The intersection of Art and Science: Insights from Optimizely's Opticon Conferences in San Diego and London 2023
This year, I had the privilege of attending Optimizely’s Opticon conferences in both San Diego and London, where Optimizely, through the theme of the intersection of art and science, unveiled a key new product, their future roadmap, and a vast array of insights. With the dust now having settled on the two events, the following explores the key takeaways and insights acquired during a combined week of thought-provoking keynotes and illuminating breakout sessions.
Content at the core
Optimizely CEO, Alex Atzberger, highlighted a core principle for digital during his keynote – content lies at the core of every digital experience, from content led through to transactional experiences. This mantra resonated throughout Opticon, guiding Optimizely's product suite evolution.
Rupali Jain, Chief Product Officer, focused on two key pillars in Optimizely’s product strategy – flexibility and simplicity. Flexibility manifested in the architecture's adaptability, showcased through a new product announcement. Simplicity, on the other hand, focused on how the products within the platform are coming together to enable greater operational efficiency for practitioners.
Unveiling Optimizely One
At Opticon, Optimizely introduced a renaming of the Optimizely DXP to "Optimizely One", positioned as an "all-in-one operating system for marketing", powered by AI to drive the insights needed to manage, measure and optimise digital products. Optimizely’s evaluation of the use of marketing technology has identified how marketing teams can be ineffective, working in silos, using unconnected tooling and with data in soloed repositories on a daily basis. Optimizely are laser focused on bringing these broken workflows together through a cohesive technology platform. The launch of Optimizely’s Content Marketing Platform post the acquisition of Welcome was the first stage of this.
Optimizely One aims to connect the entire marketing lifecycle, driving efficiency and facilitating evidence-based decision-making. Optimizely One's composable architecture allows Optimizely customers to integrate their other marketing technology platforms seamlessly, offering unparalleled flexibility.
The theme of composability is fundamentally important; whilst Optimizely can provide an all-encompassing suite of products to support all stages of digital marketing operations, being composable means that any other technology platform can be slotted in, at any stage, alongside Optimizely.
There is, of course, value in adopting multiple products from Optimizely as there is with any vendor. The integration between the different products allows leveraging of the data that can easily flow between the products, ultimately with a vision that practitioners can run experiments directly from within the CMS, driven by real time segments. And all those capabilities will be available in one place and powering the capabilities for practitioners throughout the platform. This is the vision of Optimizely One.
The evolution of Optimizely's CMS
A major product announcement at Opticon centered around Optimizely’s introduction of a Software as a Service (SaaS) version of its CMS, providing a headless platform that closer architecturally aligns with customers looking for a fit with their broader SaaS-based marketing technology stack.
The SaaS version is not an entirely new CMS; it's a SaaS adaptation of the existing CMS with the same underlying technology platform. The capabilities remain the same, only hosted as SaaS. The existing PaaS and the new SaaS platforms will ultimately coexist.
Optimizely are very clear there is no requirement or imperative for existing customers to migrate from one platform to the other. The move to SaaS is purely about providing customers with an architectural choice aligning seamlessly with Rupali Jain's emphasis on flexibility.
Optimizely Graph and Visual Builder
Optimizely Graph emerged throughout Opticon as the future foundation for the aggregation and unification of content to power search and content delivery. Featuring AI-driven semantic search, Graph creates the capability to enhance content relevancy, both from within Optimizely and external data sources returning dynamic and highly performant results.
Another new product announcement is Visual Builder which is being added to the product suite in context of the new SaaS-based headless CMS. Visual Builder addresses the traditional challenge managing content within headless CMS, offering a real-world representation of pages with full on-page editing allowing practitioners to preview content in the channel within which it is targeted for.
With Visual Builder editors will be able to create and edit within layouts that look like the end result whilst also providing the capability to create templates from the content for reuse. Visual Builder will support personalisation using audiences from the Optimizely Data Platform, similar to how visitor groups have been used in Optimizely’s CMS for years.
Opal: Optimizely’s AI copilot
As expected for any tech conference in 2023, Artificial Intelligence had its place on stage with Optimizely's Opal, the name given to the AI capabilities within the Optimizely ecosystem. From generative AI for content creation to AI-driven insights, Opal will act as an AI copilot, guiding marketers through every phase of the marketing lifecycle from planning to analysis. With promises of greater efficiency and insights to accelerate every phase of the marketing lifecycle.
AI in Optimizely is not new, it’s been in their content & product recommendations products for a number of years and forms a core basis within the current experimentation and data platforms. Parts of Optimizely’s AI capabilities in Opal will come through leveraging of partnerships with tech giants like Microsoft and Google alongside other strategic AI vendor partnerships such as Writer.
The future of commerce
Optimizely is continuing to invest in its Monetize (Commerce) product line, unifying key aspects of commerce across both Optimizely’s Configured and Customised commerce platforms. Features such as Search, Product Recommendations, and Translations, are being standardised across the two commerce platforms within the Optimizely ecosystem, allowing for future faster capability rollout across both.
Optimizely has recently introduced a beta version of its collaboration capability within experimentation, further building upon the robust collaboration features of its leading content marketing platform. In an expansion of capabilities, Optimizely's web experimentation platform now includes collaboration and workflow functionality. Recognising that hypothesis building is foundational to any experiment, effective collaboration across various departments is essential. This newly introduced feature enables seamless collaboration within the system, eliminating the need for reliance on email chains and Teams messages. Further additional features aimed at enhancing the design and planning phase of experimentation are on the horizon.
In the coming months, we should expect to see deep dives into experimentation, personalisation at scale through the Optimizely Data Platform, and enhancements in journey analytics coming from Optimizely.
Optimizely's continued innovation underscores its commitment to empowering businesses with the tools and insights needed to thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
As we reflect on the Opticon conferences of 2023, it's clear that Optimizely is not just keeping up with the times; it's defining the future of digital experiences. Optimizely are fully embracing a composable future where flexibility, simplicity, and AI-driven innovation converge to unlock unlimited digital possibilities.