Factors for evaluating digital platforms

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March 22, 2021


When it comes to getting initiatives greenlit in 2021, you need to show quantifiable return on investment (ROI). We’re still suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic, and digital investments will still need to be grounded in sound business practices.

In this post, we talk to Andrew Kumar, director of platform strategy at Contentful, about his vast experience with Contentful implementations. Kumar has been involved in over 50 Contentful implementations across eight organizations. He has identified several quantifiable outcomes in his experience with Contentful and other content platforms on the market. For Kumar, it comes down to cost savings, increasing content portability and accelerating speed and agility.

1. Look for cost savings 

When you speak about quantifiable ROI, it’s natural to jump to cost savings. Kumar breaks cost savings down into operating expenditures (OPEX), which refers to recurring license fees and costs, and capital expenditures (CAPEX), which are implementation and build costs. Across Kumar’s implementations, he’s seen that Contentful has lower OPEX and CAPEX when compared to hybrid monolith and headless systems. Typically, Contentful has lower license fees and less running costs due to the platform's nature; updates and added product features are often included. 

Graphic comparing the capability of a content platform, immature headless CMS and hybrid monolith CMS to reduce CAPEX and OPEX expenditures

Green means favourable impact, red means negative impact, and orange represents mixed impact.

With Contentful, project implementation costs also tend to drop drastically once the initial infrastructure is set up. This isn’t the case with most hybrid, monolith and headless systems. Implementation costs can be high, and they continue to scale with your work –– every project incurs additional costs with limited ability to leverage your existing foundations.  

2. Futureproof your content with a flexible, multi-space content ecosystem 

When it comes to risk reduction, there are several things to consider — ranging from your content platform's flexibility and portability to your ability to integrate other tools and services into your ecosystem. Kumar breaks them down as follows.

Graphic showing how a content platform, hybrid monolith and immature headless all handle different aspects of a CMS's responsibilities

Green means favourable impact, red means negative impact, and orange represents mixed impact.

Content portability

With so many digital channels, and more to come, you need to futureproof your content to be flexible and adaptable. With Contentful, your content works across websites, mobile, voice and social channels, while hybrid, monolith and headless systems are website-centric or siloed to one purpose. Kumar says to "skate to where the puck is going," a quote from Wayne Gretzky. It’s risky to ignore a rapidly changing digital landscape.

Upskilling and training

The Contentful Learning Services team, certification and education modules is like a secret weapon in raising the level of your digital teams. Additionally, the partner ecosystem, and developer community with 400+ NPM packages ensures your talent pool is ready to support your customers needs and capitalize on any shifts in your business.

Maintenance operations

It's easy to fall into a maintenance trap where you're spending more time maintaining and upgrading your infrastructure than creating new digital experiences. Hybrid and monolithic systems often need upgrades and can result in expensive replatform migrations. Other headless providers may not be fully SaaS, or provide separation of management and delivery infrastructure, leading to complex caching and performance challenges for your team to tackle. With Contentful, your team is always focusing on the most valuable customer experience challenges. 

Tech stack options and architecture flexibility

Contentful offers flexible tech stack options so you can use whatever tools or languages you want, including Node, React, Python, Ruby, Java, and can deploy to Netlify, AWS, Azure, or GCP. It's also composable by design; you can use the App Framework to extend functionality. Hybrid, monolith and other systems are still stuck in Java or .Net, which is becoming harder to recruit for as developers move on. 

Integrations ecosystem

Your ability to integrate other tools and services with your content platform is becoming increasingly important. Capabilities like personalization, AB testing, AI, form management and asset management are all becoming essential. Unlike hybrid monolith and other headless systems which offer expensive and limited options, Contentful allows you to “plug and play” the best solutions and capabilities with the app marketplace. You have the ability to add whatever functionality you need.

Industry-leading tools

Contentful allows you to buy only what you need and integrate it seamlessly into your stack. Hybrid, monolithic and headless systems require a significant initial investment or big integration investment, and you're likely often getting features that you don't want –– but that you’re paying for.  

3. Ramp up your speed and agility 

Customer expectations are changing and evolving quickly, and your content platform needs to keep up. For Kumar, this is all about increasing your productivity by shrinking your project timelines, increasing developer velocity, streamlining your content operations and decreasing your time to market. 

In his Contentful implementations, Kumar says that customers reduce their project timelines from months to days for their MVP and turn out full experiences in 60-90 days. You can read more about these for yourself — Atlassian, Mailchimp, TELUS digital, and Hims & Hers all demonstrate the speed that’s available with Contentful. This speed is in part due to a cross-functional builder ethos and streamlined content operations. Creative and content designers can work independently of developers to publish content to all customer touchpoints,  because the content is separate from code.

Graphic comparing a content platform's, hybrid monolith CMS's, and immature headless CMS's effects of speed and repeatable delivery

Green means favourable impact, red means negative impact, and orange represents mixed impact.

On the contrary, monolith and headless systems can slow down the process. You may not even be able to get hands-on access or provisioning with other systems in the same time frame. It’s not uncommon for a MVP to take more than eight months. 

It’s a similar story for developer velocity. Contentful makes developers happy because it is an industry-leading product with stable, reliable APIs and comprehensive documentation. This maximizes developers efficiency, resulting in big savings for teams and enterprises. Overall there is a faster time to market. And when it comes to iterations and enhancements, they can be developed rapidly without any disruptions. 

New features like our Contentful apps — Compose + Launch — further add capabilities for builders to ramp up speed and agility.

You can continue evaluating content management systems by downloading our free white paper Is a legacy platform standing in the way of your future?

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