Interview with Nicolas Pastorino of eZ Systems

eZ Systems is the company behind the open source publishing platform, eZ Publish and we recently had a chance to interview their VP of Community, Nicolas Pastorino. Mr. Pastorino has been with eZ Systems for many years and offers up some interesting insights into the company, the products and the future of the platform.

The Interview

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you ended up with eZ Systems.

Nicolas Pastorino eZ Conference 2011I have seven years of experience in Open-source software edition and Content Management, with eZ Systems since 2005, in international context (Western Europe, USA, Norway) as Consultant, Trainer, Software Engineer, in Product Management, and now as Vice President Community at eZ Systems. My role today is to manage the eZ Publish Community (43 000+ members), intensifying and structuring it around our product and mission. I am educated from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) in Lyon, France and Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet (NTNU) in Norway in the fields of Telecommunications, Software, System and Network Engineering. When not happily busy with the eZ Publish Community, I can be met in the mountains of our world, rock & ice climbing or ski-touring. As a voracious user of those, I can name a few of my social media profiles, feel free to get in touch:

For those who are unaware, what is eZ Publish?

eZ Publish is now dubbed eZ Publish 5 Platform, an Experience Management Platform for online services. Based on a strong legacy of high-end Content Management, we capitalized on our field experience to transform our flagship product into a centerpiece, a platform for organizations to create fully-fledged online services. All elements a UXP (User Experience Platform), notably Marketing Automation, are served by means of built-in features, or connectors to external products and services, tightly integrated. This allows to implement end-to-end CXM (Customer Experience Management) stories.

The base product is open-source, distributed as “eZ Publish Community Project” in its bleeding-edge version. The full Experience Management platform is distributed as part of a subscription, packaging all experience management features & services around the powerful content management engine.

What types of verticals see the most value in using your product? What kind of adoption rates have you seen in the various verticals?

eZ is historically strong in the media vertical, many of the leading publishers in Europe having chosen eZ Publish as their standard technological platform today. But other verticals like Finance and Telecoms have been ramping-up significantly in the past years, finding eZ Publish Platform as solid, secure and flexible as their usage demands.

What do you think makes eZ Publish such a strong publishing platform?

Here are the key points in my opinion:

  • The tight integration of several Experience Management features and services, based on a proven application framework,
  • It now embeds a rock-solid, modern, well-spread and easy-to-use application development framework: Symfony 2 + a brand new Content Management PHP/REST API,
  • Strong and long-run experience in the high-end, demanding publishing world,
  • Innovative and vast feature-set of our content management engine,
  • Extremely extensible platform, easy integration in large IT systems,
  • Power of a professional open-source community providing a dramatically extended product portfolio,
  • Large partner network, meaning tenfold expertise spread across the globe.

What separates your product from the other products in the market?

Here is the synthetic view on our competitive advantages:

  • Freedom and Openness at heart,
  • “Platform” rather than shrink-wrapped, constrained product,
  • Existing tight integration of the required bits to build online services (Marketing Automation, Analytics, eCommerce, Recommendation to name a few),
  • State of the art scalable architecture and code-base,
  • Both on-premise and cloud versions available.

The CMS market is a rapidly changing one, what trends do you see coming down the pipeline?

Content Management is becoming a commodity, we can hardly speak about a dedicated market for this anymore. It might be a touch market-overshooting, but today is about building compelling online services, touching customer journeys, underpinned by a flexible and cohesive technology platform, supporting the increasing, demanding needs of online marketing teams, in any vertical. Silos are steadily taken down between the IT departments and the Marketing departments, leading to joint reflections and decisions on their tools, the technology, and cost-efficiency is more actual than ever: maintaining multiple vendor-relationships to be able to run one's business is decreasingly appealing, they need few, tightly integrated, future-proof tools to do their job.

The CMS market is merging into the bigger one of Experience Management, opening-up the M&A and alliances mercato, placing the “Experience Architects” (the ones who care about their end-users' faint-smiling out of pleasure when using their service) in key decisional positions, even in the traditionally less “fancy” industries, or in case of internal non-public projects.

Continuity with the “past” needs to be enforce though, whereby

  • still rock-solid and innovative content management features,
  • native multichannel support,
  • compelling end-user experience in administration interfaces,

still need to be continuously improved, not to forget the constantly increasing amount of data (big data) that must not hamper performances in any way.

To adapt and anticipate on this change, eZ Publish Platform is positioned as the “Create Deliver Optimize” TM platform, solving the “CXM challenge”, in other words the “How to create a compelling seamless experience” challenge.

If you were asked to define a CMS, how would you do so?

I think this definition is transforming a lot nowadays, this question being related to the evolution of the CMS market. A piece of a whole…larger thing, like an experience management platform for example. By itself, as a stand-alone piece, the use-cases are getting more and more limited for CMSes. Today, even somebody's simple blog requires more than advanced content management features. Value resides in the quality and relevancy of the services provided in the product (less in the software itself), as much as in the quality of the integration of these services with the base.

How do you see social media changing the way publishers interact / share their content online and how is eZ Publish capitalizing on this?

My 4 year experience in Community Management led me to understand that social media, on top of nurturing live exchanges, represents a set of key two-ways distribution channels for content marketers. Not only are they an efficient way to rapidly diffuse their content with great “ripple out” effect, but they instantly “close the loop”, providing immediate, direct feedback to the author, who can subsequently, on the fly, optimize their post. The “O” in our “Create Deliver Optimize” TM  paradigm.

eZ capitalizes on this by…understanding what online marketers, content marketers and community managers do to be successful in their jobs, and baking the required tools within our Experience Management platform. Sounds trivial right? Still, simple things like that make our products far better and help us focus. Note: this does not prevent us to embed anticipative features that are not yet needed by the vast majority of our users ?

From a marketing perspective, what advantages does your product give marketers that they cannot find elsewhere?

We now provide, as value-adding layers on top of a very powerful and flexible (scalable, extensible) content management engine, unique Analytics and Optimization capabilities. In other words, the large spectrum of tools and services that are required by online marketing activities are integrated into the platform. The Experience Management platform.

Clearly eZ Publish has a strong presence in Europe, how has it fared in North America and other geographies?

Indeed, eZ has a large footprint in Europe and we continue to develop it. But North America and Asia-Pacific are in the limelight as emerging regions, very clearly, slightly more nascent markets for us compared to Europe. Plans are already under execution for tapping into these areas and intensively grow them to exceed what we have achieved on the old continent. To be noted: we have had active presence in Japan since a long time, this market having matured a lot throughout the years.

What do you see for the future of your product?

We will continue extending the rock-solid WCM platform to fully integrate Customer Experience features and services, including Analytics, Marketing Automation, Recommendation. eZ Publish 5 Platform will become a reference product for high-end marketing-savvy businesses, and digital services of all kinds, in the “Internet of Things”. This positioning comes as a complement, and not a replacement of the high-end WCM projects that we are successfully addressing today.

This comes along with diligent, constant care to usability (major enhancements coming-up) as well as scalability, whereby eZ Publish 5 Platform will be the Experience Management tool that can handle big content, big data.

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Thank you Mr. Pastorino for the time you took with us today, we appreciate it. If you would like to learn more about eZ Systems or their products, visit the eZ Systems website. You can also check out our eZ Publish review to get a birds eye view of their product.