Acquisitions in the content technology world happen all the time, and with increasing frequency it seems of late. Some make sense, others, not so much. This case, Optimizely announcing it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Welcome, falls (mostly) into the former category. This, another step forward in their quest to offer clients a one-stop-shop for digital experience management.
Let me just start out by saying that personally, I am a fan of clarity and focus of purpose when it comes to technology. And in the world of digital experience management, the more tailored and fitted the technology can be out of the box to a company’s needs, the better it will work and the more value it can bring to the org. So, when we think about that in terms of building a DXP, which by the way is an inside baseball term used mostly used by we analysts and tech vendors in the space, trying to build an all-in-one solution is moot, because there is no one, singular recipe, or blueprint, or prescription, or stack diagram, for a DXP that will meet the needs for every organization.
So, let’s sort a few things out first, because with all the changes of late, no one would blame you for being confused.
First, Optimizely today a little more than a year ago was actually EPiServer. Last fall EPiServer (content management platform) inked a deal to acquire Optimizely (an experimentation and optimization solution). Even though clients could use all this newly formally acquired functionality before bringing Optimizely into the Epi folds via connectors, I understand the appeal of adding and lengthening Epi’s official list of capabilities. This acquisition brought the current (and future) client base elements that were (noticeably or not) missing, and there wasn’t a lot of overlap. That Epi chose to take on Optimizely as the name and branding of the newly augmented org was an interesting choice.
Then there is Welcome, formerly known as NewsCred. The shift in the org’s moniker happened around the same time as the above-mentioned Epi acquisition and rebranding, and a few months after the company divested itself of content marketing studio and services branch to Industry Dive. This left the then newly rebranded Welcome to focus on delivering a marketing orchestration platform.
What is marketing orchestration you ask, well, in a nutshell this tech helps companies leverage data from virtually any source, internal or external, to create more relevant and personalized experiences in real-time through any department via any channel. Think of this tech as traditional workflow on NZT-48 (the drug Bradley Cooper’s character in Limitless took to enhance his memory, energy, and intelligency). Which, in today’s age of experience-based competition, it is no wonder that it is an emerging field in the content tech/martech space that is gaining attention and traction. And as an aside, like what happened in the marketing automation space, smaller, more targeted content marketing platforms as they are now being called, are emerging to meet the specific needs of different industries/verticals and size of orgs.
So, while I understand the corporate logic driving this acquisition – after all keeping up with the Jones (or in our industry’s case, the Adobes, Acquias, and Salesforces) of the world – is an obsession, it is one that is internally fuelled and driven, and not necessarily done with the best interested of the customer in mind.
That is why I am a bit sad to see Epi, oops, I mean Optimizely, seemingly move away from its long-time tenet of offering its core services (content and commerce) via its platform and then happily working with virtually any other technology provider to ensure its clients can effectively meet the increasingly complex demands of its customers. This comradery approach always seemed to resonate well with the clients we worked with to select content management/DXP technology. Now, Optimizely, like so many others in the field, appear to be more like others in the space – a one-stop-shop, than to stand out and differentiate based on stellar core services that will fit in with just about any other contributing technology its clients use in the quest to delivery exceptional customer experiences.
For another take on the acquisition check out Robert’s rant via CMI’s Breaking News.