Looking Back to Go Forward. Reviewing Our CMS Predictions From 2017

Rhys Evans - 01/07/2020
In late 2016, our very own Kane Barton published a blog that made some predictions about the future of CMS in 2017. The CMS space has continued to evolve since we last covered the topic, due to a variety of factors, both internal and external. Those factors have contributed to various CMS offerings developing in similar and differing directions here and there.

Today, I would like to take a quick look at those predictions, as well as look forward and make some predictions about the developments to come, for the next year or so.

First, the initial predictions take a look at the original article.

2017 Predictions - did we get them right?

2017 Prediction: Monolith to microservice CMS

While it is not possible to dig into the underlying source code of most CMS offerings, I do know that the push to modernise has led to a lot of discussion in this space, as I’ll refer back to in one of my new predictions. With increasing cloud offerings, this is more relevant than ever.

2017 Prediction: Decoupled rendering

One word: Headless. It may be going by a different name depending on your CMS of choice, but some offerings have been doing it for a while and others are providing new offerings in this space as well. Headless refers to the ability to separate content from presentation and this is a trend that I have seen continue to develop since our last prediction blog.

2017 Prediction: Exceptional searching

This was right on the mark. In early 2019, we enhanced ME Bank’s search functionality with Azure Search with great success. A number of prominent CMS offerings have added functionality (or are otherwise modular enough for custom plugins) to allow a wider variety of search offerings in a number of shapes and sizes, if the out of the box search offering isn’t quite what you’re after.

2017 Prediction: Customer support

I think that on a broader scale we have seen chatbots gain greater popularity in general, with CMS being no exception. Headless offerings have seen progress in this space as it makes for easier integration. A good chatbot that assists prospective customers can go a long way in adding value to your site.

2017 Prediction: Security

I think this prediction turned out well. A range of CMS offerings that I’ve worked with are increasing their authentication offerings, if they didn’t already have good options back in early 2017 already.

2017 Prediction: Machine learning

Looking at Kentico in particular, I have seen a fair amount of effort going into growing this side of their products. Enhancing and supporting the content management process with tools such as A/B testing, suggested content and personalisation ensures that users get content that means the most to them.

Predictions for 2020 and beyond

Now that we’ve had a quick retrospective look at the predictions, it’s time for me to cover some predictions about the next steps in CMS.

2020 Prediction: The push to MVC

While ASP.NET Web Forms isn’t necessarily going to disappear overnight (nor will it stop working all of a sudden), the ongoing development of ASP.NET MVC Core is an invitation for CMS offerings  running on Web Forms to consider newer architectures and work towards building for the future. This is not an easy jump to make, by any means, as it often requires a full rebuild of the website in question. That difficulty is understandably the reason why the transition has been a slow one, to give people time to migrate and work with clients each step of the way. Eventually, much like older releases of products begin to fall out of warranty; we will also see older technology stacks being phased out as options, to keep products as maintainable and up to date as possible. Again, it won’t happen overnight, but the day will eventually come.

2020 Prediction: A broader set of offerings to suit your needs

Recently we have seen an increase in headless and cloud offerings, bringing together CMS and SaaS (in some cases dubbed CaaS — Content as a Service) that complement the standard implementation hosted on a server of your choice. Some of these offerings have been around for some time and others are up and coming. To help reach out to a wider variety of potential customers, I predict that this trend will continue, allowing users to use their CMS of choice in the environment they require.

2020 Prediction: Continuation of security trends

The last few years have seen the ongoing maturity of digital laws and protections, perhaps most notably GDPR in the European Union. The heart of a CMS is, as the name implies, content, so it is important to handle user data carefully. As other regions consider laws in line with GDPR, as some already have, it will be useful for CMS offerings to offer assistance in this space, perhaps in the form of providing warnings and suggestions that marketers and developers alike can work with.

2020 Prediction: Continuation of cloud integration

This relates closely to what we predicted previously around microservices, search and machine learning. As Azure, AWS and other cloud offerings increase and enhance the variety of services available, it is becoming increasingly possible to leverage them not only for your CMS projects, but also for all manner of projects. With the move to modernise CMS architectures further, the opportunity to leverage these opportunities will become easier. Those CMS products that stand out may offer more ways to plug in your service of choice, if the out of the box options don’t quite match your needs.

2020 Prediction: The Internet of Things marches on

With all of the advances being made in the ‘Headless’ space, the path is well and truly open for a variety of devices to consume content in their own particular way. More ambitious and creative integrations leveraging a CMS, particularly in the commercial and entertainment spaces may prove to be an interesting field for developers to implement. It might not be your everyday problem, but headless is ready and able to provide novel solutions.

2020 Prediction: Accessibility

One of the challenges that can come with content management is ensuring an appropriate level of accessibility. If your custom content is missing important data that devices like screen readers require, you end up excluding those who might otherwise be able to take part. In a typical situation — let’s say the use of an image to communicate a design — content editors might need to provide that extra information via additional fields prepared for that very purpose, or be generated in a semi-automated manner. The CMS of the future may provide better avenues for content editors to assess their work and detect potential accessibility problems. Going hand-in-hand with the Internet of Things, the opportunity to use a headless CMS to reach out to more devices may help with ensuring that everyone has a chance to participate.

Overall, I suspect that a number of developments that have kicked off in the last few years in these spaces will continue on their way, with more progress bearing fruit in the years to come. 2020 has been a bit of a rollercoaster for most of us so far, but hopefully my predictions aren’t too far off the mark. Who knows – perhaps we’ll be seeing some very different looking CMS products before we know it.

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