Interview with Petr Palas, Founder and CEO of Kentico

Kentico is one  of the most popular .NET Content Management Systems in the marketplace (review) and we wanted to take some time to learn more about their product and their companies goals. Mr. Petr Palas, founder and CEO was gracious enough to spend some time with us and answer a few questions.

CC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with Kentico. Are you a founding member? How did your interaction with Kentico come about and what did you do previously?

PP: Before starting Kentico Software, I worked as a product manager in the .NET component industry. Back in 2004, there was no decent or true .NET CMS on the market and many companies were developing their own CMS. I saw an opportunity to create a content management system and offer it to web agencies. So I started Kentico Software. Our first client was Gibson Musical Instruments. Six years later, they're still using Kentico for their main corporate website.

We are a private, profit funded company without debts or external funding and we've been profitable since year one. We experience more than 100% growth of revenue annually since inception and currently have 65 employees, 2,500 clients, almost 5,000 active web sites and 1,200 active partners worldwide across 84 countries.

CC: What is the primary focus of your company? What type of corporations / organizations do you primarily focus your attentions on and why?

PP: Kentico CMS is a highly flexible and scalable solution designed to cover the small brochure sites to multi-site to multi-national projects of Fortune 500 companies. Our customer is anybody who needs a full-featured .NET CMS that is easy to use, flexible and backed by excellent support.

Still, there's one significant group of clients that we focus on - the web agencies who use Kentico CMS as a platform to create client websites. We've built a lot of our business helping web agencies deliver high quality websites on time and with fewer resources. Unlike many other CMS vendors, we’ve made a strategic business decision to not compete with our channel of solution partners and integrators by not offer our own professional services - instead, we direct these clients with integration requirements to our recommended solution partners.

CC: How does Kentico assist customers learn about, interact with, and best present their products to their customers?

PP: I would say the most important benefit of Kentico CMS is the ease of use. I’m sure every CMS vendor will tell you that their CMS is easy to use, but I say this based on the feedback we consistently hear from our clients.

For example, from web agencies that have  deep experience with several CMS products, Kentico is very intuitive for non-technical users, they do not need to spend a lot time training their clients and they receive fewer calls from end users in comparison to any other CMS product. This is really critical for the success of any CMS project - if your CMS is not user friendly, the content administrators won't use it and you will end up with outdated website that doesn't deliver expected results.

CC: Do you feel your product is unique in its offerings? If so, why?

PP: Of course our CMS offering is unique. One of several unique values of Kentico is the completeness of the solution. Other vendors often rely on third-party products in such areas as e-commerce or social networking. This often leads to a poor user experience, architecture full of compromises, a more costly implementation and often leaves clients with software that cannot be upgraded due to compatibility issues with third-party products and the latest version of the CMS. The fact that you receive all features directly from Kentico means you also benefit with lower initial and ongoing costs and dramatically lower project risks.

Kentico CMS is particularly strong in two feature areas: rapid website development and multi-site support. While many products offer various drag-and-drop interfaces, Kentico provides a complete environment for creating websites through your browser. It means that web developers without extensive .NET knowledge can work in a front-end portal interface and your more experienced developers can focus on complex .NET coding using the integration Kentico CMS offers with Visual Studio.

Kentico CMS is the only commercial .NET CMS vendor who built multi-site support into the core of the system. It means you don't have to make compromises with half-baked multi-site architecture. And we have clients who successfully deploy hundreds of websites centrally managed in a single installation.

CC: What do you say to those that scoff at the security and stability of the .NET framework when compared to other technologies?  What has .NET enabled you to do better?

PP: As a software vendor who has been using the .NET platform for 6+ years, we believe that .NET is the best platform for our clients. It's secure, stable and provides enterprise-level scalability. Unlike other platforms, .NET is backed by Microsoft who continues to invest resources in maintaining and extending their core platform. We have seen Microsoft very responsive to security issues and bugs.

As a Gold Partner we work closely with Microsoft to provide what we believe is industry leading integration of Kentico CMS with Visual Studio. The combination of the Microsoft platform and Kentico CMS allows our clients to develop websites with tools they are already know in a secure and robust environment.

