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See the future of composable at ContentCon 2023
It’s time to mark your calendar — Contentstack’s annual customer conference, ContentCon, is back on May 8-10, 2023! This year, we're going bigger and better than ever, offering a hybrid event experience that you can join virtually or in-person at the charming Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas. With an exciting lineup of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, ContentCon 2023 promises to empower you to make the most of your composable tech stack and skyrocket your enterprise to success. Don't miss out on this must-attend event for business leaders, marketers, developers and anyone looking to elevate their digital experience game.Inspirational keynotes from top brandsGet ready for a full day of amazing keynote presentations from some of the biggest and most-loved brands in the industry. These experts will share their insights, experience, and strategic advice on how to leverage Contentstack and other cutting-edge technologies to drive business growth and success. If you're looking for inspiration, practical tips, and a glimpse into the future of content management, these keynotes are not to be missed!Keynote speakers include: Best-selling author and executive coach Laura Gassner Otting share strategies for pushing past the doubt and indecision that keep great ideas in limbo. In-person attendees will receive a copy of Otting’s new book, “Wonderhell: Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should … and What to Do About It.” Mindy Montgomery, senior technical product manager and leader of the ecosystem platform that supports a connected customer experience for ASICS, will give tips on “How to Survive Procurement.” Juliette Olah, senior manager of editorial for Booking.com, spearheads the editorial strategy for Booking.com. Olah’s presentation will cover the “The Art and Science of a Customer-Obsessed Content Strategy.” Expert-led workshops to elevate your skillsAt ContentCon 2023, you'll have the opportunity to participate in all-new, exclusive workshops that will help elevate your expertise in composable leadership, technology and mindset. Whether you're new to Contentstack or a seasoned pro looking to sharpen your skills, our workshops are designed to provide valuable, hands-on learning experiences for all experience levels.The Contentstack Help Bar: your one-stop-shop for expert adviceBring your burning questions about Contentstack and the composable enterprise to our in-house experts at the Contentstack Help Bar. Available throughout the conference, our team will be ready and eager to provide personalized advice, troubleshooting guidance and insider tips to help you make the most of your content management platform. Co-creating the Composable ManifestoJoin us in co-creating the Composable Manifesto — a set of actionable tenets that will inspire, guide, and accelerate your teams toward a future-proof, agile, and innovative business environment. This unique, collaborative activity will bring together ContentCon attendees to collectively define the guiding principles for a composable enterprise. Be a part of shaping the future of content management and the wider tech landscape by contributing your ideas and wisdom to this groundbreaking initiative.Networking opportunities galoreWhat better way to level up your professional network than by connecting with your peers, industry leaders and the Contentstack team at ContentCon 2023? With both in-person and virtual networking opportunities throughout the event, you'll have plenty of chances to forge new connections, share ideas and learn from others in the field. Don't miss the chance to grow your network while absorbing a wealth of valuable content management knowledge.Register nowDon't miss out on the chance to power up your tech stack and leave a lasting impact on your enterprise. Register now to join us in beautiful Austin or virtually from anywhere in the world. Mark your calendars for May 8-10, 2023, and get ready to elevate your digital experience game at ContentCon!
Why developers will love Contentstack Launch
4 questions for e-commerce brands considering composable
There’s a lot of confusion in the market when it comes to composable architectures. A company says one thing and their competitor says something different — all the while, the people who hunger for change inside complex organizations struggle.We see this in potential e-commerce customers all the time, knowing they need a change but not really understanding what composable can do for them. Emma Sleep, one of the fastest-growing D2C sleep brands in the world, was one of those organizations.Andreas Westendörpf, chief technology officer of Emma Sleep, talked about why they chose composable and what it did for them on the latest “People Changing Enterprises” podcast. Hearing him speak about the differences between traditional environments and composable inspired me to create this litmus test. Ideally, this will help provide clarity for e-commerce organizations wondering if composable is the right move for them.Are you aiming to grow quickly?For organizations trying to scale quickly, traditional CMS and legacy systems are far more complicated than composable architectures. They are less flexible and take more developer intervention to launch new markets, products, and content. Composable wasn’t in Andreas’ original plans. But when Emma Sleep introduced their ambitious growth goals, they were operating from a highly customized legacy system. Doubling business every one or two years in vastly different markets would be difficult, frustrating and extremely error-prone with these technologies. They also wouldn’t be able to support personalized content for each market — what works for European audiences doesn’t work for Asia or Latin America. If you are a scaling organization, you need composable. Other options are too rudimentary and inflexible for you. You will have to manipulate and create custom code to force things to work, which is not only a huge risk — as it will most likely break often — but inefficient when efficiency is required.Are you outsourcing the problem to the vendor?Andreas made a good point in the podcast. E-commerce was one of the first ways to make money on the internet, which is why many platforms still follow the architectural design principles of the ’90s and early 2000s when they were founded. While that’s changing, it’s happening slowly. In the meantime, e-commerce organizations are struggling with monolithic technology.The common solution is outsourcing your development to the same vendor you’re struggling with — a tricky catch-22. The problem doesn’t change. Instead, it comes with long consulting timelines and following industry “best practices” that actually aren’t best, like planning out your project five years in advance (more on that to come).Composable solves two problems at once: providing a more flexible, agile technology stack and by bringing control back in-house.Do you need to make room for innovation?I recently read a great piece that nails down what innovation really is: riding a wave. Mary Kay Ash didn’t invent cosmetics; she rode the direct-sales wave. Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile; he rode the assembly line wave. Steve Jobs didn’t invent computers; he rode the digital wave. So on and so forth.Here’s what I’m trying to get at: Are you equipped to ride the wave?E-commerce brands must ride the wave more than most. They ride the waves of public opinion, of social media, of what customers need when they need it. But the thing about waves is they disappear quickly. If you don’t catch it, you sink. E-commerce organizations don’t have the luxury of submitting a developer ticket or a feature request and waiting around for six months until the request becomes a reality; the wave could be gone by then. Yet that’s often what happens with legacy technology — so many missed opportunities.In the podcast, Andreas expresses his desire to experiment quickly and figure out what works versus what doesn’t. In a composable architecture, their team can integrate up-and-coming tools like ChatGPT for use pretty quickly. Emma Sleep also tests new platforms for new markets beforehand and implements them when ready. That was not possible for them in their previous environment.Do you need to transform quickly?“The five-year plan is dead.”That might be my favorite quote from a “People Changing Enterprises” podcast so far, and Andreas is absolutely right. Why stretch your timelines out that long, especially when you can reap value much earlier?Andreas added: “Don't plan for a five-year project. If you are trying to implement within a five-year timeframe, things change too much. So plan for two years. Two years is a good time horizon. If two years becomes two and a half, fair enough. But you need to somehow have the most critical work done at the end of two years, like 90%.”Enterprises choose to make the transition from monolith to composable in different ways, but one thing all successful transformations have in common is that they don’t push it too far down the road.The litmus test is done. If you answered “yes” to most — or all — of these questions, then it’s time to talk with us about moving from monolith to composable. Here’s the good news: When you choose to make the transition to composable, you’re future-proofing your organization. According to Andreas, “it’s the last replatform you’re going to need.”
How your business can save money with a composable DXP
Are you feeling the crunch of tight budgets and limited resources? It can be difficult for enterprises to find ways to cut costs while still remaining competitive. One way to do this is by investing in a composable digital experience platform (DXP). A composable DXP allows businesses to quickly create personalized user experiences without the need for extensive development time or costly technology infrastructure. By taking advantage of its flexibility and scalability, companies can save money while improving customer engagement. In this blog post, we'll discuss how a composable DXP could help your business improve its efficiency and profitability.What is a composable DXP?Gartner defines a DXP as “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”A DXP is not necessarily a single solution but a variety of solutions that work cohesively from a central hub. A composable DXP uses MACH technologies (microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless) to deliver services to various devices and channels.How a composable DXP saves moneyScalabilityA composable architecture allows you to scale according to your business needs. If you’re just beginning to implement composable technology, you may choose to keep elements of your existing technology while adding composable applications where they are most needed to improve efficiency.If you choose to invest in a new digital experience platform, a composable architecture enables you to choose the best tools available for your needs, and only the tools you need. ReliabilityA composable DXP can help your business avoid costly downtime because its microservices-based architecture means a failure in one service won’t affect the entire system. SpeedA composable platform based on a headless CMS will enable you to quickly launch new digital experiences, update and adapt as needed without the need for developers to create new solutions each time, so you enjoy faster time to market while saving costly development time.EfficiencyIn a platform with a composable architecture based on a headless CMS, the front end and back ends are decoupled, so marketing teams IT teams can work simultaneously to create and update digital experiences and content faster. A composable platform also enables automation of routine tasks so you avoid costly human errors and your team spends more time on higher priority tasks.How to save money when implementing a composable DXPOne way to save money while transitioning to composable technology is to leverage your existing technology wherever possible and add composable technology where your legacy system doesn’t function as needed.To do this successfully, start by:Defining your business goalsIdentifying what you use, don’t use and what’s missing in your current systemMapping out your ideal systemDefining a roadmap for implementation When implementing a composable DXP, the key to saving money is understanding what services you need for success. Consider your business needs and goals and then research composable DXP providers that best match those needs. Whether parting with a smaller sum of money up front or investing in more expensive but comprehensive packages, make sure that you aren't overspending on features and services you won't actually use. Look out for special bundle deals or discounts, as these can be great ways to save while still getting top-notch services. Remember that investing in composable DXP is an investment in the future of your company; save smart in order to get the most ROI from your composable DXP implementation.Conclusion Businesses are looking to save money while transitioning to more modern technology to meet current customer needs. A composable DXP will help achieve this, allowing you to implement gradually while increasing speed and efficiency and reducing development costs. Learn moreLearn more about going composable in our blog post, “De-risking your transition to composable.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack can help you save money and increase ROI with the only fully composable digital experience platform.
