how will Headless drive your organization's innovation through COVID-19 and beyond?

No matter where in We are you’s global network they are, our clients are telling us the same thing — that customer and stakeholder behaviour is changing faster than we could have ever previously imagined. Companies are making rapid and agile changes to the way they provide products and services and trying things in ways they have never done before.

continuous innovation and rapid improvements

Bas de Kort
CTO We are you Melbourne

For businesses to remain relevant they have had to commit to continuous innovation and rapid improvements and they’ve had to do this across different axes. Successful organisations are adopting a time-to-change model that has all three of the following virtues:

  • extreme focus on customers and their needs
  • an agile organisation and way of working
  • highly flexible IT and infrastructure

To stay abreast of just how rapidly things are changing, organisations need to succeed in all three of these factors or risk falling behind. Or worse: being disrupted by new players in their space.

ease the burden with Headless

Traditional e-commerce and cms systems have proven time and time again to be a hindrance to the types of rapid evolution and innovation that are essential in 2020 and beyond. Monolithic systems with fixed modes of operation and delivery are simply getting in the way. This is where Headless can ease the burden of change and improve the velocity of change.

what is Headless?

The term Headless quite simply refers to removing the ‘head’ of a website —the front-end — from the ‘body’ – the content repository. A Headless content management system still exists as a place to add and store content and is combined with a RESTful API set to deliver content wherever it’s required. A Headless CMS is agnostic about how its content is displayed — it stays focused on just one task — storing and delivering content.

cost savings and other benefits

It doesn’t hurt that Headless CMS products can see significant cost savings for enterprises that have seen years of rising licensing costs for their existing systems, but there’s additional benefits beyond the bottom line. Serverless infrastructure approaches can significantly reduce the administrative and maintenance load on IT departments, freeing them up to work on innovation. 

Headless CMS’s offer additional flexibility for developers too, with a freedom to develop innovative omnichannel experiences since they are freed from the rigid structures of monolithic systems. This allows for the creation of breakthrough user experiences at rapid time to market, and the ability to adopt a cycle of constant innovation.

Importantly, under a Headless model, organisations can avoid the spectre of vendor lock-in, and replace components of an application as new alternatives become available. A Headless approach allows an organisation to work to its own roadmap rather than waiting for their monolithic CMS provider to roll out what are often costly system upgrades.

security and Headless

One welcome by-product of the modular nature of Headless systems is security. Each subsystem in a Headless system can be segregated from one another, without transferring data between systems unnecessarily. And in the event of a breach, a well-architected Headless application will only be compromised in one subsystem rather than taking down the whole application. That’s peace of mind that’s hard to find in a monolithic approach where a breach anywhere is a breach everywhere.

pros and cons

There are pros and cons to any approach, and there are some challenges to consider with Headless. For many, the unfamiliar approach will be daunting, and it presents a mindset change and a steeper learning curve than they might be used to. Developing customised front-ends rather than using what comes with a monolithic CMS presents some increased complexity in development (though most will find that the freedom the create innovative experiences more than outweighs this). And while a well-implemented Headless application is extremely secure, it does need to be that — well implemented. 

Another point worth mentioning is the unfamiliarity with Headless by content editors and digital marketers. With Headless come new tools for your team to learn to work with and the way it all comes together is different. Compared to complicated monoliths, the tools we use in Headless including CMS systems, are easier to learn. We provide training during the project, to have your team ready for operating the new tools.

so where to begin on your Headless journey? 

  • Start by having capable and experienced leaders on the development team.
  • Your internal stakeholders may have some reservations — this is unfamiliar territory after all. Convince them by providing results.
  • Our experience is that the best way to demonstrate the power of Headless is by demonstrating positive outcomes. When stakeholders see just how quickly your team can demonstrate a proof-of-concept using a Headless approach, doubt can very quickly turn to enthusiasm.

does Headless mean a complete rebuild? No, it doesn’t.

One stakeholder reservation is often that moving to Headless will require a complete rebuild of the existing platform. Using a Headless approach to introduce changes and improvements over and above the existing system can remove that hesitation while demonstrating the benefits of both the technology and the iterative agile ways of working.

The times we’re in will pass, but the increased demands and expectations that have come from changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay. Headless architectures allow the responsiveness and flexibility that will be the hallmark of the businesses that thrive.

I look forward to helping organisations and teams, with the next steps of their Headless journey. Need help with this? Feel free to contact me via +61 42 6840 879 or bas.dekort@weareyou.com

Bas de Kort
CTO We are you Melbourne