In CaaS 101, I introduced the history and concepts behind Content as a Service. In this second installment, I offer a roadmap to beginning your CaaS journey. Every organization is different, but the criteria for success in this area have basic similarities that can be used to frame your transformation initiative.
Transforming your content organization
To successfully employ Content as a Service, your starting point will not be a single page application written in ReactJS and headless JSON webpages. While you may eventually get to these implementation details, they are not part of a strategy (or even CaaS, per se).
As with all transformation efforts, the first phase begins with people and processes. Your content organization needs to transform how content is created so that it can be organized in a rational schema. They may need to align content marketing efforts across all inbound and outbound channels. You may even find it necessary to start a dialogue about standard metadata, tag definitions, and patterns. Finally, there will have to be new considerations surrounding copy, style, layout, and review.
Without this commitment, your CaaS transformation will have little impact on content velocity and reuse. Scraping headless web page content to create a mobile app card will cause the mobile content team to create myriad condition handling issues, defeating the purpose of CaaS entirely.
Rethinking your content creation tools and review
As a content creator, you have to rethink your content in terms of elements that can be used for purpose. For example, a blog post needs a title, short description, long description, product tags, regional metadata, applicable offers, and numerous other base data that makes the blog post ready for use. A tool that allows freeform text is not sufficient to empower the creators. In addition, since the blog post may be used in a variety of ways, the author needs to understand a preview through these lenses. Finally, the content will require a set of validations that help creators know if they have provided all the necessary inputs to adhere to the supported guidelines.
Your tools need to accommodate these requirements. They should be flexible enough to allow creatives to realize their own visions, but consistent enough to help the creative team organize each element for maximizing channel distribution and reuse. Instead of fixing the creative team on white space on a webpage, the content has to be true to purpose and persuasive in composition. Downstream template design for each delivery channel should systemically determine layout, preferably with usage analytics guiding the “white space” implementation.
Taking the first step with a content audit
Few enterprises are ready for a full CaaS conversion immediately. Impediments like organizational alignment, executive sponsorship, and technology roadmaps may hamper a system-wide conversion. But you can start the process now, since organizations can almost always find content that is “CaaS-ready.”
For example, many companies have archives of success stories or whitepapers – content prime for standardization. Usually managed by a single team, this content needs to be distributed as PDFs, emails, one or more webpages, mobile cards, and possibly through additional channels. The metadata is usually well-known. But often, the base content is entered in an offline document, and each delivery channel is individually created as needed – often inconsistently over time. Getting started on a project today will create a successful use case and identify your organization’s appetite in a much more efficient and agile way than converting the main site homepage to AngularJS with JSON services.
So, what are you waiting for?
Now armed with the essential basics of Content as a Service, you are well-positioned to start your transformation journey. This approach to content offers many benefits, and while there certainly are some trade-offs that must be considered, adopting CaaS is most definitely a journey worth pursuing.