BloomReach Acquires Hippo: Creating a Complete DX Platform
If you follow the web content management market at all, then you didn’t miss the news that Amsterdam-based Hippo was acquired by BloomReach. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of shock about this news, but I will be honest, I thought it would be Hippo doing the acquiring.
The Commerce and Personalization Connections
Hippo provides an open standards content management platform that has gone through a number of enhancements over the last few years. Its latest version added in some very nice content analytics to help you understand how your content is performing; it introduced a new content API that pushes read-only content to other publishing channels, like native mobile apps, and it recently announced a PaaS version that essentially takes Hippo on demand. Hippo even provides a content and commerce solution. This is a Web CMS/digital experience platform that was moving in the right direction.
BloomReach provides personalization and optimization technology with a particular focus on e-commerce. Started in 2009, BloomReach is a relatively newish startup, but it has grown quickly and is now ready to move to a new stage in its life. BloomReach has a vision to extend personalization and relevant contextual experiences to all digital business, which is why it has made its recent acquisition.
According to BloomReach, it sees the need for a digital experience solution that offers three “core cloud platforms”:
- Back-end or commerce platform
- Experience platform
- Marketing platform
Hippo, obviously, helps BloomReach fill the gap for the experience platform. Hippo’s content management and content analytics capabilities combined with BloomReach’s personalization and optimization capabilities will provide a complete experience platform that can support truly relevant experiences, whether they are e-commerce-focused or content-focused.
From its blog:
“It means that digital businesses, which is pretty much all businesses, will be able to harness algorithms and machine learning to offer individually relevant recommendations concerning products and services — and content, too."
It’s a major step in the direction of “BloomReaching the web,” or making every digital experience personally relevant for every individual digital consumer. It’s been a long-term goal since the company started.”
The Future of the WCM Market
Because it was BloomReach doing the acquiring, most discuss this acquisition regarding how it affects BloomReach, but it also speaks to the continuing evolution of the WCM market. On its own web content management works, but only in very specific circumstances. The demand for personalized experiences is driving WCM vendors to adopt stronger, more tightly integrated personalization capabilities.
Some do this in the context of a suite - like Adobe and Sitecore. Others have done it through acquisition, like the recent EPiServer acquisitions, and others are working to build the capabilities in-house or through strong partnerships.
Personalization is in high demand in every context of the customer experience, but it’s something that many organizations still struggle to do well, if at all. That’s partly because we don’t fully understand what customers expect for a personalized experience. There’s the basic “you might like” personalized experience, there’s the “change the bulk of the website based on the visitor and everything we know about them, and then there’s everything in between.
Vendors try to meet the needs of their particular markets, but some have been slow to get to the right place.
The Ties that Bind
Have you heard of GX Software? It is a web content management provider, and it has been around a few years. Back in 2010, GX introduced Blue Conic for what we then liked to call “web engagement” capabilities - really personalization and targeting. It was a leading edge at that time; web experience management was just becoming a mainstream subject.
A few years later, Blue Conic separated from GX Software as a completely standalone offer with no ties to any WCM. It’s still around, and it’s a very strong offering for the personalization market, so BloomReach is not the only vendor in the personalization and optimization space (Evergage is another).
My point is we do not see something completely new here. It’s like a circle we go in trying to figure out the best way to create digital experience technology that will sell to a broader market. You can’t have WCM without some degree of personalization, but you also can’t have personalization without WCM, the two are naturally tied together.
Will this acquisition be good for BloomReach? Yes. Hippo is a strong content management platform, and with its open standards platform, it should be relatively easy to tie the two together. Will it help BloomReach take on the Adobe’s and Sitecore’s of the DX market? They have a long way to go to get there. They’ll more likely start out focusing on expanding the commerce market and then, if possible, move on from there.
Is this a good deal for Hippo? Hippo seems to think so, and it’s very likely opening up a wider US market and bringing some much-needed capabilities to the platform. But I wonder if Hippo will get lost in BloomReach, becoming simply a CMS core for commerce. I hope not, because I believe it offered more than that.