Exclusive: Karol Jarkovsky Releases Tidbits of Kentico 11
Earlier this month, we published a splendid interview with James (Jim) Panagas, Director of PR and Analyst Relations at Kentico Software, which was recorded at the Boston edition of the 2017 Kentico Roadshow event, a series of one-day events taking place in seven cities across the world. At the same event, I was lucky enough to have a fruitful conversation with Karol Jarkovsky, Director of Product at Kentico, on the prime focus of the upcoming release, Kentico 11, which Kentico is planning to roll out on November 29, 2017.
As Karol contended during the interview, the future of Kentico is focused on the dual rail strategy with 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, meaning that the vendor will keep investing and enhancing Kentico EMC as well as innovate on Kentico Cloud to ensure the platform meets their users’ needs today and into the future.
Main Focus of Kentico 11: Email Marketing & E-commerce
The main focus of Kentico 11 will be email marketing and e-commerce. Let me start with email marketing.
Before diving into the upcoming capabilities of the e-mail marketing module in Kentico 11, it is worth to note that the idea of focusing on email marketing has actually come from the most voted idea in the Kentico Product Ideas forum. The vendor listened to its audience who supported the most voted idea, and from there, they created a brief survey to shape the new capabilities of its email builder. According to Kentico, the new email builder is going to feature clean HTML output with inlined CSS styles, support drag & drop widgets, preview mode, images and attachments, macros for contextualization and other features to help non-technical users produce modern and responsive e-mails. Another reason why Kentico wanted to make improvements to its email builder is because the vendor aimed at delivering similar capabilities with popular email platforms like MailChimp while allowing its users to take advantage of all the data that they have stored in the Kentico instance through a native integration, which is the point where Kentico differentiates itself from those platforms. After all, as Karol once stated “200 billion emails are sent every day, most of them with marketing messages.”
On top of their new email builder, Kentico is currently working on an updated e-mail marketing toolset which includes:
Last year, hot on the heels of their latest release of its ASP.NET CMS platform, Kentico 10, our tech reporter Laura Myers had interviewed Karol to discuss what was new with the platform. During that conversation, Karol had dribbled out tidbits of Kentico 11’s upcoming ecommerce enhancements, saying that the e-commerce solution will see some improvements with Kentico 11. These improvements will be more focused on integrations. The reason he pointed that out was even though Kentico EMS comes with a built-in e-commerce solution, they believe, there are always organizations that want to use standalone best-of-breed e-commerce solutions. In recognition of this need, Kentico’s plan was to work with market leaders in the e-commerce space on delivering the optimal solutions for those organizations that are looking for the best of both CMS and e-commerce.
Fast forwarding to the date, one of the features that was demanded by users in Kentico’s forum was a better support for decimal values as they have felt that some financial calculation scenarios requires the Decimal type rather than the Double type. Kentico took this advice and in the new release, users will see improvements to decimal configuration that will allow them to use decimals in calculations. Besides the support for decimal values, Kentico is also planning to roll out new rounding mechanism and new tax calculation models. The vendor is also assuring that they will provide an enhanced customization model for greater flexibility in case these new cart calculation capabilities won’t fit in some customers’ use cases. Additionally, Kentico 11 is going to allow multiple coupon codes assigned to a single order while providing options to categorize product catalog items into different groups, including brands, collections, categories, and styles. The person who is behind these solutions, Michal Kadak, PO Platform & E-commerce at Kentico, revealed a workflow of the updated e-commerce:
One of the features that I really liked about Kentico 10 was “campaign journey tracking” which is a type of analytics that allows marketers to see which particular step of their campaign gets the highest visitor drop out so they will understand exactly which part of the campaign failed and what needs improving. To me, this is very critical for marketers as they can detect the problem much faster than ever, regardless of their skill sets and experiences in reading analytics. The reason why I brought this up is because with Kentico 11, on top of this enhancement, we will see Google Analytics E-commerce tracking support, meaning that business owners can correlate sales data with website usage data like sessions, bounce rate, traffic source/medium, and landing pages to better understand the performance of website landing pages and marketing campaigns.
Speaking of insights from analytics, according to the vendor, Kentico 11 is also going to provide new reports including new email marketing, segmentation and campaign reports that will additionally demonstrate:
For e-commerce, during the interview, Karol mentioned that the product is designed specifically for midsize companies in the $10M - $500M range. However, it is worth noting that Kentico has increasingly been capturing the attention of Fortune 500 / Global Fortune 500 companies as well.
