We live in a content economy. There are an estimated 200 million creators on the internet, and upwards of four billion social media users. If organizations want to tap into this burgeoning economy – set to be worth over $24bn in the next four years – they must expand their capabilities beyond serving customers basic text and images.
Consumers want connected digital experiences that draw from multiple content sources. However, many organizations risk being held back by their current CMS, as customization and integration challenges slow the creation of new or complex digital services at scale.
The result? Innovation happens at the pace that back-end architects and developers want, not the speed the business demands. If organizations are to unlock full value from content, an alternative approach is needed. Enter – content federation.
The CMS as we know it has evolved before. Two decades ago, things were much simpler. Organizations wanted merely to post text and images to a single website. Providers like Drupal, AEM, and WordPress emerged to provide CMS platforms to meet this demand. They continue to have a huge market share today.
An explosion in the volume and variety of devices and content raised new questions about how businesses could deliver this content to channels beyond the browser. It was no longer a case of managing a one-to-one relationship between CMS admin portal and website, but rather a one-to-many relationship between CMS and smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, voice assistants, and more.
What emerged was the headless CMS: enabling platform-independent content distribution via APIs. It’s a model that has stood the test of time. And it continues to be a highly popular approach as organizations embrace composable architectures that enable developers to be more agile in creating new applications and services from reusable components.
From a CMS perspective, many organizations have needed to build and manage custom software to connect multiple content sources to their headless CMS. These could be anything from legacy CMSs, SaaS tools, and e-commerce components like Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMs), to Product Inventory Management Systems (PIMs) and public/private APIs that link third-party data sources. As demand for connected experiences grows, IT teams must build and maintain more of these custom middleware connections, risking amassing technical debt in the process.
Ultimately, custom building everything is an innovation bottleneck. It’s not only expensive but time-consuming and really difficult to do well.
Having transitioned from a one-to-one to a one-to-many approach, organizations now need technology to support a many-to-many architecture without adding cost and complexity. They not only need to serve content to multiple devices but also to serve content that lives within their software stack.
This is where federated content platforms offer an opportunity to evolve the market once more, just as it changed when headless CMS disrupted the space 10 years ago. The premise is simple: organizations can federate multiple content sources into a single universal API so developers that build connected digital services only have to develop with one API to serve content from very diversified back-end systems. This also removes the need to centralize dynamically changing data into a content hub and eliminates the risk of inconsistent and outdated data, as the federated API acts as the single source of truth. From a development perspective, this approach also accelerates innovation by enabling product teams to compose services significantly faster than existing methods.
In a content-first world, the question for today’s businesses is whether they want to persist with the status quo, characterized by excessive innovation bottlenecks, costs, and mounting technical debt. Or, by combining composability with a federated content approach, organizations can choose to future-proof their CMS investments and significantly reduce their integration costs.
Content federation is the next major leap forward in CMS development. The improved integration of content and data will enable the creation of new digital services and business models in the content economy, so organizations can ill afford to stand still.