By Mark Demeny, on Mar 24, 2020

How integrated stacks are changing the agency-brand relationship

An individual looking at an abstraction of an integrated stack

Earlier this month, I hosted a Contentful webinar where we talked about the launch of the App Framework and expanded partner program. We were fortunate to have Om Singh as our guest. Singh is head of engineering, nordics at our partner Publicis Sapient. He spoke about the experience that our shared client, Bang & Olufsen, had in implementing Contentful as their platform of choice.

The webinar is online and certainly worth a look, particularly as Om does a great job relating the story of how brands can focus on customer experience across all channels. Bang & Olufsen is a brand that has a deep heritage to draw upon, and their approach to ecommerce clearly shows the luxury experience across everything they do.

As I mention in the webinar, I’ve personally been using Bang & Olufsen headphones for years, and use my Beoplay E8 twice a day when I walk my dog and listen to podcasts. But as you know, the product itself is only part of the whole customer experience, which carries across from the “showroom-like” experience of browsing, to the well-designed interface of the mobile app, streamlining the usage and support experience of separate products. Contentful is an important part of this platform, unifying the messaging and content across these channels — from website, to in-store, to the mobile application.

But as I look forward, I think the bigger news is really about how companies like Publicis Sapient and our other 60+ global partners can use the App Framework to power the next wave of Contentful implementations — the Bang & Olufsen example is the beginning of this trend. I’ll recap a few key takeaways on how brands and agencies can work harmoniously to execute on any strategy and with any stack.

Platform decisions start with platform owners

Looking at how agencies develop solutions for their clients, there are a number of factors that go into making a platform decision. These include evaluating technical capability, time-to-value and ease of onboarding clients onto the new platform. It’s also clear that part of that trend involves clients taking on a greater sense of ownership of the new platform, both from a technology skillset and content creator perspective.

As brands evolve and add more technology to their portfolios, evaluating tech vendors can be time consuming and not necessarily aligned to their vertical or relationship with their customers (for example, B2B and B2C solutions require very different processes and platforms for marketing and support). In addition to having the people to deliver a project, more often the value of an expert solution partner is to help identify what fits best in a brand’s organization.

API-first creates more agility in implementation

In the case of Bang & Olufsen, it was clear that the quality of the API for multichannel capability was paramount. But as we look at larger enterprises, having packaged solutions which include common integrations and extensions are likely to become more common. This will happen when agencies get more familiar with other API-first products and services, and use the App Framework to stitch these together in a modular, repeatable fashion.

Time-to-value (TTV) is now one of the key metrics for project success, so it’s not a surprise that agencies are looking to platforms such as Contentful as a way of achieving implementation agility and reducing the implementation time.

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole

As agencies build more projects, common patterns of content modelling and integrations for verticals and use cases will emerge. These can easily be scripted and replicated (from content model and space assembly, through to the integration of external or private apps). But more importantly, this will also have a positive impact on client handover.

While much of the baseline work of content modelling or integrations is repeatable, the headless nature of the platform means that an agency can be far more adaptive to the organizational skill set that will ultimately be running and responsible for the project. This means user acceptance is likely to be far higher, and ongoing development is aligned with existing processes and skillets.

Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between internal capabilities (during evaluation and ongoing eventual delivery), external people and skill sets (to deliver domain-specific expertise) and the platform of well-selected integrated tools which allow both teams to deliver in a rapid fashion.

Start building your own integrated stack

As we mentioned in the webinar, the newly released App Framework will accelerate these efforts so organizations can centrally manage and script installation processes, making any third party integrations or custom functionality far easier to manage. To learn how to do this, you can attend our April 7th webinar “How to build your first app with Contentful’s new App Framework.

Mark Demeny

Mark is the Director of Content Management Strategy at Contentful. He is a CMS expert with over 16 years of technical and strategy knowledge in content and digital marketing. He has worked with more than a dozen CMS, ECM, Analytics and Commerce products. Mark also holds an MBA from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.