I am sitting here on a Friday at 4.23PM in…
There is a question that comes up in nearly every conversation I’ve had in the past 3 years with Digital Marketing teams and CMOs – “What tools should I be considering to drive more personalized experience with my customers?”
The complicated answer is “It depends.” The deeper answer is that it depends on mostly the same 4 factors:
- How well do you know your customer? (Literally who they are and how they interact both off-line and on-line through the discovery-to-purchase journey)
- What is happening in your current competitive landscape?
- What tools and processes are you using currently?
- What are your current operational capabilities? (Team, talent, maturity, ability to scale)
How well these items are defined and what the collective picture looks like coming out of answering them will determine the types of capabilities an organization needs and how ready they are to use them effectively.
Now, Rightpoint doesn’t sell software for a living… but as a strategic partner to our clients, we try to help them make smart investments that balance aspiration with responsible ROI.
The Analyst’s Lens
It’s no secret that Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web CMS and The Forrester CMS Wave provide a lot of insight and help CMO’s cut through the noise to understand how the toolsets available to them are changing and evolving. Gartner’s 2016 CMS Quadrant came out a few weeks ago–and I was really excited to see this particular move:
After emerging in the US market a year ago as a challenger, Episerver has jumped to the leader quadrant and now sits alone in the center space. This is not only a great story for Epi being recognized for their product, but it also represents a really great opportunity for Digital Marketers.
Among strengths, Gartner lists:
- Episerver has exploited its merger with Ektron skillfully by permitting Ektron customers to remain on their existing products, if they require this, while smoothing migration to
- EPiServer Digital Experience Cloud platform for those that desire that.
- Episerver has strong momentum. It features in a growing number of selection processes that clients communicate to Gartner, and it is winning more business.
- Episerver has an excellent pricing model. Its highly granular and flexible model facilitates modest beginnings, especially for midsize deployments, and enables gradual scaling up to meet the needs of large enterprises.
The only real caution area cited was:
- EPiServer focus on offering one tool to empower marketers may seem dated to decision makers whose digital strategy transcends what was the initial emphasis of digital marketing.
The Capability Multiplier
This was the conclusion just a week before Epi announced their acquisition of Peerius to deepen their personalization offering. A few weeks later they announced the acquisition of Optivo to add broader omni-channel capabilities to their already solid ecommerce offering.
Epi’s carefully planned product roadmap is poised to disrupt a Monopoly that has been held by Sitecore, Adobe and Aquia for the past several years. This is the best news for CMOs and organizations thinking about the capabilities they are going to need to keep up with the evolving digital customer. Not only does it introduce pricing pressure on the other guys–it gives buyers more choices and some really powerful tools to transform their business.
To my clients who are evaluating new e-commerce capabilities–I’m telling them they need to take a close look at Episerver. To my clients who are trying to deal with rapid channel-shift for digital customers and start adopting a content personalization strategy, I’m making the same recommendation; Epi’s turnkey solution on Azure means one thing: Speed to Market. There is something to be said about standing up a platform in days and having a tailored solution launch inside the same quarter.
Jon Kee of Epi makes some similar conclusions in his recent post while also teasing that we will see a lot more around the integrated product roadmap and capability vision at the Ascend conference in Q1 of next year.
If you are exploring new platforms or having discussions around evolving your organizational capabilities for Web Marketing or Commerce–I urge you to consider your customer and the channels that are evolving/challenging your competitive landscape. From there, you can begin to understand that platform selection is not comparing a list of features across columns, but rather exploring the use cases that will allow you to execute through that system. Those cases and the capabilities that drive them should be how you engage a WCMS platform conversation and how I would urge you to both request demonstration and refine your overall selection criteria.
Epi’s rise is a signal to the market that Digital Marketers need more choices. The platforms that align to the realities of a new and evolving digital customer will continue to win favor with organizations trying to keep pace.