How to measure performance of your composable DXP
Consumers have high expectations for brands. They want personalized experiences that evolve according to their needs and are delivered seamlessly across multiple channels. On top of that, they want it to be lightning-fast, or they’ll take their business elsewhere.Composability is the future of the digital experience. A composable digital experience platform (DXP) gives you greater flexibility, customization, speed, scalability and reliability. But to be sure you’re maximizing the benefits of your composable DXP, you need to measure its performance. Here are five key metrics to measure and how you can measure them:FlexibilityYour organization’s needs will evolve, and your platform has to be able to adapt. A composable DXP provides the flexibility you need to deliver the digital experience customers expect. Benefits of flexibilityReduced cost Composable’s flexibility makes it easier to incorporate new functions. This helps you keep pace with customers’ needs and expectations today, while also future proofing your tech stack. With composable, you only pay for the microservices you need — much more cost-effective than buying a full suite of monolithic functions just to access the one or two you intend to use. How to measure it:Microservice usage: Is your composable DXP weighed down by things you don’t need? Overlap between microservices: If you have a lot of overlapping functions, try to combine them where possible.Number of workarounds: If your platform is riddled with workarounds, review your tech stack and look for ways to optimize its efficiency.Efficient collaborationThe IT-heavy nature of monolithic architecture can be a major pain point. With legacy architecture, updating the front end means developers have to update the back-end code, even for minor tweaks. Not only does this add to the IT side’s workload, it’s also frustrating for marketing teams to have to wait for their requests to be handled.With composable architecture, front-end changes can be made without touching the back end. The result: faster turnaround, fewer IT tickets, and better collaboration between both sides of the business. How to measure it:Time from request to action: With less of a burden on your IT team, they should be able to push new changes faster and more efficiently.IT team retention: Less work means less stress and a happier IT team.Number of IT tickets for minor changesMissed deadline percentageFreedom to experimentWith a composable DXP, organizations can try out changes to the digital experience before fully committing to them. And since your IT team has to handle fewer small updates, they have more time to focus on strategic initiatives.How to measure it:Number of tweaks to changes after going liveAmount of IT time spent on minor adjustmentsCustomizationOne of the key selling points of monolithic architecture is the in-built suite of programs and functions. In theory, those programs and functions can be used to create whatever experience an organization wants; however, every organization has their own unique needs. The one-size-fits-all functions of monolithic platforms leave little room for customization — so unless the built-in functions are exactly what you need, you’ll have to spend time and resources finding add-ons that can get you in the vicinity of where you want to go.Benefits of customizationMore efficiencyBoth composable and legacy architecture let you personalize experiences and deliver content across multiple channels. But with monolithic solutions, that work still has to be completed by a team member. With composable DXPs, organizations can calibrate their microservices for maximum efficiency.How to measure it:Number of users: Too many users can be an inefficient use of resources — and create opportunities for avoidable errors.Governance capabilities: In-built governance capability means less need for human oversight for each piece of content created or delivered. Workflow automation rate: The more processes that can be taken off your team’s hands, the more time they have to focus on what really matters.Seamless integrationA composable DXP allows you to seamlessly integrate an app framework or SDK library with minimal setup time. This gives you the freedom to find the perfect tool for each function, so you can deliver the exact digital experience you have in mind. How to measure it:Number of apps in useTime to launchCostUser customizationsThe customizability of your DXP solution doesn’t just apply to customer experiences, but to users in your organization as well. Your composable DXP can be configured however your marketing team wants, so they can create and deliver content in a format that’s comfortable for them. How to measure it:UI customization: More UI customization within your composable DXP means your team is likely taking advantage of the customization options to build a structure they are comfortable with.Team satisfaction with platformSpeedCustomer needs and expectations can change in an instant. The speed of your composable DXP allows you to push new content, implement campaigns, and reach your goals — faster. Learn more about the value of speed for your organization in our article, “4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP.”Benefits of speed Faster time to marketThe quicker you can update your composable DXP to bring new services, functions, or products to market, the better the overall digital experience for your customers. How to measure it:Build time for new initiativesImpressions & Conversions: If you strike while the iron is hot, your content can reach a bigger audience — and that can help bring in new business.Empowered creative teamsAlong with ease of use, the speed of composable architecture allows marketing leaders to launch campaigns and publish content much faster and without having to wait for IT. How to measure it:Content publishing timesContent creation time: Composable DXPs allow your creative team to create a content block for one site, then quickly push it to other sites and channels. That means less time spent re-publishing the same content on different channels and more time thinking up the next big idea.Better customer experiencesThe digital experience is designed to improve customers’ experience with your brand. Your composable DXP allows you to deliver a personalized experience that your customers will appreciate.How to measure it:Conversion rateRate of return trafficCost per leadScalabilityIf your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. Composable architecture enables continued growth without needing to build each new piece of the experience from the ground up. Benefits of scalability Greater reachThe scalability of your composable DXP affords you greater reach and easier access to new markets.How to measure it:Site load speed: Delivering your digital experience to a wider market does no good if it takes users too long to access it.Number of locationsLanguages in useOptimized contentThe scalability of your composable DXP means you can increase your content output without sacrificing quality or increasing the size of your team.How to measure it:Conversion ratePercent of return customersLead costsBetter ROI on content creationUsing modular content blocks to deliver content allows you to optimize and personalize your content to connect with your audience — and that means a better return on your content investment.How to measure it:Error rate of reused contentTime spent reworking content% of automated contentReliabilityWhat good is it to build a great digital experience if consumers can’t actually experience it? With composable architecture, you can say goodbye to the errors, downtime, and security issues that can cause customers to leave and not look back.Benefits of reliabilityImproved securitySecurity breaches cause site outages, lost data, and compromised customer information. The financial impact of poor security can be staggering, but a composable DXP can help prevent that.How to measure it:Security breach rateData loss frequency & scopeConsistent content deliveryHigh traffic is great — as long as your platform can handle it. If it can’t, you risk delivering a subpar digital experience.How to measure it:Site or service downtime during high trafficSite load timesSite error rateImproved digital experiencesContent can be handcuffed by the limitations of monolithic architecture. That often leads to a mediocre digital experience. A composable DXP doesn’t have those limitations, so you can focus on delivering the best digital experience possible.How to measure it:Bounce rateImpressionsOrganic trafficLearn moreLearn more about composable and how your teams benefit in our post, “4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable DXP can help your organization deliver the digital experiences your customers desire.
