A Global View of Web Content Management with Kentico
When you think of Czech Republic, ornate castles and native beers may be the first things that come to mind, but when you are involved in the content management industry, it also reminds you of a company which was born in a small apartment in Brno back in 2004, and since then, it has grown much larger than its roots as a simple web content management system. Yes, we are talking about Kentico.
Founded by Petr Palas in 2004, Kentico is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner headquartered in the Czech Republic with offices in the US, UK, Netherlands, and Australia. Kentico has 1,000 digital agency partners and powers more than 25,000 websites across 100 countries. Their customers include Gibson, Twinings, Ingram Micro, Mazda, Kingspan, Hunter Fan, Starbucks, and Allergan.
Our media reporter Laura Myers interviewed Kentico’s three most prominent sales executives from three big regions, North America, APAC, EMEA and Latin America, to get the entire picture of Kentico’s global footprint and the direction of the content management industry.
Eric Webb, VP of Sales in North America
The reason why I started off with North America is that 65 percent of Kentico’s global revenue is generated out of the U.S. market. The North American region has been a predominately concerned market toward the adoption of WCM solutions and services not only for Kentico but also for the entire WCM market, which is expected to reach USD 8.25 Billion by 2021, according to MarketsandMarkets.
While Kentico’s main target is midsize companies in the $10M - $500M range, Kentico has increasingly been capturing the attention of Fortune 500 / Global Fortune 500 companies as well - companies like Bechtel, Ingram Micro, JB Hunt, Land o Lakes, PBG and Rexnord to name just a handful, according to Eric. He believes that where Kentico is finding the greatest success is approaching the customers in a best-value manner and empowering marketers by developing innovative solutions instead of making it a very developer heavy platform.
What is most striking to me from Eric’s interview was his observation on how companies are failing as they are actually trying to embrace a best-of-breed architecture. He said: “What we are seeing is that we're often getting into conversations with clients who have heavily invested in complex technologies – we call them best of breed solutions, but, at the end of the day, they are actually not getting a return on the investment and what they need out of these best of breed investments.” Eric believes the reason often comes down to a couple of self-assessment questions:
What are the actual requirements?
What do you need to deliver and what level of complexity does that require?
What is your budget?
How much do you spend not only on the technology but also on implementing it?
What are the resources that you have in-house that can leverage it in an effective way to actually get a return on your investment?
“The response to any of those questions is in conflict with using a best of breed solution. Well, guess what! Don't use the best of breed solution so don't spend your capital on a technology that you don't have the budget for or don't have the resource or the team for,” said Eric Webb.
Speaking from experience, he said that they often see companies spending $25 - $30000 per year to use platforms like Marketo but in reality, what they actually do is use it like MailChimp as they utilize it simply for email communications to an audience without doing a lot of personalization with it. What Kentico sees now though, organizations, who have taken a misstep down the path of engagement technology, are now dialing it back to a technology that better fits their requirements. Due to all these challenges and dilemmas, according to Eric, Kentico develops its solutions by keeping marketers in mind so marketers can actually take full control and ownership of marketing campaigns that they want to execute and leverage all the touch points with their customers in a way that's actually meaningful.
Alongside its transparent and honest approach to its customers and its capabilities of extending and integrating with other technologies, according to Eric, their differentiating factor is their latest innovation in their offerings, Kentico Cloud, a cloud-first headless CMS and digital experience platform. Kentico sees it as a turning point, yet the future of content management at least for the next three to five years.
Kentico is sold and supported by a global network of solution partners who are growing in terms of scope and sophistication. Specifically, as James (Jim) Panagas, Director of PR and Analyst Relations, previously explained in a CMS-Connected interview, top firms are partnering with one another in order to pitch larger deals and pitch to larger clients. Knowing Kentico has 387 certified solution partners in North America, we wanted to inquire what the latest dynamics in that market are. Eric stressed that they have recently seen a fundamental shift in the resources and the services that digital agencies are providing. He said: “We are seeing a much greater concentration of partners who are putting a heavier focus and heavier resources towards that digital experience and online marketing.” In other words, partners’ primary focus has shifted from just implementing technologies to establishing partnerships and relationships to help their clients with whole digital experience.
Bart Omlo, VP of Sales for EMEA and Latin America
Since Bart is responsible for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, we wanted to pick his brain on the biggest difference between all these highly diverse regions. He contended that the most significant difference between countries is the maturity of the clients. On their spectrum, they have customers that are actively working on delivering tailored and personalized web experiences to their own clients while on the other part of that spectrum, there are still entities that are still struggling in transforming a static brochure type of website into a little bit more of a dynamic segmented website.
To elaborate this situation, he gave an example by saying that their customers located in the U.K such as Twinings or Belfast Waterfront are very active and far ahead with online marketing, whereas their other clients located in the United Arab Emirates are also far ahead in the online world but not so much with online marketing. What he sees typically in the EMEA market is that customers are eager to push the envelope for online marketing but they need to take more solid steps on that ambition.
Another important point Bart brought up during the interview was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will be in effective as of 25 May 2018. In that regard, he told CMS-Connected that to truly help their customers, first, they need to make sure not only their products keep the data in a safe way but also that clients are able to see where is it stored, in what country, how that they’re able to delete data that they don't want to use and they are able to easily make it transparent for their own clients where their data is, what is stored and so on.
