Gartner released a new report, “Hybrid Headless Content as a Service Is the Future of Digital Experiences,” and makes some key points that Ingeniux has believed in for a while now. Headless content management is quickly becoming an approach that many organizations are looking at to solve the requirement to deliver content to multiple channels. It’s a good approach, but it’s not always the right approach. Instead of thinking pure headless, most organizations should be thinking hybrid – or as Gartner puts it “hybrid headless.”
According to Gartner analysts, traditional web content management and digital experience management vendors are “failing to meet the expectations of modern multi-experience mandates beyond traditional and mobile application channels.” It’s true; today, there are so many potential channels to reach your audiences, like voice and digital assistants, IoT, AR and VR. But there are also multiple websites, mobile applications, business applications and others. Traditional, tightly coupled WCM platforms aren’t the way to manage content to support every channel.
Headless content management arrived a few years ago to solve some of the challenges of delivering content to multiple channels. However, as Gartner points out, headless does require an organization to be digitally mature, and many aren’t there yet.
Gartner's research shows that through to 2022, 80% of marketers will struggle to connect more than three channels in the customer journey.
Headless has its risks, however, including:
- It's not an out-of-the-box solution; you must configure and set it up to manage content the way you need
- Your front-end presentation layer is separated, and your development team must be skilled in the latest development technologies
- With many different content types coming from different silos – documentation, web content, mobile app content, records and so on, there are a lot of silos to orchestrate and feed into a single content repository
- User experience for non-technical users may not be enough
Gartner’s answer to headless only is hybrid headless, which is very similar to what Forrester Research calls “agile content management,” a combination of headless capabilities and traditional front-end content delivery.
Gartner’s exact definition for hybrid headless:
“With hybrid headless CaaS, there’s a choice of operating in pure headless mode or in a traditional front end/content delivery mode. This is done from the same system, based on the same back end/content repository. Content can be accessed as a service, exposed via APIs and delivered to any channel or device throughout the customer journey. Its differentiating paradigm is that it’s almost always componentized, granular, atomic-based content.”
From Forrester’s Coming Soon: Agile Content Curation And Orchestration Will Redefine CMS:
“Firms need to pivot to a decoupled architecture — our DX stack — to support a broader digital experience mandate enabled by key content, data, and transactional building blocks. However, as many Forrester clients are starting to recognize, the jump to a full microservices architecture is too far to accomplish in one leap. When it comes to web CMS, enterprises need a bridge between yesterday’s channel silos and full-stack applications and tomorrow’s microservices-enabled omnichannel vision.”
A hybrid solution, as both Gartner and Forrester point out, offers the ability to deliver content as a service through a REST-based API. An application that isn’t built within the content management system can then call the API and pull content into it to display. At the same time, you build the company website using the content management system, enabling marketers to manage the web experience and easily create and manage content and create new web pages as necessary.
There are a few things you need to put in place to achieve success with any hybrid or agile solution. Intelligent, or structure content, is one thing. Content is created separately from how it’s displayed in any single interface or experience, so creating it in a way that supports reusability is critical.
There is a diversity in the type of content and where you manage it regularly in the organization. Often, there is more than one CMS or content repository that contains content you want to expose to your digital channels. A hybrid CMS brings together all this content into a single repository that you can then programmatically access from any application using an API. This ability to aggregate content to a single repository is not simple and requires a lot of orchestration, especially when the content is in different formats.
The idea of “hybrid” or “agile” is something we have been talking about for a while now. It underpins our entire architecture model for Ingeniux CMS because we understand that customers need options. They may have more than one CMS in-house to support different departments or content requirements, but they don’t need a separate headless CMS solution. A hybrid CMS enables them to create content once that supports multiple channels and experiences. We didn’t need Gartner or Forrester to tell us that. But it is nice to see our approach validated.
Learn more about our approach to hybrid content management.