Announcing Contentstack Launch: Composable is now even easier
How to re-imagine the customer experience, with ASICS’ Mindy Montgomery
Most people reluctantly adapt to change but others, like Mindy Montgomery, thrive on it. She worked to democratize consumer healthcare data in the 2000s, working across nonprofits, state and federal agencies. Then she went on to bring digital product management to a variety of industries undergoing digital change, from early Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to digitizing transit. Now she’s taking on the challenge of brand engagement as the senior technical product manager at ASICS. Montgomery recently spoke with us about leading teams that embrace change, how ASICS is using digital to strengthen the brand mission, and the advice she has for other leaders driving changes in customer experience. Build a library of experiences For Montgomery, the most exciting career move is the one that lets her jump into new and unfamiliar experiences. “One thing I really like to do is find new people to work with,” she said, explaining that instead of relying on networking or following managers and co-workers to new companies she’s more intrigued by positions that push her to create new relationships and fresh ideas. “Building up a library of experiences really helps you figure out how to solve problems because you’ve been exposed to so many different ways of thinking and groups of people.” Look to hire people with a diversity of experiences — teams with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and ideas to draw from are far less likely to get stuck in the status quo.“All of those experiences, especially in the collective, help build the best solutions possible,” Montgomery said.Find your “North Star”Being able to tap into a diversity of experience in your team is especially important as customer loyalty is increasingly won by brands that engage consumers beyond products and purchasing. A key way that ASICS is expanding its relationship with customers is by returning to the founding concept of the company. The brand name is an acronym of the latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano'' which translates to “a sound mind in a sound body”, and ASICS’ mission is to help people gain the mental and physical health benefits that come from a positive, lifelong relationship with sport and activity. “That gives us a lot of really great storytelling opportunities,” Montgomery said about the brand’s focus on the wider health picture. “Because we can feed not only our products into that, but also the studies that we’ve sponsored and other experiences of our sponsored athletes, our employees and our brand ambassadors to really help tell those authentic stories.” But you shouldn’t wait on someone to hand you a North Star. “Even if the brand or the company doesn't have that, I think that if you get a small group of like-minded people together, you can come up with something that gives you that directionality,” Montgomery said. While she is fortunate that her role at ASICS comes with leaders who have a clear vision in mind, this hasn’t always been the case.“When I worked at a company digitizing the transit experience, we didn't really have a great North Star, but one of the things that we did have was being able to buy and use a bus ticket on your phone. Okay, let's start extending that. In what other scenarios do you use the bus? What if you could use your ticket to the baseball game as your transit ticket? What partnerships do we need to create in order to do that?”Imagine how the customer experience could evolve, in your best-case-scenario, and build toward that. Having a vision will give your team the confidence to enact meaningful change. “The confidence in that vision comes from incrementally delivering things that show progress towards that vision and solution,” Montgomery said.Expand engagement opportunitiesAs the customer journey expands to many different touchpoints. A principle Montgomery takes from her experience in healthcare is that there are “no wrong front doors.” In health services, this is the idea that no matter how someone enters the healthcare system, they should be able to easily transfer their information and receive benefits from any other service program. “With our digital transformation, and moving to headless and composable commerce, that’s really the same principle behind the things we’re doing,” Montgomery said. “If you come to asics.com you should be able to find a training plan, purchase that, use it in the Runkeeper app and register for one of the races on our many race registration platforms, all in one place.” To create that connected experience, Montgomery and her team are adopting API-driven solutions that allow them to easily standardize and share data.APIs make it easier to create more engagement across ASICS’s own channels, like sending customers a discount code for new shoes when they log 350 miles in the Runkeeper app, as well as further expand the brand’s reach by using open APIs to share content and promotions with trusted third-party partners. “We want to reach out, we want to be a partnership across your sports journey, be that running, golf, tennis, field sports or anything like that,” Montgomery said. “That’s something I think is really exciting.” Make friends with RFPsEvolving the customer experience often means evolving your tech. For many companies, this entails moving away from all-in-one platforms to get up and running with e-commerce and moving toward an ecosystem of best-of-breed vendors that specialize in different areas. Having a guiding principle can help make the evaluation process more efficient. For Montgomery and her team, this was the idea that they ultimately wanted a fully composable tech stack where any and every component is replaceable. So they seek out solutions that are API-driven and, as much as possible, headless. This helps narrow down the solutions on the long lists gathered from analyst reports, vendor landscapes and recommendations from partners and peers. “There is a fair amount of enormity paralysis involved,” Montgomery said about having to find and evaluate substantially more vendor solutions when companies move away from the monolith. “But you just have to get started.” Mindy Montgomery will be sharing more secrets for RFP success at ContentCon 2023: Register now.
