Sitecore CEO Mark Frost said the company will continue to invest in cloud deployments that "radically simplify infrastructure" and headless environments that decouple content from its presentation.
Frost shared these strategies for digital experience software in an email interview with CMSWire a month after he was hired as the top executive at the Copenhagen, Denmark-based company.
Leadership Change at a Pivotal Point
The news of the CEO change shocked almost no industry observers at the time. Sitecore began to make executive-leadership changes following its $1.14 billion acquisition last year by private equity firm EQT.
Frost replaced Michael Seifert, who founded Sitecore in 2001 as a web content management provider primarily serving the Danish market.
"I think the CEO change is respectable and straightforward," Tony White, CEO of Ars Logica and long-time Sitecore observer, told CMSWire. "Seifert has been in the position for 15 years and has presided over a nearly continuous growth spurt. It’s always the case that different skill sets are needed as a company evolves, and this is likely a good transition point."
White sees Sitecore maintaining its yearly growth over the next three years, which he added gets more difficult as company size increases.
"Since Mark seems to have a talent for preparing companies for acquisition," White said, "I wouldn’t be surprised to see an acquisition — by Microsoft in all likelihood — in the three-year timeframe."
Mark Frost: 'A Passionate Focus on Making Customers Successful'
Now it's time to hear from Frost himself. CMSWire caught up with the new chief executive in an email Q&A as Sitecore prepares for the home stretch of 2017:
CMSWire: Sitecore is in a formidable space with a lot of vendors. What attracted you to Sitecore and why does it stand out from competitors?
Frost: Our solutions are profoundly useful and are becoming increasingly important to our customers. Think about it: 3.77 billion people — more than half of the world’s population — is on the internet today, so businesses must communicate and interact effectively with their customers online. We enable that. We are core to that need.
I also truly believe that Sitecore has the growth trajectory, the financial strength, the thought leadership and reputation, the product strategy, and the right team of partners, board members and employees to lead the market. We have the right team with the right solution at the right time to be successful.
Witness the fact that Gartner just named us a Leader in its most recent Magic Quadrant for WCM — a position we’ve held for eight consecutive years. And we’ve held the top position in the Ability to Execute axis for three years in a row.
What also attracted me to Sitecore is the fantastically talented and innovative team of people here. They have also established a wonderful, happy culture. This is a very fun place to work!
CMSWire: Industry observers — and analysts like Forrester — say Sitecore needs to improve its cloud-based offerings. Other vendors got high marks in Forrester's recent Wave for WCM in the areas of headless, modularization, APIs and micro-services strategies. Where do you see Sitecore now in its cloud offerings and where do you see the company going?
Frost: The reason we are moving to the cloud in an aggressive way is because our customers demand it, and it’s an efficient, reliable and effective way to deliver our solution.
One of our greatest strengths as a company is our cherished relationship with our partners. I regard them as a strategic differentiator in the marketplace. They’re a force multiplier. And their expertise combined with our expertise and technology provides massive benefit to our customers.
The timing of Forrester’s report [its January web content management Wave] was unfortunate for us because within weeks of its release we announced the re-architecture of our solution to Azure Platform-as-a-Service beginning with Sitecore 8.2 Update 1.
Sitecore’s platform can be fully deployed in a server-less environment running on top of Azure App Service, allowing our customers radically simplified infrastructure coupled with seamless scale-up and scale-out.
As for headless, we have decoupled content from its presentation from the beginning (see Lars Floe Neilsen’s blog about that) and you’ll see more announcements in that area (modularization, APIs and micro-services strategies) at our Symposium show in October.
CMSWire: What is top of mind for you in terms of what you want to accomplish in your first six months?
Frost: I’ll be in listening mode in the short term, learning the history of the company and business, the platform and the organization. I also want to spend time with our customers and our partners to gain their perspective and insights.
But what I’ll begin to add immediately is an emphasis internally on having a fanatical focus on customer success. Our measures of success will include a sharp focus not just on customer success, but on customer delight. We want our customers to be more than just satisfied. We want them to be wildly successful and happy working with us and using our solutions.
Also top of mind: We have the most advanced capabilities available in our digital experience platform. The real challenge is to enable our customers to realize the potential we offer. Not only does that give us a competitive advantage, but it’s also the right thing to do for our customers because it can dramatically accelerate their success.
CMSWire: An analyst in CMSWire’s story on your appointment cited these following areas for improvement. Would love your take on each of these:
A renewed focus on Sitecore’s core customer and target market. In the quest for market share and category dominance, the company lost its way on this a bit. We’ve heard good things on this front moving forward.
Frost: Customer delight is our top priority.
Focus on CLTV and customer churn as primary KPIs of the business.
Frost: I agree. I believe that adopting a relentless, dedicated, passionate focus on making customers successful and happy will earn us the honor of continuing to serve them.
Shift the partner program to place a heavier emphasis on customer retention and service versus customer acquisition, which means deeper relationships with partners that are well-suited to serve Sitecore’s clientele.
Frost: I think it will be tremendously fulfilling to work with our partners to help our customers realize more and more of the potential our solutions have to offer. Consumption-based pricing models are now available for all ways of deploying Sitecore — this will help drive the long-term customer relationships we want to foster.