We've all heard Blue Oyster Cult's iconic rock mantra, "Don't Fear the Reaper."
But what about "Don't Fear the Omnichannel"?
(Before we proceed any further: if you're not familiar with Blue Oyster Cult – or their megahit – we strongly recommend Will Farrell's interpretation with more cowbell...)
Classic rock references aside, it seems that most enterprises are still trepidatious about investing in omnichannel content experiences, particularly when it comes to connecting with more advanced endpoints like IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Despite the magnetic allure of distributing content to these diverse and engaging channels, it seems that many large brands and organizations are remaining on the digital sidelines, holding back their expansion.
This was codified by a compelling study conducted by Storyblok, an enterprise headless CMS that enables developers and marketers to deliver powerful content experiences on any digital platform. The report, entitled The State of Content Management 2022, analyzed survey results from professionals across a wide range of industries in the United States, UK, Germany, and Sweden – focusing on how they manage content in their organizations.
The results? Well, let's just say that the Reaper was in full force: according to Storyblok's research, the percentage of enterprises interested in delivering content to IoT devices like voice-activated speakers, AR/VR, and smartwatches is in the single digits.
Shocker? Well, maybe not.
Despite widespread claims that many companies have been pursuing advanced omnichannel content strategies, the data in Stoyblok's report shows that most enterprises are taking a cautious approach and continuing to focus on websites and mobile apps.
Is this fear? Perhaps – in part. More of the current attitude may be a result of the overall market opportunity and how consumers behave with these different devices. There's certainly been significant adoption of voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, but only 25% of U.S. adults own one – and according to Pew, only one in five people own a smartwatch.
Sure, that's still a lot. But when the majority of the market is engaging with experiences on websites and mobile apps – and nearly 85% of people worldwide own a smartphone – that might be why some enterprises are still dragging their feet.
Furthermore, it seems that a lack of understanding of how a headless CMS can unlock these channels is contributing to the slow growth. Enterprises may not realize the true technical requirements and content operations needed to power these strategies, and it's clear that many are unaware of the tools available in a headless CMS for managing omnichannel content experiences.
“This data proves that enterprise adoption of newer content platforms has a long way to go, but we’re still in the early days of advanced digital transformation projects,” said Dominik Angerer, Co-Founder, and CEO of Storyblok. “Once more companies understand how a headless CMS makes it possible for one content hub to easily publish content everywhere, the growth of omnichannel content experiences will accelerate at a much more rapid pace.”
We had a chance to ask Angerer a few questions about Storyblok's report, the future of headless and commerce, and the growing prevalence of MACH in the marketplace. In fact, a big part of how Storyblok and other headless CMS platforms are evolving the space is by delivering MACH-based solutions that are composable and highly extensible.
MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless – all attributes that modern headless CMSes are furiously embracing. As part of its market commitment, Storyblok joined the MACH Alliance last November, entering the velvet-roped VIP room for platforms that fully exhibit the MACH principles.
By now, we know that consumers use a combination of devices, platforms, and channels to access digital experiences – and the buyer's journey is becoming more non-linear. While mobile will likely continue to be a key orchestrator, brands are still motivated to understand these diverse channels so they can connect with audiences whenever, wherever, and however they choose.
Clearly, the role of the headless CMS in this expanding ecosystem is critical, and Stoyblok's research takes a keen interest in uncovering how enterprises are using their content management systems to make connections in new places – particularly across the IoT. According to the report, when asked which platforms and channels they serve with their CMS, 7.2% of respondents said voice-activated speakers, 6.6% said AR/VR and only 3.7% said smartwatches. Again, these figures appear much lower than the market zeitgeist might reflect.
That said, the enthusiasm to ride the omnichannel wave is pervasive. When asked which platforms and channels they plan to serve with their CMS in the future, 9.6% said voice-activated speakers, 6.5% said AR/VR, and 5.1% said smartwatches.
