All across the internet marketers can be found proclaiming "Content is King!", and for good reason. How we find digital content is often controlled by the tech companies who write the algorithms that reward the creation of good content.
So if content truly is king, where is the Iron Throne upon which it sits? The answer is no medieval fantasy but instead powerful content distribution platforms referred to as CaaS(Content as a Service).
If your content intends to be the one to rule them all, that is the digital interfaces and devices of today, it should come from a single source and not spread itself thin across a multitude of content management platforms.
Here’s a look into why CaaS is a powerful solution for any organization looking to manage and distribute digital content from a single, scalable and easy-to-use platform!
What is Content as a Service?
The idea of CaaS involves storing and structuring all of your digital content, such as blog posts, images, marketing copy, product and service descriptions, etc, into a single application which allows for publishing across multiple digital channels. This allows an organization’s content to be centralized, no longer siloing content within numerous web, mobile and smart device applications.
Thanks to the help of CDNs (content delivery networks) an organization’s content can be rapidly and seamlessly deployed across multiple channels from a single hub. Utilizing an open API and SDKs for common languages, CaaS platforms are not bound to any one frontend interface or code language when displaying content.
For example: An article comparing East Coast and West Coast Pizza recipes can be created once and then published to multiple websites, landing pages, mobile apps and more. The time and effort required to publish the article is reduced and your audience can get to debating pizza recipes faster!
Now let’s explore the key differences between CaaS and traditional Content Management Systems.
Different than traditional content management
Traditionally, digital content has been stored across a handful of large applications which require organizations to manage content within multiple silos. Time and money must be invested to ensure content creators are proficient in a variety of systems. Furthermore, the frontend code is often bound to the primary code language of the platform, limiting the flexibility of how content is shared and displayed.
It’s not uncommon for an organization to have a commercial CMS for their website, an open source system(like WordPress) for their blog and mobile applications for Android and iOS. This means content creators are forced to learn each system’s editing interface, keep track of multiple logins and ensure workflows are in place to update content across each system whenever content is published. Reusable content then has to be re-entered by content creators, taking time and energy away from their focus of creating new content. Needless to say the addition of a new digital channel adds a lot of complexity when managing content using a traditional approach.
If this sounds appealing for your strategy continue reading on to the advantages.
What are the advantages of Content as a Service?
The CaaS approach to content management is well suited for digital strategies in which content needs to be rapidly and seamlessly deployed across multiple channels. Here’s a look at just some of the advantages this approach to content management offers.
A single, easy-to-use interface for content creators
Consolidating all content within a CaaS platform means content creators are no longer responsible for learning multiple editing interfaces. Almost every CaaS platform uses WYSIWYG editors along with drag and drop functionality to make content structuring and creation simple. Workflows and permissions are commonly included functionality, ensuring medium to large organizations have control over access and publication rights.
Increased agility for deploying digital projects and content
Separating content from the presentation layer allows content creators and developers to work simultaneously. A content creator can define the structure of content within a CaaS platform and begin creating content from the onset of a project. At the same time developers can start creating the presentation layer using the selected frontend frameworks. After a developer has finished creating the frontend interface for displaying content they would then connect the CaaS platform using the provided API. Once connected the content will then display on the webpage, mobile app, smart device, etc.
Easily scales with your projects
A decoupled frontend empowers organizations to add additional channels for sharing and displaying content by removing the headaches associated with restructuring workflows and permissions across multiple applications. This, coupled with the cloud hosted architecture of a CaaS platform, ensures content is almost infinitely scalable. Additionally, metadata can be built into content as a field, helping organizations to consolidate the content portion of SEO management.
Built for the devices of today and tomorrow
Many of the market leaders in this space offer a growing number of SDKs which expand the use cases of CaaS far beyond just web content management. This, coupled with an open API, allows organizations to push content to nearly any digital device. Channels such as mobile, smart wearables, smart home devices, smart TVs, virtual reality, voice assistants and more can source content from a single hub.
