In conversation with Matthias Kant on the new MarketPlus Manufacturers


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2016)

As a European analyst house, we witness a certain trend at the moment. Manufacturers act contrary to the existing, clear separation of the markets within the best-of-breed approach and position their products broadly rather than deepening existing core competencies. Their aim: to utilise their products in several markets in order to be present in various sectors simultaneously. We summarise these candidates with what you could call almost a holistic approach by the term Market Plus. They position themselves in the middle between the best-of-breed and purely holistic vendors. We had a first discussion on this issue with Matthias Kant, CEO of pirobase imperia GmbH.

Mr Kant, company history is often a decisive factor for manufacturers who serve multiple markets. MarketPlus participants for example often owe their Unique Selling Point to their past. How is this with your company?

Naturally, the history of a company always has an impact on the future of a product portfolio as well. We are lucky to be very diversified through both organic and inorganic growth. With pirobase CMS, pirobase PIM and imperia CMS, our portfolio includes three best-of-breed products, which are well-known and have become established in the market. We continuously invest in the development of our products and insert this expertise into our customers’ projects. Together with our professional services’ expertise, we have everything to implement content projects. This is a great unique selling point for us. All our products perfectly interplay in various scenarios to reflect both present and future demands of our customers. Add to that the pirobase Suite, illustrating our expertise as both CMS and PIM manufacturer. First projects have already been implemented and we see great potential and are preparing the Imperia Suite launch.

Does this mean you have integrated CMS features into your existing PIM?

Not just yet. We offer various software products from one source. We deal with content within the means of a CMS-, but also with content within a PIM solution. Structured or unstructured data, emotional content or hard facts are being created and published with our products by our customers such as BASF, BOSCH, Siegenia Aubi or ING-DiBa. Especially for industrial companies and manufacturers in the consumer goods industry (B2C), the right content is essential for a successful go-to-market. Therefore, the interplay of PIM and CMS is the key to success. We recognised exactly this fact already two years ago. As both our products are fully valid in their markets and have been tried-and-tested, it was obvious for us to build a connection between those two. The idea of pirobase Suite was born.

So you have created an interface between PIM and CMS. What are the benefits?

For this, an add-on for the CMS (PIM Connect) was created which can access PIM data. This includes the catalogues created with the PIM as well as locally shared product data. Within the CMS, special templates have been created for the use of PIM data, so editors can easily use content from the system. For example, within running text, product data such as technical attributes can be referenced. Handling is as easy as through any standard CMS templates for text, images, etc. Additionally, whole catalogues can be displayed online of course.

Many PIM-CMS integrations exist already. How did you proceed when implementing the project?

The question was rather how we could create something new to manage one central platform with all types of relevant and customisable content that is necessary for today’s e-commerce scenarios – with a very clear focus on data quality and cross-channel availability. Usually, existing solutions implement integration as a data source, i.e. PIM data is stored somewhere on a server, so the CMS operates through it. The pirobase Suite goes further. Data can be extended editorially and arranged by regular editors because we have dedicated user interfaces and processes for dealing with PIM data. For us, it is all about producing expedient processes for our clients. This can only be achieved if the roadmaps are aligned, which is much simpler when all products come from one source. Due to the professional services in-house, there is a wealth of experience from numerous projects in the PIM and CMS environment, which have already been incorporated into development and will continue to be appended. We perform “usability labs” for both PIM and CMS in order to build the results into new concepts and UI. There is no other manufacturer offering this worldwide. Furthermore, we are Made in Germany and stand for high-quality, well-established and reliable products as our leading customers confirm.

What is pirobase Suite exactly?

It is the combination of powerful content management and efficient product data management, coming together in one central platform for the customer’s content. Through the seamless integration of CMS and PIM, emotional marketing content and validated data can be integrated instantly into the customer’s website with drag and drop. So content and data can be controlled in one single editorial process and published in all relevant channels. Our customers can reach their target group quickly and effectively via all relevant touch points. Editors work in their usual environment, while being able to use contextual product information accurately and in real time.

Why does this solution belong to the MarketPlus area in your opinion?

The sensible combination of products from one market with features or products from another is what defines MarketPlus programs and what adds value. A pure PIM is not sufficient to establish an e-commerce platform, nor does a classic CMS include all features our customers require for this. Furthermore, there is great potential in combining software within the best-of-breed approach. The advantages of choosing one manufacturer that can supply multiple products from a single source are obvious. On the one hand, there is the experience in consulting, design and implementation of these products, and on the other hand, the teams’ interdisciplinary collaboration helps enhance synergies in a quick and effective way. Apart from this, one can be assured that the combination of two products from one house will be realised not only as a “small” interface, but that the manufacturer has a strategic focus on the combination of the software that goes beyond the product roadmaps for the individual product, as it represents a part of the vendor’s business strategy and is driven by other pieces of the business strategy. 

What are the core benefits for your customers?

With the MarketPlus approach, we did not initially look at the technology, preferring to focus on the value added that we can provide our customers with using our pirobase Suite product and software supplied by technology partners. Client companies achieve concrete improvements in their online marketing and sales applying our software. The primary focus is no longer on individual functional aspects, but on holistic marketing and sales processes. Within this context, merging PIM and CMS is the most important picture, albeit not the complete one. In total solutions, for example MAM/DAM functions are provided by integrated Pixelboxx and ShareDien modules, whereas dynamic publishing is carried out using InBetween, among others, as an important form of distribution.

In recent months, there have been specific changes to your management. What is new?

Since last year, I am responsible for the company as CEO. With Lars Bogatzki, we have also secured a CFO who brings a wealth of software industry experience to the table. Key employees and managers for development, professional service, support and roll-out, product management and marketing have been on board for years – some members of staff, such as our Head of Service and Head of Consulting, have been with us for 17 years. We have flat hierarchies and extremely committed employees. Our MarketPlus approach benefits from team performance and basic democracy in day-to-day collaboration. A known industry professional will be joining us as Sales Manager in autumn. After a change of shareholders and management, we have regained a clear focus as software producer with ambitious growth targets. In order to advance our innovative new developments and advancements, we recruited eleven new employees just in the last quarter. We are very pleased with our development plan and other adjustments this year, especially in the areas of service, product development and sales.

To what extent is advanced technical knowledge and experience required to become a partner of a MarketPlus player with regards to integration?

Well, that depends. Consulting firms should have the latest know-how on the matter of digital transformation and digital business models and processes. Regarding implementation, partners should, as in our case, bring implementation expertise for at least one of these best-of-breed products. Obviously, with our in-house Professional Services team, there is always the option to get us on-board as manufacturer for projects, meaning one gets first-grade expertise – the advantages are obvious.

How large is your partner network?

We cooperate with more than 30 partners with different focuses. Both, large houses for implementation and small consultants or agencies are among them. For each project we have specialised partners in the network. Our customers can also be sure to get comprehensive access to a general contractor when it comes to complex projects.

How long have these partnerships existed and which strengths do you value in them?

Many of our partnerships have existed for many years. These have grown over time and that is exactly the aspect we appreciate the most. It is about mutual trust and a stable partnership for the target-oriented realisation of joint projects.

Since July 2015, Matthias Kant leads the pirobase imperia GmbH as new Managing Director. Previously, he worked as a partner and board member for management consultancies like Droege Group and the IM + C AG for twelve years. In 2011, he founded CityGuide AG in Zurich and Krefeld, whose shareholder he remains.

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The pirobase imperia GmbH offers software applications for content and product information management. Innovative solutions and extensive services make it a strategic partner to manage content in complex environments.

pirobase imperia GmbH

Picture credits © Matthias Kant

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