What developers should know about composable DXPs
As enterprises strive to create a unified digital experience for their customers, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of composable DXPs. This blog post will explain what these platforms are, how they work, and how they can help create an effective customer experience. What is a composable DXP? A composable DXP (digital experience platform) is a technology stack that supports the development and deployment of applications across various channels such as web, mobile, voice assistants, wearables and more. It consists of different components such as content management systems (CMSes), microservices architecture, APIs, analytics tools, customer data platforms (CDPs), marketing automation tools and more. These components work together to enable developers to rapidly build and deploy applications with minimum effort. How does it work?The key to making a composable DXP successful is having the right components in place. Components of a composable DXP include:A CMS that is the foundation for managing content across multiple channels APIs that provide access to data stored in other systems such as databases or cloud services. Microservices architecture that helps break down large applications into smaller services that can be deployed independently. Analytics tools that allow developers to gain insights into user behaviorMarketing automation tools help automate tasks such as sending emails or messages on social media platformsA customer data platform to store customer data securely and easily access it when neededBenefits of adopting a composable DXPUsing a composable DXP has several benefits for developers including:Increased agility: With a composable DXP in place, developers can quickly build apps without spending time on coding from scratch or integrating multiple technologies together. This increases agility by allowing them to respond quickly to market needs or changes in customer preferences. Scalability: Composable DXPs are highly scalable so they can handle large amounts of traffic without compromising performance or reliability.Cost savings: Using a single platform reduces costs by eliminating the need for multiple technologies and license fees associated with them. Challenges for developersIntegrating multiple components One of the biggest challenges with composing a DXP is integrating all the different components together in a way that works seamlessly with each other. This requires extensive knowledge of web technologies, coding best practices, and design principles. It also requires developers to have an understanding of how different software interacts with each other and how they can be integrated into a single platform. Additionally, if there are any compatibility issues between two components or systems, then the developer will need to find a workaround or replace one component with another. Maintaining quality standards Another challenge that developers face when implementing a composable DXP is maintaining quality standards throughout the process. Since they are dealing with multiple pieces of software that may come from various sources, it’s important to ensure that all components meet certain quality standards before they can be used in production. This means making sure that all code is up-to-date and bug-free; all third-party APIs are secure; and all data sources have been tested for accuracy and completeness before being integrated into the platform. Testing for performance issues Finally, when creating a composable DXP, developers must also test for potential performance issues. As more components are added to the platform, there is an increased likelihood that some parts may not perform as expected due to memory usage or runtime errors. Therefore, it’s important for developers to thoroughly test their composable DXP before launching it in production to ensure its stability and eliminate any potential issues from arising later on down the line. ConclusionImplementing a composable DXP offers many advantages over traditional monolithic applications but comes with its own set of challenges. Developers must make sure each component functions properly and meets quality standards before being implemented into the system. They must also test their platform for potential performance issues before launch. You can overcome these challenges by carefully planning your architecture and understanding how each component integrates with one another so you can create an effective solution for your customers’ needs.Learn moreLearn more about going composable in our guide, “How to go composable in 6 steps.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable content experience platform can help your organization benefit from the flexibility and scalability of a composable DXP.
A CTO’s POV on helping brands build the best customer experiences
One of our mottos is: “Contentstack helps brands in the pursuit of possibility.”That phrase can mean many different things. Take our customer, ASICS, for example. When ASICS came to us, the possibility they were pursuing was a creative customer experience that melded the physical and digital together. Mindy Montgomery, senior technical analyst for ASICS, talked about that unique approach to customer experience on our “People Changing Enterprises” podcast. Their team definitely doesn’t limit themselves when it comes to that pursuit of possibility. But that means different things to every brand, especially with varying industry demands in play. With that in mind, how do we help brands live up to the word “possibility”?By constructing an ecosystem with all the tools and tech brands need.From brand to their customer, and from Contentstack to our brands — it takes an entire ecosystem to create an effective, innovative customer experience. Our world has grown smarter and more connected. When was the last time you walked into a room without some kind of screen? Computers, cellphones, TVs and even gas station kiosks have screens, and all are viable channels to use. A 2022 Hubspot report of 1000 marketing professionals found that 81% leverage more than three channels in their strategy. And, according to our retail research, 60% believe the number of engagement channels will only grow. For example, Mindy described how ASICS tries to reach customers beyond the brand’s own channels. Yes, a customer can navigate through their website, buy shoes or sign up for training plans, and receive product discounts. But how can they get further opportunities to engage when they track their miles through Runkeeper (ASICS’ running app)? Or even when they’re browsing sports content outside of ASICS channels? Of course, traditional software and monolithic technologies cannot support imaginative approaches like that. So, in 2011 when the team at Contentstack pioneered headless CMS, we knew it had to be more than just a CMS. We had to deliver an ecosystem of features and products that removed obstacles to innovation while enabling amazing customer experiences. In our ecosystem, everything our customers need can be easily integrated whether it’s an e-commerce, asset management, personalization or marketing automation tool.By supporting agility and future growth.When we build ecosystems, flexibility and scale are priorities. This is why we encourage every brand that wants to – as Mindy says – "surprise