, oh my gosh, make AEM talk to joking.
Rani: Adobe covers, or for the people who are part of what do you call it, washing machines or dryers or, like I, I often, when I first started the group, I was like, this is criminal that I get to do this because, It’s how Adobe set up and what we offer the world, it’s, I feel like people clamor to be a part of it.
Rani: So it’s just, it’s such a natural, dare I say, easy thing to mobilize the community around.
Brent: If you could speak a little bit to how. How you see the storytelling and if there’s anything different. Is there a magic sauce in the Adobe community, or is it something that is just inherently good because the community is building what the community’s building?
Rani: I think the magic sauce is the people, right? Like the love. If any individual within the group were to pull back or new people came in, the ethos would be different. And that isn’t to say that we don’t always welcome or look for new people, but I think there’s something very special about the existing.
Rani: People within the community and the amount of time you’ve all been together, the kind of hopes and dreams and struggles that you’ve all shared. You’ve been in some of our happy hours, Brent. And we get very up close and personal, right? We’re talking about deaths and marriages and divorces and Custody battles,
Rani: We talk about some really milestone real hearts stringing kind of things, and so that kind of vulnerability and that kind of connection with one another, it’s very much driven by the people.
Brent: The key to a good community is just what you were saying about it’s not just about some one thing that there are so many aspects around that. And we all have our own lives, right? And our own lives contribute to the community.
Brent: And whatever we do in our lives helps to build that community and make it stronger. And then, maybe you could speak a little bit about it. each of us in a community has a strong point. Each of us has one little aspect that adds to it and makes it a really strong community.
Brent: How important do you think the diversity in that community is?
Rani: When I think about diversity, I think about it more than just ethnic and cultural diversity, right? I’m thinking about it as diversity of thought, diversity of backgrounds. Perspective, and that’s so important because we don’t. How boring would it be if we’re all like one another?
Rani: There have been things brought up and new and innovative ideas that have been offered due to the diversity. And we’ve all benefited from it. That’s why I’m so impressed with you, Brent, that in addition to being a part of the Magento community, you still took that leap of faith and became a part of this community that, at first, I’m sure, felt like a bunch of doorknobs, right?
Rani: Because there was no one. Product or one campaign, or one, anything that bounds us together. I brought a group of people together, and my ultimate question was, are these decent human beings? Oh, and of course, who happens to have a decent social footprint who are doing new and interesting things in the world of digital experiences?
Rani: But my ultimate criteria was, Are these people that I admire enough and feel comfortable enough with that I would invite into my own home and expose my four kids to, right? That was my ultimate criteria. And without exception, every single one of you that’s part of this group, it’s a resounding yes to that.
Rani: And so it’s been a great thing, right? We’ve just got a really good group of people. . Like not just the passion, but the level of goodness of the human being, right?
Brent: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And for the kid’s thing, I’m worried more about the community members and my kids, like they’re exposed to my kids because, never mind.
Brent: Yeah. Gonna, I was going down the, a bad joke path there, . Yeah. And I guess when I was thinking about diversity, I wasn’t necessarily thinking. Cultural and ethnic, but that is a good part of it. It is important in a community for people to have different strong points.
Brent: And, I’m part of the commerce community, which gives me a different view on things. And now, for me personally, what I’ve learned from, going to the Adobe Summit when it was live in person, but then attending the virtual ones, was that there’s so much more to the whole experience that a customer would have using something like Adobe, you’re using any kind of platform that we can all become better people or even better in our own personal roles that we’re doing because we’re exposed to this diversity in what everybody’s doing.
Brent: So there could be one person who’s marketing, and there’s one person who’s data or commerce or whatever, like we all get together, and we talk. I think that’s as important in that community as the community itself.
Rani: Yep. No, I agree. I agree. And the ethnic diversity has been a real treat as well because, Adobe really stands for,
Rani: amplifying and elevating the diverse voices that we represent in the community, right? In terms of our customer base. And so that was important to me as well, that we had that right mix of cultural and ethnic diversity within our group because, ultimately, perspective is made up of who you are and where you come from, right?
Rani: And so we, we have a real nice mix of that within our group as well.
Brent: Yeah, absolutely. And just want to applaud you for helping us to tell our stories in the community. You helped me quite a bit. To be able to tell my story to the community.
Brent: And I think I have a blog post out there somewhere. Anyways, it doesn’t matter. That’s hard to hear. Yes. No, there
Rani: is. And it was a beautifully done story as well, Brent. In fact, we should link to that from Oh yeah. This podcast so that people can see it because I, and this. The premise of who Adobe is, we believe that everyone has a story to tell.
