Kentico Content & Commerce in the Clouds
Last week I was on location at one of the many stops the Kentico Roadshow is making around the globe in 2017. This time, Kentico team members, partners and customers came together on the top floor of the third tallest building in Chicago, the Aon Center. We were in the clouds but Kentico Cloud was only one of the important topics being discussed that day. Throughout the sessions and the many interviews I engaged in with members of the Kentico community, the release of Kentico 11 was top of mind for discussion, along with news in the world of Kentico cloud, commerce and the highly anticipated integration with the Denmark based, rising juggernaut in the commerce space, Ucommerce.
Commerce within Kentico 11 itself has gone through what Michal Kadak, Product Owner at Kentico, described, in an interview with me, as a Renaissance: “Renaissance is sort of like being reborn, similar to the Phoenix, rising from the ashes and that is exactly what we did with ecommerce within Kentico 11. All the old code that we had in Kentico before in 10, 9, 8, we just replaced it with a completely new one. Basically eCommerce with Kentico 11 is reborn.”
There was such great insight put forth in all of my interviews from this one day event, which we will be releasing on our platform in the coming weeks, but here, I will caption some important insights from the event on the overall conversation, the position Kentico has on the impending GDPR regulation and different perspectives on the Ucommerce integration.
Bryan Soltis Shows Kentico 11 from His Perspective
To kick things off, I have my discussion with Bryan Soltis, Technical Evangelist at Kentico ready to view as he goes in-depth on the major improvements we will see in Kentico 11, how those will allow for more robust marketing campaigns for Kentico users and the buzz around the connectors newly available in the upcoming release:
The Responsibility of Vendors for the GDPR
Back in October, I spoke with Tim Walters, of the Content Advisory about the GDPR and asked him in an interview, his thoughts on the responsibility of agencies to educate their customers on GDPR compliance. Turns out, that very thought is on the mind of vendors as well, as Karol Jarkovksy, VP of Product for Kentico emphasized that point in our interview at the Roadshow.
To start off, he highlighted how Kentico 11 has been developed to assist in many facets of compliance: “What we see as our role as a CMS vendor is to basically help organizations with their efforts to comply with the GDPR, there is never going to be a magic button that you can press and that’s it but as a vendor we can help those businesses fulfill the rights of the data subjects, to help businesses prove to authorities that they took all the necessary steps to comply with the GDPR, basically that is what Kentico 11 is going to help with. There are obviously many parts to that, what we are going to provide is a privacy application that is going to be part of the EMS suite and it’s going to help with content management, with rights for access, rights to be forgotten, rights to data portability, it will also help to provide evidence that organizations took all the necessary organizational and technical measures to comply with the GDPR.”
Giving organizations and agencies the tools to ensure compliance is fantastic, but I was curious if Karol saw a responsibility of Kentico beyond that, here is what he had to say: “Absolutely, and in doing a roadshow around the world, the one thing we realized is that GDPR is not the only data privacy regulation that is introducing the concepts that are a game changer in that area. It seems like it’s happening all around the world slowly, there are many countries that are considering similar legislations, implementing and so on, but at the same time, there are many organizations that are not aware or they think that it doesn’t impact them. A couple of months ago we started a blog that is related specifically to the GDPR and we try to walk customers and partners through the different requirements and what their role is, what they will have to deal with and so on. At the same time, we are providing the tool that is going to help them. The one thing concerning me a little is that not many other vendors are doing that and I am not saying this with just CMS vendors. This is not something that just involves them, if you look at the typical digital marketing technology stack, every one of these nodes that are part of that stack, vendors behind those tools should be educating on their part and their role in the whole GDPR compliance and that I don’t think is happening, I just hope over time more and more vendors will step forward to ensure the GDPR is not going to be the scarecrow for years to come.”
Kentico and Ucommerce Come Together
The integration between Kentico and Ucommerce is a topic we have thoroughly covered, most recently with my colleague Venus’ wonderfully poignant article, Integrating Content-First and Commerce-First Approaches but when I had the chance to host a panel with Petr Palas, CEO of Kentico, Soren Spelling Lund of Ucommerce and Michal Kadak, Product Owner at Kentico I was eager to hear the strategy behind the integration from each CEO.
