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What does content as a service mean when it comes to content management systems?

API code example

Content as a service (CaaS) represents one of the new waves of thinking about content management and the content management systems (CMSs) that are used to create and manage this content. It’s the customizable, simplified way of communicating with customers, employees, prospects and others in whatever format or method is appropriate for the audience and the message.

As life has become increasingly digital, content has become a vital part of doing business. Most modern companies are communicating with customers, potential customers, employees and others with content, whether they’re doing it through blogs, social media, apps, mobile notifications, emails, videos, signage or other formats. Providing ongoing content through a variety of channels is crucial for maintaining and growing a business in the digital world.

Traditionally, CMSs have stored all content elements together to be used in a specific way. For example, for a blog post, the CMS would store the text, images, image captions, video and URL name all in one place to be used for that particular post. If you wanted to take some of the content out to be used in another channel, such as a mobile app or an email, you’d have to create a new version of that content in the CMS for the second usage. Rather than limiting how and where content can be used, CaaS offers flexibility and customization.

What is content as a service?

Unlike a traditional CMS, a CMS that provides CaaS stores each content component in its raw form. As a result, each piece can be used interchangeably and called to serve in whatever format is needed, whether it’s a website, app, device, voice assistant, chatbot or some new channel yet to be discovered.

CaaS platforms use an application programming interface (API) to extract the needed content files from the CMS and provide those files to the appropriate destination. Because content files are separate from formatting and programming, they can be used in various ways throughout the digital landscape. Most CaaS platforms can also measure content consumption across channels.

To work effectively, each raw content file—text, graphics, video—must be stored in a way that is disconnected from any display channels. By being disconnected, the content is available to be extracted by various display channels via API, so that it can be formatted and displayed appropriately by each one.

What are the benefits of content as a service?

Utilizing a CaaS platform offers a number of benefits for marketers and organizations, such as:

Content flexibility: When the content is separated from the format, you have the flexibility to use your content in any way that meets your needs. You might grab a chart from a white paper to use as a social media post or use a segment from a blog post to answer a customer’s questions via your chatbot. You can use your content in any number of ways, and nobody has to redesign it or manually move it to the new format. With the right APIs, each device or consumer can easily find the information it needs. CaaS makes content easier to reuse in multiple formats.

Simplified content workflows: With CaaS, there’s no need for IT maintenance or support to streamline the content workflow process. It’s easy to personalize content, distribute it across channels and publish on multiple platforms without any development expertise.

Omnichannel marketing: In recent years, savvy marketers have embraced an omnichannel strategy to reach and engage their target audiences. A CaaS approach maximizes the use of your content across multiple channels. Without CaaS, marketers must recreate new content files for every use of the same content. With CaaS, each marketing channel can use APIs to automatically pull the needed content files from the CMS and be ready to go.

What are some other ways of thinking about content as a service?

Content can be considered more than just the text, images and videos that form the backbone of the ways we consume information across the internet. It's a headline or permalink or metadata, or the collection of modules that comprise a page experience that may differ for a mobile versus desktop screen. At Brightspot, we consider every asset an item of content that can be assembled from its component piece into one or many modules. It's this idea of modular content that gives the CMS so much flexibility. And so, in this respect, modular content is another way of looking at CaaS. With the flexibility of modular content, content delivery APIs can take any information and serve to whatever format, device or other digital experience that is needed.

infographic illustrating how headless CMS architecture connects with different channels

Content as a service: A recap

What is content as a service?

Content as a service (CaaS) can be considered a subgenre of software as a service (SaaS). In the case of CaaS, content assets are located on a cloud-hosted application and served via application programming interfaces (APIs) to whichever digital destination is required. Most often, CaaS refers to the ways in which modern CMSs are designed to both manage the creation and publication of content and deliver of that content to a variety of digital experiences and touchpoints.

What are the pros and cons of content as a service?

In most cases, adopting a content as a service approach leads to benefits, including content reusability, flexibility and extensibility according to device, audience, format, etc. Over time, this obviously adds up to better customer engagement and outcomes, not to mention greater cost savings and efficiencies over time. The drawbacks might generally be considered by asking: Do my content needs require the granularity of a modular content approach? And does my content infrastructure support the delivery method and expertise required when working with APIs and the front-end programming needs of a headless CMS approach?

Who benefits from taking a content as a service approach?

Digital teams across the board benefit from content as a service. Content marketing teams can do more with each content asset and ensure they are delivering the best possible customer outcomes that extend to highly relevant and personalized experiences by channel, device, audience type and more. Development teams, meanwhile, can focus on building next-level digital experiences with access to flexible content-delivery APIs that give them exactly the content assets they need—assuring speed, accuracy and the best digital performance each time.

    About the Author
    Nancy Mann Jackson
    Nancy Jackson has been writing about business and technology since 2001. She has written for technology brands including Oracle, Planview, Codility, Brightspot, Zinnia and Brightly Software. Her work also has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur, Fortune, Forbes and She’s based in Huntsville, Alabama.

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