By Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at Amplience
It has been ninety days now since I joined the great team at Amplience, and in the course of that I have had the opportunity to engage with many leading merchants, marketers, partners, thought-leaders, and analysts around the core questions of how the content, commerce, and marketing worlds are evolving. Combined with the start of the new year, that has put me in a reflective mood. So here are a few of the things that have really struck me over the last few months:
- The most important thing today is agility. Over and over in countless conversations with clients, prospects and partners I have heard the need for agility, together with a focus on time-to-market. The appetite for 9-18 month implementation projects is gone, and now customers are focused on how fast they can get started, the adaptability of a solution to new touch-points and the experiences they want to deliver or experiment with quickly. They need solutions that enable their teams to work in an agile, collaborative, and iterative fashion. And they need lower costs of ownership and solutions they pay for based on what they really use as digital tech budgets get stretched thinner. Businesses want more flexibility in the technical architecture and ability to differentiate. This echo's what I heard clients say to me over my last couple of years at SAP Hybris and Accenture, "We have bought our last big platform, we have a new target architecture in mind now, one focused on agility and time to market."
- Content processes are broken nearly everywhere. I have talked with many prospective customers and partners over the last few months, and while I knew there was a latent frustration with the lack of tools to support content planning and production, the acute nature of that was not something I quite grasped. It is frankly a bit shocking how in 2019 such little focus the legacy content and commerce solutions have given to what business users really need to plan and execute the routine and seasonal content updates and refreshes they need to do. Most businesses are still using some combination of email, spreadsheets and FTP servers to manage content before it is loaded into their commerce or CMS solution "to push live". The "management" in "content management" is really a misnomer, and developers managing these platforms have become a bottleneck and a dependency versus a creative force to help drive innovative customer and brand experiences.
- Headless has gone mainstream. Like many, I wish there were a different term than 'headless' to describe a services-based, API-first approach to delivering and integrating content, commerce, and other digital engagement technology without an integrated "front-end". But based on the conversations I have been been having recently there is no doubt in my mind that the tipping point has arrived and 'headless' has gone mainstream, whether we like the term or not. For years now, many have foreseen this trend to services-based solutions and likely shared my sentiment that, "it is not a matter of if, but when" this approach would take hold and solutions based on this approach would become preferred. And while many legacy players (and even analysts) in the content and commerce markets are pushing a "head-optional" approach, savvy buyers are waking up to what their developers and partners already know; there is a big difference between a natively multi-tenant API-first solution that gives the development and business users the agility and tools they crave versus a single-tenant solution hosted in the cloud with a few APIs on top. Those single tenant cloud solutions are still rife with all the same challenges of integration, dev-ops, and dependencies and while adding APIs is a important evolution, it does not go far enough. More and more businesses are moving toward lightweight front-end frameworks Vue.js, React, or Angular with content and commerce services powering the experiences and business processes across browser, app, in-store display, and across digital touch-points including marketing. This is no longer a purely philosophical design preference of developers and technical architects, it is becoming a key business need focused on agility, time to market and cost.
All three of these portend major changes in the enterprise solutions market. A new crop of solutions is emerging to meet these challenges, and legacy solutions are scrambling to keep up. While perhaps not new, in my view these trends are clearly accelerating, and it will be interesting to what degree these become the de-facto approach and key business requirements in 2019.
Eager to hear how these resonate with you, Happy New Year, and thanks,
BrianBack to top