Every market has its own unique needs and dynamics. The EMEA region is arguably the most diverse one. Knowing Kentico is quite successful in this particular region, we wanted to inquire what makes Kentico stand out from the pack. According to Bart’s experience, from the product standpoint, there are two very important factors that Kentico has excelled at; a breadth of features and ease of use. Bart believes that the challenge for the vendors is providing a glut of functionality that is still easy to use and manage. “I see that organizations have 100 percent features and functionalities in place but they only use 20 percent out of those. We (Kentico) are really good at letting our customers get the most out of it by making it simple and providing a good interface. So I think, that’s where we really stand out,” said Bart Omlo. Noting time-to-market is so critical, especially from a marketing perspective, Bart believes that with Kentico solutions, to execute marketing campaigns, marketers are empowered to do more tasks by themselves without having to go to a digital agency or get a developer. He says that utilizing a digital agency to have them deliver, say, a toolbox, instead of hand holding for content curation.
Speaking of differentiators and digital agencies, its well-established partner channel is always seen as Kentico’s strength by the market research firms and customers. Considering every change in the partner world is a direct reflection of customer behavior, we wanted to get a glimpse into the recent trends. The most significant change he sees in the market is that digital agencies want to become more and more full-service agencies, meaning that they want to go beyond technical implementation to strategic partnership. Therefore, they hire more marketers and content strategists as additional to their developer teams, and according to Bart, that’s where the challenge begins for agencies as it is not always easy to manage these different DNAs to make a team that works like a well-oiled machine.
Wayne Jasek, Director APAC for Kentico Australia
Now, I will take you from EMEA to APAC with in-depth insights on the region provided by Wayne Jasek. As Kentico has been operating in Asia-Pacific since the very first year of the company's existence, the region has always been prominent for the vendor. What’s unique about the market is its sheer size and fantastic blend of cultures and languages, according to Wayne as there are 4 billion people coming from different backgrounds living in Asia-Pacific.
Kentico’s primary focus is providing a wide array of possibilities rather than focusing on any specific verticals. As every business and vertical has their own unique needs and ways of doing business, their thousands of customers in the region utilize Kentico for various business use cases. To that end, Wayne mentioned that one of their customers, Chemist Warehouse, which is also one of Australia's largest retailers, utilizes Kentico as their platform of choice for content, e-commerce, and customer experience.
While Kentico’s focused verticals in the region have been finance, leisure, and healthcare, Wayne has lately seen increased growth in interest from the public sector because they usually require very complex content governance processes and extra security, and according to Wayne, Kentico is a great fit for those scenarios. He also added that they support a great deal of non-profits, charities and associations such as UNICEF Australia and World Vision New Zealand to help them leverage their digital marketing efforts.
Wayne gave a great answer to the question regarding the common regional problems that businesses are facing there and how Kentico is helping to alleviate those. It was great because he mentioned something that actually concerns the entire tech industry globally. He said that as a technology vendor, they strive to enable their clients and partners on both the technology and marketing fronts, but there is still a missing piece in that puzzle which is a talent gap. He explained: “It's the education systems where the problem comes from, and often it happens that graduates come out from schools today with the knowledge that is already obsolete or even for the worse, they are absolutely unqualified for the field of study.” Therefore, he believes that to tackle the talent gap issue, a more agile approach to education should be adopted.
Speaking of adoption, he also mentioned about the velocity of change in the technology landscape as another challenge for businesses. How quickly the new technologies come to the market and how should businesses really adopt them in the most effective and efficient way are challenging topics in the market, according to Wayne. Therefore, his team believes that companies should focus on removing infrastructure bottlenecks and look for more innovative ways of how to connect their technology stack. To help their customers with these matters, Kentico’s product line includes Kentico EMS, an all-in-one CMS, E-commerce, and Online Marketing platform, and Kentico Cloud, a cloud-first headless CMS and digital experience platform. According to Wayne, the separation between the content management and presentation layers allows their customers to rapidly scale and reduce time-to-market as it removes the worries about uptime, maintenance or upgrades for the customers.
When it comes to the partner channel, Wayne agreed with Bart Omlo on how digital agencies are becoming more and more full-service agencies to get involved into the higher value activities like digital marketing consultancy, user experience, and customer experience instead of only managing production environments.
After taking this brief but concise world tour, it is safe to say that the ever-changing landscape of technology has a huge direct impact on web content management solutions, vendors, and the way of doing digital bussiness, regardless of geographic position.
If we look at the similarities of all the regions, we can easily see the shift in the solution partner space is happening worldwide. It wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been a demand so it means that buyers are on the lookout for strategic partnership rather than an implementation partner. The second similarity is underutilizing functionality in hand. As we all see at some point, advanced technology, say, artificial intelligence is something that businesses park until they have a good use case for it, whereas the other features like personalization and product recommendation are very well-known and heavily used. This is a very common issue and I believe that vendors and solution partners could help the customer with this issue through a thorough business assessment and strong strategic partnership.
Among all the great talking points that these three phenomenal sales leaders brought up, I, personally, believe that a talent gap, particularly in emerging technical fields, is an alarming threat for many organizations as the situation may throw a monkey wrench in the works. Even though many big software makers have already taken the issue in their own hands by publishing intense online courses or boot-camps, in my opinion, it really is the time that governments should take some serious steps into updating existing programs as well as opening new resources in this matter.