Interviews with Progress' CTO & SVP of Core Products
As we promised in our previous article regarding the SitefinitySummit 2017 event, where my co-worker Laura Myers and I were invited to attend as a media, today, it’s time to share some more of those different invaluable perspectives from the Progress Sitefinity Community with you all! To that point, through this article, we will bring you the interviews with these two phenomenal Progress executives (John Ainsworth and Dmitri Tcherevik) that Laura and I filmed at the event as well as my brief commentary on their talking points.
John Ainsworth, Senior Vice President of Core Products at Progress, joined the organization six months ago with a reasonability of engineering, product management, product marketing and technical support he has over a 25-year experience in the enterprise software industry. Prior to joining Progress, he held positions of increasing seniority at CA Technologies, the most recent being Senior Vice President of Engineering Services.
Before diving into our conversation with John, for those who are not familiar with the relationship between Progress and Sitefinity, I would like to give a little bit of background. Telerik was founded in 2002 by four graduates of American University in Bulgaria and Technical University of Sofia, launching Telerik Sitefinity a few years later. On December 1, 2014, Progress Software, a global software company, acquired Telerik, renaming the WCM platform Progress Sitefinity. Progress Sitefinity is a content management and marketing analytics platform designed to maximize the agility needed to succeed in today’s rapidly changing digital marketplace.
“Sitefinity is Part of the Progress Family”
During the event, he delivered a keynote speech entitled “Sitefinity is Everywhere” and made sure to convey the message saying “Sitefinity is part of the Progress Family”. Besides this, as being the SVP of Core Products, he also walked the audience through their plans to strengthen the core portfolio. To accomplish that, he shared their main objectives below:
Invest for growth and innovation
Deliver enterprise quality
Focus on voice of customer
Leverage integrated portfolio
After understanding Progress’ strong commitment to the core portfolio, we wanted to inquire where Sitefinity fits in it. “Sitefinity is a key part of that portfolio,” said John and added: “The portfolio that we have is really spread across three dimensions; application development platforms and tools, web content management and digital experience, as well as data connectivity and integration. We believe that when you bring those three things together, you can provide the technologies that allow us to build in business applications, digital experiences and provide the data that either flows through those applications into the content or supports personalization.” So as a web content and digital experience platform, Sitefinity is a key pillar in the middle of all these dimensions that John explained.
The feedback we have received from analysts and clients on the platform actually demonstrates to us that the vendor has been successful in following this vision, as many find the tasks like creating, managing and publishing content very easy and they say that the platform offers impressive out of the box functionality, with very little custom development needed for most SMB customers.
Regarding the question of how Sitefinity and Progress complement each other, John noted that while Progress has historically been very strong in business application development and data, they have also been missing the key middle piece of the puzzle which is web content management and digital experience capabilities. Progress has a high confidence in Sitefinity having a very strong product and growing very fast thus they see the platform as an intrinsic key to the goal of combining app experiences, content, and data. On top of that, he also believes that Sitefinity brought an incredible population of users and partners to Progress, and from there, Progress supplemented the community with its strong relationships already established with the partners over 35 years.
John claims that Progress has world-class enterprise data access to big customer relationship systems like Salesforce, and they can bring that into the Sitefinity world to augment both applications and digital experiences. Speaking of application development, John also mentioned about the set of development activities around the NativeScript portfolio which, as John explains, allows a developer to write a single application using NativeScript and then deploy that to the mobile devices natively. He said that one of the things Progress Sitefinity is currently working on is providing a full stack experience for a developer to build out enterprise grade mobile apps and combine those with the omnichannel experiences that they get from the rest of the portfolio. On that note, developers can create native iOS and Android apps that share the same codebase and work seamlessly on both platforms.
Sitting Down with Progress' CTO Dmitri Tcherevik
Dmitri Tcherevik, Chief Technology Officer at Progress, leads Progress’ vision and technology strategy for cognitive applications across its product portfolio. Dmitri is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded two successful technology start-ups—MightyMeeting and Infostoria (acquired by Fatwire in 2007). Dmitri served as CTO at FatWire, where he helped to define the market around Web Experience Management, until its strategic sale to Oracle in 2010.
“Progress Provides the Foundation, Sitefinity Provides the Innovation”
We asked Dmitri Tcherevik, CTO of Progress, the same question; “How do Sitefinity and Progress complement each other?” Dmitri told us that Sitefinity allowed Progress to build new business applications on their strong foundation and reach out to a new audience. In his words; “We (Progress) provide the foundation, and Sitefinity provides the innovation.”
From the technology standpoint, he said that their vision is providing the best platform for the next generation of business applications. Today, due to an ever-changing technology landscape, Dmitri’s team is tasked to build mobile devices, big data, and cognitive-first applications powered by artificial intelligence, so, according to Dmitri, Sitefinity is providing the big portion of those activities. He noted: “Sitefinity is used not just for the web but also mobile devices and Sitefinity has components of providing the cognitive aspect of it (their vision) like personalization.”
Direction of the Platform
When it comes to the direction of the platform, he specifically mentioned two aspects. First, Progress Sitefinity opened up the platform to provide content-as-a-service (CaaS) so content can be fetched via a RESTful API and accessed from all kinds of devices. The second direction that the vendor has is to handle big data much better. He explained: “We do data integration where we can bring data from all kinds of sources. Not just does it record more data but also human-produced data like user-generated data and sensor data, and then enable that to impersonalize experiences.”
On top of these main directions, he also shed light on two other areas that they see the need for more innovation. The first gap is the lack of talent among developers when it comes to developing native applications. To address this issue, at Progress Sitefinity, he said they are currently aggressively innovating to provide the tools that enable the web application developers to easily build native experiences on different platforms.
According to Dmitri, another innovation area is chatbots as he said: “Being able to provide experiences inside popular messaging applications is very important.” He also believes that the expectations of consumers from chatbots are not easy to meet, yet so important. Therefore, he sees this area requiring a lot of innovation.
I couldn’t agree with Dmitri more as here at CMS-Connected, we consistently report on the vendors that make significant enhancements to their platforms, including chatbots and artificial intelligence with enhanced mobile, video and messaging capabilities. They integrate their chatbots into Facebook Messenger or Amazon Alexa, for instance, as now we are living in a world where fewer and fewer people are downloading brands’ mobile apps as they are just using Facebook Messenger and Alexa-driven devices instead. Chatbots are great not only for scalable customer service but also for sales and marketing productivity they automate common sales tasks such as account search, transaction creation, and updates.
As a natural process of every technology acquisition, to adjust to new licensing models and business use cases took some time and effort for Sitefinity customers and partners, but today, for the most part, most of those wrinkles have been ironed out. Therefore, during the event, the direction of the relationship between these two technology providers was one of the main topics on the vendor’s agenda. Frankly, based on our conversations from the event floor, the message has been received very well in the community as they seem to be fully integrated and complement each other.
If you like this piece, stay tuned for our other exclusive interviews with the customers during the event. Until then, you can check out our interview with Anton Hristov, Product Strategy & Marketing at Progress, on what issues have been addressed with Progress Sitefinity’s new release and what’s in store for the future releases as well as our interview with Loren Jarrett, Chief Marketing Officer at Progress, on personalization and the future of multichannel and mobile web.