How to use Headless Approach In Your Digital Experience Composition
What You’ll Learn From This Insight:
1. What Is Connected Customer Experience?
Organizations need clarification on how to approach transforming digital experiences and stay relevant in rapidly changing customer expectations. Today, organizations need greater flexibility and control over digital experience composition and the ability to deliver frictionless experiences to a broader range of devices and platforms.
In the past, most enterprises used monolithic architectures for their applications and other enterprise solutions. This meant that the front-end and back-end were tightly coupled, and any changes to one would require changes to the other. This approach works well for traditional solutions, but now it limits organizations that want greater agility and flexibility to cater to the ever-changing expectations of consumers. Many companies are moving away from monolithic architecture and towards more agile and flexible architecture. The headless approach is a new way of thinking about digital strategy.
2. The Desire of Customers: Superior Multi-experience
Suppose you have a digital commerce portal that is built on a monolithic architecture. The front end displays diverse products to users, and the back end is responsible for storing and processing the data.
If you want to transform the front end of the portal, such as adding augmented features or adapting the UI for different touchpoints (a website, mobile app, or in-person service), you are bound to make changes to the back end, too. The reason is the front-end and back-end are tightly coupled. This might slow the process of shaping the future of customer experience.
However, the ability to respond quickly to business changes and execute that changes is a key value proposition of becoming a customer-sensitive organization.
Customers are like a modern-day Goldilocks:
Every customer wants their experience to be just awesome. They also want it to be easy to use, fast, and personalized— just the right amount. What they don't want is to have to jump through hoops or waste time trying to find the products of their choice. And they definitely don't want to feel like they're just another number.
Consistent UI is like a well-oiled machine:
In today's fast-paced world, consumers do not want complex customer-facing UIs. Organizations must create a consistent UI experience across multiple apps and channels. A consistent UI enables customers to search, decide, and buy fit-for-purpose solutions/products that align with their way of life.
Specialized experience is like a superpower:
Customers are like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. That's why it's important to offer a personalized customer experience. It allows you to create a more memorable, engaging, and satisfying customer experience. And when you do that, you'll win more customers, increase sales, and build a stronger brand.
3. The Challenges of Digital Experience: Agility and Flexibility
Missing Agile Architecture
Many businesses are still using legacy systems that are not designed for agility. This can make it difficult to quickly adapt to changes in customer behavior or market demands. There is a significant need to architect for agility and stability by adopting architecture patterns that encourage modularity and enable loose coupling while making it easy to independently test and deploy changes. Examples of these patterns include micro frontends, backend for frontend (BFF), GraphQL, and more.
Lack of Flexibility
Traditional monolithic applications are not flexible enough to support the ever-changing needs of customers. This can lead to a fragmented experience that is not consistent across channels. Without flexibility, it is hard to implement a rich multichannel UI that scales with the business needs. This includes multiexperience development platforms, digital experience platforms, low-code application platforms, and headless CMS.
Complex Implementations and Integration
Integrating multiple systems and applications can be a complex and time-consuming process. This can lead to delays in launching new products or features and can also create a risk of security vulnerabilities. Organizations should consider using the built-in integration capability of the platform to access the enterprise application directly rather than using a mediation layer. It will help simplify the implementation.
4. The Role of Digital Experience Composition (DXC) In Shaping Future Experiences
Imagine a world where your digital experiences are as fluid and dynamic as the world around you. Where they can change and adapt to your needs, your interests, and your context. Where they are not limited by the constraints of a monolithic architecture but can be composed and reassembled to create new experiences that are tailored to you.
This is the world of Digital Experience Composition (DXC). DXC is a new approach to creating and managing digital experiences that break down traditional monolithic applications into smaller, more modular components. These components can then be composed and reassembled to create new experiences tailored to specific audiences and devices.
Gartner, Digital experience composition (DXC) is the packaging of low-code developer and no-code business user tooling for the creation, development, and maintenance of digital experiences. Products comprise front-end as a service (FEaaS), a page builder, a template engine, and an API integration layer to the underlying technologies."
Some examples of how DXC can be used to create engaging and dynamic digital experiences:
- Personalized experiences: Facilitates you to build customized experiences for the diverse customer base. For example, a web portal could use DXC to deliver different content to different users based on their interests.
- Adaptive experiences: Create adaptive experiences that change based on the user's context. For example, a mobile app could use DXC to display different content depending on the user's location.
- Collaborative experiences: Build collaborative experiences that allow users to interact with each other. For example, a social media platform could use DXC to enable users to share content and collaborate on projects.
Digital experience composition is a powerful technology that can be used to create engaging and dynamic digital experiences. It is a relatively new approach, but it is gaining popularity among businesses of all sizes. DXC will likely become an increasingly important tool for organizations that want to create and manage high-quality digital experiences as the digital landscape continuously evolves.
