Why Episerver acquired Optimizely and rebranded

If you’ve seen some of the recent news about Episerver and Optimizely, you’ll quickly discover there’s a lot to talk about. From a pure product perspective, it’s important to unpack why we completed the acquisition of Optimizely and illustrate the direction we are headed as we start the next chapter. This is the first installment in a blog series regarding our combined product vision and roadmap. In what follows, we’ll focus on outlining the reasons for the acquisition and provide clarity around the direction we’re taking with our products, including our plan for Optimizely Web, Optimizely Full Stack, platform and data services improvements and more. 

At Episerver, we’ve long been dedicated to enabling our customers to build better products and more impactful user experiences. Moving forward as Optimizely, that dedication will not waver. We are strong believers in the power of experimentation to enable marketers and product teams to make better decisions based on data. As part of building better products, product teams need control over how they release features tied to experiments and gradual rollouts. Optimizely combines both capabilities. It’s next to impossible for a human to understand what customers want and to factor in all variances on their own. Experimentation is still complicated and the ability to create a culture of experimentation is elusive, but we felt the need to democratize it.  

Stronger together 

The breakthrough combination of Episerver and Optimizely sets a new industry standard for DXPs. Today’s digital experience leaders are in the midst of major transformations and their customers no longer expect simple websites, but rather highly personalized and differentiated experiences along their omnichannel journey. Here are three reasons the acquisition made sense from a product perspective: 

1. Best of breed feature delivery meets powerful creation tools 

Bringing together Episerver’s ability to create digital experiences through content and commerce with Optimizely’s ability to experiment and optimize across touchpoints empowers teams to build experiences that get smarter over time.  

We wanted to enhance Episerver’s leading CMS and Commerce capabilities with best of breed feature delivery and experimentation. For traditional Episerver customers, that means they can increase their value and build better experiences without bringing in multiple vendors. 

Every business should be able to experiment like the best in the business. With Episerver and Optimizely, they can – and they can do it all in one place. 

2. Sophistication made simple  

We conducted thorough customer research and determined that companies crave a combination of simplicity and sophistication within our products. Sophisticated digital experiences aren’t reserved for the Amazon’s of the world. Together Episerver and Optimizely enable any team to simply create and optimize sophisticated digital experiences, whether you’re still learning or leading the pack.  

For companies who already have an experimentation practice, simplicity and sophistication is a no brainer. For those struggling to sustain a culture of experimentation, our product will help guide your users to the most effective way of testing and feature delivery.  

3. Experience controls the customer wallet 

Companies today must be in a constant state of invention. They must create helpful, human digital experiences. In order to build better experiences, and beat their competition, companies must differentiate their customer experience. The power of the Episerver and Optimizely capabilities together means our customers get even more value out of their investments and, in turn, can effectively deliver powerful customer experiences.  

The plan for Optimizely’s Experimentation & Progressive Delivery products 

As one combined company, we plan to invest, more than ever before, in development resources.  We are actively structuring our engineering teams around the world to deliver new innovations and solve some of the most complicated problems in digital optimization, experimentation, and progressive delivery. Here are some of the key developments we’re working on and functionality we will deliver in the future: 

Invest again in Optimizely Web 

As we move forward as a combined company, Optimizely Web remains a core focus. Over the last decade, Web has dramatically transformed organizations into data-driven companies with the help of swift, deploy-independent experimentation to inform decisions. We continue to be committed to this mission of instilling data-driven methodologies in all business processes. To that end, we will continue to improve and innovate on Optimizely Web to enable customers to optimize their digital experiences. Here are five core areas we will focus on: 

1. Privacy 
Privacy has been a top priority for customers particularly in the last two years with the introduction of regulations like GDPR, CCPA and browser policies like Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), Firefox Enhanced Tracking Prevention (ETP) etc. These privacy-focused changes impact all Web technologies that our customers use as part of their digital experiences. Optimizely is committed to delivering flexible features to help you comply with these changes while ensuring your experimentation program can remain robust and scale with your business needs

2. Performance Edge 
Performance and page speed remains a critical focus for customers with digital channels quickly taking priority. We released Performance Edge over a year ago and have seen this product significantly improve the page performance for customers, and we will continue to add more capabilities to the product to ensure you can experiment successfully with the fastest client-side testing solution in-market. 

3. Additional SPA Compatibility 
With newer SPA frameworks like Next.js and Gatsby.js being adopted, we know it’s imperative that we continue developing our support for dynamic websites to ensure customers can experiment with similar ease on these newer frameworks in the future. 

4. Integrating Web and Full Stack 

Many of our customers are working with Web and Full Stack side by side to accelerate their experimentation programs and to enable non-technical users to iterate fast. We will integrate the two so you can use our Web solution for tracking metrics used in Full Stack and vice versa. This enables you to manage one tracking implementation for all your experimentation needs. 

5. Integration between Episerver and Optimizely capabilities 
We are actively working on integrating Optimizely with Episerver Content and Product Recommendations to create our newest offering – Optimization as a Service. Watch for more updates and news on this particular investment in the coming weeks and months. 