Promises Delivered by Kentico
To understand how evident Kentico’s promises for the upcoming release are, we should look at Kentico’s product vision and how well the vendor has been delivering them so far. Kentico has been carefully examining the needs of the market and building their new versions based on those findings. Not only is Kentico shaping its platform according to the feedback from partners and customers, it also knits a specific vision and an approach to its product development strategy. Here are the essentials that shape the backbone of Kentico’s core products and guide the vendor when they develop their offerings:
An intuitive toolset that not only aligns both developers and marketers but also allows them to easily get their job done faster.
Delivering enough context through built-in features for businesses to achieve their goals such as converting prospects into customers, increasing existing customer value, and gaining an ROI from marketing activities.
Instead of saying our way or the highway, the vendor is in favor of providing its users with flexibility through smooth and tight integrations with major CRM, ecommerce, and ERP solutions.
Routine health checks of websites ensure that the sites usability and ultimately customers' web experience is always at its peak performance. Having 1,000 digital agency partners, Kentico is making a healthy ecosystem a priority.
In the scope of the vendor’s main focus on the dual rail strategy, Kentico targets to deliver the same flexibility for developers regardless of the fact that they run the platform on premise or in the cloud.
When it comes to understanding how well those promises have been delivered, I always find first hand experience as the best source, and that reminded me of Laura’s interview with Corina Ursu, Creative Director at Regency Fireplace Products on her recent experience with the Kentico EMS upgrade project, facilitated by Falcon-Software, as Corina said: “It (Kentico) is a good match for the timely updates, new improvements every year, new features added, easier to use, to maintain.”
Another customer of Kentico who also agrees that the vendor’s promises ring true is Belfast Waterfront, an ultra-modern conferencing and entertainment center. The organization was in need of “a more modern CMS” and “a dramatic redesign of the site”. To address these issues, they have chosen Kentico to migrate their website. The Belfast Waterfront website project took just six months and the new website went live in 2016. “When I think back to what we had before versus what we have today, they are worlds apart. Since the website launch, we’ve had nearly 3 million page views and 1 million total visits. I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” said Lisa Turkington, digital marketing executive at Belfast Waterfront, in an interview.
Besides customer stories, industry reports such as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ) and Forrester’s Wave are also influential sources to assess vendors’ progress. As Forrester's Mark Grannan told us in an exclusive interview, “Leverage your market research; leverage us [Forrester], leverage CMS-Connected. Leverage until you make sure that you are as fully informed as you can be.” So, last year Kentico made the cut and entered the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for web content management, being named a ‘Challenger’. From the users’ perspective, the report states that the vendor’s offerings are an excellent value for the money. Here at CMS-Connected, we often have conversations with the vendors, following the release focused on the recognition within the report, and one of the most recent conversations about the report was with Kentico's CEO, Petr Palas. When Laura asked him what he feels Kentico has done to contribute to their recognition in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and how they intend on keeping up that momentum, he said: "It's hard to name one particular thing. It's rather the overall Kentico story. We've been in the market for 13 years, always growing and profitable, without any investors. We earned that recognition by sticking to our long-term vision and values and working tirelessly to bring value to our customers and partners, without fancy words and shortcuts. We plan to continue doing what made us successful: listening to our customers, innovating the product and growing our relationships with digital agencies that represent the core of our business." If you are interested in hearing more from Petr Palas, stay tuned as we will publish the interview that I did with him during the 2017 Kentico Roadshow Boston event. So do not forget to check back to our website this Wednesday.
Today, for organizations, it’s imperative to have the right players and plan in place, considering every organization has its own unique needs and goals to meet. At the end of the day, digital businesses have to deliver personalized and contextualized experiences to their own customers, and WCM platforms are the gravitational center of those must-have digital experiences.
With these all in mind, the WCM vendors are continuously upgrading their platforms to keep up with today’s ever-changing digital landscape as it is very paramount for vendors that are committed to building up a trust with their users and enable them to maximize their technology investments. Kentico is certainly one of those. Considering its relatively small size and origins in the Czech Republic, its expansion into the North American market alone is an impressive indicator to measure the vendor’s success.
When I was at the Kentico Roadshow event, partners and customers whom I talked to seemed to be happy with the clarity delivered on the product roadmap as well as the vendor’s dual rail strategy. Therefore, it will be interesting to do follow up with the Kentico community after the upcoming release.