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I had the pleasure of attending the first "tour date" of the EPiServer Customer Roadshow in Boston this past Tuesday. As Ektron customer of about 7 years, I am sure some of you fellow old-timers have experienced the same apprehension regarding the Ektron/EPiServer merger as I have. After experiencing a very down-to-earth and honest presentation, I can safely say that my mind is at ease and I am excited for what the future will bring.
New Faces, Familiar Places
The new merged company chose the name EPiServer mainly because it was quickest to rebrand. With two strong, defined brands already in place, it made sense to continue the use of one of those brands for the time being. The alternative would be to struggle to create an entirely new brand while still undergoing the daunting task of merging the two companies.
The new management team consists of some former Ektron folks, EPiServer folks, and Accel KKR folks. One of these was James Norwood, who presented most of the information himself that evening. He explained that customer loyalty is a major driver for the new entity, and his attention to that value showed. Geographically, Nashua NH will continue to be the main HQ for North American operations, but the existing offices will receive a long-overdue remodeling to reflect the new company, its mission, and its culture.
This portion of the roadshow was particularly interesting. The new EPiServer mission: Protect, Extend, and Converge. Within the next 6 months, EPiServer will be rolling out new feature sets in both the EPiServer AND Ektron core products. Ektron’s eSync and Digital Experience Hub will be integrated into EPiServer, while EPiServer ‘s FIND search and Marketing capabilities will be integrated into Ektron. This will allow customers on either platform to continue to get more mileage from their existing product. After 6 months, we can expect to see a new converged Ektron/ EPiServer release in the winter. This new product will be known as the Digital Experience Cloud.
As of this post, the merged company has increased its Research & Development staffing by 55%. Rightly so!
Following this aggressive initial rollout, we can expect to see seasonal releases, with between 3 and 5 years of support per version. As hinted at above, part of the merged company’s new mantra is to protect existing customers – allow them to stay with the product they’re using, and enjoy new functionality. Thus, there is currently no End of Life scheduled for the current Ektron or EPiServer CMS’s.
Customer Success is the name of the game. We can expect to see over a dozen training and certification programs offered online, onsite at EPiServer, or onsite at the customer’s location. Support has been extended to 4 tiers. Furthermore, and of particular excitement to me, we were informed of a continued dedication to and specific recognition of Higher Education customers. EPiServer will be further exploring integration with software widely used in our industry, such as Ellucian products.
We’ve all been to presentations that were too “sales-y”; so transparent, they were almost laughable. I appreciate the humility displayed by the new leadership, the self-awareness of the challenges they face, and the mature, tangible approaches they have devised to propel the merged company forward. The Customer Roadshow shared the conclusion of an era simultaneously with the first pages of a new beginning. I, for one, am excited to be a part of this new chapter!