A company’s ability to deliver value to its customers and stakeholders is a topic that continues to be discussed at the leadership table. Often, it comes down to how well the enterprise is connecting with its customers and the ease with which internal staff can create and deliver content and personalized experiences across a growing number of channels. Rapid market changes and shifts in customer preferences have accelerated the need for organizations to invest in nimble DXP design such as headless architecture, which decouples content development and its source from the actual content delivery and user experience. In response, IT leaders are bringing headless content management to the digital transformation discussion to enable flexible APIs and support agile web services to deliver content to any front-end design, across any channel or device.
Rethinking Digital Experiences to Connect with Customers at Scale
The dramatic shift to digital has been universal; manufacturers are bypassing traditional retail channels with their first e-commerce stores, and banks are striving to meet client demands with streamlined online lending processes. The use of headless content management systems (CMSs) has grown in popularity due to the flexibility it affords front-end developers to turn ideas into reality and rapidly deliver content that connects with customers at scale. Such systems offer a back-end content engine with a robust API framework to support multichannel experiences. Marketing teams can have the freedom to design stunning experiences that capture the consumer’s attention and the confidence of knowing the CMS will handle the content permissions, security, and data privacy as necessary.
With a growing set of data sources that feed a compelling digital experience, an API-first approach is essential to the long-term sustainability of a CMS. Having a solid set of integration points allows developers to spin up new sites or take them down quickly without constraints on how the data is managed in back-end systems. The headless approach supports a modular plug-and-play model allowing one CMS to support multiple department requirements. Imagine a university alumni group using a commerce tool tailored for donations, while at the same time the institution’s athletic department needs a mobile app for purchasing game tickets. Both can draw from the same content assets to maintain brand consistency that builds awareness and taps into alma mater pride.
Tenuous homegrown solutions cannot scale to meet the demands of today’s digital consumer. The effort to change a brand’s front-end experience could take weeks or months of coordination between IT and the business stakeholders. With headless content applications, developers can change any part of the site without impacting the rest of the IT stack. This level of agility and flexibility will continue to play a critical role in future CMS investments. The primary benefits of headless content applications include:
- Ability to orchestrate a seamless experience spanning all touchpoints
- Agility to swap in modern technologies more quickly and easily
- Lower development costs to make digital experience changes
- Simpler and standardized integration points resulting in more choices and scalability
- Ability to deliver value-based experiences to the market faster
- Fewer dependencies on developers and publishers when delivering content
Extending the Power of Headless with the Value of Cloud-Native Solutions
By their nature, headless content applications require skilled resources to connect platforms together and support iterative deployment operations. Cloud-based solution providers aim to reduce the processes, tooling, and the time it takes to bring a new solution to market. Enterprises can use hosted solutions to provision the sites in minutes, and outsource the maintenance tasks as well. Some organizations want the full power of a headless CMS but lack the developer skills to make it a reality. In this case, working with a DXP vendor and their partner network can ease that burden and allow the business to lean on the ecosystem’s expertise to realize the full potential a headless CMS offers.
Where the traditional CMS includes the front-end technology, site owners often find it does not meet all their needs or limits their way of working. In the end, they must customize the application or change their internal processes to match the technology’s structure. A headless CMS should include a reference implementation to allow the teams to see how content will be delivered to the end consumer and how to best utilize the APIs to streamline the publication process. As groups transition from a legacy full-stack CMS model, they may need to stage the roll out of a headless CMS and trial it to gain user adoption. The cloud offers a low-risk option to test and learn how the headless system behaves under high performance scenarios.
Delivering Next-Generation Experiences with a Headless CMS
In speaking with different organizations on their journey to improve the customer experience, IDC has observed that many are at a crossroads when it comes to investing in their next CMS. On the one hand, they seek modularity, freedom in design, and development controls; on the other hand, they want a codeless content environment that is easy for their marketing teams to use while meeting elevated levels of security and data privacy. CMS providers are tackling these requirements with a headless platform tailored to the business user, an “app store” type of experience, and an API framework to support a variety of integrated data sources that bolster the digital customer experience. Separating your front-end and back-end systems, with either a headless or decoupled CMS implementation, enables organizations to be more agile in delivering a customer experience across any channel or device in less time.