How a ‘headless CMS’ will manage digital content in an ever-connected 5G world

headless robot

The roll-out of 5G has just begun. 5G promises a considerable increase in data transfer speeds that will allow almost real-time connection between internet-enabled devices.

This increase in speeds will further drive technology development. Very soon, our homes, workspaces and public spaces will be host to tens of millions of IoT (internet of things) devices.

Wearables, voice-activated assistants, connected kitchen appliances, smart kiosks, smart billboards – and devices yet to be invented – will all be increasingly connected. Adoption in new technologies and the latest devices provides an exciting opportunity for retailers and anyone delivering digital content.

Retailers and marketers will have an opportunity to get their content in front of the right audience on the right device at the right time. Step aside multi-channel marketing. Make way for omnichannel marketing!

With the consumer at the centre of an integrated experience, moving from desktop, mobile, smartwatch, and whatever will become seamless. And the process will get ever-more complex as we develop and integrate more devices into our daily lives.

As website owners and content controllers, how do we manage and feed content to an ever-increasing list of internet-enabled devices? … Introducing headless CMS.

How does a CMS work?

Let’s start the CMS model that we’re most familiar with

A content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal is familiar to most of us. Any website owner wanting to manage their content, without the need for a developer will be using one of the thousands of commercially available CMSs. These software systems are usually installed on a web server and are used to power the public-facing pages of the website and the administration ‘backend’.

CMS functionality is broken down into three parts

  1. Data input
  2. Data storage
  3. Data display

Via the admin area, a content contributor will add text and images (or video, PDFs, etc.). The CMS database stores the uploaded content, and the browser displays that content in a browser.

How does a headless CMS work?

A headless CMS cuts off the data display bit built into the CMS and replaces it with a method of connecting to the content in the CMS database. Any device can connect to the data in the CMS provided that it programmed to do so.

Here’s the CMS model without the Data display.

  1. Data input
  2. Data storage
  3. A method of access the data for display via an API (Application Programming Interface)

Cutting off the Data display element of the CMS is what makes it headless. The CMS provides the raw content, and another device or system then manages how the content (such as your pages) will be displayed.

The data can be pulled via an API to be displayed on (or in) a:

  • Website
  • Web App or Progressive web app
  • Native app
  • Smartwatch
  • Speakers
  • Advertising spaces – billboards
  • Vehicles
  • VR headsets
  • The list will go on!…

What are the advantages of a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS says “let’s not tie our data to one way of doing things.”

If you intend to make your content available to other systems or devices, then the headless approach is worth considering. Using a headless CMS can reduce build time by allowing different developers to build separate parts simultaneously.

Developers can build a website using the technology they prefer, even if the display device is not using the same technology. Developers can use plugins, modules or other add-on toys for the data input and storage functionality.

For the consumer, content can be repurposed across multiple channels, anywhere and at any time through the customer journey, back to the omnichannel marketing benefits.

Are there any downsides to using headless CMSs?

There will be no channel-specific support. The CMS vendor won’t support the display layer.

Your development resource will need to be multi-skilled, or you’ll need different developers to cover the various devices.

Pure Headless CMSs have no concept of pages and sitemaps which can make content editing tricky.

What’s next?

Developing for mobile was the last significant technology change for marketers, designers and developers. The introduction of 5G and the inevitable explosion of internet-enabled devices will undoubtedly force us to think differently about how we present our content to consumers.

Once we add AI and machine learning to this mix, things will start to get very interesting indeed!

We’ll be writing more on AI, machine learning, IoT, 5G in upcoming blogs.

Contact us at Rouge to discuss your digital business or marketing challenges.

Stuart Taylor

Stuart Taylor is the Technical Director here at Rouge Media.

View Stuart's bio >

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