Usually I start with the event itself and mention the location at the end. This time the location really deserves to be mentioned first. In my humble opinion Lisbon was a bulls-eye decision due to the beautiful weather (sunny with almost 15 degrees Celsius) while most other parts of Europe were covered with snow and under freezing -15 degrees Celsius :). It was a great pleasure to enjoy the sun and discuss the future of eZ with other attendees.
Back to the eZ stuff.
Before writing this post I referenced the summary post from last years eZ Winter Conference because the current CEO of eZ Systems Gabriele Viebach took charge few month before that event and Nice was her first general introduction to eZ Community. So it was very interesting to compare topics from back then and to measure the progress in some way.
Customer Experience Management
What is really clear now, and was not clear last year, is that eZ Systems is focusing on bigger clients as a vendor (and not as a consultancy) and actually has some powerful guns ready for the battle. The shift started few years back and a big step was the split between the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition. Last year we missed some good reasons why would the big clients use eZ Publish CMS Enterprise Edition. In my opinion support and maintenance was just not enough and I heard the same conclusion from other community members.
During the 2011 eZ Systems bought 2 companies: Yoochoose (recommendation engine service) and Odoscope (web analytics and optimization service). The plan in motion is to deeply integrate those 2 services in the Enterprise Edition to give a noticeable added value: tools that can be used for increasing customer experience. Of course, those are just 2 pieces in a bigger puzzle.
Last year eZ Market was introduced. Maybe the wording was bad, but our first impressions were that eZ Systems wants to build something like the App Store where people can put their extension and sell them to the general public. After Lisbon intentions of eZ Systems should be clear: they want partners and the community to build innovative extensions and sell them exclusively to their Enterprise clients with support included. Knowing that they can’t develop all the new cool features for the ever-growing market, eZ Systems calls the community to participate. The difference from the App Store idea is that all eZ Market extensions would be certified and would not be sold to the general public, but just to the Enterprise clients. At least not in the short term.
To support this plan eZ Systems needs to give the community even better framework for development and innovation so eZ in-house development power is currently focusing on features like Public API and REST API. Also, an important part of the whole story is the cloud solution. eZ is partnering with Ixonos to deliver enterprise cloud services and to lower the “time to market”. The range of possible eZ Market extensions is really broad: from multisource to multichannel, from personalization to e-commerce, from various integration solutions that would interact with external services to low level stuff like replacing the persistent layer with some kind of nosql storage.
There are a lot of improvements eZ Systems needs to deliver to become a full blown Customer Experience Management (CXM) solution provider. The path is chosen and we shall see in a year or two was it the right one.
It is important to note that there will always be the Community Edition of eZ Publish and community contributions that go with it. Those are giving a crucial advantage over closed source solutions in terms of innovation, education and crowdsourcing, so eZ Systems needs to continue to nurture them with care. Also, an important thing is that the added value for the Enterprise clients (apart from maintenance and support) is provided through the eZ Market system, and the kernel is shared between Community and Enterprise Edition. So we all benefit from the innovation and the effort that goes into improving the core features of eZ Publish.
Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion about eZ Systems intentions, maybe I got it completely wrong, it is up to the reader to decide.
Our highlight at the conference was the presentation by myself on how to grow your business by more community engagement, summary of which you can find in my post on share.ez.no.
During the presentation we announced a new idea: to organize Netgen eZ Publish Summer Camp this year. We gathered feedback from the other partners during the conference and afterwards with a short survey. The feedback is really encouraging. 12 partners answered the survey and they committed to send 30 developers in total. Great number to start :) So last week we decided to put our efforts into it and the preparations are set in motion. More information will come out soon on this blog and on the community site, so keep an eye open!
Some slides from the conference (including mine) can be found in the wrap-up post by Nicolas Pastorino. Check it out!
It was a real pleasure to talk with all the people present: the old ones and the new ones. We are looking forward seeing you all at the Summer Conference and hopefully many of you at the Summer Camp in Croatia!