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Create Once, Publish Everywhere with API-First Drupal

The ways in which customers interact with brands are changing. Users are no longer confined to the traditional avenues of websites or native mobile applications. Today, customers can also connect to your brand through conversational UIs, IoT devices or wearables. In a presentation at the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, Jakub Suchy, Director of Solutions Architecture at Acquia, and Preston So, Development Manager of Acquia labs, discussed the challenges inherent to this evolving model of content consumption.

Customers engage with an organization's content and data across many different touch points, all with their own unique requirements. Suchy explains that in order to accommodate this explosion of channels, marketing teams need to treat content more like data. Many marketers have been conditioned to conceptualize content in the form of html pages, but page architecture does not apply to all of the content opportunities available today.

For example, take the Amazon Echo. The Echo is the smart speaker that is becoming a household staple, allowing users to play music, order an uber or pay a credit card bill through a conversational UI. Unlike a traditional html page, an Echo has no visual display or screen. An Echo and a traditional website do not understand content in the same way. In order to interact with customers at every touch point, organizations need to streamline their ability to deliver content to an increasing number of available devices. Brands that fail to address these new avenues of content consumption could fall by the wayside.

So how do marketers begin to treat content more like data? Suchy suggests that marketing teams should transition towards models of structured content. Structured content refers to the strategy of organizing digital content into independent fields. Treating content like data better enables marketing teams to create once and publish everywhere, across numerous touch points and channels. Creating structured content allows organizations to better scale their marketing efforts and to interact with a customer on their preferred device, whether that be the web, a mobile application or Amazon echo.

Implementing structured content will extend an organization's reach, but it could also complicate its digital strategy. Preston So explains that while modern digital networks include a variety of applications, all of your organization's technologies can rely on Drupal as the platform for content distribution. By adopting an API-first architecture, Drupal can can power every instance of your digital system.

API-first refers to the interaction between a central web service and a variety of applications, which allows the two systems to exchange data over a network. Using API-first Drupal allows organizations to decouple the front end and use another technology for the theming layer and presentation. While there are certainly risks associated with fully decoupling Drupal, an API-first architecture can mediate the challenges associated with governing an expanding number of touch points and channels.

Organizations may select a decoupled Drupal approach for a few reasons. Some implement a decoupled strategy to leverages Drupal as a service layer to drive complex digital ecosystems. Others favor decoupling to provide front end teams with popular JavaScript Framework capabilities. Finally, some teams have taken data from Drupal to power television broadcasts, native mobile apps, in addition to other presentation devices.

Drupal can do just about everything, but an API-first approach could be the right choice when it is necessary to utilize technologies outside of the Drupal context. No matter the technical obstacle, Drupal can provide the solution.

Watch the full presentation: Decoupled Drupal for your Digital Experience Ecosystem, here:

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