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When Rethinking Your CMS, Build for the Future

3 Market Trends That Make You Rethink Your CMS

For a decade, companies have focused on building and optimizing websites for multiple channels, including mobile and social. Despite new tools to help adjust, demands have forced companies to shift toward customer experience for emerging technologies, such as such as Internet of Things devices, conversational interfaces, and digital signage. Thus, a new question has surfaced: Which technologies should they focus on?

We have multiple connected devices on hand - laptops, tablets, and smartphones are ubiquitous - and new types of devices are on the horizon. Identifying the next big thing is the challenge. Is it wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers), augmented reality (think Pokemon Go!), or conversational interfaces (Siri, Cortana and Alexa) that you’ll need to stretch both your budget and development time between? Maybe it is all of the above. The truth is, none of us really knows which of these things are going to take off and be adopted or when. We also don’t know when the next version of these devices will be ready, how long they’ll be around, or and when the next new channel will become available to augment these devices or replace them. The best way to stay ahead of the changing digital environment is to invest in a platform that enables flexibility to support the changing demands of your customers, one that can deliver your brand’s digital experiences across any channel, even those devices that haven’t been built yet.

So, as we think of all of these, let’s look at some trends in terms of technology and development that will enable your team to build digital experiences for the future.

Decoupling drives developer innovation

Whether you call it headless or decoupled, your new CMS must allow developers a choice in how to render the front-end experience so ambitious digital experiences (or elements of them) can be created once and delivered across any device or channel -- whether that be web, digital signage or even conversational interfaces. For example, decoupled Drupal delivers a strong content management service to serve to modern front-end applications. Node.js enables the developer to create applications in a modular fashion. Pieces of functionality are built independently and this allows both scale and flexibility to the development team. Plus, the modules you create can be reused in other applications, meaning updates can happen in a module and flow to many apps. This is why developers like using tools like Node.js, Angular, or Swift. They can deliver more functionality faster and with greater quality. Acquia Cloud supports decoupled Drupal as a content service. The Drupal back end exposes content to other systems, such as native applications, JavaScript, and IoT devices. Drupal itself also supports a robust offering of web services, including the core REST API, JSON API, and GraphQL, in addition to software development kits like Waterwheel.js (JavaScript) and Waterwheel.swift (Swift). This means that any system can consume content from the cloud with ease.

Chatbots: The next user interface?

We have a lot of cool stuff happening at Acquia Labs. We’ve been experimenting with new types of channels for digital experiences like conversational interfaces, augmented and virtual reality, and IoT devices just to see what’s possible. Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal and CTO of Acquia, recently posted a blog about some of the things they have been working on, including the integration of chatbots into the digital experience. If you haven’t already, check out the video here. We think that chatbots will become an integral way in which organizations interact with their customers. Chatbots extend beyond a single platform to become a more ubiquitous way to interact digitally. This technology is still in its infancy, but the reality is that the third interface is upon us, the conversational UI powered by a chatbot.

Developers tools: Build the future

There is a lot of growth in digital channels to support. This doesn’t translate to growth in teams or budgets immediately. Developers need tools to increase efficiency. There is a lot of work involved in getting a complex system of developer tools operating correctly - despite that the benefits are exponential when you are all set up. Local development tools are available from most platforms as are prebuilt integrations with GitHub or BitBucket. Connect these to a pipeline automation tool (Jenkins, Travis or Bamboo) to automate loading and testing in an environment that closely mirrors production, then complete hands-on testing before pushing to production, keeping an eye on the whole thing through reports.

These types of tools make development teams more efficient through processes that enable continuous delivery. With the right architecture and tools, you can really start to improve the speed and quality of code delivery across all channels. That’s why we launched Acquia Cloud CD, which integrates the automation of your code pipelines with our cloud in production-like environments. Acquia eliminated all of the set up work by adding the code pipelines tools and continuous delivery environments to our subscriptions.

So what does it take to deliver on all of these trends?

In our opinion it takes a robust cloud platform that was designed to scale for the evolution of customer experiences. The cloud because of its scalability and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) because it enables your teams to focus on developing, delivering and managing applications rather than hardware and operating systems. Second, your PaaS needs to make supporting decoupled architecture easy. Free yourself to design for the delivery channel with a common, robust backend. Finally, give your developers the tools to be efficient when managing all of these new experiences so you can quickly evolve your digital experience to a true omnichannel journey for your customer.

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