Some other noteworthy metrics gathered from respondents include:
While the investment in omnichannel content experiences has been slower than expected (blame the Reaper), what might accelerate its continued growth is headless commerce. Buyers are browsing in multiple places, and brands need to be prepared at every endpoint to engage them along their journey. Decoupling the frontend means any endpoint becomes a part of a company's digital shopping ecosystem; it also means that they won't have to re-platform from a tightly-coupled monolithic solution that limits any API-first scalability (more of the MACH action).
One of the other big advantages of a headless commerce strategy is having an agile framework for e-commerce – giving brands the ability to test, experiment, and optimize based on different audiences. It also gives sellers the freedom to customize their various channels, from websites to apps, without impacting the backend. These experiences can be powered by a single headless commerce system, or connected to a CMS that powers the core of the omnichannel strategy. It's these capabilities that make the case for composable platforms.
CMS Critic had an opportunity to connect with the co-founder and CEO of Storyblok. He shared some of his views on headless commerce, MACH architecture, and where Storyblok sees its competitive strength.
CMS Critic (CC): Based on your data, eCommerce is the third largest area served by a CMS. In your opinion, how is the rise of headless commerce impacting the trend?
Dominik Angerer (DA): The rise of headless commerce is the natural reaction of an architecture that proved itself in the CMS space to be faster to implement and easier to extend and combine. With the adoption of headless commerce now we will see an increased acceleration of the adoption of headless CMS and other API-first tools related to commerce. The education efforts for new and existing players will be less as the understanding of benefits (speed, security, ROI) is already a given.
CC: How do you see the increased awareness of MACH principles and composable systems impacting the future?
DA: The MACH principles are here to stay. Businesses using a composable, best-of-breed approach usually tend to perform better by creating faster, more streamlined user experiences for their clients across platforms and channels. This is because a composable architecture gives all stakeholders the best tool at hand for a respective job while allowing those systems to be well connected through an API-first approach. I believe that composable systems must provide a great developer experience and a great editor experience, as this naturally results in a better UX on the frontends.
CC: In question 11, we see a huge shift in the measurable impact of switching to headless, a little over 82%. That said, what do you think the 17% of respondents have issues with? Where is there room for improvement? Did you inquire about this?
DA: The fact that 82% of businesses saw an immediate improvement after making the switch to a headless CMS is very exciting. Given our experience with 100,000+ projects running on Storyblok, a couple challenges the remaining percentage could have involve the following:
While we see those challenges, we also see examples where businesses saw a massive decrease in the hidden costs of a CMS when switching to headless (think of training, maintenance, hosting, and so on).
CC: With the largest growth among headless CMS platforms, where do headless vendors see the growth opportunities? How will they differentiate over time?
DA: We will see a split based on the groups working with the CMS. Some will dedicate more time and resources into the pure developer angle and will go the route to become more of a database with API (“content platform”), others will focus on the collaboration between the marketers and trying to enable them even more with previews, automation, content planning, and become closer to a DXP.
CC: More specifically: where does Storyblok see its competitive strength? Where does it best compete when buyers are evaluating CMS solutions?
DA: We believe that Storyblok is the only Headless CMS for enterprises that provides the best developer experience as well as the best editor experience. Because of that, organizations such as Adidas, Marc O’Polo, and Greggs are able to build better performing digital experiences, launch new marketing campaigns faster, and manage all of their content in one central place - no matter the frontend.
Storyblok is an enterprise headless CMS that enables developers and marketers to deliver powerful content experiences on any digital platform. Developers create flexible components that are independently managed by content teams through a collaborative visual editor and customizable workflow. Published content is delivered through an API, so changes are made once and will appear everywhere: websites, mobile, IoT, the metaverse, and beyond. This approach reduces maintenance and makes content management more efficient. Leading brands such as Adidas, Pizza Hut, and Marc O’Polo use Storyblok to manage and share their content with the world.