With both being global brands, I was curious to hear Soren’s thoughts on how they would help Kentico customers in varying regions address their common problems with content and commerce: “The marriage of a commerce platform and a content platform is interesting, coming from this specific angle because if you look at the Asian markets, it’s pretty common not to have an actual computer to deal with the online shopping, it happens from a phone and via multiple devices, and this is exactly what Petr is talking about when he mentions, how they’re addressing the ‘multichannel nightmare’ I think he calls it. The CMS actually helps us deal with market specific situations like this exact one where the mobile phone is the primary use case for commerce and maybe not even in web context but in a chatbot context or something like that. For a market like Europe, it is interesting because it is a large market but Europe is not just one market, its lots of different markets and lots of fragmentation so our ability to actually address those differences is what makes us useful there.”
Pairing well with that branch of conversation, was posing the question to Petr of what this integration will mean for the content and commerce marketplace, here is what he had to say: “With the Kentico and Ucommerce integration, we are bringing to the market a very powerful combination. In the past we had a very strong content management, and digital marketing and a solid eCommerce history but now we will really have a winning combination of super powerful content management, digital marketing and ecommerce, which is something very few vendors can offer. Plus, what is important to say is that Ucommerce is really, fully integrated within Kentico, within our digital marketing and content management functionalities so it’s not just a marketing integration, that we see with many other vendors. We really provide a solution that looks like a single product from the user perspective and from the developer perspective so I believe this is a big game changer and it will allow us to provide a much better solution to customers who want powerful content management, digital marketing and ecommerce.”
Along these same lines, in my interview with Bryan Soltis, he added to this widespread thought process by shedding light on what the user experience would be for Kentico customers utilizing the new commerce options within the platform: “Ucommerce is a best of breed eCommerce solution, they do some fantastic work obviously in the online sales space, they already have integrations with several other platforms so these guys know how to do eCommerce right, and they’re a very powerful, capable system. While we know that some people will still want to use Kentico eCommerce and that’s why we put a lot of features inside of that particular aspect of the platform, we know that others will already be using Ucommerce or they just want to have another system because of some capability that aligns with their business goals and requirements. We partnered with Ucommerce because we know they have such a great best-of-breed solution and these new capabilities and what’s really interesting, is the Ucommerce interface, everything Ucommerce does, things like refunds and really complex management of products, I think they have over 500,000 that you can manage inside of an online store, these really powerful eCommerce capabilities we’ve integrated it into our Kentico platform meaning, if you were to stand this up, and you decide you're going to use Ucommerce for your eCommerce implementation with Kentico EMS, you’ll stay inside of Kentico”
Karol’s stance on their educational responsibility really stood out for me. There is still a staggering amount of organizations who are unprepared and even unaware of what the GDPR is asking of them as of May 25, 2018 and we all know you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink the same as you can give an organization education but you can’t make them comply. At the very least vendors can take the opportunity to be thought leaders in providing insight and knowledge on something as complex and impactful as the GDPR. Especially in reference to a point made by numerous authorities on the topic: the GDPR is not and will not be the first of its kind, there will be plenty more compliance needs from every part of the world moving forward.
Further to that, I can really appreciate Kentico’s view on connectors. They know there are numerous vendors who are excelling in their fields of CRM, eCommerce, and PIM to name a few and they see it as advantageous to ensure their platform integrates well with these other platforms so users don’t have to choose and, can continue to use the Kentico UI they are used to while leveraging the expert capabilities of other platforms.
As for the integration between Kentico and Ucommerce, some might take a look from the outside in and think Kentico is adding Ucommerce as a way to avoid amping up their own commerce capabilities, which would be incorrect. Not only will Ucommerce be added in as an option for Kentico users, Kentico, as Michal pointed out, completely rebuilt their commerce capabilities from the ground-up with consideration for customer needs every step of the way, so it looks as though Kentico achieved the win-win, not only did they choose to cultivate their own capabilities, they are also offering users an established, extensible commerce engine in Ucommerce.