Headless CMS Vendor Update

Last week RSG updated our Web CMS research stream with a focus on "headless" vendors, taking a fresh look at Contentful and two new additions in Amplience and Cloud CMS.

Whither the Headless Wave?

I think the headless wave has crested. It was always an architectural vision rather than a marketer's dream. The concept does have value: in the emerging omnichannel world, you need a place to manage and distribute highly structured, re-usable chunks of content.

Yet you likely have a parallel requirement to manage more unstructured, longer-form marketing content, and in some cases you want to be able to manage a full page experience from within a CMS.

There's still a need for "pure" headless environments — for example if you're retrofitting content management services behind existing web applications or ecommerce environments.  Cloud CMS focuses on the former, and Amplience on the latter.

A Hybrid Future?

I believe larger enterprises in particular will want flexibility, and this is why traditional CMS vendors are (sometimes slowly) finding their way to "hybrid" options, where you manage and deliver full-screen experiences as well as expose a robust content API. 

CMS Logo Landscape

Web CMS Logo Landscape. Soon most traditional platforms will be able to run in headless mode.

It's also worth remembering that in the past, every major decoupled CMS platform vendor ended up pairing their core offering with an optional delivery environment.  Contentful appears to be anticipating this (no firm news yet), and I suspect the other headless vendors will get there as well.

In sum, the marketplace as a whole is likely to converge, but individual vendors will continue to carve out niches, and some will differentiate on architecture. 

Next Steps

If you're an RSG subscriber, you can login to access these new vendor evaluations right away.  If not, you can always try out a free CMS evaluation sample first.


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Gil, Partner, Cancentric Solutions Inc.
iStudio Canada Inc.

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