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Why MACH architecture matters

Jasmin Guthmann, Head of Corporate Communications at Contentstack, explores the business benefits of MACH architecture and how to know when your organization is ready to leave the monolithic tech stack behind.

Eliminating friction and delays in digital experience delivery

Learn about the main components behind delivering digital experiences at scale and how composable tech powers a rapid increase in delivery rate.

What is a Composable Digital Experience Platform? With PostNL's Jurre van Ruth

Listen to the story of PostNL's digital transformation from monolithic technology to a Composable DXP and how that has made them one of the country's most innovative digital businesses.


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Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience

As digital experiences rapidly evolve, more enterprises should consider moving to a composable digital experience platform. Should your business be one of them?If you haven’t started your journey to composable architecture, read on to learn:Why experts say composable architecture is the way of the futurePotential benefits of a composable digital experience platform (DXP)How to get started and why being “fully composable” mattersWhat is a composable DXP?The composable 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 digital 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 shop online on many devices and digital channels. Monolithic platforms, which require developers to code any changes to content, cannot keep up.The composable DXP is the latest solution for businesses aiming to delight customers, increase customer loyalty, improve customer experience management, and serve customers across multiple digital 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 businesses are transitioning through digital transformation and as digital commerce evolves, customers not only expect to be able to interact with your digital products and services; they expect a seamless and personalized experience. Monolithic systems, which require IT teams to code every change and update, can’t rapidly respond to customer preferences and publish fresh omnichannel content.According to Gartner Research, businesses can no longer meet their objectives with monolithic platforms. In its 2021 report “Drive seamless digital customer experiences with composable UX,” Gartner predicted that by 2023, analyzing and understanding the nature of enduring changes in customer behavior will be a crucial factor for organizations in determining the most influential business strategies for the remainder of the 2020 and 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 allows organizations to choose and combine a unique mix of best-in-breed tools and microservices and to change this mix as business needs evolve quickly. The modularity of composable architecture supports the seamless integration of these independent best-in-breed solutions. Components and building blocks can be added, removed, and recombined in composable architecture 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 efficiently 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, improving their experience strategy as marketing and IT teams are empowered to act faster to keep pace with changing customer expectations by providing more up-to-date content experiences.Ease of useWithout coding or technical expertise, marketing teams can modify user interfaces and content experiences without opening tickets and waiting for 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 before rollout.Rapid innovationMonolithic platforms have complex pain points that require hundreds of hours of development time and resources to upgrade and maintain with heavy reliance on tech teams. A composable platform is more manageable for IT to upgrade as technology evolves because new apps and integrations can be launched independently. Major website overhauls become a thing of the past. Free from mundane marketing requests and maintenance, IT can focus on innovation and delivering better customer experiences.Increased ROIA composable DXP reduces both development and publishing time, resulting in reduced costs and an increased profit.Real-time feedbackWebsite analytics, social media, customer relationship management, and other data sources collected via the tools and microservices in a composable architecture can provide a 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, the creation of content and the channels where it’s published are mutually independent. This allows marketers to maintain a responsive presence across digital 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 composable architectureIf your current digital experience solution is holding you back from experiencing the benefits above, it may be time to switch 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 will change soon. This will help clarify which apps, mobile apps, and microservices you should include in your future solution and how to approach implementing it.Transitioning to composable doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out your current system and starting with something new. Based on your assessment of what’s working and not working, you may want to adopt a gradual approach by 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 process, ensure the vendor you choose can help your organization reach its goal of going fully compostable.Many vendors currently market their platforms as “composable architecture” even though they aren’t fully composable. Instead, they sell platforms built on monolithic architecture that offer composable functionality, such as plugging in some APIs or integrating with specific microservices.A fully composable DXP, on the other hand, is built on a composable architecture rather than a monolithic. A headless CMS at its foundation separates the back-end coding from the endpoints, such as your website interface. Instead of being one centrally controlled system, it’s a variety of independently managed solutions that work cohesively from one central hub.Does being ‘fully composable’ really matter?If you’re wondering if it makes a difference whether a DXP is fully composable or not, it matters a great deal. A DXP built on monolithic architecture will not deliver all the great benefits of a fully composable platform we’ve covered in this blog. 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. Your organization will only sometimes 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. A fully composable architecture puts you in control of creating a unique DXP that will evolve to continuously align with business needs without being limited by a vendor.Learn moreReady to embark on your journey towards composable architecture and transformative digital experiences? Discover insights in the report "Drive seamless digital customer experiences with composable UX," and learn how to develop an organization-wide digital experience strategy.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help future-proof your enterprise.


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Power Productivity: Previewing digital experiences in a headless environment

Seeing is believing. Learn how comprehensive, live previewing of digital experiences can streamline workflows and supercharge productivity for creative and dev teams.


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REI's composable transformation advice

Kat Valdre and Jason Greely from the REI Platform engineering team share their composable transformation story. They discuss the challenges they faced while decomposing their monolithic architecture and their approach to building trust across the organization as they embark on a years-long transformation. Their transparent and refreshing perspective on tech transformation will resonate with anyone who feels their progress is slower than they (or their organization) would like to move. Kat and Jason provide valuable insights and advice for any business making a major technological shift. Timestamps:1:41 What were things like at REI before they decided to go composable04:06 What pushed REI to start their composable transformation?06:25 The importance of introducing changes in manageable parts07:54 What composable will enable for the business11:17 Advice for companies embarking on composable transformation12:55 Dealing with differing opinions and disagreements13:57 The importance of documentation16:41 Hurdles and challenges REI has faced along the way 18:50 Managing expectations and maintaining morale when transformation takes a long time

Featured Report

Drive Seamless Digital Customer
Experiences with Composable UX

Disjointed customer experiences are a widespread marketing pain point. Delivering seamless digital user experiences across the touchpoints of the customer journey is tough, and a traditional channel mentality won’t get you there.

Read the report


Leverage composable tech to drive business forward

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

When Juliette Olah joined Booking.com, 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.Timestamps:01:15 The state of content tech at Booking.com when Juliette started at the company01:33 Juliette's vision for content technology at Booking.com03:55 Why choose headless?05:17 Building the business case for headless techology07:00 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 Booking.com

How a MACH-driven approach to building digital experiences fast-tracks product launches

