The Future of CMS Solutions is Hybrid

Jason Smith

Most modern CMS platforms today have some headless capability to meet the demands of the market today and in the future. But the headless phenomena is better suited to technical teams, more about the backend architecture than the ease-of-use.

Yet, we also live in a world where omnichannel continues to grow. Marketers need to be able to manage content across several different devices and have adaptable content that serves multiple purposes.

Headless is very much the current state of CMS platforms, allowing for the ability to manage content across various web applications and eCommerce environments. However, larger enterprises require more than just headless to provide the best balance for both their marketing and IT teams.

These entities require a CMS platform that provides for both the technical and non-technical members of an organization. They need the ability to manage full-screen experiences and also the requirements of a robust content API. Yes, the present is headless, but the future is hybrid.

The Rise of Headless

The CMS landscape of today is littered with various versions of headless platforms, each touting their unique interpretation of the technology. A headless CMS might label itself as API-first, headless-first or content-first to describe the technology while the underlying solution remains headless. However, one thing is clear; traditional CMS platforms that allow for managing content on web pages alone are no longer enough to satisfy the growing demand for content.

The value of content has never been higher for both brands and consumers, thanks to the rise of IoT and the need for content delivery across multiple devices. A headless CMS can cope with that need, providing a means for brands to provide these consumers with the experiences they desire.

Headless CMS platforms are described as future-proof since they can connect with any presentation layer. They allow developers to join the backend of the CMS to any frontend and tailor it to their specific needs. No matter where content needs to be displayed, whether on a tablet, a mobile device or as audio via a smart speaker, a headless CMS can provide the solution. As nascent technologies become the norm and more potential endpoints come of age in the future, headless capabilities will continue to prove quite useful.

A headless CMS leverages structured content, repurposing it as data so that it can be transmitted to numerous touchpoints; something possible thanks to the REST or GraphQL API endpoints, facilitating connections with multiple frontends. However, while a headless CMS offers solutions for developers, many are still lacking in the flexibility that they can provide for marketers.

Headless in Idea, Lacking in Execution

Legacy CMS platforms were built to deliver content to web applications and mobile apps. While the concept of headless is perfect for producing content for other touchpoints throughout the customer journey, it is still lacking since marketers have to go without the templates and other means of optimizing their content. For those marketers without a technical skillset, navigating a headless CMS can sometimes be challenging as they need to rely on developers.

In larger organizations, especially, teams and technologies can be very siloed. While implementing a headless CMS solution can seem like the right course of action for the organization as a whole to provide a better omnichannel experience, progress can be slow. Over-reliance on an IT department can slow down the time to market for various projects and ultimately result in lost sales or a lack of customer engagement. In many pure headless CMS platforms, marketers are unable to provide the tasks they want to since the platforms aren’t catered to their needs.

Consumer behaviour is changing thanks to the rise of IoT devices like smartwatches and speakers. Pure headless CMS solutions can deliver the content to the customer; however, they lack the user-friendly interfaces and editor capabilities that empower marketers with the ability to provide incredible content experiences. Marketers can find themselves lacking in autonomy and having to wait for IT to fulfil certain things. These delays can create issues for both the marketing and IT departments, affecting the organization as a whole.

It’s for this reason that the future of CMS platforms will not be in pure headless, but instead hybrid.

Towards A Hybrid Future

According to Gartner, hybrid CMS solutions will become the way for brands to meet their headless content management needs. Hybrid CMS solutions provide the functionality and ease-of-use of a legacy CMS but combine it with the content freedom of a headless CMS.

Headless content management won’t be going away anytime soon. The ability to create unique customer experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints will provide an edge and huge ROI for any organization that uses it. However, the pure headless solutions that lack the marketer-friendly WYSIWYG interfaces, content previews and more will be replaced by hybrid solutions that provide those options.

Secure Your Hybrid CMS Future with dotCMS

dotCMS is the only hybrid CMS on the market that provides access to intuitive authoring features like drag and drop, layout design, personalization and more. It closes the usability gap marketers struggle with when dealing with a pure headless CMS. The NoCode/LowCode capabilities of dotCMS deliver everything necessary for creating layouts, templates and content workflows. With our Edit Mode Anywhere SPA Editor, your marketing team will have access to an uninterrupted editor experience regardless of the delivery model. The level of flexibility afforded by this feature was exactly what White Castle’s in-house team needed to continuously create and update content for their website—without having to rely on their IT department. Pure headless will continue to fade away, but hybrid solutions like dotCMS will be pivotal for the digital ecosystems of the future.

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer
March 05, 2020

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