Kentico have moved away from their larger 404/Connection Conferences to smaller, regional road-shows. One of the advantages to this is that it opens up the event to more regional partners and customers. For the Ridgeway team, that also means it's easier to get more of the team involved in these events. Because of that, three of us
went on a jolly took a trip down to London a couple of weeks ago to check it out.
Petr Palas started off the day and very much set the tone and focus going forward, presenting a high-level view of Kentico’s vision for Kentico CMS and Kentico Cloud.
Moving from the 1990’s through to the current day, he explored the history of web content management from the early page generators through dynamic CMS platforms to the cloud-first digital experience platforms that are starting to make waves. Obviously, from Kentico’s viewpoint, the latter is where Cloud comes into play.
For those who didn’t know, we also got a brief insight into how Kentico went about developing Cloud and their focus on the ‘CMS of the future’.
We also got a demo of Cloud from Petr who walked through some of the basics of Cloud from a content contributors viewpoint.
For me, one of the key takeaways from Petr was three basic points about why digital agencies might be looking at could-first. The emphasis very much on:
- Deliver on time
- Flexible project planning
- More efficient use of people
- Avoid missing content
- Make customers happy
- Single content hub
- Support for agile delivery
- Make your team happy
- Freedom to choose how you want to deliver the content
These are all great reasons for using Kentico Cloud, but being honest I think that you could change your processes and technical approach with Kentico CMS and get these benefits. There are a few more blockers, but there really isn't so much preventing you from collating content in CMS once you content strategy has been defined. Making the team happier - that's a little more tricky.
Cloud is the sports-car right now; you can't fit as much stuff in there, but it's fast, looks great, and is fun to drive.
You do have to remember though that CMS and Cloud are two different things. Kentico CMS is the juggernaut, delivering a large dollop of ready to use functionality straight to your door. Cloud is the sports-car right now; you can't fit as much stuff in there, but it's fast, looks great, and is fun to drive.
Karol Jarkovsky then took to the stage to give more insight into the strengths of Cloud and CMS and the dual-rail strategy to delivery both platforms. Upshot is that Kentico CMS isn't going to go away anytime soon and that there is still a lot of effort going into developing it.
Karol shared a few key point about the roadmap for Kentico CMS 11, including a widget based email template system and enhanced campaign management and reporting, exposed system wide information to support marketing activities, and added visuals for tracking/reviewing personas overtime. This last point enables more focused marketing strategies for personas.
Kentico Cloud case studies
The event was effectively top and tailed with two case studies of successful projects delivered using Cloud; one from Syndicut and one from Distinction.
OMG Kentico Cloud
Steve and Surinder from Syndicut spoke about the challenges they faced using Kentico Cloud for one of their latest projects. Syndicut are an Oxfordshire based digital design agency who have a habit of producing great-looking, media rich solutions. Steve and Surinder highlighted the benefits that they enjoyed while working with Kentico cloud which included improvement in time scales for stakeholder approval, and development. They also felt it helped to improve the freedom of their delivery team to develop how they wanted (which makes for happier developers, right?).
Website development using a headless CMS
The second case study (in the afternoon) was delivered by Sean Lamacraft from Distinction. Sean also focused on the overall agility of Kentico Cloud to help deliver a project in a swift and efficient manner, digging more into the ease of training for the customer and again mentioning the positive impacts for the development team. How did Distinction use Kentico Cloud? Sean broke it down for us: - Earlier content entry - Create the page types from wire frames - Front end-scaffold was quick with MVC - Create pattern libraries as a team - Clear separation of layers (except for razor)
Debunking 3 popular myths about headless CMS adoption
Tomas Hruby tackled 3 common misconceptions about working with a headless CMS: Debunking 3 Popular Myths about Headless CMS Adoption:
- Our process will need to change a lot Kentico Cloud supports iterative content collation/production to start as soon as the first parts of the content strategy are agreed. Your processes don't need to change a lot - but hey, perhaps a little change is a good thing if it makes you more effective?
- We have to develop everything from scratch This does not have to be the case; there should be a certain level of reuse available once you're up and running. The boiler plate gives you an awesome platform containing the Delivery SDK, fixed-time caching, strong-typed models support, and a sitemap generator. And that's just for starters.
- Headless CMS isn't that flexible for content editors I always struggle with this; exactly how much flexibility should an editor want. The flexibility really comes down to how you architect your solution in my mind; OK, so there are no widgets or design tab - but I don’t feel that they are always needed.
Other notable things that Tomas mentioned that I'm looking forward too in Kentico Cloud are a Content Management API and Webhooks for content item events.
High Performance Online Marketing
The penultimate session was delivered by Petr Švihlík and focussed on how to fine-tune your EMS solution with regards to online marketing.
The whole event was heavily focused on Kentico Cloud and most sessions were focussed on this in the technical track (there was one session on EMS performance, but other then that - Cloud was where it was at). In honesty, I'm fine with that as I really like Kentico Cloud and I'd like more time to get to grips with it with the team here at Ridgeway so that we can put it to good use. With the Kentico v11 penned in for release on November 19th this year, we can probably expect some more EMS based content in November's Roadshow.
Summary then - Kentico Cloud is great, it's getting better, and it's going to continue getting better. The team are really receptive to feedback and awesome in terms of support that they'll give you if you're using it. Whether you're agency-based or part of an in-house team, I think it's well worth your time go get the boilerplate and sign-up to a trial account. What you can achieve in a short time is pretty pleasing.