In today's fast-paced digital environment, having the right technology in place can make all the difference in adapting rapidly and staying ahead of the competition. This is where a MACH-driven approach to building digital experiences truly shines. Embracing MACH-compliant composable technology enables development teams to create innovative digital experiences that can be launched quickly and effectively. In this article, we dive into the world of MACH architecture, examining its key benefits and how it can expedite product launches.What does MACH mean?MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless. These four principles form the foundation of MACH architecture: a modern and flexible approach to building digital experiences that prioritize adaptability, scalability and fast delivery.Microservices: Modular, self-contained components that enable rapid development and deployment while reducing the risk of downtime.API-first: APIs are at the heart of MACH architecture, allowing seamless communication between microservices and third-party systems and facilitating continuous integration and delivery.Cloud-native: Built for scalability and hosted in the cloud, MACH-compliant technology is designed to meet the changing needs of businesses that require agility and cost-efficiency.Headless CMS: The Headless CMS decouples content management from presentation, enabling developers to create and manage content efficiently across multiple channels, offering a truly omnichannel experience.How MACH-compliant composable tech drives innovationIn a world of constant change, composable technology offers a powerful solution. By embracing MACH architecture, software engineering teams can build personalized digital experiences that are both innovative and can help future-proof the business.Here's how they can leverage MACH-driven solutions to drive innovation:Flexibility and customization: MACH architecture allows developers to mix and match components that suit their specific requirements. With the ability to select the most appropriate tools and frameworks, developers can create truly unique experiences tailored to their audience's needs. They’re no longer stuck in a platform that only allows them a certain way to do things.Modular development: By breaking down complex applications into smaller, manageable microservices, MACH enables development teams to work independently on different components, resulting in higher productivity and quality across the boardSeamless integration: Thanks to API-first communication, development teams can quickly and easily integrate their tools of choice, expanding their technology stack to keep pace with evolving market trends. It also enables them to lose what they no longer use (and stop paying for it). How to build personalized digital experiencesCreating personalized digital experiences that resonate with users requires a keen understanding of your audience and their needs. Here's how a MACH-driven approach can help:Use a Headless CMS to design and tailor content for various channels and user segments.Build an API-first strategy that allows you to connect to analytics, CRM, and other data sources to gain a detailed understanding of your users and create truly personalized experiences.Leverage microservices to rapidly respond to user feedback, allowing continuous improvements to your applications.Get to market faster with a MACH-driven approachHarnessing MACH architecture accelerates product launches by streamlining the development process and maximizing efficiency. Here's how:Parallel development: Microservices and an API-first approach enable teams to work in parallel on different aspects of a project, increasing time to market and exceeding customer expectations.Faster iterations: The ability to integrate new features and functionality with minimal disruption encourages teams to innovate quickly and test and learn to improve digital experiences continuously.Greater agility: When changes are required, MACH-driven solutions enable you to adapt swiftly without overhauling the entire system. Platform-agnostic technologies also simplify integration with existing solutions, resulting in greater flexibility.Omnichannel excellence: MACH architecture supports seamless integration across multiple channels, allowing users to consistently enjoy personalized digital experiences regardless of their preferred platform.Scalability: MACH solutions easily scale to accommodate growing user bases and increasing data volumes. This ensures that the digital experience keeps pace with business growth, enabling a faster go-to-market strategy and avoiding outages that result in painful revenue lossesMove at MACH speedImplementing a MACH-driven approach to building digital experiences can dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your software development process. By leveraging MACH architecture elements like headless CMS and composable technology, you'll empower your team to create and launch products faster, offering unprecedented flexibility, performance, and scope to deliver truly personalized digital experiences.About the authorJasmin Guthmann is the Head of Corporate Communication at Contentstack and Vice President of the MACH Alliance.Learn more about Jasmin

Busting 4 myths about composable architectures

Gartner coined the term composable commerce in 2020, and in three years, this tech architecture has become widely popular for its numerous benefits.  While composability is the future of business digitization, many executives and senior business leaders in the B2B arena still view composability with skepticism and reluctance. Certainly, while transitioning to a composable architecture from the traditional monoliths & on-premises systems is the future, worries regarding complexity, cost, resources and time are impeding the shift. Besides, some misconceptions about composability are still restricting major industry players from switching. To expedite the much-required change in process, I will attempt to bust four of the common myths associated with composable structure in this article.  Myth 1: Headless is not composable Are terms like modular architecture, curated commerce suite and microservices architecture synonyms of composable? Yes.  Is headless and composable the same? No.  Simply put, headless is one of the many elements that make composable. Headless refers to tech stacks where the front end and back end are decoupled and function independently. Backend structures like a content management system (CMS) or a customer data platform (CDP) are integrated into numerous API frontends.  Composable structuring is a step forward and combines multiple modular structures for different functions operating within an open ecosystem.  Myth 2: Developing omnichannel experience is challenging with composable Not quite. Consider this: How does Netflix maintain continuity as you switch between devices while watching a show? Two words: Composable Architecture  According to a Salesforce report, seventy-six percent of customers look forward to consistent platform interaction. So, no wonder Netflix, with its quality content and experience consistency, is the binge-watch platform of choice for many.  As companies shift from a "multi-channel" approach to an omnichannel strategy, composable architecture allows businesses to interlink their diverse presence across platforms seamlessly while ensuring agility and customizability for customers.  Myth 3: Implementing a composable architecture is expensive The cost of adopting composable commerce depends on the business complexity level. It's not uncommon for composability to lower long-term operational costs by reducing the frequent need for upgrades and development. For instance, Elastic, a popular data analytics company reduced their operational cost by 78% after adopting Contenstack’s composable solution.  Going composable reduces the maintenance and operational running costs significantly, impacting the total cost of ownership. The resources can thus be routed to enhance innovation and development.  Myth 4: Going composable requires only technical skills Going Composable extends beyond technical prowess; it's about developing a composable mindset –a pivotal requirement in delivering the desired customer experience through a multi-component approach. The teams must understand customer needs and then select MACH-compliant composables that seamlessly integrate to address those needs. Simply put- composables create a customer-first culture, preparing teams to use the best of technology to solve customer problems. However, this doesn't sideline technical proficiency in the composable journey; upskilling the team to adopt and apply these composables adeptly is just as essential.  Further, companies can freely enhance the skills of their tech teams as required, taking shorter steps toward their digital maturity and iterating changes along the way. Composable architecture powers technological advancements Though composable brings multi-fold benefits for businesses, it may not be the ideal solution for every organization. While some brands may benefit from adopting a 360-degree commerce platform, other companies might require a customized structure. To make the most out of the migration to composability, companies must identify the technological pain points that are preventing them from achieving their future goals. This necessitates proactive engagement from leadership in identifying areas with sluggish technological advancement. About the author Vasu Kothamasu is a General Manager & Global Engineering Leader at Contentstack Learn more about Vasu

Content migration and future of content with Informa’s Narisa Wild

This week we dive into the complex topic of content migration with Narisa Wild, who has spearheaded the digital transformation at Informa, a global B2B events and information services company. We cover the drivers behind content migration, and how to make data-driven decisions about migration and transformation processes -- and how AI is going to offer new opportunities, not just for migration, but for taxonomy, content, and the events space overall.Timestamps: 1:06 What does Informa do?1:43 Narisa's role in digital transformation 2:23 3 drivers for content migration4:08 The #1 content migration question5:04 Where content creation fits in7:22 Why a composable stack makes migration decisions easier10:21 How dashboards help11:43 The future of content at Informa13:53 How AI can aid content migration16:57 How AI can impact event CX strategy 18:27 Looking deeper at the future of enterprise content


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The MACH Alliance supports companies who want to take advantage of the most innovative and flexible enterprise technologies available — and to break the release cycle. Read the most recent research report.


