Interview with dotCMS Chief Sales Officer, Stefan Schinkel

By Mike Johnston December 5, 2017 Interviews

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your position within dotCMS.

Stefan: I’m an Electrical Engineer by training and for the last 22 years I have been working in technology-focused enterprises (TNT, MCI WorldCom, Accenture, DM Interface, BloomReach/Hippo) - starting in service delivery/Professional Services roles and moving into consulting and sales roles. Prior to joining dotCMS, I was with Hippo for eight years and part of the team that scaled the company to where it is today. At dotCMS, I’ll pick up the role as Chief Sales Officer and focus on net new business growth and help to scale the company in the next 36 months. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this highly talented and experienced team that will create some waves in the industry shortly.

What do you feel makes dotCMS a strong player in the open source enterprise CMS market?

Stefan: A couple things. First, the product is very rich and really stands out in a couple areas that align very well with requirements that we see in industries like Financial Services, Manufacturing and Retail. Building flexible / custom approval workflows without any coding is one of them. Compliance is another one. For both internal policies as well as up-coming legislation (GDPR and the likes) it’s important to retrieve snapshots of historic content representations. DotCMS offers this out-of-the-box. Most recently we added content preview for future date/time which is key use-case for retailers driving digital campaigns / experiences. Secondly, dotCMS is very well positioned to accelerate the roadmap due to the low technical debt, the open and decoupled architecture and the modern technology stack. Most notably is the re-designed authoring UI in Angular that we’ll continue to extend and improve for marketers and business users. The architecture and the well designed and flexible REST APIs is already ahead of the competition and we’ll continue to improve there. Lastly, our cloud offering is unprecedented with industry-unique auto-scaling of cloud resources, making dotCMS enterprise-grade and appealing for large / global enterprises who wish to build their next generation digital experience platform. We currently serve 150+ enterprise customers on four continents.

On the topic of open source. Do you feel that there are advantages to an open source company over proprietary?

Stefan: Absolutely. Open source products in general, and CMS for sure, offer very mature and feature-rich products which means enterprises can focus on more advanced capabilities. Secondly, open source products are more secure due to the exposure they have by definition. This creates secure and hardened software products. Lastly, open source products provide higher interoperability by nature, which makes them a very solid fit for best-of-breed architectures. All these advantages put enterprises (both marketing and IT) in the driver’s seat to focus on innovation.

How do you feel the open source market has advanced in the last few years?

Stefan: More and more, Enterprise customers building business-critical applications demand transparency into the code bases and platforms they adopt. As Microsoft chief Satya Nadella says, “every business will be a software business” and no software business wants to be built on top of a platform or foundation they cannot control or modify. In the past few years, I have seen a surge in the preference for best-of-breed solutions over full blown suites and, by definition, that means INTEGRATION. Open source products and the complete Java stack provide open and flexible architectures to drive time-to-market and more importantly innovation for enterprises.

Where do you see it going?

Stefan: Again, Open source is here to stay for sure and will become even more mainstream than it is already. The Digital Enterprise will have the flexibility to build its digital experience platform using both proprietary and open source products in hybrid deployment models where I do see a strong position for the Platform-as-a-Service play and microservices-based architectures. Front-end frameworks like Angular, React and Node will become more dominant in the application / presentation layer but I do believe that have an out-of-the-box delivery tier in a DXP as well makes sense and drive more agility for business teams, and will technology teams continue to innovate in a similar pace.

How is dotCMS ensuring it is positioned for success within it?

Stefan: dotCMS is in the process to finalize their first round of growth capital funding. We’ll make strategic investments in our product around cloud, AI/ML, engagement analytics and digital experience orchestration to drive a compelling product roadmap for our customers and partners. In addition, we’ll be focussing on expanding our partner and tech alliance ecosystem to accelerate our global product adoption.

What is dotCMS doing to give back to the open source community?

Stefan: I have seen a lot of companies use the “open source” moniker to greenwash what is really proprietary technology. At dotCMS, we believe in a transparent development process. Our codebase is freely available on github. And we keep developing our product and accepting contributions from our community members into this core open source offering. Open source will remain an important part of our product development philosophy because we believe that it is what forward thinking companies require to drive innovation that allows enterprises to start building / proofing business-critical digital experience platforms.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the interesting and unique implementations of dotCMS you’ve seen in the wild?

Stefan: There are a couple great examples that I want to mention here. First, the Hospital Corporation of America is using our platform to run 1500+ large scale, complete websites - not microsites - and are able to spin up complete new sites in under 30 minutes. Second, dotCMS can handle really large content and document repositories- we have a financial services company that replaced Documentum with dotCMS and have over 10 million assets under management. Finally, Gettysburg College is combining our Content-as-a-Service capabilities to feed Alexa and expose content to students. It’s a testament to the flexibility of the product and how organizations can build their unique digital experience platform.

What plans does dotCMS have to extend the product line, if any?

Stefan: dotCMS is already covering a lot in the core product. Not just the core CMS capabilities but also more advanced capabilities, like workflow and compliance as well as content targeting and personalization. dotCMS is moving into a world where all of an enterprise’s content can be managed centrally and delivered globally, at scale.

What can we expect to see from dotCMS in the next 6 months or so?

Stefan: dotCMS is accelerating its roadmap and doubling down on extending its capabilities as a mature and enterprise-grade Digital Experience Platform. We’ll continue to enhance our product in some key roadmap streams, like UI/UX enhancements to drive marketing operational excellence and engagement analytics to provide a 360 degree view on touch points for customer journeys. Experience Orchestration is a key pillar in our roadmap: driving content approval / mapping for digital experiences without any coding (project #NoCode). Lastly, authenticated business-critical applications that expose personalized experiences in a secure and cloud-based environment will be trending in 2018. We offer every single piece already out-of-the-box in our most recent release and continue to drive innovation along these lines.

Final remarks

dotCMS is a great company delivering a great product to the marketplace already. We are uniquely positioned to become a leader in the Digital Experience Platform industry with a compelling roadmap, partner network and tech alliance eco-system to drive business outcomes for the digital enterprise.

Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston Author

Mike started CMS Critic in 2008 and has become a recognizable face and valued expert in the world of content management. He has worked with many small business and enterprises to establish their online presence and to assist with marketing strategies. If you are interested in working with him, drop him a line.

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