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CMS Subscription Services are Appealing, But Be Aware of Lock-In


Charlie Perrins, VP of technology at Digitas looks at the benefits of subscription services and the impact they have on the cost of flexibility

CMS Subscription Services are Appealing, But Be Aware of Lock-In

Subscription services are taking over the world, from the music libraries in our pockets to the cars parked outside our homes. Often the essential element (a song, a vehicle) is front and centre, free from clutter, and backed by digital services in the cloud. This model is on the rise for digital Content Management Systems and is called CMS-as-a-Service.

Subscription services are great for some uses. Streaming is a much better option for music consumption than stacking up dozens of CDs. On the other hand, BMW charging a subscription fee to unlock amenities like heated seats [1] sounds like a science fiction nightmare. So, which is CMS-as-a-Service?

Under the traditional Content Management System model, businesses pay a licence fee to install a CMS product and are responsible for hosting decisions, support, maintenance, and upgrades. With CMS-as-a-Service they pay for an ongoing subscription, and the technology provider handles hosting, maintenance, upgrades, and will release new features as part of the fee. This model offers marketers real incentives to adopt like limitless traffic handling and more resources to put towards other challenges.. But that promise could come at the cost of flexibility in the long run.

Shopify and Squarespace are CMS-as-a-Service platforms (even if you think of Shopify only as eCommerce). Their explosion in popularity, particularly for mid-sized businesses and sites, has encouraged more prominent players traditionally serving the enterprise market to evolve their offerings. Adobe, Drupal (via Acquia) and Optimizely all offer CMS-as-a-Service products alongside their traditional technology solutions.

Why would a marketer be interested in this? It significantly reduces the time to market when starting a new project. And it places all the effort for hosting, security patching, and software upgrades onto the CMS company rather than your own IT team. This can have a significant impact since many businesses spend 20% of their up-front software development costs each year on upgrades alone [2].

Where could these savings be spent? McKinsey reported in 2021 that “71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions” [3]. It takes hard work and investment to provide personalised marketing experiences. By stripping back on internal CMS operations, you can focus your teams’ efforts on the harder-to-solve problems.

Because CMS-as-a-Service solutions are inherently cloud based they typically outpace self-hosted CMS implementations. They automatically scale up to meet your traffic peaks, self-heal when errors occur, and globally distribute their content so users everywhere have the fastest, smoothest experience with your brand.

So, is there a catch? There could be. 

Marketers no longer consider content management in isolation - we focus on connected experiences across our customers’ many devices and channels. Modern, tech-savvy marketers choose Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) [4] rather than shopping for a CMS. And it will always be easier to connect your CMS-as-a-Service solution to other DXP solutions from the same technology company. 

This could lead to lock-in, nudging you towards using products you otherwise might not prefer. In some cases, connecting to alternate tech solutions may be prohibitively complex, expensive, or both. CMS-as-a-Service, with its low cost of entry, can lead a business into a deeper relationship with a technology company, and this must be considered at the outset. 

CMS-as-a-Service is part of the wider phenomenon of Everything-as-a-Service (Xaas). While it may not be right for every company today, the need for a wider cloud adoption strategy is universal. For those marketing teams ready to make a move, combine smart technology strategy with the right cloud platform, and you can easily manage any limitations on flexibility while unlocking performance and financial benefits that will increase each year.

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Digitas USA, Mon, 22 Aug 2022 08:16:48 GMT