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The impact of composable commerce on peak traffic moments: Black Friday and beyond

Summer has come and gone, and soon we enter the season retailers plan for all year long. It starts with back-to-school shopping and Labor Day sales and then snowballs into pre-holiday deals, Amazon specials, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday … oh my! Who can keep up? It’s no wonder e-commerce businesses are investing in technology to ensure their sites don’t crash in the middle of these high-traffic periods. To put the opportunity into perspective, technology provider Salesforce Inc. reported U.S. Black Friday online retail sales reached $17.2 billion. The patterns of "holiday shopping" have undergone a significant transformation thanks to e-commerce. This shift not only elongates the duration and timeframes of shopping activities but stretches and blurs the conventional notion of seasonal patterns in "holiday" shopping. Back when consumers set their alarm clocks to wake up before the sun and tackle the good sales, brands could focus on revenue goals alone. Now that shoppers are more likely to set their alarms and open their computers, still in their pajamas with coffee in hand, businesses are required to account for every aspect of the customer journey — from discovery to conversion.  In order to cater to today’s pajama-clad Black Friday shopper, companies need to consider the complete e-commerce experience: from page load times, the possibility of site crashes, the reviews, resources that help consumers make smart decisions and, lastly, a smooth checkout experience with options like curb-side pickup or easy financing.  So how can businesses stay ahead of their competition and build an e-commerce engine to deliver on shopper expectations without disruptions and technical snafus? The answer is composable commerce.  In this article, we’ll guide you through how a composable DXP (digital experience platform) powers personalized omnichannel content, and share how to leverage these tools to supercharge your e-commerce performance. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on Black Friday success, however, a composable commerce engine is the key to transforming the online shopper experience of Black Friday and beyond. The Expense of scalability challenges Given that website performance leaves a tangible imprint on both SEO rankings and conversion rates, brands are compelled to accelerate their efforts in delivering swift, mobile-centric and seamlessly integrated omnichannel experiences. While the holiday season historically ushers in a surge of online shopping, the realm of high-volume digital transactions extends throughout the year, encompassing far more than just Black Friday. This underscores the necessity for brands to remain equipped to tackle unforeseen spikes in demand at any given moment.The bottom line is that companies need to be ready for unexpected surges in shoppers anytime. Think about it: how well a website works impacts both how easily people find it on search engines and how likely they are to buy something. Brands need to step up their game by making sure their websites are super fast, work well on smartphones, and offer a seamless shopping experience across different channels. Sure, we all know the holidays mean a shopping frenzy online, but really, people are buying stuff online all year round, not just on Black Friday.  The good news is there's a straightforward way to tackle these hurdles: using modern e-commerce solutions that team up with big names like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure, along with an endless ecosystem of partners to help scale your e-commerce operation into a fine-tuned machine. With more computing power, companies have their best sales days ahead.  Marketing technology makes all the difference In today's digital world, the potential of e-commerce is vast, especially when it comes to peak-season sales. One of the key technological advancements in the retail industry is the ability to leverage a headless content management system (CMS) and a composable DXP to streamline and personalize their customers' online shopping experiences. What is composable commerce? Composable commerce refers to the process of using modular, API-driven and interoperable components to design, build and manage your e-commerce store. This approach enables businesses to create a seamless and interconnected shopping experience by integrating various components (such as inventory management, payment gateways, and marketing tools) with their existing e-commerce platform. How composable commerce helps retailers drive sales during peak traffic During events like Black Friday, a substantial influx of traffic can strain your e-commerce infrastructure, resulting in reduced performance or even system crashes. Composable commerce can mitigate this risk by enabling flexible and scalable solutions. Here's how: Adaptability: Composable commerce components can be easily added, removed, or modified, allowing you to scale and adapt your e-commerce store to fluctuating traffic and customer demands. Reduced latency: With API-driven composable commerce solutions, retailers can optimize their loading times, ensure faster transactions and maintain a seamless shopping experience even at peak traffic hours. Enhanced user experience: Composable commerce enables businesses to harness the power of personalized content, impressing customers with relevant recommendations, promotions and targeted messaging. Lastly, one of the main advantages of composable commerce is its ability to manage high traffic volumes during peak sales events like Black Friday. This is achieved by distributing the load across multiple servers, enabling your e-commerce platform to become highly scalable and resilient. How a composable DXP powers personalized omnichannel content A composable DXP is designed to integrate with various marketing tools and channels, amplifying your brand's presence across multiple touchpoints. With a composable DXP, you can: Deliver personalized content: With headless CMS integration, retailers can funnel targeted content to different customer groups based on their preferences, browsing habits and purchase history. Enable omnichannel content: By integrating with POS systems, mobile apps, social media and more, a composable DXP helps shrink the gap between online and offline shopping experiences. Improve conversion rates: By providing a seamless shopping experience, retailers can reduce cart abandonment rates and boost conversions during Black Friday sales. By integrating a Headless CMS with a composable DXP, marketers can craft unique, dynamic content and seamlessly distribute it across multiple channels, such as web, mobile and social media. This new infrastructure allows for a quicker and more efficient response to customer needs, ensuring a consistent and engaging user experience throughout the customer journey. Supercharge marketing agility and flexibility with composable commerce In a world where consumers have their credit card numbers programmed into their phones for one-click transactions, every factor of the shopper experience matters. As industries face increasing competition, the role of composable commerce in fueling the success of Black Friday sales and other critical e-commerce moments cannot be underestimated.  By harnessing the power of modern marketing technologies, such as a headless CMS and composable DXP, businesses can enhance their customers' experiences, ensuring Black Friday success and winning over loyal customers for the next shopping season.  Now is the time to supercharge your marketing agility and harness the power of personalized omnichannel content to drive success across your e-commerce operations. Stay ahead of the curve and transform the way you engage your customers. After all, any day could deliver a Black Friday-like traffic spike. Prepare your business for the unexpected with composable commerce to win over and retain repeat customers and scale your operations. About the author Marina Rusinow is a Senior Manager of Solutions Marketing at Contentstack with over a decade of product marketing experience. Learn more about Marina

How a Composable DXP drives experimentation, innovation and digital transformation

