Man with a Tablet covering his head
A headless CMS platform takes advantage of flexible Content-as-a-Service through microservices and APIs. PHOTO: Ed Gregory

(Ed. Note: Forrester's latest Wave for web content management emphasized the cloud and headless deployments. But what's the big deal with headless platforms — and what can we anticipate happening next? 

In this two-part series, two industry experts — Petr Palas, founder and CEO of Kentico, and Greg Luciano, director of services at Built.io — explain why they think headless is the way to go and predict what's likely to happen next.)

I’ve been asked by customers and other members of the tech industry to predict how the concept of headless CMS will one-up itself in 2017.

Last year was an excellent time for headless CMS, with strong growth and plenty of attention from analysts including Forrester. Forrester accelerated the momentum in its latest Wave, released this month.

Developers who aren’t already making the move to a headless CMS platform, which takes advantage of the overall trend of flexible, Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) through microservices and APIs, should be working to get buy-in.

The market is realizing traditional CMS is limited, time consuming and dissatisfying for marketers and entire organizations. So in 2017 we will see some shifts in how businesses adopt this technology:

Headless CMS Will Drive Marketing Beyond the Web

Content marketing will need to diversify beyond just responsive web marketing to support native apps and IoT devices. Responsive web has become more common. No one is building desktop-only websites; we are now in a world where design agencies just assume a mobile-first approach.

With the rise of the internet of Things (IoT), there are many devices with screens that show content, including VR headsets and smart watches.

In 2017 we’ll see more content marketing teams switch to using a headless CMS model and it will be the clear frontrunner. A centralized platform with a decoupled front end and API content delivery will future-proof any business looking to expand their content portfolio.

As we see the market moving towards microservices and regular API integration, having a singular content platform to manage everything just makes sense.

So many of today’s tech breakthroughs are dependent on flexible systems that can consume change and allow companies to capitalize on new ways of doing business. There’s no reason you CMS has to be a burden.

Headless CMS Will Drive Platform Freedom (Finally)

Many technologies have promised to open up user options, but few have delivered.

The challenge has been that every system developer makes choices that lead to using proprietary tools.

In the case of traditional CMS, those choices lock users into messy plugins and a headache of custom code.

Taking advantage of integrated services involves too much vendor lock-in and requires marketers to make risky bets.

Headless CMS defeats this problem by eliminating the connection between those who create content and those responsible for its integration and presentation on any and all devices.

As headless CMS technology becomes more common, the number of available platform choices will increase. Payment services for e-commerce are a great example.

This market is highly competitive and services are in a race to create the best interface for the customer. Developers do not want to wait for a plugin when they can keep their content intact, connect to a new microservice and take advantage of better functionality immediately.

With an increasing number of players in just about every service available, there will always be something cheaper, better and more powerful. Platform freedom will be a big driver of headless CMS this year.

Headless CMS Performance Will Increase

The demands of IoT, mobile-first and multi-device will put a heavy load on traditional content management, but with headless CMS, content managers can achieve higher performance levels.

The natural divide of content and technology responsibilities inherent in a headless CMS allows the API and microservices focus to shine, enabling technologists to use the latest and greatest tools and techniques available — without limits.

The platform can be optimized for performance regardless of boundaries like number of devices, distance, time, volume, synchronization and integration.

Headless CMS Will Support the Rise of AI

In 2017, as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation rise in popularity, the enemy will be constraints.

Combined with analytics, marketers will automate decisions on what content goes where. Headless CMS can flow content to a myriad of destinations, based on flexible logic and integration, without being bogged down by the process and technology limitations of a traditional CMS.

AI will set the stage for new levels of automation and more opportunity for marketers. The traditional CMS begins to look like a telephone with a long cord, hanging on the wall, compared to headless CMS.

The overall tone of 2017 will be maturity of both the market for headless CMS and the platform itself. We will see more integration with microservices, stronger workflows and increased innovation led by new use cases.

(Also read Why 2017 Is the Year of Cloud-First Headless CMS)