and delight" their customers to go composable. If you’ve never heard of composable or don’t quite understand it, here’s an example:Imagine you have a Lego structure. Each brightly-colored Lego block represents a piece of tech you’ve chosen, while the structure itself represents the composable architecture. If you have kids — or played with Legos as one — you understand the selling point of the product. Each block can attach and detach easily. In seconds, you can tweak and adjust your structure to create something entirely different. A train becomes a plane, which becomes a car, and so on and so forth.It’s the same with composable architectures — they are made to change however brands need. That flexibility is built in when your customer experience is built on composable. If a popular new channel arises that would benefit your brand to be in (much like the rise of TikTok), it could be as easy as a click of a button.This means that scaling your customer experience is just as easy. Our international airline customer, Icelandair, is able to translate content into 11 languages instantaneously, with no extra effort. But they’re also ready for any future growth; as they enter new markets, they’re able to quickly spin off new content for each language as needed.In a market with trends that change with the wind, flexibility and growth are essential to brands’ customer experience. By building a community that lives beyond the product.The last way we equip brands for any customer experience possibility is by building peer connections. Who better to learn from than similar status-quo-busting individuals?Mindy expressed the value of how conversing with brands in the vacation, hospitality and other consumer industries helped ASICS on their composable journey. That’s the value we try to bring to every Contentstack customer. We do this in several ways. The first is the opportunities we build into our product like Contentstack Community, where customers can participate in open-ended discussions and gain access to a customer-contributed knowledge base.We also hold “ContentCon,” a conference dedicated to cultivating community and encouraging collaboration among our customers. We not only provide fun networking opportunities, but customers present their own composable journey and what they learned, on the stage. That way, nobody has to make the same mistakes and everyone is surrounded by folks trying to improve their customer experiences. Peer-to-peer connection makes everyone better.Enabling brands to pursue possibility really just means that we provide the building blocks (quite literally), and help them fill in the gaps along the way. The brands are the experts on their customers — it’s our job to partner with them to achieve their vision.
How to ask for better from your team
In many ways, we're a different company than when we started. Part of it is how much we've scaled. A bigger part is how we must constantly reinvent ourselves to stay ahead of the industry. For example, we started as a services company and transformed into a SaaS product. That transformation created more value for our customers and employees.But constant reinvention requires constant reflection on how we can be better. That's not easy. We all love routine. It's a blanket and a good book during a winter storm. The issue is you could stay under that blanket for a long time and, before you know it, customers are churning and competition is eating your lunch.So, how do you encourage "better?" ASICS Senior Technical Product Manager Mindy Montgomery said in the ”People Changing Enterprises” podcast that it can start with a simple question to the team: "Do we think the way we've been doing things is the best way?" She's found that most of the time, the answer is no and people end up volunteering for change. The question unlocks ideas that lead to "better."That's a great strategy. Here are some others I use in my day-to-day.Leaders: Start with yourselfBefore you ask for better from your team, turn that question inward. A trusted advisor once told me leaders have to fire and rehire themselves every six months to determine whether or not they're still the right person for the task at hand. Soon after that, I got an executive coach. I wanted to question if I was still the right CEO at this stage of scale and, if not, understand what gaps I needed to fill. My coach helped me work on conflict resolution and not letting personal attachments limit my ability to make the best business decisions.Leaders are fortunate in having built-in calendars that force "do better" check-ins — board meetings, end-of-quarters and fiscal years and the like. Be open about what you uncover about yourself during those times of analysis to encourage others to do the same. It helps create a culture of continuous improvement and being open to change.Create a culture that values changeI start this form of change-focused culture building by admitting I'm not all-knowing; it's about the collective knowledge and experiences of the team. They're working day in and day out with customers or in concert with partners, digging deep into industry challenges and building the products and features to solve those challenges. This all means that, in many instances, they're closer to what "better" looks like than me.We also build change into our values. For example, we "do the right thing even when no one is watching." In this case, doing the right thing means people across our organization (not just leadership) are empowered to identify and implement new systems or take the idea to someone who can. Mindy added two points about creating a culture of change I want to highlight here:Promote experimentation more than you fear failure. "Outside of a very few cases, our day-to-day decisions aren't going to close down a company like ASICS," she said. In other words, stop fearing a potential failure that may never happen. Instead, work toward better, mitigate potential issues and squeeze any learnings out of failure as you do.Make sure people have access to change "levers." Mindy spoke of data as a lever; use it to rally others and propose a better way. She also discussed people who have mastered "organizational buy-in" as levers. Not everyone has the influence to make widespread change within an organization, but they probably have access to someone who does. One final point: culture is created by a group of people interacting regularly. Don't forget that it's also made up of individuals. Everybody is different, so consider how you can incentivize experimentation in personal ways.Be North-Star drivenChange without a vision can be aimless — chaotic even. Communicate the vision clearly and repeatedly. It can be a target number you're looking to hit for the quarter or year — 100 new clients, $100 million revenue — or it can be a big, hairy, audacious goal, like using technology to pursue equity and break down barriers.Also, make sure everyone understands their specific role in achieving that goal. It all ladders up, and there are more opportunities to celebrate the wins along the way. We created Contentstack to challenge the status quo; legacy CMS technology wasn't cutting it for enterprises anymore. However, we can't rest on the laurels of invention. Organizations stay relevant when they get better — in line with customer needs and where the market is going — and embrace change.
