Interview with Petr Palas, CEO of Kentico

Please introduce yourself and your position with Kentico.

I'm the founder of Kentico Software, one of the leading CMS vendors. I started Kentico in 2004 with a vision of making content management easier for both developers and business users. Over the past 13 years, we grew into one of the leading vendors with 230 employees and a partner network of over 1,000 digital agencies in 80 countries that use our products to create websites and online stores with a personalized digital experience. We're headquartered in the Czech Republic, with sales and support offices in the United States, UK, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Please tell us a bit about your product and its latest release.

We launched our completely new product Kentico Cloud in November at our user conference in Las Vegas. It's a cloud-first headless CMS. Cloud-first means that it was built as a true multitenant SaaS product from the very beginning. We take care of the CMS, including its upgrades, security, performance, etc. As a result, customers can focus on developing their applications and managing their content. Headless means that you store all the content in our cloud-based content hub and you can use it through our API on any channel—on your website, in your mobile app, or even in your chatbot. Since we provide a standard REST API, you can use your favorite platform and programming language to build your applications.

What do you think businesses need to keep in mind when selecting a platform?

They should certainly start with their business needs and look how the CMS supports them today, but also how it fits the latest trends. Many traditional CMS products were built for managing web pages, but we have seen a growth in the use of mobile, virtual reality, IoT, etc., which requires a more granular content model so that you can reuse that content across channels. The other major trend we see is a growing need to be more agile—companies want to launch new projects in a matter of weeks, not months, so they are increasingly looking for cloud-based solutions.

What makes Kentico the go-to choice for the enterprise?

Actually, Kentico Cloud aims to support a broad range of customers—from small to enterprise. You can start with a free plan and upgrade it when needed. For the enterprise customers, we provide a strong product as well as all the extras they need for mission-critical projects, like 24×7 support provided by our experts on three continents, SLAs, training, consulting, and a dedicated customer success manager who takes care of their onboarding and long-term success. Plus, they can choose from a growing number of Kentico Cloud partners—digital agencies who can build the projects for them if they do not have an in-house development team.

What do you consider to be the biggest trend for CX vendors in 2017?

We already see vendors moving to the cloud, and that will continue in 2017. However, most traditional CMS or CX vendors just take their existing products that were built for the on-premise world and offer them as managed hosting or PaaS, which is certainly not the most efficient model. We expect more customers are looking for true SaaS CMS options, which will give rise to new cloud-first headless CMS offerings.

How is Kentico positioned to be at the forefront of these trends?

We've been preparing for this for a couple of years as we always believed the cloud is the future. Our experience with the cloud started back in 2011 when we were the first CMS certified for Microsoft Azure. In the past two years, we built Kentico Cloud from scratch as we wanted to provide a true SaaS product and make sure it's ready for the multi-channel world we live in. At the same time, we leverage our experience, our skilled team, and the market presence we've built over the past years.

How do you see the market changing in the next five years?

I believe the CMS market is at just another inflection point. The cloud-first headless CMS will start replacing traditional CMS products as customers realize the benefits of the SaaS model. The vendors who don't make the shift to the new architecture and business model will disappear from the market. It will be similar to the shift from on-premise document management systems to cloud-based file sharing services. In five years from now, we will laugh at how we used to install and babysit a CMS.

What kind of evolution can we expect to see from Kentico?

We will continue enhancing our existing product, Kentico EMS, that fits well to customers who want a sophisticated all-in-one solution or do not feel ready for the cloud yet. At the same time, we will invest in the future and make progress with Kentico Cloud—we will grow its capabilities every week, and it will become a mature CMS during this year.

Final thoughts?

I would wrap up with a quote by Clayton Christensen, the author of Innovator's Dilemma, who said: “You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn't care.” Cloud-first headless CMS is a major change for many, but it's inevitable. We're at the very beginning of a new era of the CMS industry. The vendors, customers, and digital agencies who adopt this model first will gain a competitive advantage by being more agile and ready for the new communication channels that will go mainstream in the upcoming years.