Today's era of relentless technological evolution is challenging companies to break free from the cookie-cutter molds of monolithic solutions and embrace technologies that harmonize their digital strategy with unrivaled agility. To keep pace with customer needs, businesses are no longer playing it safe but instead embracing experimentation and innovation to forge ahead in the race of digital transformation. Enter composable DXPs.  A composable digital experience platform (DXP) can be the game-changer your marketing and creative content teams have been waiting for. As businesses strive to provide customers with personalized digital experiences across all channels, the need for a robust, scalable and adaptable technology stack becomes paramount. In this article, we'll explore what a composable DXP is, how it can revolutionize your approach to content and digital experiences, and the benefits it offers your business. What is a Composable DXP A composable DXP is a modern approach to building digital experiences. With a composable architecture, businesses can create, manage and deliver digital experiences across various channels and platforms by leveraging a range of interoperable, modular tools. The fundamental components of a composable DXP are: Headless CMS: A content management system (CMS) that allows content creation, easy updating, and management separately from the front-end layer your customers see. Composable technology: Imagine being able to build your content strategy from a set of building blocks that can be easily configured and reconfigured to work best for you. Composable technology enables businesses to use modular and lightweight components to build tailored digital solutions quickly. Composable architecture: A flexible and adaptable framework that supports the rapid integration of business-critical applications and tools, empowering teams to build better customer experiences. How to leverage a DXP for better content With an expansive catalog of configurations, applications, and diverse components, a composable DXP empowers marketing and creative teams to experiment with various combinations to achieve the desired results. This capability helps foster innovation and allows teams to respond quickly to changing customer needs.  Here are five ways a composable DXP can drive better content: Personalized digital experiences: Leverage customer data, behavior analysis, and customer journey mapping to deliver highly-personalized, relevant experiences across all your digital channels. Omnichannel: Enable seamless content delivery and interactions across every device and touchpoint you rely on to reach your customers. Experimentation: Empower your teams to innovate and experiment with different tools, solutions, and content strategies, all from a single environment. Collaboration: Streamline collaboration between departments, teams, and individuals by using a centralized platform that fosters efficient workflows and automates manual tasks, enabling your teams to create faster. Scalability: Leverage the scalability of the DXP to quickly adapt to market changes, drive growth, and maintain your competitive edge. Benefits of a Composable DXP Beyond producing better content and creating more space for innovation, a Composable DXP offers businesses the digital tools to create meaningful customer experiences. Companies that migrate away from their rigid technologies and uplevel their digital capabilities have a full toolbelt for swiftly responding to market demands, improving customer satisfaction, increasing operational efficiency and maintaining a competitive edge in the market. How, you might ask? 1. Speed-to-market Composable DXPs enable businesses to respond quickly to changing market dynamics, customer needs, and technology advancements. By adopting a composable architecture, you can minimize time spent on complex integrations and cumbersome traditional CMS systems. As a result, your teams can build and launch new digital experiences much faster. 2. Flexibility A composable DXP provides the foundation for a flexible tech stack that can continuously evolve and adapt, as your business evolves. Businesses can choose best-of-breed technologies that align with their unique requirements, allowing them to build, experiment, and adjust their strategies in real time. 3. Cost-efficiency Gone are the days of being locked into vendor agreements and limiting technologies. Businesses can select the tools they need according to budget and requirements. This facilitates better resource allocation, helping organizations operate in a leaner, more efficient manner. 4. Innovation and experimentation A composable DXP fosters a culture of innovation by empowering marketing and creative teams to experiment and iterate. This leads to accelerated digital transformation and triggers an innovation domino effect across the organization. Grow faster, scale better, experience more ROI A composable DXP can be a crucial driver of experimentation, innovation and digital transformation for businesses. By leveraging a headless CMS and composable architecture, businesses can unlock the true potential of their digital ecosystem, experience greater ROI from increased customer loyalty and, ultimately, stay ahead of the curve by delivering exceptional digital experiences that drive growth and success. About the author Marina Rusinow is a Senior Manager of Solutions Marketing at Contentstack with over a decade of product marketing experience. Learn more about Marina

Transformation through Automation: Keith Mazanec, Brad's Deals

Keith Mazanec (Director Software Engineering, Brad's Deals) returns to share the company's in-depth transformation story, highlighting the content lifecycle automations that made the biggest different for content teams as the company moved from legacy to composable. This session was recorded live at ContentCon 2023. 

How to create a 5-star content strategy: Tips from Juliette Olah of Booking.com

When it comes to content strategy, Juliette Olah knows that a key part of reaching a vision is planning a smooth journey to get there. As senior manager, Editorial at Booking.com, she skillfully blends the needs of customers, technologies and creative teams to define the editorial roadmap for the global travel brand. Olah recently spoke with us about creating high-value content, getting organization-wide support for change, and the advice she has for other leaders driving editorial strategy. Keep the focus on the customer When Olah joined Booking.com in 2020, the editorial content was mainly used for paid social media ads. She quickly saw an opportunity to use these long-form articles in a much broader way to support the brand’s own social, organic and email channels.“I wanted to show that potential but, at the same time, keep focus so that it didn’t seem like I was trying to solve all content challenges through editorial,” Olah said. “If you go too broad, too quickly your message can start to become lost.”A key part of defining and keeping a focused content strategy is taking a customer-first approach — creating a roadmap and choosing themes based on what is most valuable for your audience and then figuring out how to tightly weave business objectives and marketing goals into the plan instead of the other way around. “A customer-first approach is essential; otherwise you lose relevance and value very quickly,” Olah said. “Audiences are incredibly sensitive and perceptive to anything that is slightly off or slightly irrelevant. If your content and your messaging isn’t coming across seamlessly you’ll lose attention immediately, and you’ll also lose trust.” Maximize the value of each piece “Editorial content does take a lot of resources to produce,” Olah said, discussing the research, writing, visuals and translation work required. “So if we’re going to do this, we need to make each and every story work to serve needs and fill gaps so that we’re supporting the brand rather than just adding more content.” Maximizing the value of content starts in the planning phase. For Olah and her team, this includes working with in-house researchers to identify travel trends, with localization specialists to make sure ideas are culturally relevant and with the social and email teams to create pieces that can serve the strategies of multiple channels. It’s also key to set up content for long-term value. This can include structuring content on the back end in a way that makes it easy to reuse across different channels, or enhancing the tagging and taxonomy of your archive to get more out of the content you’ve already invested in. “Editorial at Booking.com has been going on for many years, so we have thousands of pieces of content,” Olah said. “Surfacing that content in a relevant way, being able to curate it, to search through it and filter it efficiently is now really important for audiences to be able to get the most value out of it.” Build a 360 business case for technology change To reach their multichannel ambitions, Olah knew the editorial team needed a technology solution that would let them create, curate and optimize content more efficiently than would be possible with their incumbent, homegrown platform.  Having worked with a headless content management system (CMS) in previous roles, Olah started exploring if this approach was a right fit for Booking.com. Through many discussions with tech and product leaders, as well as the creatives on her team, she built a business case that looked at the technology justification and functionality needs, as well as the impact on efficiency and editorial strategy. “The business case is part showing a comprehensive, 360 view of the technical benefits of the platform and part showing that you’ve done your homework on a robust content strategy,” Olah said. “From examples of execution, to tying in brand storytelling and campaign amplification, to details around distribution and channel use cases of the content.” Presenting an aligned, measurable plan for change was key to getting different stakeholders to understand the potential of editorial content and to get the buy-in needed to make the change successful. “Advocacy is needed at all levels and functions, from a leadership level that signs off to the people that are actually involved in using the products and the systems day-to-day,” Olah said. “They need to be happy and settled and feel confident that this is going to make their jobs easier and more efficient.” Don’t change for change’s sake To ensure the move to the new content solution went smoothly, Olah was careful to avoid a common stumbling block she’d seen at other organizations. “When companies launch a new platform, there’s a tendency to launch 10 other things at the same time— a new platform plus new brand guidelines, or an entirely new content strategy, or a refresh of everything that’s associated with the particular platform,” Olah explained. “I was very conscious of not doing that because that is extremely stressful and, in my opinion, unnecessary.” Instead, change was rolled out in stages and, where possible, tied in existing ways of working to make people feel comfortable during the transition. For example, the editorial team was very happy with the workflow that was created around the previous content platform. While a headless CMS might be able to support more efficient processes, Olah decided it was best for the team to first roll out the new platform in a way that worked with the existing workflow. “Don’t try to change everything under the sun at the same time,” Olah advised. “If something is working, keep it, and keep the business case focused on the current challenges that need to be solved.” Plan for potential Breaking transformation into independent steps, rather than a big-bang approach, is also an opportunity to create a content and technology framework that supports continuous change. “Once we launch, there’s still a lot of potential for editorial at Booking.com, and what we’ve been able to do with this platform is build for that potential so that the structures are in place,” Olah explained. For instance, with an API-first approach Booking.com is able to structure content so that it isn’t locked into only being presented as a static long-form article on the site. As the team explores new channels, third party syndication, testing tools and further optimization for local markets they can adapt existing content and processes to meet new needs. “This is a huge benefit of headless,” Olah said. “We don’t know what we will necessarily need in another five years, but we absolutely need something that is flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate that.”“There’s only so far ahead that you can possibly plan for,” she continued. “You need a system that helps you to flex and change in this environment.”   

