Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled “Content is King” in January of 1996. 22 years later, content is still king. Customer-facing content is being generated at an incredible pace across multiple departments within an organization, which has caused a lot of pain around the management, structure, and delivery of this content – even for those using robust Content Management Systems (CMS).

Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) is a relatively new approach to this challenge that our team has recently been helping clients towards. Let’s look at a brief overview of CaaS and uncover the reasons your organization should be thinking about implementing a CaaS strategy.

What is Content-as-a-Service?

CaaS is defined in various ways across the Internet. It is also commonly conflated with terms like “Headless CMS” and “Decoupled CMS”, but in reality, both of these are just forms of CaaS. In its purest form, CaaS means that the Content Management functions of an organization are centralized into a single system that can be used regardless of delivery medium/mechanism.

Headless CMS and Decoupled CMS are both terms to describe different implementations of a CaaS strategy. In a Headless CMS implementation, the CMS is only responsible for the management of the content and has no delivery mechanism. In a Decoupled CMS, the CMS is responsible for both the management and delivery functions, but there is a clear logical distinction in those services and the content is easily consumable (usually via a REST API) by other systems as in a headless CMS. In a Decoupled CMS, the Management tier is the CaaS component for purposes of talking about advantages below.

Why use Content-as-a-Service?

Omnichannel Content Delivery

In the beginning, CMSs were primarily concerned with delivering browser-based content over the Internet to computers. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen an exponential rise in the types of devices that can consume content. There’s obviously the mobile web (which a traditional CMS doesn’t have too much of a problem handling), but there are now also numerous IoT devices, mobile applications, print, video, AR/VR, bots, etc. CaaS is a good first step in helping to ensure that messaging is consistent across devices with the least amount of rework or duplication.

Custom Web Applications with Content

Traditional Web CMSs work well for static websites/blog applications, but merging custom web application functionality with content has always been problematic. Often when building a website using a CMS you may have website pages that combine content with functional applications, and if you use the CMS product’s built-in content rendering functionality, you end up having two different JavaScript frameworks / libraries in use on that page impacting the overall user experience. By leveraging a headless CMS approach, you do not face such limitations and can achieve a completely seamless experience where the end user cannot tell any difference between content delivery and custom functionality.

Complete Control over Presentation

Traditional Web CMS platforms do not always allow for a fully customized design. While most CMSs have a sophisticated theming layer that allows you to customize the way your content is presented, there are usually a lot of requirements around: how your content is structured, what JavaScript frameworks you can use, or what programming language your templates would be coded in. Again, in the CaaS world, this is completely different. Since the CaaS is just the engine for storage and unformatted delivery, your web designers and developers will have full flexibility to create whatever they imagine. Using cutting-edge frameworks, programming languages, and design methodologies is easy when getting your content from a RESTful API.


Given that content is queried dynamically, personalization can be applied as needed. A CaaS system would only manage personalization rules and these rules can be channel specific or apply to multiple channels. For new delivery channels, the same APIs can be used or if a different API is needed, adding that service is less cumbersome than having to deploy another system.

Consolidated Analytics

In today’s Omnichannel world, knowing how content is performing can be increasingly difficult with disparate systems. For example, a piece of content might be shown on a traditional CMS via a browser, delivered directly in a mobile application, and have an excerpt displayed on an IoT device. In this case, the content marketer might have to look at three or four systems and aggregate statistics to see how their content is performing. In a CaaS world, all channel requests for content live in a centralized location.

Next Steps

As with all technology trends, CaaS is not for every use case, but if any of the above features address pain points in your organization or could provide value to your developers, content owners, or marketers, then doing more research on Content-as-a-Service is a good next step for you and your organization. Many CMS vendors have a way to run decoupled and there are a few pure-play Headless CMS vendors, if you want to dive into the technology further.

Ashish Bhutiani

Ashish Bhutiani


Ashish Bhutiani, CEO of Function1