Rani: And whatever we can as a company, given our products and services, whatever we can do to empower and enable you to tell your story, then we’ve done our job.
Brent: That’s awesome. Rani, we’re quickly running out of time. I know we wanted to target 10 to 15 minutes. A as we close out the podcast, I give a guest the opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything.
Brent: What would you like to plug today?
Rani: Yes, I would love to plug a nonprofit organization in the Bay Area by the name of Project Hired. I’m a very proud board member of the organization, and the organization is, Focused on providing advocacy and providing employment services for the disabled community.
Rani: Disabled people makeup one in four people in the world are disabled, and unfortunately, disabled people are woefully underemployed. And so this organization. Provides counseling and guidance and all sorts of services to help individuals with disabilities get employment. I would love for the audience to take a look into Project Hired and participate with them in any which way that you feel inclined.
Rani: Obviously, during the holidays and going into the new year, we’re always looking for donations. And donations don’t always have to be in the form of money. It can be volunteering. It can be if you’re a part of a company that has open jobs that you would like to do some matchmaking with our clients, that would be incredible.
Rani: So many different ways to participate and to give.
Brent: Yeah. Thank you for that. And incidentally, I just did an interview with a company that does sim something similar. It’s called John’s Crazy Sox, and they hired a disabled individual in there, and I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s large, that’s one of their missions, and they talked a lot about the mission of whatever the company is, has to reflect what their customers are wanting.
Brent: And I feel as though Adobe does reflect. In itself and with the employees and people like you that help to promote causes like this and help to amplify their voices. Yes.
Rani: Yes. No, most
Brent: Definitely. Rani Mani, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you, and I wish you a very happy New Year.
Rani: Oh, a very happy New Year to you as well, Brent. Thanks for having me.
What is a healthy ecosystem? Is it with a platform that only focuses on large enterprise clients like the fortune 500? Or is a healthy ecosystem around a broad base of commerce users that can mature and grow into a large company?
Robert Rand and Brent talk about the future of Magento Open source and what Adobe could do to help the community. We debate on the sliming of the core to add more features.
What do you think? We finish the episode talking about Shopware and the blue wave coming to the USA.
Let’s face it. It’s hard to build an ecosystem. We discuss what Shopware is doing to build its ecosystem and the resources they are putting into making this happen.
Today I have Jisse Reitsma from Yireo. Jisse and I have an open conversation around Mage Open Source Community Alliance and some reactions to the letter. We talk about the reaction from the Magento Association and talk a little about what could make it better. If you are interested in talking about this subject, please reach out to brent@brentwpeterson
The discussion on this week’s podcast focuses on the current issues developers are facing with Adobe and Magento. Two main issues discussed were the transparency of Adobe and the monolith and modularity dichotomy.
The Mage Open Source Community Alliance (MOSCA) open letter to the community sought to show that developers care about the Adobe products and believe that the open-source code that drives their products is neglected. Developers are accustomed to accessing a roadmap of the software shared with the broader community, which shows transparency, and some don’t believe that they are receiving that transparency with Magento.
It is believed that open source development lies in the hands of developers, and instead of just talking about the changes that they want to see, they can make it happen. That is one point that the open letter drove home. However, at this point, the change seems to be happening without actually any organization.
An important question in all this discussion is if there is indeed a split, who would own the trademark? Who is going to be the owner of the source codes? Who will be responsible for fixing the bugs as they arise?
If Adobe is not becoming more transparent in their decision-making, if there’s not a roadmap being published upon opensource, assuming that there is one, then actually the community will not see which way the whole Magento opensource thing is growing. Then, in the end, that’s going to mean that many people are just so unsure about a fundamental something that they’re either going to leave or create a fork or are going to stick with even Magento one. And that’s the direction we don’t want to go to. Something needs to change.
While some developers believe there is no need for a monolith, others believe it is functional. The proposed decomposition of the monolith by Magento does not leave developers with a choice. It is suggested that developers be given an option to decide whether or not they want to go the route of the monolith or modularity. It boils down to deprecating or not deprecating.
There are a lot of Magento merchants that use the software, and a lot of those merchants feel uneasy about where their version of Magento is going. A question that they have is if Magento gets more complicated, does that mean that it would get more expensive for them to run their store?
Some proposed solutions to having Adobe communicate and be more transparent with the community are having a monthly bulletin, utilizing social media, and employing a social media and marketing committee to keep the community informed. This way, developers could openly share their ideas and grow on them like trading at a bazaar. What is currently happening is that the discussion is taking place in a cathedral manner. There’s a lot of conversing and what comes out is a filtered down smooth message that doesn’t have teeth and is unopinionated. The beauty is that the community is in charge of the innovation, and the Magento association should bring it out.