Adopt a Modern Digital-first Marketing Strategy

Content is consumed everywhere by everyone all at once. If only we lived in a multiverse, where multiple versions of your marketing team could crank out personalized omnichannel content at the speed your customers demand. Watch this webinar to learn how a composable DXP gives your teams the (multiversal) powers and tools they need to create the content you need to get the results you want.



Learn how to build better digital experiences

Building a scalable DXP - Part 2

Let’s start with a shared definition of the territory. Gartner has a nice definition of a digital experience platform (DXP): “A digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”  There are three main aspects of this definition, each of which can vary depending on the specific needs of an organization:  The set of core technologies The content management processes The digital experience context Let’s unravel each of them separately. Core technologies of a DXP The core technologies of a DXP consist of things like a content management system (CMS), customer relationship management system (CRM), digital asset management system (DAM), inventory management system, website, web host, payment processor, mobile application and so on. Core technologies also include any code you write or maintain, DevOps, backups, redundancies, and the technical support required to maintain them.  The technologies that make up any given DXP typically take center stage in an organization, and staff can usually list several of them by name even if they aren’t on the digital team because, collectively, these technologies tend to touch almost every person in a modern organization in some way. Content management processes of a DXP Content management processes are a mix of automated and manual steps that transform, augment and assemble media from ideation to publication. These processes will vary widely from one organization to another, but they typically include things like selecting and editing images, writing and editing content, and updating and maintaining inventory data, like prices and product descriptions. Depending on the size and configuration of your digital team, content management processes can span across multiple teams, each providing their own expertise and applying their craft along the line from ideation to final publication.  While these processes are typically powered by people, they will also often include automated steps leveraging the core technologies mentioned above. For example, a photographer may manually capture several images for an upcoming article. When the photographer uploads the images to the DAM, the images are automatically resized, tagged and optimized for their publishing context, and an automated message is sent to an editor letting them know the images are ready to be used. The digital experience context of a DXP The contextual domain of the DXP refers to where the assembled content is published. Contexts include websites and parts of websites, social media, mobile applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), extended reality (XR) and more. The publication context is one of the more complex components of any DXP because of the variety of contexts in which a piece of content can appear, the amounts and myriad formats of data insights available for each context, and the limited visibility into the minds of individuals who are the end consumers of DX, where the content, context and technologies all come together to provide some sensory experience.  For example, one piece of content, like a blog or product entry, may appear in a mobile app, mobile website, desktop website, and digital display simultaneously, each with slightly different and nuanced requirements. Now that we’ve defined the space we’ll be exploring, we’re ready to begin building our scalable DXP. Most companies already have a DXP, so this process focuses on evolving your existing DXP to make it more scalable. The same principles apply to building a scalable DXP for a brand-new organization, but some steps you will need to come back to once you have your team in place. In general, it’s a good idea to come back to this process periodically because even subtle systems or structural changes can unlock new — or hinder existing — scalability over time. The 5 principles of building a DXP 1. Define your content and its components Taking a content inventory is the first step in implementing a scalable DXP. Your end-to-end DXP is a pathway for content to come together and be presented for your audience to experience, and ignoring the realities of the individual pieces that make up your content or that are needed to make it successful will ultimately inhibit scale. Think of content as anything you want your audience to encounter independent of the context in which they will experience it. Start by listing out each type of content, such as static pages, blog entries, product pages, etc. Then, list out the components that make up each of those types of content. Here, you want to capture details that show how the media is assembled for the end user. For instance, if a blog entry has a hero image, body text, excerpt, author and other metadata, document it. Likewise, if a product page includes five photos, a video, a 3D walkthrough, a price, a SKU and a call to action button, note these details, too. If your organization has a lot of existing content with a lot of variation, which is often true of large and growing companies, then you may want to consider creating one version of your inventory document reflecting your current content and dependencies and another version reflecting a more ideal and streamlined state. Similarly, if your business maintains hundreds of websites, you may only want to focus on one specific content segment in your organization, like your corporate newsroom or product catalog. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your content inventory documentation simple and clear. At this step, you don’t need to list things like social media posts if those posts would just be redistributing content you originally published elsewhere, like on your brand website. The purpose of this step is to assess the breadth of your content and the components that comprise it, and to create an anchor for your team as you work toward a shared understanding of context and process. 2. Define your contexts Now that you have an idea of the content your team will be publishing, it’s time to document the contexts in which it will appear. In this exercise, start by writing down everywhere your content may appear to your audience. This document will likely include publishing destinations like the web, mobile apps, digital signage, social media, ads, mailing lists, voice UI, podcasts, etc., and it may also include subcontexts if there are important distinctions that affect content production for any given context, such as differently sized mobile devices, accessibility tools, and the variety of social media experiences. Contexts can become overwhelming very quickly; they include how content is presented through any device and how and when individuals interact with it, like in the morning or while driving. Because of this reality, the goal of this step is not to exhaustively list every possible context you can think of. Instead, focus on the contexts you can directly control that require significant differences in content assembly. For example, it might make sense for your list to include individual contexts for Twitter and Facebook because you actively craft different and unique content for each platform. But it may not be important for you to list iOS and Android as different contexts for your mobile website if the same technologies and content power both experiences. Referencing your content inventory, note which content appears in which contexts. While it’s common that most content appears in some fashion across each context, that’s not always the case. A voice UI app may read a blog post to your users, but the context doesn’t allow for images. Similarly, you may post blog entries that feature products to your social media accounts but opt not to post actual product page content on its own. The important insight to gather at this phase is the variety of contexts in which your content appears. This is important because content needs to be optimized for its context. For instance, the same blog hero image may appear across multiple contexts, but it may require different sizes when presented in each context to provide the best experience. It is a fundamental necessity to understand the content moving through your DXP to this level of detail. By having a firm grasp on your content’s components and the variety of contexts in which your users experience that content, you will be well equipped to design efficient systems and processes to create and publish that content. 