“Off with its head” says the CMS industry

The cloud-first headless CMSs are due to become more widespread, replacing traditional on-premise products.

Multichannel communication drives the need for headless

Chances are, you are currently using one of the traditional CMS products that were built for the era of websites. While there’s nothing wrong with that today, it may not be the best solution for the future.

Your customers will be increasingly using new communication channels, including Internet of Thing devices, wearables, virtual reality, chatbots or digital assistants.

They expect you to be there for them. If you still live with the “web page” mindset, this may be a challenge for you. The new channels require a more flexible approach to content management and presentation.

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It’s no longer “a product web page”. Instead, think of product name, description, parameters, photo, etc., that can be displayed in different formats, sizes and layouts on different devices.

It means your content needs to be structured as reusable components.

CMS loses its head

Together with a different content model, you need a different presentation model. The traditional CMS products were built to display content as web pages.

They usually provide a templating engine that renders these pages. This represents the “head” of the CMS, which defines the content’s presentation.

Now, your first thought may be “so we need a multi-headed beast for multi-channel marketing, right?” Unfortunately, that’s not realistic given the plethora of channels today—with more to come in the future.

It’s easier to cut the head off and separate the roles: the CMS takes care of the content management, and you build your applications for the channels you choose.

Rather than having the CMS render the content for you, you only call its API to retrieve the content and then take care of displaying the content in your application.

Your current CMS may do that today — kind of

Can you do that with your existing CMS? Many traditional CMS vendors realise that need and have bolted the headless delivery as an add-on to their existing products. The good news is this may help you temporarily if you do not wish to replace your CMS.

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The bad news is that most traditional CMS systems weren’t built for the multi-channel world and you will often hit the wall of their “page-oriented” mindset as some functionality may not be available for other channels.

Headless enables true SaaS CMS

There’s actually one more benefit of the headless approach: the clear separation of content management and content presentation enables vendors to provide the content management in the Software as a Service model.

The vendor provides you with content management in the cloud together with a fast content delivery API. All you care about are your own applications for different channels and devices.

It means you can finally stop babysitting your CMS!

Cloud-first CMS brings agility to your digital transformation

The impact is actually bigger than you may think. The SaaS CMS allows your IT team to get rid of installation, upgrades, hotfixes, security, backups, performance optimisation and other boring stuff required to keep your CMS running. So you reduce the operating costs and offload your IT people.

But that’s not all: the biggest benefit is that you will shorten your company’s time to market.

In the past, running a 6 to 12-month CMS implementation project was the norm. Not in the age of digital transformation! Today, companies need to be much more agile and test new ideas in days or weeks, not months.

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The cloud-first headless CMS model enables just that—it allows you to focus on your business and use the CMS as one of the services in your digital experience puzzle.

Start with strategy

Now the obvious reaction of many companies may be “That sounds great! How quickly can we get there?” Don’t hurry too much yet.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of buying a new piece of software in the hope it will magically solve all your problems. Instead, you should start with the business strategy and answer these key questions: “What are our business goals?”, “What are the channels our customers want to communicate with us through?” and “How can we use these channels more effectively?”

Only after that, figure out what technology you actually need and see if you can do that with your existing CMS or whether it’s time to look for a replacement.


Sourced by Petr Palas, CEO, Kentico

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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