What is CaaS
What CaaS essentially refers to is the ability of a system, such as an ECM or WCM, to expose its content via a services layer, usually by providing Rest-based APIs. You can access content stored in a repository, programatically and use it in third-party applications. This is a crucial capability that allows you to build your own applications or integrate with external applications and have your content surface at multiple places.
This is not a new capability and many tools have provided API-based access to content for a long time. However, with evolving architectures due to effects of cloud and mobile, and emergence of newer content delivery channels (such as internet-connected devices like wearables), content-as-a-service has gained more prominence now. As a result, vendors are improving these capabilities and there are more conversations about related concepts such as headless CMS and decoupled architectures . Many new products, such as Contentful have emerged that are based on headless architecture (we cover Contentful in our WCM evaluations).
CaaS is a useful capability but it will not remain a differentiator for a long tine. Almost every tool will provide it and as a customer, you should demand to have it as a core capability.
Move over CaaS, give way to EaaS
While CaaS provides opportunities to integrate and access content externally, it is a developer-centric capability. In fact, to some extent, it actually limits what business users - think marketers and editors — can do with their content. CaaS allows them to publish content to external applications or channels but they have limited capabilities to take decisions on that content because it is all happening programatically. This is where Experience-as-a-Service, or EaaS comes into picture.
With EaaS, the tool will separate content from presentation but it will still give you the ability to expose more than just raw content. It will let you bundle raw content with elements of experience — such as personalisation and content targeting — and allow you to access these via APIs and use in external applications.
EaaS will not replace CaaS but will extend it. After all, you need a strong content backbone for experience. To start with, you will need the ability to preview experience (and not just content) across multiple devices and will need an API that allows you to expose content plus experience in third-party applications as well as devices.
Current Status of EaaS
To be fair, some tools do allow bits of this functionality. For example, e-Spirit’s FirstSpirit allows you to bundle content with its html and access that via APIs. Many other tools allow you to access other services (mainly repository services such as check-in/check-out) via services. But, overall, this is not a capability that is common and consistent across different tools. I think this will be increasingly important though and you should start thinking of it now if you are planning to implement a new system.
You can hear more about this and other WCM trends in this recorded webinar. In our Web Content & Experience Management as well as ECM evaluations, we do call out such capabilities for products that exhibit them.