Levi's Zach Crittendon supports big ambitions with flexible tech
One thing jeans and technology have in common? You can outgrow them. As digital became increasingly critical to Levi Strauss and Co.’s strategy, it was clear that the single, monolithic platform that had been powering the website wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the company’s omnichannel ambitions. “That was a great way to get started,” said Zach Crittendon, software architect at Levi Strauss & Co., about their legacy all-in-one platform. “It has a lot of best practices built into it and was sufficient to get us live on the internet, but it was not going to scale with us in all of the things that we needed to do as a company.” Crittendon recently spoke with us about developing scalable solutions, designing tools that empower creative teams and the advice he has for other leaders making the transition to a composable architecture. Minimize risk with phases Moving from an all-in-one platform to a composable approach, where different systems handle different responsibilities, can be a complex challenge — especially as most companies aim to make this transition in a way that quickly proves value and poses minimal risk. “A huge part of the transition is finding the business case that fits it,” Crittendon said. “One that will give you a real world evaluation of what you’ve built, what its strengths and weaknesses are, but in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your main line of business.” For Levi’s, this meant taking a phased approach. In phase one, the team added a headless CMS to create a new homepage while the rest of the website stayed in the legacy platform. Phase two was to completely replace the legacy platform for the Eastern European website, which was a simpler use case because a third party handled a large part of the order management process. In phase three, the team completely moved to a composable architecture. These phases allowed the team to gradually add complexity and step off the monolith one capability at a time instead of a big-bang replatform effort. “You can have those learnings and if there are any issues you have the time to work through and identify and resolve those before you bet the business on it,” Crittendon said.Build with growth in mind “The most important thing with composable is having a very clear idea of where you’re going," Crittendon said. “Make sure that you have a good idea of what a strong, powerful, flexible, composable architecture looks like in the future.”Keeping the long-term vision in mind helped the Levi’s team to develop and implement capabilities that would be able to grow with the business. For example, instead of creating a one-off template, the homepage was built in a modular way with the intention that the APIs, content types, content schema and the content itself could later be reused and repurposed for different use cases. “We ensured that the initial architecture was structured in such a way that we could expand the number of locations that this modular system could be used within our site and that the set of modules themselves could be expanded,” Crittendon said.Having a foundation of reusable, flexible modules allows the team to repurpose content, integrate data, combine experience elements and deliver to different channels with very little technical investment. For instance, in a two-day hackathon they were able to develop shoppable videos that display inventory-aware products and local prices.“It’s very simple to reuse all of these pieces that we’ve built and just reconfigure them to suit the requirements that we have at the moment,” Crittendon said.Enable creative teams The long-term vision that guides how capabilities are designed and implemented should be developed with both technology and creative teams at the table. At Levi’s, the long-held desire from the marketing team to be able to blend brand-driven content with conversation-driven experience was a major factor in the design of the new architecture. “Going composable has made it faster and easier for us to create essentially whatever experiences our product and user experience teams are able to dream up,” Crittendon said. “The way we’ve integrated our commerce and product information management APIs with our CMS APIs, we’re able to make it very easy for our business users to create these experiences that combine the commerce and the content in one place,” he explained. Crittendon and his team have approached this from two directions. First, by making it easy to put “content in commerce” and letting business users put text, images and videos directly in category pages and product grids. Second, by enabling “commerce in content” experiences like the ability to tag editorial photos with related products and use real-time data from the commerce platform to only show products that are available. “We’re not trapped in the template of a product display page but can instead deliver a very rich, custom, bespoke brand experience and have the commerce part of that experience just a click away,” Crittendon said. “That’s something that our team had been dreaming of for years before we moved to this composable architecture.” Focus on usability “Half the project is the experience that we’re delivering to the external customers, the other half of the project is how we’re doing that in a way that is easy to use and easy to learn and understand for the business users,” Crittendon said. “As a technology person my job, as I see it, is to understand what it is that they’re trying to convey and what the differences and similarities are across campaigns, locales and languages,” Crittendon said, explaining that a critical part of designing a solution for a global, multi-brand organization like Levi’s is making sure there is significant flexibility. So while architecture components are designed to be reused as much as possible, it’s easy to adjust if a country or brand needs to do something slightly different. This approach has made it possible for Levi’s, in just a few years, to go from a website with basic e-commerce functionality to having over 100 business users actively contributing to an omnichannel experience with thousands of pages live across 60 countries and nine languages. “Being able to create the tools that allow that to be managed at scale by a really wide group of users is something that I’m really proud of” Crittendon said. “Business users are able to create really rich experiences without any ongoing, day-to-day involvement from quality assurance, engineering, or performance.”Learn more about going composable here.
Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience
Digital experiences are rapidly evolving, causing more and more enterprises to consider the move to a composable digital experience platform. Should your business be one of them?If you haven’t started your journey to a composable architecture, read on to learn:Why experts say composable is the way of the futurePotential benefits of a composable DXPHow to get started and why being “fully composable” mattersWhat is a composable DXP?The composable digital experience platform (DXP) is the most recent concept to emerge in the evolution of the digital experience from its beginnings, when enterprise content was limited to a static website viewed on a desktop where customers could find information about a brick-and-mortar business.With no need to frequently update or publish to multiple channels, a monolithic architecture was the answer to publishing enterprise content. Businesses would purchase a predetermined set of tools designed by one vendor.Then came the smartphone, which led to today’s e-commerce landscape where consumers are not only shopping online but doing so on a plethora of devices and channels. Monolithic platforms, which require developers to code any changes to content, are unable to keep up.The composable DXP is the latest solution for businesses aiming to meet and serve their customers across multiple channels and devices. A composable DXP uses a headless CMS as the foundation for a content hub where microservices are delivered via independent APIs, allowing content to be quickly and easily deployed across channels.Why a composable DXP is the way of the futureAs digital commerce evolves, customers not only expect to be able to interact with your website; they expect a seamless, personalized experience. Monolithic systems, which require IT teams to code every change and update, don’t have the ability to rapidly respond to customer preferences and publish fresh content across multiple channels. According to Gartner Research, businesses can no longer meet their objectives with monolithic platforms. In its 2020 report “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack,” Gartner predicted that by 2023, organizations that adopt a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in implementing new features.Potential benefits of a composable DXPA composable DXP offers many benefits for enterprise marketing and IT teams, which can positively impact the success of the overall business. These include:Flexibility, scalability and faster developmentComposable architecture provides organizations the flexibility to choose and combine a unique mix of best-in-breed tools and microservices and to easily change this mix as business needs evolve. The modularity of composable architecture supports the seamless integration of these independent best-in-breed solutions. This means they can be added, removed and recombined quickly without downtime. The ability to deploy services independently to multiple websites and channels from one central hub enables enterprises to scale faster and more easily as needed.Speed and agilityBecause the tools and microservices in composable architecture are modular – meaning they work as independent components or APIs – each can be updated incrementally as needed without impacting other tools, services or channels. Organizations become more agile as marketing and IT teams are empowered to act faster to keep pace with changing customer expectations by providing richer, more up-to-date content experiences.Ease of useWithout coding or technical expertise, marketing teams can modify user interfaces and content experiences without having to open tickets and wait on developers to fulfill requests. Workflow governance for multiple sites and channels is managed from one central hub with customizable user controls ensuring the right persons have approved content prior to rollout.Rapid innovationMonolithic platforms are complex and require hundreds of hours of development time and resources to upgrade and maintain with heavy reliance on tech teams. A composable platform is easier for IT to upgrade as technology evolves because new apps and functionality can be launched independently. Major website overhauls become a thing of the past. Freed from mundane marketing requests and maintenance, IT can focus on innovation and delivering better customer experiences.Increased ROIA composable DXP reduces both development time and time to publish, resulting in reduced costs and an increased profit.Real-time feedbackWebsite analytics, social media, customer relationship management and other sources of data collected via the tools and microservices in the DXP can provide a more complete picture of your customers in real-time. This enables the personalization and up-to-date, relevant content experiences that customers expect.Omnichannel content deploymentIn a composable DXP built with a headless CMS, creation of content and the channels where it’s published are mutually independent. This allows marketers to maintain a responsive presence across multiple channels and devices from one central hub by seamlessly and rapidly optimizing and pushing out marketing campaigns to reach customers where they are.Getting started on the journey to a composable architectureIf your current digital experience solution is holding you back from experiencing the benefits above, it may be time to think about switching to a composable DXP. But where do you begin? Start by listing everything that isn’t working in your current platform. Consider the parts of your current system that are working well to meet the needs of your business, and whether those needs are likely to change in the near future. This will help clarify which apps and microservices you should include in your future solution as well as how to approach implementing it. Transitioning to composable doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out your entire current system and starting with something completely new. Based on your assessment of what’s currently working and not working, you may want to adopt a gradual approach by first implementing composable applications in crucial areas where it could make the most impact and where your monolithic platform is slowing you down.Finding the right composable DXPOnce you’ve decided on the best approach, it’s time to research solutions. If you decide on a gradual approach, make sure the vendor you choose has the ability to take you all the way to your goal of going fully composable. Many vendors currently market their platforms as being “composable” even though they aren’t fully composable. Instead they are selling platforms built on monolithic architecture that offer some composable functionality such as the ability to plug in some APIs or integrate with certain microservices. A fully composable DXP, on the other hand, is built on a composable architecture rather than on monolithic. At its foundation is a headless CMS that separates the back-end coding from the end points such as your website interface. Instead of being one centrally controlled system, it’s a variety of solutions that are independently controlled but work cohesively from one central hub.Does being ‘fully composable’ really matter?If you’re wondering if it really makes a difference whether a DXP is fully composable or not, it actually matters a great deal. A DXP built on monolithic architecture will not deliver all the great benefits of a fully composable platform that we’ve covered in this blog. In fact, it will have many limitations that a fully composable platform won’t have. One of the most notable differences is with monolithic architecture, the vendor controls the type of technology that you can and cannot use. This means your organization will not always have the flexibility to choose and leverage the best available apps and microservices for success as your business grows. This is especially important moving into the future as technology continues to evolve and new options become available. A fully composable DXP provides the flexibility to choose the best solutions now and later so your organization can always leverage the most up-to-date technology tools it requires for success. Fully composable puts you in control of creating a unique DXP, one that will evolve over time to continuously align with business needs, without being limited by a vendor.Learn moreFor a more detailed look at how you can get started on your journey to a composable architecture, see our guide, “How to switch from a monolithic to a composable architecture in 7 steps.” Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help future-proof your enterprise.