What it comes down to is just more communication and transparency from Adobe would solve these problems.
This week we interview Joseph Maxwell and discuss his new book, “The Art of Ecommerce Debugging” The video version of the podcast includes an exclusive unboxing of the book. Joseph goes over his motivation for writing this book and how it will help developers be better developers!
Joseph discusses the mindset of resolving problems. We go over TAD (You can listen to know what that means). We talk about work-life balance and how Joseph handles this. We talk about documenting your code. Joseph gives his top 5 things developers should do. (Hint number one is XDebug). The one thing to double your productivity is XDEBUG! Joseph talks about Magento certifications and why this is so important. Why NOT get certified?
This week we host a panel with Amazon Web Services and Wagento on how Wagento was successful in launching more than 200 stores on AWS and Magento. Kenny Rajan – AWS Senior Solutions Architect runs us through the benefits of AWS and why you should host your Magento store on the AWS Platform.
Brent walks us through the solution that was brought to Universal Music Group to help launch 200 Magento stores in a short amount of time. If you are listening to the podcast, you can find the slides on the website at Talk-Commerce.com
This week we interview Monika Milewska and Antoni Paszkow (who is no stranger to the subject of self-defense).
They are with the Magento development company Magently in Poland. We discuss their recent store launch of https://www.partcatalog.com/ on the Hyva theme. We learned that the time to develop the new theme in Hyva was half that of a new theme in the Blank theme during their Magento1 to Magento2 migration.
Antoni shares his developer experience, and Monika gives us some great performance numbers. They started with a score of 10 on Mobile and ended up with a score of 97!
What is Hyva?
Hyvä comes from the Finnish language and literally means “good”. But also “desirable” and “advisable”. Here’s how it’s pronounced.
We didn’t name our company Hyvä because we think we are that good, it has an intrinsic meaning that’s embedded into our work. We set out to build the best Magento products we possibly can. We want to build products that are really really good. “Said Willem Wigman Founder and creator of Hyvä Themes.”
Our products bring value to merchants, developers, agencies, and ultimately: end-users for your Magento-based website.
How Hyva reduces the time to market
This not only increases the performance of the developer, but it also increases the performance of the website dramatically!
Why Magento needs a new theme
The original Magento 2 theme was developed in the early 2010s and has not been updated from a framework/technical standpoint since the launch of Magento 2 in late 2015. In the last 5-6 years the technology and shifted and improved and Magento has not followed. In addition, Adobe Commerce is now focusing all its efforts on the Progressive Web App Studio. This means that the base theme is only getting security updates. The default, out-of-the-box Magento theme is sadly fallen by the wayside and will not be enhanced or upgraded.
Some highlights are as follows:
Reduced Complexity. Hyvä Magento 2 themes are powerful and feature-rich but yet simple. Reduced complexity is the number one principle they incorporate.
Enhanced Performance. E-commerce shoppers never forget slow websites. Therefore, fast-working web pages are another goal hidden behind all Hyvä products. To achieve it, these Magento 2 themes incorporate the principle of enhanced performance and increased efficiency.
Improved Developer Experience. A developer-friendly work-environment is also among the benefits of Hyvä Magento 2 themes.
Improved Development Velocity. Reduced complexity multiplied by good work conditions let your coders implement and customize Hyvä Magento 2 themes much faster than other similar solutions. As a result, you reduce average time-to-market metrics and costs.
Reduced Dependencies. As we’ve just mentioned above, Hyvä Magento 2 themes contain only two dependencies. Thus, they are way more reliable than most alternative solutions.
Reduced Learning Curve. All the principles mentioned above let you reduce the learning curve necessary to master Hyvä Magento 2 themes. It won’t take much time until you become a specialist in the Hyvä Magento 2 themes development
You can learn more about developing on the Hyva theme here at Rock Technolabs.
Welcome to this special tech edition of Talk Commerce, where we explore how merchants, agencies, and developers experience commerce and the communities they work and live in.
This week we interview Joseph Leedy with Wagento Creative. We Discuss Magento extensions and integrations and look at the difference between the two. Joseph helps us understand why merchants need to take some extra time to vet any new extension they install on their website and developers need to be prepared to ask questions on why the extension needs to be installed. We discuss the Magento marketplace and why it is a good place for merchants to look for extensions. Joseph fills us in on what he is working on now and what interesting extensions he worked on in the past. We discuss our Unconference in Orlando Florida in January of 2022 and why Merchants and developers should attend. Joseph Leedy is a Magento developer and certified developer for Wagento Creative, an Adobe Gold Partner. This episode was recorded on July 14th, 2021