This was a busy week for web developers, marketers, and users of both Episerver and Ektron. This was the week where many that follow these platforms converged in Las Vegas for EPiServer Ascend 2015. I didn't attend the customer conference, but from what I have been told and what I have read is that people walked away from this conference impressed. It is also at this conference that the Fall 2015 release of the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud was announced.
As most of you recall, earlier this year Episerver and Ektron merged to support the digital experience platform in the cloud to better meet their customer's content and commerce needs. The Fall 2015 release of the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud is expected to offer substantive new and converged functionality from the best of Ektron and Episerver. The Fall Release is promising to empower marketers, merchandisers and digital developers to achieve their ideas through a productive “people-first technology” platform.
Key to the Fall ’15 Release is the product convergence promised by Episerver in January of this year, which has already seen popular Ektron concepts such as the Digital Experience Hub™ (DXH) and eSync Content Staging and Review come together with Episerver capabilities such as Digital Commerce and the Find search relevance engine in the Spring ’15 release.
Fall ’15 convergence addresses easier creation and deployment of more sophisticated forms, Instant Templates, and comprehensive project management tools to improve collaboration while streamlining content development. Net new capabilities such as optimization of commerce campaigns, a new Microsoft™ SharePoint and Office 365 connector, commerce implementation reference architecture, and proven tools to streamline the move from earlier releases round out the benefits for both new and existing Episerver customers.
“We’re working to diminish the difference between the creative concepts our users have and their ability to execute them,” said James Norwood, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Strategy for Episerver. “Too many vendors spend too much time talking about features and functions, often forgetting the people these things were intended to benefit. At Episerver, we never will. We believe technology should empower people: people who develop, people who create, and people who communicate. Our promise is that technology, when done right, should make you feel like you have super powers. Quite simply, Episerver gives you the tools to make your work easy, effective and rewarding; no special suits or helmets required.”
The following new features and improved functions found in the new release the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud includes:
Fall ‘15 gives digital practitioners a new forms engine and forms builder with a simplified user experience that offers a rapid and ultra-flexible way to build forms via drag and drop functionality. Marketers can now support process automation and progressive profiling efforts with the ability to customize the presentation, conditional formatting, and even pre-populate and personalize forms with data from other marketing automation platforms – through the Episerver DXH – all without the need for IT/developer intervention.
Designed to support inspiring and ultra-productive digital development, the Instant Templates capability – based on the popular “Page Builder” and “Master Templates” functionality of Ektron – empowers content editors to create their own re-usable templates from within edit mode. Users can now leverage a library of reusable components (i.e. blog entries, news items, videos, etc.) to create content once, and use it in multiple ways – across multiple sites, audiences and channels – all while ensuring brand consistency.
Addressing the need for both greater agility and performance in digital marketing efforts, the new digital commerce campaign functionality enables marketers to organize commerce activities into campaigns and assign unique business rules, easily define discounting and promotion logic, and apply key performance indicators (KPIs) to each, in support of agile marketing activities and campaign optimization.
Content Staging and Review
New Projects functionality provides comprehensive team collaboration and project management tools to coordinate, streamline and, most importantly, better manage content development activities across the organization, and even around the globe. More than a content staging platform, it offer marketers and merchandizers much needed visibility into all content projects in progress, along with the ability to comment and collaborate with colleagues, assign workflow, track revisions, and preview and publish content.
Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365
Fall ‘15 includes a brand new SharePoint connector, which makes it easy to access and work with SharePoint content libraries from within the Digital Experience Cloud via a simple drag and drop approach, and offers broad support for the latest Microsoft release including SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Foundation 2013, and Microsoft Office 365.
Commerce Quick Start
Also featured in the Fall ’15 release is the new “Quicksilver” commerce best practice reference implementation framework, which allows organizations of any size to get up and running on the digital commerce capabilities of the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud quickly. Quicksilver makes it easy to get started with a robust reference architecture that includes shopping cart, check out, search and indexing pre-configuration – significantly reducing time to value.
At EpiServer Ascend 2015, the company also announced significant annual growth in its channel partner program in line with increased demand for its solutions globally with the addition of 45 new partners year-to-date throughout North America, Europe Middle East and Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Episerver’s digital experience platform, the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud, is now delivered through an extensive network of more than 900 partner organizations in more than 30 countries. In North America, Episerver has welcomed 14 new partners in 2015, including Layer One Media (Wisconsin), Techtonic Group (Colorado) and AJi Software (Missouri).