3. Walk a mile Human-Centered Design (HCD or “design thinking”) is a powerful philosophy and rich set of tools that can empower any digital or technology team. One such tool is called a “walk-a-mile immersion”, which is the simple process of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Envision an assembly line where every step contributes some value to the end result of your content being published in a variety of contexts. The assembly line has stations where certain processes are performed by your team as components are created, put together, and modified before final delivery. In this step, you talk to each team involved in creating, editing and managing each content component. You get to know the systems in use, the scope of their functionality, and how the individuals on your team use the tools. If you are creating a new DXP or building a new team, then envisioning and jotting down hypothetical teams and content handoffs can work just as well. The goal of this step is to document each of the key steps and tools used along the path of creating your content, from ideation to publication. For example, if you maintain an inventory database, a DAM, a CMS, a CRM — or if you use desktop tools or a monolithic system — document all of them along with the nature of the work and effort involved in completing each step to produce your content. If ideation starts on a whiteboard and your content is published in five different places, document the steps, systems and effort required from the beginning to the end. At the conclusion of this step, you should have a clear understanding of your content and its components, the many and varied places your content appears, and the processes and systems your teams leverage to create, edit and publish content. 4. Analyze your assembly line By now, you’ve documented your content and contexts and have a map of the systems and processes required to take your content from ideation to publication. In this step, we analyze the content assembly line to highlight steps with high effort and low added value to set the stage for scalability. Start by looking for duplicative effort and content. For example, if your team has to create multiple different sizes of an image to publish in each of your contexts, or if your team has to perform manual, repetitive tasks that add low value and require significant effort, then these are opportunities for improvement. Look for how upstream ingredients, like product pricing and inventory systems, feed into your CMS and are married to descriptions, images, reviews and more.  In legacy DXPs, many of these steps and processes can occur in one or just a few systems, but modern DXPs will typically have various systems, allowing for specialized focus by team members at discrete touch points along the content assembly line. Identify steps and processes where teams typically report being blocked by other teams. Any team or process blocked by another team or a previous step in the assembly line often indicates that optimization is needed upstream. If the content publishers in the final step of your publishing process are always waiting or having multiple conversations for images to be resized, for instance, this step of the process is a potential opportunity for improvement.  Once you highlight areas with high effort, or “friction”, shift your focus to steps and processes that are efficient. For example, if you have a backlog of ideas that are waiting to be realized into articles or a backlog of products in need of descriptions, these surpluses likely indicate high efficiencies at these steps, which means other steps and processes could potentially improve to meet these efficiencies. At the conclusion of this step, you should have a clear picture of the end-to-end assembly line for creating and publishing your digital content, including all elements, assets, texts, metadata and other media coming together for final publication in each given context. You should clearly see each individual system used for each step in the assembly line, as well as every human process and general level of effort required along the way for a piece of content to be published.  For e-commerce DX, this might mean understanding the processes in the back-of-house where pricing and inventory levels are kept up to date, combining in a subsequent step to add ancillary product metadata and media, being checked in a following step for accuracy and legal compliance, and finally being deployed to a live site, where it is cached on a CDN for low latency access. For a media organization, your assembly line may instead start with ideation in a Trello board, followed by an outline, and then a draft, and finally combined with image assets and published in a CMS that feeds into a newsreader app.  The number of potential combinations of steps in creating an assembly line is virtually limitless, and at this time there is no single right way to structure these systems and processes. Though, as you may now be able to see in your assembly line, the number of wrong ways to do it is also myriad. 5. Strategies for scale Honing in on your digital experience assembly line and locating areas for improvement is enlightening, but without instituting real and intentional change, the friction remains. Now that we know where lie the strengths and weaknesses in our existing processes, how do we prioritize and implement changes that scale? If you’ve successfully completed each previous step, you should be able to readily identify two or three places in your assembly line that clearly stand out as higher effort or higher cost of input than other steps in your publishing workflow. In some cases, friction is expected, such as in the actual writing of articles or sending teams out in the field to gather photos or raw audio that must be edited by hand. In other cases, you may identify a step in the process that always seems to be blocked, such as a publishing team waiting on transcripts, translations, file format changes, image resizes, SEO metadata, and so on. Begin by prioritizing repetitive tasks. Any high volume of repetitions performed by a human often indicates that there is a more optimal process available. Examine the systems used at this step and determine if they provide the most up-to-date tools to perform these operations. For instance, many DAM and CMS solutions automatically resize images and store them in multiple formats optimized for various contexts. There are also very good tools that automatically transcribe audio and translate text into almost any language, which could significantly reduce these high-touch steps in your assembly line.  Optimizing your assembly line for scale will typically involve a combination of reorganizing processes and workflows to improve the pace of handoffs from one step to the next, along with updates to the core technologies your team uses to realize your digital experience. Composable DXPs are on the rise In recent years, there has been a trend toward composability, wherein digital teams are looking deeper into their publishing workflows in order to combine the best set of tools for each step of the process.  Composing a DXP is the opposite of purchasing one single off-the-shelf system. When you adopt a composable approach, you accept the reality that your business needs are unique, and it’s unrealistic to expect one or two products alone to offer everything your team needs exactly how you need it, given the variety of content and contexts your digital experience can take on.  The most essential need for the systems that make up your DXP is interoperability, which is often referred to as “API-first”. Application Program Interfaces (APIs) allow systems to talk to one another and share information in a safe and secure manner. For your business, this unlocks the possibility of automating hand-offs and removing blocks where content components are manually delivered to the next team for assembly. Webhooks and automation tools leverage APIs and are extremely handy to let you remove rote human-powered processes and exchange them for more efficient machine-driven processes.  Headless CMS is another popular solution, which focuses the content management in a single-purpose powerful solution designed for managing and shipping your content to virtually any context without needing to make any changes to your core systems — you simply deploy a new app, website or other technology that safely consumes content via your APIs. Where you find one single product doing most of the work in your assembly line, chances are that there is high friction between it and any adjoining steps in your publishing workflow. These systems also sometimes lead to siloed teams and ivory tower cultural friction between those with access to the monolith and those without access.  Benefits of composable solutions By replacing a monolith with a multi-product platform with focused independent interconnected tools or a variety of API-connected solutions that focus on doing one or just a few things extremely efficiently, you hedge against siloing and begin to move in the direction of more streamlined processes.  Moreover, many composable solutions are extendable, meaning that you can integrate them with other systems in a few clicks or lines of code. And if one solution becomes too costly or fails to unlock the efficiencies you are looking to gain, then it can be relatively easily replaced without the need for a wholesale migration or hugely disruptive technology change. What’s next? Unlock the scale of your DXP When you complete this step, you ought to finally have the complete picture of your end-to-end digital assembly line, along with each system, team and process that must work in concert to create and deliver your digital content across your chosen contexts. From this vantage point, you can easily identify where scale is blocked and where it is already well established, as well as which areas stand out as the highest priority to optimize first. You will be ready to begin taking action to unlock the scale of your DXP. In part three, we will cover the only question left to answer: Why should you scale? Stay tuned! To read part one, click here. About the author Dean Haddock is a Senior Product Manager at Contentstack who focuses on platform, hosting and data engineering. Learn more about Dean