Enhance UX for Optimizely Full Stack 

Optimizely Full Stack is the market leading product for experimentation and progressive delivery for product teams. We will continue investing in Full Stack to help modern product teams deliver better user experiences in the right way. To better align the experimentation and feature flagging workflow with the Optimizely Full Stack experience, we will soon be rolling out a new flag first user interface on top of an entirely new architecture that will power future developments. In addition, we are focusing on an improved developer experience within our SDKs and applications. Here are more details about what exactly we’re working on within Full Stack:  

1. Full Stack UX 2.0 

We are finishing the closed Beta for the new application and SDK experiences for Full Stack. We are especially excited to share these improvements with you and iterate on them together. Starting in February, you will have access to the open Beta by creating a new Full Stack project. Here are a few areas we improved with this release:  

  • More intuitive workflows to manage feature flags and experiments within them 
  • Single-page view for feature flags and experiments by environment 
  • Separate results by environment 
  • Updated data models and more performant REST API 

For future releases, we are investigating what will be most valuable for our customers to build next and will depend on your feedback on the first releases. Below some examples of functionality we are investigating. 

  • Targeting lists of users for granular roll outs 
  • More granular control over who owns and can collaborate on specific flags 
  • Ability to group experiments and flags by tags 
  • Ability to run multiple experiments per flag 

2. SDK Improvements 

Within our SDKs we will be introducing a new primary decision interface, the Decide API. This new interface provides a single, more flexible API for retrieving flag and experiment decisions for your customers. We will also include several incremental convenience and usability enhancements that Full Stack users have requested with the new interface.   

3. Optimizely Agent 

Agent has become the premier solution for our customers that work within a Microservice architecture to enable experimentation and feature flagging at scale within their stack without having to implement multiple SDKs. We are still collecting feedback, but in the future, we want to make it even easier to deploy and use Agent by adding more functionality like managing user profiles and analytics integrations.  

Improve performance of our platform and data services 

Our underlying platform and data services tie our Web and Full Stack products together into an enterprise grade Experimentatioand Progressive Delivery solution. For the future, we are investing into making it more performant and improving the user experience for scaled organizations that experiment across teams. Specifically, we are looking at the following improvements: 

1. Granular Roles and Permissions 

We will enable more flexibility and control over who has access to projects, experiments, flags and other areas in Optimizely to improve alignment with team structures and processes within our most sophisticated customers. 

2. Shared Metrics Experience Across Teams 

Optimizely’s Stats Engine empowers teams to make critical decisions about the user experience in real-time. To facilitate alignment on key metrics across teams for our most advanced customers, we are looking to improve the ability to share and collaborate on metrics across teams and projects within Optimizely.  

3. Flexible Metrics 

We want our customers to make more decisions based on Optimizely data and the results pageTo enable this, we want to enable you to dig deeper into experiment results by adding additional event filters and more flexible segmentation options. 

4. Stats Engine APIs 

Our Stats Engine is the industry leading solution for modern statistics for online experiments that powers our results page. We want to put the statistical model into the hands of our customers that want to run it on top of their own data sets. For this reason, we will be releasing an API to take advantage of our stats engine without relying on our data pipeline or results page. 

5. Sample Ratio Mismatch Service  

In online experimentation, we rely on consistent random bucketing in order to make sure you get valid results. Our Sample Ratio Mismatch service will help you evaluate whether the experiment you ran has a potential sample ratio mismatch and to be able to investigate any potential bucketing issues.  

6. Event Streaming Service 

As we are committed to offering an open and extensible Experimentation platform, we provide our customers with extensive data export services. In the future, we want to augment our bulk data export solutions with a streaming solution to capture live experimentation data within your systems and connect related data services in real-time. 

7. Event Inspector 

Our data pipeline and related services are a key component of the value that Optimizely drives. We want to improve the transparency of our services in order to increase confidence in the results that you are driving with your experiments. The event inspector will enable you to view the events you send us directly within the platform in order to verify your implementation and identify potential issues. 

Launch new Optimization-as-a-Service offering 

One of the first points of integration between Episerver and Optimizely is a new product we’re rolling out nowOptimization-as-a-Service. It is a unified platform combining web experimentation and targeting capabilities (from legacy Optimizely) with the purpose-built recommendation engines (from legacy Episerver) dedicated to content and commerce. We think this powerful combination unlocks tremendous value for customers by offering best-in-class targeting, experimentation, and recommendation engines all within one marketer-friendly interface. 

For example, marketers can now execute rules-based personalization campaigns with out-of-the-box or external data attributes, or utilize AI to generate predictive segments on the fly. Marketers can also easily test different layouts, messaging, and other front-end elements with ease in our WYSIWYG interface. And last but not least, real-time 1:1 recommendations designed for content and commerce come with sophisticated machine learning models coupled with marketer-friendly configuration to accommodate specific content or merchandising strategies and advanced analytics. We see tremendous potential for marketers to leverage each of these capabilities individually to execute specific tactics or all of them together to optimize the overall web experience. 

This breakthrough combination results in uniquely impactful digital experiences driving outsized results for marketers to increase engagement, conversions, and differentiation from their competition. Get in touch with your account manager or TAM to setup a demo of Optimization-as-a-Service today! 

Next up in our series 

We will focus on the overall direction for the combined offerings. Stay tuned to learn how the creation and optimization capabilities provide a new breed of DXP. We’re focused on delivering simple, flexible and composable tools to help you deliver digital experiences that drive positive outcomes. Put simply, Optimizely is on a mission to help our customers unlock their digital potential.