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Building the business case for headless technology, with’s Juliette Olah

May 21, 2023 / 12:59 / E31

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When Juliette Olah joined, she created a comprehensive editorial strategy - but that strategy needed a more robust content management technology behind it. In this episode, she takes us through how she built a business case for headless CMS, how she got the green light for it, and what the new technology will enable for the brand in the years to come.


01:15 The state of content tech at when Juliette started at the company
01:33 Juliette's vision for content technology at
03:55 Why choose headless?
05:17 Building the business case for headless techology
07:00 Getting the green light
09:35 The importance of advocacy
10:42 What Juliette is most looking forward to becoming possible with the new headless CMS at

Jasmin: Composable technology is often assumed to be a topic for developers. But sometimes it's a non-technical person who brings composable tech into the business for all the right reasons. Juliette Olah heads up editorial at She's a content expert. She built the business case for headless content management inside the company, and she made it happen. Whether you are a tech leader looking to convince your business, or already know your way around, this episode will get you well on your way to building the business case for Composable Tech. You're listening to People Changing Enterprises. I'm your host, Jasmine Guthmann. Please enjoy this episode with Juliet Olah, Senior Manager, Editorial at What was the state of content technology and content management like at when you first started there three years ago?

Juliette: The blog that we had, and have been working with for the past three years, from when I joined it was built in 2016, custom-built CMS built rather quickly to as a very basic blog platform to house content that was long form content that was mostly used for paid campaigns. So we had some functionality, but it was basic, and I really felt like to be able to really deliver on the kind of multi-channel use for editorial content that I had envisioned, which of course I realized would take some time. But to get there, I really felt like we needed to think about optimizing towards a tech solution or CMS platform that would help set up some of the structures to enable us to scale, but also provide a smoother user experience on the front end and much more opportunity to curate content. Because editorial booking has now been going for many years, we actually have thousands and thousands of pieces of editorial content. So surfacing that content in a relevant way, being able to curate it, being able to search through it in a really efficient way, and filter it is also now really important for audiences to be able to get the most value out of it. I also saw opportunities to be able to service local markets better, which is something that we have also been developing within editorial. How do we service local markets better, with more relevant editorial content? And the current platform also wasn't really designed to do that structurally as well. I felt we could possibly enhance some of our taxonomy and tagging structure, again, to set up some of the systems to be able to dynamically pull in content into different channels and for different applications for broader marketing efforts. So there were a lot of things that I felt weren't necessarily blocking us, but I could see the current solution was going to provide some challenges.

Jasmin: That makes perfect sense. And how did you go about that?

Juliette: Building the business case for the platform and getting it really robust, not just in terms of how the editorial platform would solve some of these functionality issues, but also how it solved some kind of efficiency issues as well. Limits to development resource has also been a challenge for editorial. We are not a conversion-driving content type to be able to show that with an updated platform, something like a headless CMS, it would allow the teams to be able to optimize the way that content is served in a much more efficient way with a lot less involvement from developers and a lot less development resource. That was also a huge plus.

Jasmin: The "headless" term can be a term that confuses marketing people. What made you choose to push for a headless CMS?

Juliette: I have worked with headless CMS in previous roles. And I had seen the great change that can come about from using a system like headless, which is extremely customizable, adaptable, allows you to make changes to content very quickly and efficiently. And so I'd already seen the advantages that it had worked with the teams on, on training and gotten their kind of experience with it. I drew from that place. But of course, we did explore all options. I always like to do due diligence. We did explore what it would look like to custom build, what it would look like to use different types of products, but in the end it definitely came out that we felt this would be a good way to go and made the most sense for us.

Jasmin: That makes perfect sense, now,just because something makes perfect sense from your point of view, unfortunately doesn't automatically mean you get sign off and buy-in and budget and all the fun stuff that comes with that, especially at a large and enterprise company like where you're, you know, you're not a little startup where hierarchy is flat and things are easy. You actually have to, I can only imagine, do a lot of convincing. So how did you build that business case? Did you work with the tech side of the house, or who did you have to convince in the first place?

Juliette: I did have a lot of discussions with product and tech initially to do this diligence piece. There was definitely part of the business case was the, the tech justification behind it, but then also the editorial strategy behind it. So really showing, okay, were we to, um, get this business case through what would we be doing with this platform? So it's not just about. Hey, we'd like to launch this new platform, but really showing this tangible examples of, here's the strategy, we have to back it up. Here are the pillars. Here are some examples of the, the execution. Here's how we can tie it in much more closely to, to our platform, whether that's desktop and app, and also, uh, the content itself to campaigns. Here's how we can, um, for example, uh, hero and surface different types of media, whether that be video or playlists or even even quotes if we're working with an ambassador or an influencer. And, and then again, also going back to the local markets as well. Here's how something like headless could really help us tailor to different markets and be able to, to publish more efficiently in different languages for global audiences.
So I think really showing this very comprehensive 360 view of the benefits to the, the technical side of the platform, but then going into, yes, we've done our homework on, uh, hopefully a really robust content strategy to examples of execution to tying into brand storytelling and campaign application amplification, and even some detail around, uh, of course distribution and, and channel use cases for this content as well.

