We’ve wrapped up another year at Episerver’s annual conference, Ascend, held in lovely Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s event brought together users, channel partners, technology partners, and industry analysts for three days of education, inspiration, and, of course, a little bit of fun. Here are a few takeaways from the event as we shift back into work mode and begin to put new ideas and plans into action:
Aside from being the name of the blowout bash in the rented out Marquee nightclub in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, “rising” captures the overall theme of the conference and the attitude of the company as a whole. Prior to the merger with Ektron in 2015, Episerver, which was then headquartered in Sweden, struggled to make a name for itself in the North American market, often being overshadowed by better known platforms such as Sitecore, Adobe, and Ektron. Following the merger, Ektron’s existing client base quickly became acquainted with Episerver, and the brand received a much needed boost.
Over the past year, Episerver has begun to establish its own identity and is talking and behaving like a company with confidence and optimism for tremendous growth on its own merits. Expanding from its core CMS and commerce offerings, Episerver is looking toward omnichannel personalization, marketing automation, and big data intelligence to fuel further growth, as evidenced by the release of new products Advance, Perform, and Insight, as well as the recent acquisitions of Peerius and Optivo, which bolster Episerver’s marketing campaign and personalization capabilities. And with an eye on the future, Episerver unveiled some “in the works” advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning as the next phase of innovation and growth.
While the rise of Episerver is clearly evident, this inevitably comes at the expense of Ektron’s future. Despite the ongoing support of the Ektron CMS, there is an obvious effort to migrate these legacy clients to the Digital Experience Cloud. The conference breakout sessions and labs were almost exclusively focused on Episerver products, with Ektron only mentioned in migration or comparison-focused presentations. All of the innovation and forward thinking plans have the Episerver platform at the core.
However, thousands of clients continue to utilize the Ektron CMS platform to power their websites, and Episerver will undoubtedly support those clients for years to come, but the roadmap for Ektron leads directly to Episerver. Still, this is not a negative thing in the eyes of most Ektron customers in attendance that I spoke with. Rather, Episerver is seen as providing the next generation of content management technology that Ektron helped pioneer. With options for support, license transfer, and platform migration expertise (through partners like WSOL), Episerver is making the migration from Ektron not only as painless as possible, but very exciting with the new capabilities and opportunities a platform upgrade brings.
Other Good and Not-So-Good Takeaways
First the good:
- Food - There are always great choices in Las Vegas. Even the conference catered food was quite tasty! Also, the espresso bar in the exhibitor village was excellent and much appreciated.
- Professionalism - Episerver is a first class organization, and the staff consistently reflects that. From CMO James Norwood’s on-stage MC'ing to all of the friendly and helpful support staff, they are a great group of people one and all.
- Speakers and Keynotes - The breadth of topics and quality of the speakers was very good, especially our own Allison Casey and Chris Osterhout, who delivered three presentations between them. The late addition of Mel Robbins for the day 2 keynote was an unexpected highlight as well.
- Roadmap - As mentioned above, Episerver has big plans for the platform, and they truly have the interests of their users at heart.
And the not-so-good:
- “Partner Day” was a half day presentation prior to the main conference exclusively for channel parters. Considering that half of the attendees at the conference were partners, a bit more of an offering would have been helpful. A lot of info was packed into the 4 hours allotted for this, but there is much more that can and should be offered to provide value for the agencies that help Episerver drive its business. For inspiration, check out Hubspot’s version of Partner Day.
- Table dancing. There may or may not be photographic evidence of tabletop dancing by a certain executive member of the WSOL entourage and a favorite client in attendance at the Episerver Rising nightclub party. If you should ever come across this, keep in mind that anything can be doctored these days. Damn you, Vegas!
Please stay tuned to the WSOL blog as we continue to discuss the future of Episerver and examine the new capabilities and opportunities that become available to the platform's users. Do you have any questions about Episerver, CMS migration, or how to get the most out of these powerful tools? Please contact us, and we'll work with you to build a successful digital strategy.