How content modeling powers creative teams and unburdens your dev team

As software engineers working in marketing, you're constantly seeking ways to easily deliver fresh, engaging content. One solution to this challenge is leveraging composable technology and a headless CMS, which can improve content modeling and significantly reduce repetitive tasks.  In this post, we'll explore content modeling, how it works, and its benefits for your development team. What is content modeling? Content modeling is the process of defining the structure of content types and their relationships within a content management system (CMS). By organizing content types, properties and relationships, developers can create reusable templates to streamline the creation, management and delivery of content. A headless CMS plays a pivotal role in content modeling, as it decouples content delivery from presentation, allowing for more flexibility and scalability. In concert with a MACH architecture and composable technology, a headless CMS empowers developers and creative teams to build engaging content rapidly. How content modeling works Content modeling follows a few key steps: Define content types: Identify the various types of content your organization creates. These can include blog posts, landing pages, product descriptions, etc. Specify properties for each content type: Break down each content type into attributes (e.g., title, author, image, etc.) and define the data types associated with them. Establish relationships: Map out relationships between different content types and properties, enabling content reuse through global components and streamlining the content creation process. Create templates: Use the content models to build reusable templates within the CMS. These templates help maintain consistency and simplify the content creation process for your team. Integrate with front-end technologies: One of the key benefits of content modeling with a composable tech stack is the flexibility to choose front-end technology that works best for your organization. Benefits of content modeling There are plenty of reasons why you should consider content modeling for your development team: Efficiency: Developers and creative teams can quickly generate and manage content by using predefined templates and structures, drastically reducing time spent on repetitive tasks and reducing human error. Scalability: The MACH architecture enables seamless scalability, so teams can easily adapt to changing circumstances or expand their content needs. Flexibility: Headless CMS allows for more freedom in the choice of front-end technologies, ensuring developers can create omnichannel content experiences. Consistency: Predefined content models help maintain a consistent look, feel and structure for all content, reinforcing brand image and identity. Collaboration: Content modeling bridges the gap between developers and creative teams, fostering better communication, understanding and collaboration in the content creation process. Embracing content modeling can unburden your dev team and enable seamless content creation across all channels, keeping you ahead of the competition.  By integrating a headless CMS, MACH architecture and composable technology, your team can deliver engaging, personalized and visually appealing content experiences, fueling your growth and innovation. About the author Auden Hinton is the Director of Digital Experience at Contentstack. Learn more about Auden

Building a scalable DXP - Part 1

Scale is one of the most common and fundamental problems digital teams have to confront in order to grow their businesses. But more than just a key to unlocking growth, how a team thinks about scale can affect costs, ongoing resource capacity, feature roadmaps, and even an organization’s overall pace of innovation.  In the universe of digital experience (DX), which spans all the way from the devices at the frontier of your audience’s senses all the way to the cloud and hardware that powers your company’s back-of-house operations, scale applies in some way to nearly every facet between these two ends. Understanding how the systems, people and processes that make up this end-to-end DX assembly line fit together and affect each other is key to unlocking that scale. This article aims to explain how to scale your digital experience platform (DXP). In it, we will discuss the meaning of scale, how to approach scale within your organization, and why it’s important.  What exactly does it mean to scale? Simply put, scale is the relationship between the inputs and outputs of a given system. When people refer to scaling a business, they are typically talking about increasing outputs, like sales and revenue, while holding constant or decreasing inputs, like costs and materials.  In an engineering-oriented team, scale often refers to hardware and software, such as the ability to flex or expand capacity to process more operations. If you work on a content or marketing team, scale usually refers to growing your audience, increasing engagement, and publishing more and better content. On the business and leadership teams, scale usually means increasing revenue. But these definitions of scale are oversimplified because they focus only on the outputs of these systems while ignoring the inputs. Or to put it another way, when we are talking only about increasing the outputs of a system, we’re talking about growth. When we talk about increasing outputs relative to the inputs, we are talking about scale. A “scalable” case study Consider a digital agency as a hypothetical case study. The agency builds highly engaging promotional websites, and its revenue is directly tied to the number of websites it can implement for its customers. Let’s assume the agency is high touch and that each website takes a total of 1,000 hours to successfully design, build and launch.  Let’s also assume that the agency employs 10 people, for a total of 20,000 available hours per year (ignoring PTO) and enough resources and the proper staffing configuration to successfully sell and deploy a maximum of 20 new sites per year. A blunt approach to scaling this business model would be to demand more than 20 sites out of the talent. In this approach, leadership sees the staff as the enemies of scale and demands more output from them in the form of working faster and staying late to meet aggressive goals. Indeed many companies attempt this strategy at the cost of talent attrition, sloppy work, constant training of new employees, missed deadlines and lost customers. Launching just two additional sites per year would require every employee to work an average of about one extra half-day every week of the year, leaving scant time for family as well as the occasional urgent customer support request. Another approach is hiring additional talent and slowly scaling up output while demand catches up to the newly increased capacity. Although this approach is common, it comes with the risk of increasing investment before increasing revenue, and when applied responsibly it can take some time to pay off. Leaders who choose this tactic will hire, say, two more staff with the aim of selling and launching about four additional sites per year. While this approach is intuitive, once the full cost of two FTEs, the opportunity costs of training them, and the revenue from four additional sites are factored into the balance sheet, it’s easy to see that this approach could be slow to take off and perhaps actually decrease the agency’s profit margin over time if it doesn’t go well. Now consider a third approach, where leadership recommends that each team looks for opportunities to repurpose generic work developed for other customers in order to reduce the number of hours required to implement new websites. Over the course of building the next few sites, the teams are able to develop reusable components of their work, for example, in the form of code and design libraries for commonly requested solutions, which in turn results in an average reduction of 200 hours across all website deliverables. This means that the agency can now produce 20 sites of the same or better quality in only 16,000 hours, which increases output capacity to 25 websites in the same original 20,000 available hours without adding staff or increasing costs. Scale smarter, not harder While each of these three examples are strategies for how an agency might approach scaling up output, the third example is a clear frontrunner because it has the highest impact on increasing output while at the same time holding inputs relatively constant. The third approach is also the only example out of the three that can lead to economies of scale. Economies of scale describe the state of a relationship between an input, such as cost per unit, and an output, say, the number of units produced, where the cost per unit actually goes down as you create more units. This relationship between inputs and outputs is what people typically mean when they say they want to scale something. It is not just that they want outputs to grow, but that they want outputs to grow and the cost of inputs to stay flat or decrease at the same time. Although this case study centers around an agency and looks at three simplified approaches to scaling the overall business outputs, it’s useful to shed light on the fundamental concepts of scale before unpacking the specifics of scaling a DXP. Here we’ve highlighted two essential tenets that will benefit digital leaders as they work to scale nearly any system:  There are many ways to approach a problem of scale, some sustainable and some unsustainable. Scaling on the backs of employees, for instance, is not a sustainable approach. There is nothing wrong with hustling to achieve a goal, but hustle alone lacks the strategic thinking that unlocks scale, which leads us to our second tenet. Effective and durable scaling centers around creativity and is founded upon understanding — not brute force. But don’t be discouraged if you feel you or your team lacks creativity or your processes are too complex for anyone to understand. As we will see in the following articles, there are some tried and true methods for creating the conditions for creativity to emerge, and if you apply them with your teams you will have a higher likelihood of successfully achieving scale, no matter what it is you wish to scale. What’s next? Now that we’ve established a baseline understanding of scale, in Part 2 we will set the agency example aside and explore specifically what it means to scale a DXP. Stay tuned! About the author Dean Haddock is a Senior Product Manager at Contentstack who focuses on platform, hosting and data engineering. Learn more about Dean

