The EPiServer Customer & Partner Day is THE big event in the annual calendar for this leading CMS and Commerce software vendor.
And 2014 was no exception, in fact it was even more special than normal as 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of EPiServer back in 1994. As a result, EPiServer laid on an even more lavish event than normal at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London, which ran from breakfast in the morning through to a drinks reception in the evening.
The event was well attended by both customers and partners of EPiServer. But for those unable to make the event, here are some key takeaways from the day's presentations.
The year-on-year growth of EPiServer continues regardless of which metric you use. Now in its 20th year, it has over 5,000 customers using its software to run over 20,000 websites. The network of partners (AKA digital agencies) now exceeds 750 globally. And the number of registered members of the EPiServer online community, EPiServer World, has broken through the 25,000 milestone. EPiServer offices continue to expand throughout the world, providing a truly global support network to both partners and customers. This all goes to show how far EPiServer has come over the past 10 years since Netcel first met with EPiServer in 2004. Back then, EPiServer only had 2 staff outside of Scandinavia, both located in London. So it is truly remarkable to witness the global growth of EPiServer in the intervening 10 years.
Over the last 10 years, content marketing and marketing automation have changed the role of digital marketers, as they convert their strategies from push marketing to pull marketing. Product reviews from other customers are far more powerful in accelerating conversions than product reviews from the product vendor. Mass email blasts have been replaced with highly targeted and highly personalised email campaigns in order to keep the attention of customers and prospects.
For EPiServer, this means continued deep-integration with the leading marketing automation vendors. Silverpop was already a market-leader in this space long-before its acquisition by IBM in early 2014. So it is particularly satisfying that not only did Silverpop develop connectors that integrate Silverpop with EPiServer, but they also chose to redevelop their entire global website using EPiServer CMS in order to truly leverage the power of the two platforms combined, so to deliver personalised messaging to users and deliver a truly optimised customer experience.
But Silverpop is not the only marketing automation vendor in that market place and so EPiServer has recently launched a Marketo connector to allow EPiServer customers using that marketing automation platform to leverage the power of the combined platforms.
The old-school way of developing software was to have a big-bang launch of a new version every couple of years. As examples, think Microsoft Word or Excel. But in these days of cloud computing and the prolific usage of smartphones, mobile apps are updated weekly rather than annually. This allows ongoing improvements to be released (along with bug fixes) in an evolutionary manner, rather than as a revolutionary new product.
Adopting this approach, EPiServer 7.5 has now seen 44 updates released, allowing customers to take advantage of small improvements and bug fixes every few weeks. And this approach is set to continue rather than reverting to the old-school, big-bang approach.
Future releases will continue to see improvements to EPiServer Find, improvements to integration with Silverpop and other marketing automation products, more support for every aspect of cloud computing, and new and improved connectors for third-party software. Longer term, EPiServer are already considering how the CMS and Commerce platforms might need to adapt if wearables become common-place, particularly smart watches. But product development will also be influenced by the adoption of other technologies such as iBeacon, so to improve EPiServer’s ability to deliver a multi-channel customer experience.
The Novartis case study provided interesting insights into how a global enterprise uses EPiServer. Novartis is a giant in the pharmaceutical world, with 136,000 employees and drugs used by 1.2 billion patients generating annual revenues of €58bn. They selected the EPiServer platform in April 2013 and launched 50 sites within 10 months. EPiServer allows them to adopt their “mobile-first strategy” and ensure that all websites are fully responsive. Furthermore, Novartis has seen the cost of web production reduce by 30% while local market costs have reduced by 50%.
This success story is testament to EPiServer’s ability to scale from a company needing a single site running on a single web server, through to a global company with a large digital estate running on an extensive server farm.
And that example of EPiServer’s scalability seems a good place to wrap-up this blog. I’ve tried to summarise some key takeaways into a short summary. Though if you have any questions or comments, then feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com or drop me a message via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/timparfitt