A few years ago, I shared my perspective on the notable rise the industry as I was tracking in businesses adopting a headless architecture. At that time there was no doubt that a headless system would become a significant enabler of today’s visual economy.
Fast forward to today, and it has become even more apparent that headless is more than tech vendor jargon. It’s a must-have for businesses, especially those that rely heavily on a media-first, highly visual user experience.
As I explained back then, a headless digital asset management (DAM) system decouples the master asset library from one centralized interface, enabling asset consumption from other systems via custom or pre-built interfaces. Adoption of headless DAMs is accelerating, and I have a front-row seat to watching brands today reap the benefits.
Modern marketing teams — especially within organizations that have a complex technology stack with multiple content systems — must evaluate how they can take advantage of headless DAMs to increase flexibility and stay competitive in the visual economy.
Pain Points of Traditional SaaS Applications
A side-effect of the pandemic is the massive investment businesses have made in their online presence to create user experiences that engage, convert and cultivate long term loyalty. With 84% of consumers saying that a video has influenced them to buy something, it’s more important than ever for brands to deliver the images and videos online shoppers are drawn to.
Because of this, managing rich media quickly and efficiently has become a necessary yet daunting challenge. Basic features of content management systems (CMSes) cannot efficiently organize, source, optimize and deliver visual assets at the scale needed today.
Traditionally, SaaS applications are deployed in either of these two ways, both of which have significant downsides:
- Best-of-breed applications: Despite their innovative features for business functions, independent best-of-breed applications tend to render operations more complex and create silos. Fixing the related issues is a time-sink for developers and marketers alike.
- All-in-one platforms: This is a unified and streamlined approach through which applications seamlessly integrate with one another. Though efficient, all-in-one platforms can lack advanced components.
With headless applications, brands can eliminate these roadblocks and deliver engaging experiences to their audiences.
Related Article: Content Teams: Beware the Headless CMS
Well-Structured APIs and Path to Going Headless
Headless DAMs are ideal for organizations with a complex technology stack with multiple content systems, teams and workflows.
For these organizations, having concise and well-structured APIs that efficiently process media assets and metadata creates an appealing user experience. They must have well-tested technology integrations to store their metadata along with the media assets.
That way, businesses can seamlessly integrate their other platforms and best-of-breed applications to organize, search and manage visuals through an embedded or customized UI.
Headless Leads to Agility, Customization
To keep pace with the rise in media demands and consumption, brands must have a consistent structure in which to successfully manage, transform and deliver those assets. Headless technologies makes this possible by providing features that are:
- Scalable: Different teams can share the same content repository across all the websites, apps and systems for creating and delivering experiences, ensuring consistency and efficiency. Besides being accessible through the main UI, all DAM functionalities can be extended into existing systems and workflows, leading to higher user adoption and creating a true single silo-less source of truth.
- Flexible: With robust APIs and SDKs, developers can use their programming language of choice to build a custom interface or to integrate with other systems, simultaneously increasing developer productivity.
- Agile: Building a best-of-breed stack with a headless architecture allows for agile replacements or upgrades to the stack, adapting to changing business needs while adopting new trends and technologies.
- Customizable: In contrast to the one-size-fits-all approach of even the best-performing traditional DAMs, a custom UI built on top of APIs enables functionalities that meet specific business needs.
These distinct advantages enable businesses to process all media types efficiently and create more compelling visual storytelling across different channels. It also enables faster time-to-market to meet consumer demands.
Related Article: 34 Free or Premium Headless CMS That Should Be on Your Radar
Enabling Faster, More Engaging Visual Storytelling
Headless commerce, headless content management, headless DAM — these phrases reverberate throughout conversations in enterprise software today, as brands strive to meet consumer needs and acquire the technology necessary to manage each piece of the storytelling puzzle. Every industry has a story to tell.
Marketing teams across all industries, from retail and ecommerce to media and technology, are always looking for ways to improve customer engagement without sacrificing internal efficiencies. And going headless may well be the answer.
Sanjay Sarathy is VP developer experience at Cloudinary, a provider of end-to-end digital media management solutions. With more than twenty years experience in leading global marketing programs, his work spans tech startups and established market leaders in SaaS, Big Data, analytics and e-commerce.