Headless commerce vs. composable: What you need to know

The online world is constantly evolving, so companies must change how they work and develop new ideas to meet customers' changing needs. The e-commerce sector has witnessed the rise of two unique models: headless commerce and composable commerce. While they might appear similar at the outset, a deeper examination reveals critical distinctions.In this article, we'll demystify the two approaches, spotlight their respective pros and cons. And provide insights for organizations pondering a transition to a composable architecture.How headless commerce beganIn the early days of online shopping, businesses had two ways to sell their products: physical stores and online platforms. But as technology advanced, many companies didn't keep up with the changes. This made it hard for them to stay up with what customers wanted and take advantage of new trends. The problem was that their technology wasn't flexible enough to adapt to new ideas.To serve customers better, stores began separating their online behind-the-scenes system from what the public sees on their websites. They did this by using APIs to access the back end, which made their operations more flexible.Headless commerce is a way for brands to keep their complicated commerce systems while making the front end more flexible to changes in the market.Composable architecture means that each part of the system works independently and can be customized to fit a brand's specific needs. This gives businesses the power to choose which parts of their digital services to use to meet their unique business requirements best.Examining headless commerce architectureHeadless is a new way of handling e-commerce that separates the parts that users see (the interface) from the parts that do the work behind the scenes (data, operations, applications). Most e-commerce systems combine these two parts, making it hard to keep up with the constantly changing digital market. Headless, by contrast, allows the front- and back-end systems to function independently. Benefits of headless architectureAdopting a headless system introduces several advantages:It delivers a flexible and customizable front end. With the visual layer decoupled, developers are no longer tied to the constraints of the back end, allowing for the creation of custom user experiences. It enables seamless integration with other systems. The back end operates independently, communicating simultaneously with multiple front ends. This allows businesses to provide a consistent omnichannel experience across various platforms like websites, mobile apps, smartwatches, and IoT devices. For instance, should a brand face difficulties in producing content for new products due to the constraints of its content model, the headless commerce system allows the integration of a different content management system with adjustable content models. This flexibility ensures a smoother operation by effectively mitigating the identified issue.It accelerates the speed of innovation. Changes to the front end won't impact the back end, and vice versa. This promotes quicker updates, experiments and iterations, all critical components in today's fast-paced digital landscape.Drawbacks of headless architectureWhile headless offers clear benefits, it also carries some drawbacks:This way of setting up a system can be challenging to handle. It needs someone with technical knowledge to take care of the different parts and keep them working.While the freedom to customize front-end interfaces is a benefit, it also means that businesses are responsible for designing and developing these interfaces, which can be time-consuming and costly.Depending on the chosen system, limited support or functionalities may be available.Understanding composable architectureComposable is an approach to building digital services that allows each component to exist independently. This includes things like managing product information, content and customer relationships. Businesses can choose which parts they need to create a custom digital platform.Advantages of composable architectureComposable e-commerce offers significant advantages.It provides extreme flexibility. Since all components are separate, they can be independently updated, replaced or reconfigured, enabling a truly agile e-commerce platform. This architecture allows for continuous optimization without fear of disrupting the entire system.Composable future-proofs your DXP stack by implementing task-oriented packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which are essential for faster time to market and better adoption of a digital experience. With the ability to add or replace components as needed, businesses can keep pace with technological advancements, customer demands or changes in business strategy.It promotes the best-of-breed approach. Businesses are no longer confined to the capabilities of a single vendor. They can select the best software for each component, maximizing functionality, efficiency and performance.Pivoting toward composable architecture: Points to ponderEmbracing composable commerce vs. headless architecture is a significant decision you should not take lightly. Businesses should thoroughly analyze their current and future needs, evaluating whether the flexibility and adaptability of composable commerce align with their strategic goals.The appeal of composable architecture lies in its flexibility and potential for success. However, it's important to remember that just because something is possible doesn't mean it's a good idea. Composable architecture can be compared to Lego blocks, as it allows for the creation of many different structures. But the challenge lies in deciding what to build and how to make it happen.The challenge is twofold. First, there's the job of putting together all the components. Second, it's essential to ensure that each element chosen is not just a fun extra but helps create the desired digital experience is essential. It's crucial to tell the difference between the "must-have" and "nice-to-have" features. Focusing too much on the latter can take away your IT team's attention and resources from the essential functions.It's important to think about how much technical knowledge is needed. Composable gives you a lot of choices for customization. Still, it takes a skilled technical team to handle everything and ensure it works well. If you're thinking about using composable, you should ensure you have the right resources or get help from experts to make it easier.Additionally, companies must evaluate their current system's limitations. Are you finding it challenging to innovate due to a rigid, tightly coupled e-commerce platform? Does your business plan to expand into new channels or markets that your current platform cannot support? These pivotal questions can help determine if the transition to composable is warranted.When picking technology partners, it's crucial for organizations to choose carefully. The best partners will offer a variety of components that can be easily swapped out and will provide support and updates over time. The goal is to create an e-commerce platform that can grow and change as the business and customers do.Learn moreLearn more about transitioning to composable in this episode of "Contentstack LIVE!" featuring Contentstack Vice President of Technical Services Pete Larsen.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable digital experience platform can help your organization achieve its e-commerce goals.