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Three Things to Take Away from Episerver Ascend 2018

3 Lessons Epi Blogpost 3X

Not able to make this year’s Ascend? That’s OK! We sent C2 Senior Advanced Developer Brian Oliver to Las Vegas and Episerver’s annual customer and partner conference for the first time. Here are Brian’s top three takeaways from the conference:

Episerver product roadmap comes into focus

OK, so maybe this first takeaway is actually several.

Episerver is continuously adding great new products and features on top of the base CMS offering. Some partners may call these “add-ons”, but the reality is many of the products can stand alone or be supported by other CMS platforms. 

Episerver has packaged these products nicely into the following solution bundles based on a given industry or need:

Individualized Content

The Individualized Content package leverages Episerver's market-leading CMS and robust personalization products to easily individualize the site experience for each visitor. 

Includes:

    • Episerver CMS, a Gartner and Forrester recognized web content management platform
    • Episerver Find, an enterprise search solution capable of building dynamic landing pages
    • Episerver Personalized Find, which provides personalized search results based on behavior
    • Episerver Advance, Episerver's AI-powered content personalization feature
    • Episerver Insight, for capturing and analying visitor data

Intelligent Campaigns

Episerver's marketing automation solution, driven by AI, promises to drive more intelligent and engaging campaigns across all channels.

Includes:

    • Episerver Campaign, Episerver's powerful omnichannel marketing automation platform
    • Episerver Reach, which personalizes and triggers emails based on visitor behavior
    • Episerver Insight, for capturing and analyzing visitor data

Experience-Driven Commerce

A unified content and commerce platform with deep personalization that allows teams to tailor search, recommendations, and products based on behavior.  

Includes: 

    • Episerver Commerce, a unified digital commerce platform
    • Episerver Find,  an enterprise search solution capable of building dynamic landing pages
    • Episerver Personalized Find, which provides personalized search results based on behavior
    • Episerver Perform, which personalizes products and recommendations using AI
    • Episerver Advance, Episerver's AI-powered content personalization feature
    • Episerver Reach, which personalizes and triggers emails based on visitor behavior
    • Episerver Insight, for capturing and analyzing visitor data

The common thread here is improving user experiences. All of these “add-ons” or additional products help to get the user more involved in the site experience, and it’s really exciting to explore the possibilities.

It's worth noting that these products will require additional licensing. For the value they provide, though, and with bundle pricing available through Episerver, they are well worth investigating. 

A lot to digest? Feel free to reach out if you have questions on what products make sense for your customers and your organization.

Episerver CMS now has a headless option

In some ways, this looks like the coolest thing since sliced bread! Or, would that be hottest? Either way, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to create some portion of this for a single-page web app I’ve been writing. The documentation is here, and here

The headless CMS supports retrieving content, as you would expect, using URLs of this form: 

/api/episerver/content/{referenceORguid}

And, it will return a JSON object representing all the properties of that content. Nice!

But things get really interesting when you look at the “expand” parameter. You can pass in “expand=*” in the query string, and the resulting JSON will include all content reference and content area properties expanded. You’ll get the actual content instead of just the reference(s). And that’s only scratching the surface!

I’ve yet to do extensive trials of this feature, but there are two things to be aware of, and they are both unexpected package dependencies. First, you can’t install this NuGet package without also having Episerver Find installed. This means that you can’t use it on a site that uses the plain vanilla Episerver search. Second, you also have to install the AspNetIdentity integration to use this.

Perspective matters

Shawn Achor was one of Ascend’s keynote speakers, and he gave a fantastic presentation on the connection between happiness and success. What seems like a silly topic at first has some pretty important implications on our lives. In 2011, he gave a talk at TEDxBloomington.

He presented many of the same ideas, but during Ascend he had a lot more time to dive deeper into the content. It’s simple, but pretty amazing. For example, will we be happier once we pass that Episerver certification exam? Shawn points out in his TEDx talk that if happiness is on the other side of success, our brains will never get there. We reach one goal and then instantly move the goalpost. Instead, we can train our minds to focus on the positive in the present, thus enhancing our productivity and our ability to learn and prepare for the exam. As Shawn observes, “every measurable business outcome improves when our brains are at positive, compared to negative, neutral, or stressed.”

Editor’s note: Brian Oliver DID pass his Episerver Commerce exam during Ascend 2018.