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Darren Guarnaccia Posted by Darren Guarnaccia December 11, 2019

Introducing Headless 2.0: What makes it a real step forward?

Technology providers love to rack up the hyperbole in announcing new products. One of their favorite tactics? Presenting a solution as being “2.0,” “3.0,” or beyond, as if it’s bootstrapping an entire segment to a new and unprecedented level.

To truly merit that label, though, it has to deliver sufficient innovation and differentiation from what’s come before, as well as real impact on user needs. That’s where so many platforms and products fall short.

Recently, Crownpeak announced the launch of Headless 2.0. So what qualifies it as a big step forward from previous headless CMS offerings?

It’s because it's rooted in solving a business problem created by first-generation headless solutions: Teams need to be able to collaborate cross-functionally to build any effective modern web experience. Yet as the world embraced “headless 1.0,” part of that team was left behind: business users, particularly those in the marketing department. Headless 2.0 restores collaboration by bringing the best of modern CMS tools together with a new way of delivering content, in a way that’s good for marketers and developers alike.

Headless that’s designed around marketers

Douglas Adams had a famous quote that’s applicable here:

"We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works."

The original headless vendors gained market traction because they helped technical teams break out of the complexity of legacy, all-in-one CMS platforms that slowed them down and limited the way developers had to work. While this was a boon for developers, and gave them tremendous flexibility and agility, it fell drastically short for marketers. Marketers that were once able to satisfy many of their daily needs themselves found themselves now on the outside looking in, and unable to do many simple tasks on their own anymore.

What were just a few of those needs marketers required?

  • A platform capable of adapting content to any touchpoint regardless of how “smart” that touchpoint was.
  • The ability to launch content and campaigns across many languages and locales rapidly, and in a distributed and coordinated fashion using publishing workflows to natively support translation.
  • The ability to create and view their content in context to understand how it will fit, and make adjustments on their own without relying on developers to help them build new content structures and visuals.

Headless 2.0 answers all these needs, and more. In short, it’s the “stuff that works” – a purpose-built tool that empowers marketers to do their jobs in ways prior headless CMS platforms couldn’t.

As my colleague, Paul Taylor, points out:

“Marketers seldom get a choice around the adoption of headless 1.0. It’s a technology choice that is led almost exclusively by the IT side of the house. Quite often it’s not a commercially-focused choice, but rather one full of blue-sky promises; ‘headless will let us deliver content everywhere, and therefore keep you marketers flexible,’ for instance. The reality with headless 1.0 is that content – and content only – can be delivered everywhere, but everything else is lost.”

That “everything else” includes presentation design, and the fidelity and quality of the consumer’s digital experience. Unfortunately, these are central to meeting audience expectations in an omnichannel world, but marketers have little or no control over them with last-generation headless 1.0 platforms.

Evolving past the obstacles of headless 1.0 … quickly!

While headless 1.0 gained early traction in smaller projects and mobile applications, there’s been growing resistance to broader adoption because of this lack of support for marketing. Also, trying to meet the multiple needs found across an enterprise had often required the care and upkeep of multiple platforms, some headless 1.0, some monolithic, some decoupled. That drives up costs, operational headaches, and impairs agility.

Headless 2.0 solves this enterprise adoption problem because it has the flexibility and adaptability to meet that wide variety of demands. It gives the marketer and developer alike the right tools to stay ahead of customer expectations and competitive challenges.

Plus? Headless 2.0 can be implemented quickly by simply swapping in existing content, due to it being backwards-compatible with older formats. This eases the transition to 2.0 and the newer content formats coming into play both today and tomorrow. Its SaaS-based content delivery architecture also lets it deploy content directly into existing applications, without the need for rip-and-replace associated with monolithic platforms.

So users will be able to take advantage of its capabilities very soon after deciding to evolve beyond headless 1.0, and will be able to create and deliver finely honed digital experiences with amazing speed.

Watch now: Paul Taylor and I discuss how we’ve arrived at Headless CMS 2.0

In the end, it’s true 2.0

The final reason Headless 2.0 is a real leap ahead and not just an upgrade to 1.0?

Headless 1.0 vendors recognize the gaps in their approach, and are making efforts to bolster its capabilities. But in many ways, headless 1.0 has very truly reached the end of its evolutionary path, and can’t offer marketers all the powerful and relevant advantages available with 2.0. Now, more than ever, they’re the advantages that are vital to marketing success and competitive standing … and they’re embedded in Headless 2.0.