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From Epi to Opti: what Episerver’s rebranding to Optimizely means for customers

  • By 3chillies

Here at 3chillies, we work with some of the world’s leading digital experience platforms (DXPs) to ensure our clients can create compelling digital experiences for their customers. One of the positive trends of the past few years has been healthy competition in the DXP market with different vendors vying for market share. This has resulted in investment in their respective platforms through product development and enhancements, as well as the acquisition of niche tech providers whose offerings get integrated into the platform. The result is the evolution of fuller digital marketing platforms and better products, which is good news for everybody.

Recently, we wrote about Sitecore’s strategic ambitions. Episerver - a key rival DXP and one of the platforms we work with - has certainly not been resting on its laurels. Founded in Sweden in the mid-nineties, “Epi”, as it is sometimes known, has been a significant player as a CMS and increasingly as a DXP, with a loyal following in the Nordics. However, it has never quite had the visibility of DXPs like Sitecore or Adobe, particularly among larger enterprises to whom its expansive range of services could appeal.

The platform is currently going through a metamorphosis, renaming itself as Optimizely in what it refers to as a “strategic rebrand”, reflecting the changes in the platform which have taken place over the past three years.

In this article, we’re going to explore what’s behind the rebrand and what it means for Episerver / Optimizely clients.

Rapid growth

The rebrand is the latest stage in a sustained period of rapid growth and increasing ambition.

The strategic ambition (and the funding) behind the move to Optimizely comes from the 2018 billion dollar plus acquisition of Episerver by venture capitalists Insight Venture Partners, and appointments to the boards. In 2019, Episerver hired Alex Atzberger from SAP as CEO, bringing fresh leadership to drive the platform forward. The hiring of Kirsten Allegri Williams as CMO, moving from SAP SuccessFactors, also added some impetus in ramping up marketing efforts to increase brand visibility and better compete in the DXP space.

Various analysts have reported on the company’s expansion in recent years; for example, they were recognised as a leader in the 2020 Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms for the very first time, an accolade again confirmed in 2021. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the company also reported “double digit” revenue growth in 2020 and an ambitious plan to hire more than forty employees per month for the first six months of 2021.

This growth is also reflected in a number of strategic acquisitions. Over recent years, Episerver has been very acquisitive by purchasing smaller providers to integrate into the platform, mirroring the market consolidation trends seen across the digital customer experience space. In 2019, the company announced it was acquiring Idio - a platform driving 1:1 personalisation - as well as Insite Software, a B2B e-commerce solution. In 2020, Epi acquired Optimizely, a platform designed to optimise customer experiences that also led them to the current rebrand. The acquisitions have continued into 2021 with the addition of Zaius - a customer data platform (CDP) that brings a number of connectors, “recipes” and an analytics engine to allow teams to better understand their customers.

Our view of the rebrand

We think the rebrand looks like a good move, and will help accelerate the growth of the platform and its capabilities. If it helps to drive more awareness of the platform among larger companies, then we think the rebranding will have succeeded. A rebranding and new name can also bring momentum to further changes.

We think the name “Optimizely” may appeal more to digital marketing teams than Episerver, which sounds a little IT-focused and even geeky. Optimizely is also perhaps a better name to highlight the optimisation capabilities of a modern digital customer experience platform.

What will be the short-term impact on customers?

The short-term impact on customers will be minimal. Episerver / Optimizely has set up an FAQs page about the rebrand that confirms the exercise will be completed by August, but reiterates that there will be no immediate repercussions for customers. For example, the legal entities involved are staying the same, so all customer contracts remain as-is with no need to re-sign or re-draft.

There will also be no change to services beyond the natural platform evolution and fresh offerings that would normally be taking place, particularly after an acquisition that integrates new services. In fact, the company has already launched Optimization-as-a-Service that brings together capabilities from the existing Optimizely service and Episerver content recommendations.

The only hint that there may be some disruption going forward is the admission that “there may be impacts to custom integrations”, and that there will be an upgrade tool that can identify any action required. However, the FAQs are vague in terms of how, when and why this disruption may take place.

What will be the longer-term impact for customers?

We return to our original observation that competition in the digital experience platform market is leading to innovation, better products and more choice for customers. Further growth for the Optimizely / Episerver company means more potential revenue and even investment that could fund further product evolution or acquisitions. For example, the company is developing a SaaS offering that will launch later in 2021, described as “content-as-a-service, the first fully headless DXP [with] revolutionary authoring and editing capabilities”.

Whilst it’s too early to say how the rebrand will improve and impact the products that customers are already using, we think the effects are extremely likely to be positive. When we hear more, we’ll be in contact with customers to discuss options.

Epi becomes Opti

Episerver is evolving and entering a bright new phase, with a new name, new logo and a continuing path of strategically-driven growth. We’re excited about where the platform is going! If you’d like to discuss any aspect of the Episerver / Optimizely rebranding or the future direction of the platform, then get in touch!

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