What’s your background with Kentico?
I started in 2015 as Manager Benelux, then progressed to VP Sales EMEA & Latin America, VP Global Sales, and now the Managing Director—a role that suits me well. I've actually known Petr Palas for about 11 years, long before I joined his company. We are both fond of the evolution of Content Management Systems, and believe in the ability of the market to adapt to the never-ending changes in digitization.
From the very beginning, we had a mutual understanding that I’ll bring my expertise to the company while Petr, in return, gives me space to grow. And he did—he gave me the opportunity and trust so now it's time to roll up the sleeves and make things happen.
Which division of Kentico will you be managing?
Kentico has two full-fledged products that have just recently undergone rebranding—Kontent, a headless CMS, and Xperience, a digital experience platform. Together with the brand and visual facelift of each product, the whole company was also split into two respective divisions, each with its own strategy and executive team, that still cooperate closely.
Establishing two divisions must have been a challenge...
Well, for us, being agile is not just a slogan (laughs). We made the decision at the turn of the year and, a few months later, we had two parallel units running like clockwork shoulder to shoulder. Not having an investor helps here—we are more flexible and able to make our own decisions, based on what’s best for the product and, by extension, our clients. The changes are not driven or hindered by shareholders’ interests or maximizing profits.
Can you tell us more about the reasons behind the split?
The two products are very different and therefore target different clients. From the sales perspective, it was hard to be selling both products at a time—at a certain point you would have to pitch them against each other. We are in a unique position because, with our two products, we have customers covered wherever they position themselves on the market—from a mid-market e-shop to a headless CMS for large global enterprise.
It's also the strength of Kentico. It’s fantastic that we can learn so many lessons from one another while being in both these two markets at the same time. At the same time, we are aware of the challenge of maintaining these mutual insights and are determined to keep sharing them across the company.
Where does Kentico Kontent stand at the moment?
Kontent is an enterprise product and we walk the whole content-lifecycle journey with our clients. There are two sides to an enterprise-ready headless CMS. Firstly, it must be scalable and reliable enough to handle big loads and complex scenarios. And, of course, everything is safe, secured and GDPR compliant—that goes without saying for us. Secondly, it’s the business layer. For larger organizations, it's really important that they are able to handle the content globally in the best possible way. Obviously, the content will be used on a nice website, in a beautiful app, cool brochure or comprehensive learning management system. But it's the content itself that matters most and not the channel. When an organization realizes this, they are looking for a solution to handle their content effectively and safely, with a clear forward-looking vision. And that's where Kentico Kontent comes in.
Are we witnessing a mindset shift in enterprise organizations?
Yes—from focusing on the channels towards the actual content. This shift is happening in every segment of the market—from financial departments through airlines, big car manufacturers, B2B supermarket chains, universities, you name it. What these companies have in common is that they see the headless CMS as a future-proof approach to setting up their digital landscape. They realize that if they want to move on in the future, they need more flexibility in their digital landscape. And Kontent fits the requirement for great content in an agile digital landscape perfectly.
You really do believe in Kontent, don’t you?
Absolutely, I do! You can have a great company and great culture, but if your product sucks, you could never get to the point where Kentico is now. Let me tell you, it would be really hard to sell something I didn’t believe in. We are the TOP headless CMS solution in the market. We couldn't be more ready than now to conquer the market. I think that for product it's really important that we now really start capitalizing on the investments we made in the past, on all the hard work we put into our product, organization, our marketing...
Numbers speak volumes. How is Kontent’s current status reflected in its growth?
We are both fond of the evolution of Content Management Systems and believe in the ability of the market to adapt to the never-ending changes in digitization. The growth is exponential. The same with the traction on our website, social media channels—everything is getting much more attention.
From the partner perspective, we currently have around 100 active Kontent partners. Enterprise clients need partners with global reach. What we aim for in the Kontent division is that the partners we bring on board are able to handle those enterprise clients.
What makes Kentico more appealing to partners?
Our partners love our responsiveness. So do our clients. We are really able to act fast for them. And we are reliable, open, transparent, and easy-going during the process. All the partners that work with us have a very positive experience in trying to win new clients together. I believe that together is really our strength.
