Masterclass ‘Headless but not brainless’ – take-aways

Author: Heramb Velankar

Stage der OMR Masterclass mit Speaker*innen und Publikum

‘Headless’ CMS, decoupling of idea and execution, and modular marketing are terms that the business world cannot ignore much longer. These new approaches are essential on the path to more customer insights, more loyalty and more interaction. Read on what IBM iX and guests from commercetools and Contentful had to say about it in their OMR masterclass.

Digital marketing should work simultaneously for every target group, serve all channels and still feel like a personal dialogue between brand and customer. Goals such as faster time-to-market, higher conversion rates and better customer retention are increasingly difficult to achieve in this complexity. In the masterclass ‘Headless but not brainless – rethink your digital business’, IBM iX and guests from commercetools and Contentful presented new approaches. Here are their take-aways.

Digital experiences created in a loop of six steps

  1. Target and target group definition
  2. Selecting the right technology and solution
  3. Designing the user experience
  4. Developing the platform
  5. Integration with other systems
  6. Testing and optimisation

When selecting technology and solutions, until now there have been only two options:

  1. In-house development
  2. Ready-made solutions

In-house development is complex and thus cost-intensive. A lot of start-up capital is needed to meet at least basic customer expectations. Prefabricated solutions are easier to implement, as they can be fitted more easily into existing framework conditions. However, they offer only limited application possibilities and fail as soon as complex demands are made of them. Although there are solutions with more customisation options, in most cases companies pay too much for too little. MACH, composable and decoupled architectures offer a better approach to the design of online experiences.

MACH – the principle of modern software architecture

Whether DXP, DAM or accounting tool, every contemporary software architecture follows the MACH principle – microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless. MACH is the result of new developments in cloud computing and new service architectures, and is based on four principles:

  • Microservices are developed independently of each other as modular components and combined individually. This guarantees maximum functionality for business elements and an individual combination of tools.
  • API (Application Programming Interface)-first puts interfaces before applications. This orientation enables a seamless and flexible integration of modules, regardless of the provider they come from. This factor is also decisive in the individual design of a digital experience platform.
  • Cloud-native is now an almost indispensable requirement of modern software. The cloud is no longer just a place of storage, but also a place of execution and service. This guarantees that all applications are up to date, reduces the need for a company’s own IT infrastructure and offers scalability and operational security.
  • In this context, headless unites microservices via API, decouples the front-end from the back-end and becomes even more ‘headless’ through the cloud.

To implement MACH architectures, retailers must identify services and APIs that enable complex content and commerce projects. This individual combination of API, services and front-end applications is called composable commerce.

Composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP) – a strategy with a future

With the increasing simultaneity of touchpoints and greater segmentation of the customer journey, content management systems have not become obsolete, but today they are just one building block in a complex digital environment. A CMS is ideally a component of a composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP), based on two significant developments:

  1. The composable approach complements the headless principle with modular building blocks and opens up the possibility of using individual elements from different providers. In this way, companies can fully individualise their DXP and flexibly supplement, restructure or update it as needed.
  2. A digital experience platform consists not only of a CMS, but ideally integrates all technological tools, such as digital asset marketing (DAM), marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM).

This enables DXPs to accompany the entire digital customer journey for each target group and to respond with customised, coherent content and offers. DXPs eliminate data silos and lead to new ways of working and looking at things:

  • Digital customer experiences as a system instead of a chain of individual events
  • Integration of all digital tools instead of isolated workflows
  • Holistic customer picture instead of spotlight information
  • Complete customer orientation instead of isolated solutions

Composable platforms are not just a technological approach; above all, they ensure that content itself becomes composable – and can thus be combined almost infinitely. Moreover, according to Gartner, the approach could reduce IT costs by 50% by 2024.

Composable and decoupled marketing – achieving more separately

Apart from technical decoupling and modularisation, we also see a move away from all-in-one thinking in marketing. Marketing teams should not do all the steps from the idea to measuring success themselves, but nor should all steps be outsourced.

Rather, companies are becoming aware of the actual competencies of their marketing and are buying building blocks for the implementation of a strategy in the modular MACH principle: as needed, digitally and with maximum flexibility. Typically, marketing teams focus on strategic, creative and KPI-centric tasks, while production is outsourced.

This realignment ideally goes hand in hand with the realignment of digital structures and workflows, and is thus on the agenda at the same time as a Composable DXP project. Because new approaches will be effective only if more than the technological basis changes.

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Our experts are at your side for each of these aspects. We support you in identifying the optimal technological approaches, in comparing solutions and providers, and at every phase of restructuring and implementation. Get in touch today!

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