5. Where to Apply DXC: PIM, CMS, and Digital Commerce
Digital experience composition can be used for multiple and diverse business use cases, with underlying technologies from master data management (MDM), CMS, DXP, UI/UX, and product information management (PIM) and other areas such as customer-facing sales, customer service, and marketing capabilities.
PIM, CMS, and eCommerce platforms can all be used to create and manage digital experiences. By integrating these systems, businesses can create a more seamless and consistent customer experience. For example, a company could use a PIM system to streamline product data, a CMS system to organize content, and an eCommerce platform to sell products. By integrating these systems, the business could create a single view of their products and content, which they could then use to create personalized and engaging experiences for their customers.
But, WCM, DXP, and digital commerce suites are being disrupted by headless solutions offering agility and the separation of the digital experience delivery from the systems of management. Digital experience composition aims to balance technical flexibility with the business user’s ease of use.
6. How to Approach DXC: The Headless Way
An API-centric model enables an agile, flexible, composable application architecture that can meet business demands and deliver an optimal customer experience (CX). This includes the choice of preferred custom development tools and frameworks and the ability to leverage a headless content management system (CMS), multiexperience development platform (MXDP), digital experience platform (DXP), or low-code platform (LCAP).
Using an API-centric approach is not mutually exclusive with a traditional enterprise application implementation. Organizations find success implementing a traditional enterprise application approach along with innovative customer experiences and dynamic integrations using an API-centric architecture.
But it requires additional skills, including user experience (UX) and UI design, custom web/mobile app development, managing APIs, and implementing custom services and integrations.
Some examples of enterprises that have adopted a decoupled front-end architecture include Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb. These companies have all benefited from the increased flexibility, scalability, and reduced costs that decoupled front-ends offer.
Comparison: Monolithic vs. Headless
Monolithic and headless architectures are two different approaches to building digital experiences. Monolithic architectures are all-in-one solutions that combine the content management system (CMS), the e-commerce platform, and the front-end user interface (UI) into a single codebase. On the other hand, headless architectures decouple the CMS from the UI, allowing for greater flexibility and customization.
In the context of digital experience composition, monolithic architecture offers several advantages. They are relatively easy to set up and manage and can be a good option for businesses that need a simple and affordable solution. However, monolithic architectures can also be inflexible and difficult to scale. If a business needs to add new features or change the UI or UX of its apps, it may need to make changes to the entire codebase. This can be time-consuming and expensive.
Headless architecture offers several advantages for businesses that need a more flexible and scalable solution. By decoupling the CMS from the UI, businesses can choose the best tool for each job. For example, they can use a headless CMS that is well-suited for managing content, and a separate UI framework optimized for a specific device or platform. This gives them more control over the UI or UX, making it easier to add new features and scale their businesses.
Monolithic architectures are a good option for businesses that need a simple and affordable solution.
Headless architectures are a good option for businesses that need a more flexible and scalable solution.
7. Driving Factors for Headless Approach
Factors that drive organizations to adopt an API-centric architecture for enterprise application implementation include:
Factor 1: When your digital transformation initiative requires a composable architecture that can adapt to disruption in an unpredictable world.
Recommendation: Use an API-centric architecture approach for innovation, flexibility, and adaptability in digital transformation projects.
Factor 2: When your customers and employees’ expectations are increasing. They demand unique and highly productive user interfaces.
Recommendation: Consider API-centric architecture that helps you get fine-grained control over the UI with flexibility, scalability, and agility.
Factor 3: When interoperability demands are increasing. You want your apps to communicate with each other in unconventional ways.
Recommendation: Consider UI separation and integration implementation and connect the relevant assets (products, assets, and content) to serve your need.
Factor 4: Your portals and dashboards require the aggregation and management of data and functionality from multiple enterprise applications.
Recommendation: Utilize API-based integration that will act as a mediation layer between multiple technologies that power the digital experience.
8. When to Avoid API-centric or Headless Architecture
API-centric architecture is a design pattern where the user interface is decoupled from the backend logic. This allows for greater flexibility and agility, as the user interface can be changed without affecting the backend logic. However, it also makes the architecture more complex, requiring two separate layers to be developed and maintained.
If operational simplicity is a higher priority than flexibility and agility, then an API-centric architecture may not be the right choice. This is because the additional complexity of the architecture can make it more challenging to manage and troubleshoot.
Another reason to avoid an API-centric architecture is if you do not have the appropriate skills to implement custom user interfaces and custom integrations. This is because the user interface and integrations must be developed using modern front-end web technologies, which may require specialized skills.
Here are some additional considerations when deciding whether or not to use an API-centric architecture:
- The size and complexity of the system.
- The frequency of changes to the system.
- The availability of skilled developers.
- The budget for the project.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use an API-centric architecture depends on the specific needs of the application.
9. The Conclusion
The headless approach to digital strategy is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all sizes improve customer experience, reduce costs, and improve security. The headless approach is worth considering if you're looking for a way to future-proof your digital strategy.