Making your business ready “as a Service”
Enterprises are rethinking how they offer services online. Many are expanding the reach of their offerings by adopting an “as a service” approach. This post explains the opportunities of an “as a service” approach and how content fits in.
The global pandemic has accelerated the movement by enterprises toward digital transformation. They need a robust business ecosystem that can connect applications, processes, and data across different business units and between companies. They also need to be able to be present in any online channel where either employees, partners, or customers need to access their content.
Nowadays, many things are being offered “as a service”—including content. Kentico Kontent provides a Content-as-a-Service approach to content management. Why refer to something like content management as being offered “as a service”? Don’t make the mistake of dismissing this as a flashy buzzword. The “as a service” philosophy is a growing trend in all areas of IT and business. It offers significant strategic advantages. And to take advantage of this trend, your content needs to be ready for it. How you manage your content will determine if it is available as a service to others.
Enabling your content to connect elsewhere
“X as a Service” (XaaS) is an umbrella term for a comprehensive approach to IT capabilities. You have likely heard concepts such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and, of course, Software as a Service (SaaS). As CIO Magazine summarizes: “What is XaaS? A way to inject agility into your digital business.”
XaaS is about the unbundling of IT capabilities to take advantage of scale and choice. Enterprises have better options at a lower cost than they would when buying pre-configured all-in-one solutions. They can integrate from a wide menu of options.
The initial impetus for XaaS was to reduce costs and be able to choose the “best of breed” options. Doing so, IT departments get better value satisfying existing requirements.
But XaaS has become the foundation for a much bigger shift: the ability to offer more sophisticated revenue-generating services to customers. It’s no longer limited to saving money—it’s about creating new value for both the enterprise and its customers.
Content as a Service is an essential component of a XaaS IT infrastructure. On a technical level, CaaS utilizes microservices, APIs, cloud storage, and headless content management, sometimes referred to as “MACH.” CaaS allows content to integrate seamlessly with other IT capabilities. But its benefits extend beyond IT. CaaS enables a pipeline of content from creation to delivery that can address new customer segments and scenarios.
Content in services: Integrate your content everywhere it might be needed or valuable
The rise of service design is another trend that is shaping how enterprises think about their agility and responsiveness. While XaaS is a technical trend, service design is about people—the customer.
Service design has become a major theme in business strategy over the past decade. The basic idea is to focus on everything customers may need and make sure they can access these services without friction. Services are experiences that involve a flow, where the focus shifts over time as customers advance through their journeys. Companies offering services to customers need to coordinate relationships with suppliers, partners, sales channels, marketing channels, and distribution channels. With so many factors involved that could slip up, the service experiences that are delivered are often poor.
Services have traditionally been considered as occurring in a physical context, but they are increasingly being delivered entirely online. For example, telehealth consultations and virtual athletic training have expanded dramatically since the pandemic. And businesses are accelerating efforts to automate services online so that employees aren’t required to process requests or provide advice. The rise of robot investment advisors (“robo advisors”) is an example.
The shift to online channels has coincided with enterprises offering more direct-to-consumer (DTC) interactions. But for online services to be successful, they need to be joined up. The service experience is broken if a critical part of it isn’t readily accessible online. Customers don’t want to go to different sources to get information or perform tasks. There’s a premium on integrating all content and task functionality into a unified point of access for consumers.
Much of the early focus of service design focused on “backstage” employees who need to be available to prevent the service experience from breaking, and “frontstage” (customer-facing) employees who integrate the various streams of activity for customers to use. But the development of “as-a-service” approaches has prompted a shift in thinking toward enabling customers to be self-sufficient in their service journey.
With a holistic view of customer goals and the information and functionality they need, services can be designed to provide a better customer experience that can generate new business value.
Improving services: The case of Lemonade insurance
Businesses are using APIs to connect different offers and build synergies between products and services that can deliver more value to consumers.
Lemonade insurance, a fast-growing and popular startup that recently launched its IPO, is an example of a business moving to the XaaS model. In Lemonade’s case, they provide Insurance as a Service, relying heavily on APIs.
“At Lemonade you buy an insurance policy in 90 seconds. You get paid in as little as three seconds,” its CEO told CNBC. “That crushes costs and delights consumers.”
Part of the value of the service is that it integrates the customer’s experience.
“Lemonade can be seamlessly integrated with commerce websites, financial advisor apps, property management companies, payment software processors, IoT platforms, and more,” the company notes.
When services are made available anywhere, content needs to be available in those places too.
How the service mindset changes the role of content
When service offerings come to the customer, instead of expecting the customer to find the service, that changes how content is used. Content needs to be available at the point of access to services. In the case of insurance, the opportunity for consumers to consider their insurance needs could arise at different times and in various contexts. They will often be using another app or platform. Any content that can help customers understand the value of insurance will need to be available in the app they are using, whether it was created by the insurer or a business partner.
The CaaS approach supports the delivery of content to all platforms and apps where it may be needed. It doesn’t just do this by providing a delivery API—something most CMSs offer. Rather, it provides end-to-end support for the content’s journey to the customer. The content is structured within the CaaS platform. Writers can create and manage the precise information and messages that customers need to see in different contexts and scenarios. And because the content is fine-grained in structure, the APIs can deliver and respond with exactly what the customer wants.
The experience of Insurance as a Service can be applied to other sectors. Many businesses have the opportunity to integrate their offering with those provided by firms in complementary sectors. Customers can choose an integrated package of options, instead of having to investigate and decide on each one piecemeal.
Customer interest will depend in part on the content that appears within the integrated offer. Precise content, delivered by an API, can explain the value. A CaaS approach makes it possible to tell your story to customers about the services you offer, anytime, and anyplace that’s appropriate.