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Global Marketing and Localization with Contentful

  • 20 September 2021 / By Steven Shaw
  • Cloud Modernization Digital Transformation Martech Modernisation Managed Services

As part of Contentful’s Quest Webinar Series, our Technical Director Steve Shaw recently joined a panel of industry experts to discuss localisation and globalisation with Contentful and MACH architectures. Here we dig into a few of the points made and how a MACH architecture can really boost your speed to market.

If you want to watch the on-demand video of the webinar then click here:
On demand webinar

Why do your enterprise clients kick off these Contentful powered MACH Architecture projects in the first place?

We’ve seen that the pandemic has really accelerated the digital operations for a lot of organisations. What might have been a 5-10yr plan for transformation, changed into an immediate need. These organisations are looking to maximise the effectiveness of their digital channels and what MACH architecture is actually enabling them to do is respond to the demand quicker and in a more focussed manner.

Organisations that are on more of a traditional monolithic platform have really struggled to get platform updates and features deployed with slow release cycles, dependency issues and the usual challenges of testing entire ecosystems that has ultimately reduced the ability to adapt and drive innovation.
The smart enterprises are forming more product-based teams that are laser focussed on delivering an outcome or capability. For example in commerce it could be the checkout team, the product pages team, the inspiration content section etc.

What is clear is that Content sits at the heart of these MACH solutions, and that’s where Contentful is really excelling and delivering when it comes to the enterprise demands.

When we talk in terms of enterprise, it’s core elements such as clear SLA’s, fast API response times, ability to design and deploy platform governance and scale globally that really brings me to Contentful in a MACH architecture.

What are the overwhelming critical business issues that your clients are facing?

The most recent example I’ve got is with one client who had adopted a MACH architecture and a headless CMS about 18 months ago to power their website.

At that point in time they were very much UK focused and had no plans to roll out internationally. Following a phenomenal growth period, the business was looking to roll out across several countries in Europe.

The CMS they had implemented had very little in terms of multilingual content support and almost nothing in terms of content workflow and governance. Most of the public-facing website interface content was hard coded and only a small portion of the content had actually been implemented and managed in the CMS.

International rollout of the current application would be impossible without lots of work arounds which is really inefficient and a waste of resources which ultimately causes technical debt. They needed to revisit the CMS choice and ensure content can be translated and managed without engineering resources.

So we helped them focus on outcomes rather than just trying to compare features between CMS Vendors, and when it came down to it, Contentful won out because of its enterprise approach and it aligned to the long term goals of the organisation, not just delivering a single feature that was “cool” or only relevant to one very specific use-case.

 

Adopting a cloud-first strategy along with a MACH architecture is really helping enterprise organisations to innovate faster, improve their customer experiences and ultimately continue to grow in new and exciting markets.

Steve Shaw - Technical Director

What are the problems with the current platforms, people, and processes?

When it comes to globalisation the ability to author and publish content that is relevant to the market audience in the right language or local context is critical. It’s usually the speed of either the authoring the content or deploying new or updated features.

Content production is often highly inefficient. Some of the challenges with implementing preview functionality often means that content is published and then reviewed in production which presents a clear risk to reputation if the incorrect content is seen.

With no Content workflows in place, there is a risk of draft content being published inadvertently by other users, again for brands that are trying to grow globally, this is a risk that could not only affect visitor faith but can also ruin a campaign.

Basic access controls meant that nearly all users were at an Administrator level within the platform, this presents risks to the entire solution as changes to the content as well as the model could happen by inexperienced team members.

The combined lack of access and workflow controls meant that an international rollout would be extremely complex and risky and that multiple teams or markets would be unlikely to be able to operate with clear lines of responsibility within the platform.

The future state was to lead from a centralised content team in the UK who would be responsible for developing core brand content and having local market teams author market specific and translate content locally which wouldn’t have been possible with their previous CMS.

What were the specific capabilities needed by your enterprise client, and why Contentful powered MACH Architecture?

First and foremost, the increased platform governance capabilities. A clearly defined operating model can be really underestimated and can prove invaluable for internationalisation and a MACH architecture. Knowing who needs access to what content and who will be approving / publishing etc.

Multilingual content features such as ISO language identifiers, custom locales, language-level fallback and the ability to control language options at the field level are really powerful features and give organisations lots of flexibility.

Something that I really promoted was the multispace capabilities. There was clear separation of concerns from engineering about their content needs for things like the interface etc, so the ability to give them their own managed space separate to marketing content and product teams is ideal.

Improved integrations with third-party applications that are built into the current Contentful ecosystem including the commerce engine and DAM integrations as well as the App framework to develop custom interface plugins helps make the authoring experience much simpler and more streamlined.

What KPIs and business impact are you driving for your clients and their customers with Contentful powered MACH architecture?

Speed to market is one of the biggest wins we are seeing. There’s definitely some setup and planning needed in terms of a MACH architecture such as the guiding principles, but once that’s in place the speed of innovation is amazing.

For example in terms of localisation, if you want a centralised operating model, you can quickly launch new markets using locales and language fallback capabilities and then translate as you go.

If you want more of a devolved model, you can utilise a multispace architecture along with the Content Management APIs, you can effectively script the rollout of a English master-language version of the application, and then allow the local market to build upon the model and translate from there.

Another key thing that we’ve been able to deliver is an improved authoring experience. By having closer integrations with third party platforms jobs like associated media from a DAM is done in a matter of seconds rather than 5-10 minutes where you need to work out the URLs and copy and paste them between platforms.

Ultimately, Contentful delivers a better experience to authors and engineers by allowing them to focus on their specialist areas which in turn is delivering a better experience for the customers by getting quality updates quicker and more often.

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