Maintenance is provided by the vendor
A benefit of cloud based services is that software upgrades, security and hosting are the responsibility of the vendor. The tradeoff being a subscription based payment model as opposed to a perpetual license. Offloading these responsibilities has the potential to provide a cost savings and it ensures your platform is secure and on the cutting edge.
Like most things in life there are pros and cons to this approach to content management, next we will discuss the disadvantages.
Disadvantages of Content as a Service
There are some limitations to the CaaS model which can be addressed with a number of workarounds. Unlike traditional content management systems which are often large-scale, feature robust platforms the CaaS model is lighter on features but best of breed when centralizing and distributing content. Below are a few of the disadvantages which come with this model.
Reliance on developers for frontend creation
The increased agility of CaaS means that almost any frontend language can be used for sharing and displaying content. The tradeoff being that there is no single frontend for displaying content built within the CaaS platform, meaning organizations will be tasked with sourcing development for all channels in which content is distributed. Marketers looking to create new page templates will often have rely on developer involvement. Fortunately this model does not limit content creation when using prebuilt templates.
Additional platforms needed to fill gaps
CaaS is different in that it becomes the central hub for storing, structuring and displaying content. This means that unlike traditional content management systems which contain an abundance of features(often not related to content management) the sole focus of CaaS platforms is an organizations content. Organizations will instead have to integrate third party systems, such as CRMs, analytics platforms and email marketing tools in order to achieve the same level of functionality found within a traditional CMS.
Control of the backend code
In this model the vendor maintains control and access over the platform’s code, meaning customization is generally not possible. This limits users to the configuration options provided by the platform vendor. The best solution to this is to choose a vendor who has a clear roadmap of the future which aligns with the strategy and goals of your organization.
As you can see there are some limitations but a fair tradeoff for organizations with a lot of content.
Is Content as a Service enterprise ready?
CaaS was designed with enterprise use cases in mind.
By decoupling content from the presentation layer medium to large organizations will have a central hub for managing content. Many platforms have developed roles and workflows to ensure process can be enforced. The ability to connect and display content on virtually any digital channel means that multi-channel content strategy can be streamlined. Being cloud hosted means that platforms are able to continuously scale and many vendors offer enterprise plans for organizations planning on storing and displaying large amounts of content.
The freedom, agility and scalability offered by this model allows organizations to reduce and consolidate content silos and distribute content in a multi-channel environment with ease.
Next we will detail a handful of scenarios in which CaaS makes sense.
When should Content as a Service be considered?
Need for lighter and more agile digital architecture
Traditional content management systems often ship with a large list of features which increase the size of the system, which can impact performance and often remain underutilized by the majority of users. Decoupling content from all the “feature noise” means organizations can focus on building a technology stack that includes only the desired functionality. Modern code languages can be used for the frontend which results in a much lighter, performance driven experience for users.
Multiple websites and web applications
Organizations with a handful of websites and web applications sharing the same content, running on various platforms, would benefit greatly from consolidating their content into a CaaS system. Fewer systems means less maintenance and greater adoption of the content creation tools.
Content can be pushed dynamically to mobile applications from CaaS platforms. This can streamline app updates by reducing the time and approval required when submitting apps to an app marketplace. Remember, the same content used for your other digital channels can be reused on mobile.
Multi-channel content syndication
The CaaS model is a great fit for medium to large organizations interested in consolidating the storage and distribution of content for publication across multiple devices. Departments can collaborate with one another by sharing content assets or opt to operate in siloed environments. The advantage being that all content creators are using the same platform, helping to drive user adoption and keeping management within a single application.
Why make the switch
As you can see, content as a service has a lot of utility and lends itself well to organizations looking to master multi-channel content distribution. This is the perfect alternative for those with large volumes of content who are tired of managing a multitude of traditional content management systems. The lighter architecture provides more control over the performance of each content channel along with greater flexibility for how content is shared and displayed.
If you are ready to ditch the traditional CMS platforms of old and embrace a modern, scalable, multi-channel architecture for your digital strategy then content as a service is a great place to start.
Some Content as a Service platforms
Here’s a shortlist of platforms which entered into the market early on. There are a ton and more are sure to come.