CC: What is your vision for the next couple of years in this market? How has Kentico positioned itself to be the “ go to” player?

PP: As we have seen the overall WCM market will continue to mature. Customers will expect even more features and value for their investment. This is an area where Kentico has always been strong – delivering solutions for real-world scenarios, easy to implement, easy to use, and has low ongoing technology costs.

This philosophy had a significant impact as we looked at our own product roadmap. We saw that online marketers are a huge under-served area. Right now, we're working on Kentico CMS 6.0 that will dramatically improve the way that marketers can generate new business for their companies. The new on-line marketing functionality will empower every marketer to optimize their website for higher conversion rates using A/B and multivariate testing, provide visitors with personalized content and deliver qualified leads to their sales team. Unlike other solutions that are too complex for non-technical users and require full-time staff to keep them running, Kentico will bring these features to marketers who need an immediate ROI without growing their budget.

CC: Online marketers have definitely been getting noticed more and solutions (whether integrated or separate packages altogether) are starting to get more functions within CMS like Sitecore for example. What will Kentico do that will make it the more appealing option?

PP: We have been watching the online marketing space closely. Like any new technology we see that it’s expensive, requires extensive integration and increased deployment and maintenance costs that are out of line with customer expectations. As we talked to customers we saw the technology had matured but neither the acquisition, integration, or maintenance costs have. Kentico Enterprise Marketing Solution that will be introduced with version 6.0 next year will deliver an easy to use, cost efficient solution that is fully integrated with other CMS functionality. Our customers are very excited about this new functionality – we would love to show you more as we finalize our development.

CC: What was the biggest Kentico success story of this year for your company / clientele?

PP: We see more clients deploying Kentico for major sites with extreme traffic. Newsmax, Conduit, Motors.co.uk, Gibson or Blackboard are just a few examples of such sites.  As an example, the Newsmax site serves 20 million page views per month, with over a million pieces of content, while running on a single, stand-alone production server. We also see more web agencies standardize on Kentico as their core platform and offering Kentico as an alternative to Ektron or Sitecore, because they don't have to spend the majority of the project budget on licenses and can spend more time on delivering a successful website to their clients.

CC: You’ve recently celebrated 6 years of fantastic growth coupled with a continually expanding staff, what do you attribute this success to?

PP: First of all, we were fortunate to enter the .NET CMS market at the right time. Growth and success are easy, if you follow the core principle that is part of the Kentico Software culture - keep delivering what your clients asked for. We're not just implementing fancy new features, but we continue to improve existing functionality based on client feedback. Of course, we wouldn't be so successful, without our loyal partners who successfully adopted Kentico CMS as their core platform for creating websites.

CC: What do you feel has been the greatest advancement in WCM/CMS market over the past year or so?

PP: I would say the major advancement was the fact that WCM is no longer considered to be just about managing content. People expect that a CMS should do everything they require to support their web strategy and succeed with their on-line presence. They want a solution that will allow them to sell products on-line, engage with clients in social networks and integrate with their existing systems, such as ERP or CRM.

Also, site owners want to see measurable results and an optimized visitor experience, so they get the most from their investments. This is what we understand under the term WEM. I think this is so important version 6 of Kentico CMS will have a heavy focus on this.

CC: How do you define the term ‘CMS’?

PP: In Kentico, we believe that a Web Content Management System should provide marketers and developers with everything they need to achieve their goals on-line. Whether they need to publish search engine-optimized content, sell products on-line, integrate social networks or improve their marketing results, they should obtain it in a single, fully integrated solution. They shouldn't merely receive a framework and be forced to develop costly integrations of multiple specialized products, which often happens with many other CMS vendors.

Additionally, they shouldn't be forced to buy numerous add-on modules, requiring complex or even impossible upgrade paths from multiple vendors, which is quite often the case with open-source CMS systems. Kentico CMS delivers all functional components out of the box, and concurrently, offers extensive flexibility in how you use them or extend them.

CC: Thank you for your time Mr. Palas.

Want to learn more about Kentico? Read our review or visit them on the web at http://www.kentico.com

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