Jasmin: Super, super cool. Sounds like lots of conversation and then all these conversations really lead up to the one big conversation. You need to get a green light from someone. Right? How did you get that green light?

Juliette: We have a lot of creatives working on editorial, whether that be copy teams, visual teams, also our translators, trans creators. I did a lot of aligning with them as well on this. So they were also involved in testing the platform, the backend CMS, you know, kind of understanding how that could work for them. I'm also very conscious of, and I've experienced this in previous roles too, where when companies want to launch a. new platform. There's sometimes a tendency to launch about 10 other things at the same time. Let's also launch a new platform plus brand new brand guidelines or a brand new kind of content strategy, or let's just refresh everything that is associated with and around this particular platform. I was also very conscious of not doing that because that is extremely stressful and in my opinion, unnecessary. If things do need to be changed, you can absolutely take a tiered approach to this, but I'm, I'm very much about focusing and doing things hopefully in the best way possible per, you know, chunk this out take kind of not small steps, they're big steps, but definitely don't try to do everything at once. So one of the things I was conscious of is, Um, the workflow. So obviously headless CMS has, has fantastic support for different types of workflow that can be very, very efficient. However, at booking, we already had a workflow that the creative teams really loved, uh, through a different product. It worked very well for us. All the teams were, uh, used to using this. It was smooth for us. And even though, I could see the possibilities that that headless could provide. I decided that this would not necessarily be something I wanted to roll out right now with this build, uh, maybe in future we will, but really thinking, okay, I am not going to try to change everything under the sun at the same time. If something is working for us, let's keep it, let's keep the business case focused on the current challenges that we need to solve.

Jasmin: That is a very interesting case that you were making there because we, I think there is a tendency, I've seen it happen a lot where, you know, while we're at it, let's do all of it. You know, if we change one thing, let's change all the things. And your point is, is to be much more considerate about how much people can actually handle well. You really want to make sure that your employees are happy. Even if it sounds a little cheesy, you want them looking forward to working on things, and if you take everything that they know away and present them with all this fantastic new stuff. That's quite an ask.

Juliette: Indeed and I think, you know, advocacy is at all levels and functions. Absolutely, from a leadership level and, and sign off, but also from people that are actually involved in using, the product and the systems day to day they also need to be really, to your point, happy and settled and feel confident that this is going to make their jobs easier and more efficient rather than trying to change everything for the sake of change. Any change that I make I always try to make sure this is backed up with a very, very solid reason and strategy and alignment around it rather than just change for the sake of a vision is not the approach that I take.

Jasmin: That's amazing. You are in the middle of a pretty big change with the transformation that you've started at Booking and is of course an ongoing project. It's not something that you do once and then you set it aside and you are done. It continual improvement and continually finding new, better ways of doing things. What are you most looking forward to when the first phase of the implementation is finished?

Juliette: Oh, lots and lots of things. Once we launch, there's still lots of potential for editorial at Booking and what we've been able to do with the platform is build for the potential so that the structures are in place. We may not be in a place to do things immediately, whether that be because certain channels are not ready with their planning just yet might be in the pipeline or there's other kind of factors that are just kind of yeah, proving a little bit deprioritized for the moment. But we've been able to actually build in for these possibilities for future. One interesting space for editorial is, even potentially beyond Booking in terms of how do we work with partners on content partnerships, and is that something that might prove interesting for us to test and learn and maybe one day scale a bit more. And then I think there's lots of opportunities also in terms of how we continue to optimize for local markets. This is another very, very interesting space, and I'm really excited for the potential that headless could provide for us. For example, having different, you know, blog pages for different markets and being able to curate totally different modules for different, um, local audiences is, is really, really exciting to me. And then also to be able to integrate some of Booking's internal testing tools to editorial. So some of the experiment platforms that we have to start AB testing with editorial is also very, very exciting. And can we start to understand what types of copy and visuals or what type of length of content or what type of themes or even some of our content pillars are performing best for us across which channels and for which, uh, audiences is also really, really exciting.

Jasmin: That's amazing and that's, it's such a long list of things, and I'm sure there's many more, many more items on the list if you just you know, kept going, which is the beauty of going composable, right? If you're building an API-based system, you have the ability to attach or detach functionality or additional vendors.

Juliette: Absolutely. And this is another huge benefit of something like headless is that we don't know, what we will need necessarily in another five years, but we absolutely need something that is flexible and adaptable enough to be able to accommodate that. There's only so far you can possibly plan for and, we absolutely need a system that helps us to flex a change in this environment.

Thanks for listening to People Changing Enterprises. This show is brought to you by Contentstack, the leading composable digital experience platform for enterprises. Got a question or suggestion? Email If you like the show, please leave us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts. We'll be back next week with a new episode, helping you make your mark.

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