The latest Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’: WCM 2019 report is here! Get the report
blog Content Management

Content Models: The Foundation for Agile Content

By Michael Andrews Dec 11, 2019

Previously, we learned how to overcome tool fatigue with CaaS. Content teams need to produce new content and revise existing content quickly. CaaS helps teams do so, by leveraging the power of content models.


Content models express how content management systems organize content internally. A robust content model provides a framework that structures content within the CMS that makes the content more useful. Content about a topic is broken into distinct parts and these parts can be combined in different ways.

From Sluggish Content to Agile Content

Content should be able to pivot. It needs to be able to change when necessary. What you created yesterday may not be exactly what you need tomorrow.

Content models are like a playbook for your content. They provide a map of different possibilities for how content can be pieced together to address different situations.

But not all CMSs support the structuring of content to the same degree. They are based on different foundations. Some CMSs have content models that are rudimentary, providing just a few attributes to describe a generic article. They can’t pivot at all. The content models of other CMSs are complicated and rigid. They can pivot only in a limited range of situations. A limited or clumsy content model will slow down your content operations. Your content will be sluggish as a result.

Content models that follow a CaaS approach are flexible and can support all kinds of situations. A CaaS content model is agile. It can let content pivot in many directions.

Enterprises are focused on improving agility in all areas of their operations. Content is no exception. Senior Analyst at Forrester Research Mark Grannan refers to the growing need for an Agile CMS approach and “Agile content curation and orchestration.” Content as a Service delivers the agility that enterprises need to produce a range of content efficiently.

Flexible versus Fixed Content Models

The first factor influencing agility is whether the content model is flexible or fixed.

A fixed content model is a hand-me-down template that was decided by the CMS vendor. Most traditional CMSs offer a fixed content model. The vendor makes assumptions about how enterprises will use their content. The users of their CMS must follow the structure the vendor has chosen. The structure may be customized to some degree, but the core structure is fixed and must be used.

Because these vendor choices are generic, the structure isn’t granular or precise. The content is difficult to work with as a result. Content teams are hampered because:

  • The model does not match the specific business requirements of the enterprise
  • It’s hard to update and change details in the content
  • It’s hard to personalize and customize content for different audience segments
  • It’s hard to reuse specific content

Content as a Service provides a flexible content model, unlike the fixed content model of a traditional CMS. A flexible content model lets each enterprise decide how they want to structure their content. A CaaS content model reflects the enterprise’s choices and priorities. Enterprises can decide what parts of their content are important, such as:

  • What wording needs to stay consistent everywhere it is used
  • What information appears widely and should be revised in a central location
  • What messages and information to customize for different audiences and scenarios
  • What content elements such as calls to action are critical and need to be optimized easily
  • What information changes often and needs to be managed readily

CaaS gives enterprises ownership of their content model. They are in a position to choose how to make content work most effectively.

Enterprise Models versus Website-specific Models

A second factor influencing agility concerns alignment. How aligned is the enterprise around a common content structure? The more widely the enterprise takes advantage of structured content, the more agile their content will be.

Only CaaS supports an enterprise-wide content model that provides a common structure for content everywhere.

Enterprises have distributed teams producing content separately from each other, using different CMSs and working on different projects. It’s not obvious how the work of different teams is related. Each website has a different content structure.

With a traditional CMS, the content model utilized is specific to that CMS. That means each CMS that an enterprise uses has its own individual content model associated with it. And that makes it difficult to share content between different CMSs.

CaaS, in contrast, unifies content. All the enterprise’s content can be described using a common content model and taxonomy. Different teams may work on separate projects but can use a common model to structure the content they create. When the content follows a common structure, it can be shared and reused across different teams. The enterprise content model provides a common framework for accessing and managing content items. 

Agility Comes from Flexible Enterprise-wide Content Models

With a traditional CMS, content models are typically simple and not very flexible. Content is hard to modify, hard to share, and hard to use in different scenarios.

CaaS supports an enterprise-wide content model, so content can be used anywhere it is needed. To achieve agility, enterprises need a content model that is flexible and shareable. CaaS provides that.

In our next post in this series, we will examine how CaaS supports the customization of content.

Additional resources

Written by
Michael Andrews

I’m Content Strategy Evangelist at Kentico Kontent. I appreciate the value of great content. My mission is to help others produce the best content they can.

More articles from Michael

Subscribe to Kentico Kontent Newsletter

Stay in the loop. Get the hottest updates while they’re fresh!