Rumors of Ektron’s impending take-over finally came true when Accel-KKR, the equity firm who backed Ektron CMS announced its acquisition of the brand in December 2014, and followed it up by the decision to merge it with EPiServer, another CMS brand it acquired.
The industry always reacts to any CMS take-over with anxiety. The fear stems from the possibility that the new owner may want to discontinue the brand after stripping it off its technical capabilities and/or client base, to enrich their own brand. In such an eventuality, no new versions would roll out, and even patch updates, essential to keep the system running bug-free may discontinue after a couple of years. This would effectively force businesses using such CMS to migrate to another CMS, complete with all the cost, effort and hassles involved in doing so. There is also the fear of the new owner trying to merge the two systems into one and in the process messing it all up.
However, it need not be doom and gloom. Such fallouts are more the exception than the norm. In most instances, an acquisition may just be the shot in the arm that the CMS needs, and businesses that run the CMS in question may actually benefit from the whole exercise.
In Ektron’s case, EPiServer has already stated that the merger will “protect customers’ and partners’ investments in both platforms” and that security updates and patches for the Ektron brand would roll out as usual. This dispels the main apprehension that businesses invested in Ektron CMS would face obsolescence of their CMS in the near future. Now here are some ways how Ektron’s merger with EPiServer may actually help such businesses.
The official statement of merger states the objective of the exercise is to “create a new global digital experience leader of scale, with potent technology capabilities and a broad partner ecosystem.” In simpler terms, the merged CMS is poised to get significant value-addition, as a result of which clients of each company would get to access improved technology and new capabilities.
Added and Improved Functionality
Ektron’s key USP is a feature rich platform. However, it falls behind in delivering customized experience to customers, which happens to be one of EPiServer’s strengths. In today’s business environment, delivering the basics such as targeted, relevant and differentiated content on a mass-personalized basis is no longer enough. Customers now expect differentiation through standout customer experiences that are more contextual and optimized. Businesses would find the merged CMS handy to further this end.
Similarly, Ektron, for all its feature-rich offerings, lacks commerce functionality, whereas EPiServer is strong in this space. EPiServer Commerce, the cloud-based ecommerce module and the add-on store would offer significant value addition to businesses using Ektron. The merged CMS would offer them a ready-made ecosystem of technology through which they can engage customers and even employees in the channel of choice and create compelling digital experiences, without having to bother with acquiring deep technical knowledge for doing so.
The immediate synergies between EPiServer’s e-commerce capabilities and Ektron’s audience segmentation and persona management tools would allow businesses to get the best of both worlds post-merger, and enjoy a “complete digital experience cloud,” complete with web content management, multi-channel marketing, e-commerce capabilities, and extensive connectivity. In short, businesses using the merged CMS can expect a strong feature set out of the box and tight integration with other leading tools.
The merger creates a win-win situation in the support and troubleshooting front.
For one, businesses would benefit from the merged CMS powering more than 30,000 websites worldwide, backed by a strong community of 8,800 customers spread over 30 countries, and by a robust network of more than 880 partners.
Even when it comes to internal talent, both EPiServer and Ektron have employees with strong skill sets, and the merger would create a synergy in the human resources front. The merged company is already strengthened by the appointment of enterprise software veterans in key posts, such as Mark Duffell, former KANA Software CEO, as President and CEO, and James Norwood as Executive Vice President, Strategy, and CMO of the new company. Martin Henricson, CEO of the former EPiServer business, is the new Executive Chairman of the merged entity. These moves emit twin signals of continuity and growth. Having in place talent who have proved their expertise and sends out the message that the company is serious in attempting to deliver superior and robust offerings that delight customers, while giving due considerations to continuity at the same time.
Then, the new EPiServer could emulate Adobe and Acquia, which post-merger developed a new business model in support and maintenance, improving service for the customer greatly. Simply porting EPiServer’s practice of systematic real-time updates on a weekly basis would by itself benefit businesses using Ektron get continuous product release and stay with the latest offering.
Stronger Cloud Presence
Ektron recently made a shift to the cloud, which offered clients much needed flexibility and scalability, besides lower costs. The SaaS model, while offering low up-front and other costs for customers, is however capital-intensive for the provider. Offering top-notch services on a sustained basis requires considerable investment upfront, which the company can hope to recoup only in the long run. The merger has infused Ektron with much needed funds to sustain its positioning in the cloud. The new merged entity is likely to have a strong presence in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space, and offer customers all the benefits of the cloud.
The bottom-line of the merger story is that businesses that have made a significant investment in either Ektron or EPiServer would most likely gain in terms of access to improved technology and new capabilities. The merged offering promises to provide marketers and other teams relying on the CMS the power, insight and agility to seize a business moment, and the confidence to realize aspirations. There would be some bumps on the way as the transition takes place, but businesses would be well advised to stick on and enjoy the ride, which would be worth the while.
Image Credit: Jason Devaun on Flickr