You'll never see us sending partners or clients from one door to another indifferently. If you deal with Kentico, you deal with a person that will help you get your issues sorted out fast and at a good quality. No corporate mannerism, no dragging feet, no being difficult. We are not complicated, we simply make it work together.
For you, what are the essential indicators of success for Kontent?
The very simple indicator is that when clients come to us with their set of requirements, we tick all the boxes. On the functional side as well as from the company perspective, size, reliability, time in the market, types of clients, references. And also in areas like security, scalability, ISO certifications…
What’s even more, enterprise clients find and approach us directly after they’ve assessed all the options on the market. They choose us to solve their strategic problems. Because content is a strategic issue. We are not mending a coffee machine, we're solving the most strategic aspect of their organization. Enterprise clients wouldn’t come to us if we weren't ready.
Has work style changed in Kontent teams along the way?
From its onset as an innovation hub within the company, Kentico Kontent aimed to get to the market quickly, as soon as the first version of the product could solve a particular problem. We definitely still have that can-do, take-risk mentality.
On the other hand, we added maturity and professionalism to the mix.
We stimulate creativity in the company and the speed of delivering new functionalities while always making sure that everything we do fits under the umbrella of the long-term vision we have.
One of Kentico’s core values is customer obsession. How does it transpire in everyday’s work?
Clients are the front and centre of what we do. The most tangible sign is that once clients choose us, they stay with us. The lifetime of our clients in Xperience is 7+ years, and the turnover of clients in Kontent is also close to zero. They wouldn't stay if they weren't happy.
We keep improving the product, we talk and listen to the clients and we are reachable. For example, we have an intercom on our website where there are real people, no chat bots, on the line responding to anyone around the globe within 2 minutes on average. Our customers get this round-the-clock support for free. We also visit clients if they need us. And customers are even welcome to visit us—if they want to come to our office, see and feel the atmosphere for themselves... We don't have secrets and are open to share anything.
How do you maintain this customer-centric culture across the board?
I think the best example is the Trees for Bugs initiative—for each bug customers find in our product, we plant a tree. It is not just about helping the environment, being cool or using it as an argument in the sales process. When we plant the trees, we realize at that moment, “Actually, the piece of code I've produced has a direct impact on this healthcare organization here or that NGO there, or this school or that football club.” Moreover, in every event, newsletter or meeting, we don't just talk about our product or how we do as a company. We always talk about our customers.
There are people in all departments in Kentico who approach our clients and ask, “Hey, what can we do better, where can we improve?” That is imprinted in our DNA.
What are the challenges ahead of you as the Managing Director?
Our purpose is to provide the best way to work with content. We aim to always be several steps ahead of the clients’ expectations.
From the marketing perspective, it's brand awareness. We aim to achieve it the Kentico way—show thought leadership rather than pitching up billboards. For example with our Jamstack reports, with content modeling that we really are taking to the next level with micro-publishing our books, things like that.
And, of course, we will let our clients and partners explain not only what they appreciate about the product, but also why it's so great to work with Kentico.
For us, brand awareness is about reliability and references.
Can you tell us about your personal managerial style?
For me, it's important that people around me feel good, live well, but also that we do the right things and put their energy into it. I also very much value integrity—both in business and in life.
I don’t micromanage, people in my team can make their own decisions for which they’re accountable. I trust them to make the right ones.
I see my role as the facilitator and inspirator. My role is to remove all blockers and make sure that people are free to do their job smoothly.
I am critical, I have high expectations, but the team can rely on me—they can come to me when they have a problem and I will help. We'll get it done. Obviously, this requires a mature team.
Do you think that you have such a mature team?
Since the beginning, it amazes me how relatively small a company we are and yet what a great insight we have into what is happening. Our whole reporting, processing, attitude...—we are in control. We sometimes feel it could be better and of course, it can. But I came from different environments, experienced different companies. And in light of that, we are really on top of our game as an organization—in all aspects. I think we should cherish that. And yeah, we should also talk about it more!