Addressing business needs with an agile stack

Panu Ervamaa10.6.2020ContentReading time 5 min

A few weeks ago we held a joint Frantic Live webinar with our partner Contentful on agile tech stacks and their many benefits. Contentful is a platform for content management and distribution that adapts well into cloud-based and modular solutions.

This is particularly topical now that turbulent times have pushed organizations to rapidly react in uncertain situations. This blog post highlights the webinar’s key themes and continues the discussion around the topic. You can also watch the recording of our webinar: Frantic Live x Contentful: Addressing business needs with an agile stack

Unique solutions for unique challenges

Business needs are always unique and thus require unique solutions. Monolithic all-in-one systems (“suites”) cater to certain generic challenges. Contentful provides a flexible and easy-to-integrate platform for implementing content as part of a wider stack. In this context, we talk about the so-called “Stacks vs. Suites” approaches.

Effortless integration with other digital solutions is usually more critical than a long list of features. This allows us to make the most of the technologies that best suit our needs. For example, the A/B testing solution that best supports your business is often not the one pre-embedded into the chosen product.

A monolithic, seemingly “complete” solution also requires customization to your unique business needs. The amount of work that goes into customizing such a solution can easily be far greater than building your own from scratch using the stack model to support your specific business needs. This is made possible by modern development tools and frameworks, as well as the wide range of other easily integrated, cloud-native and API-based components available. The Contentful App Framework provides ready-made integrations to make it even easier to build and integrate your own stack.

Contentful adapts and grows with its user

Covid-19 changed the game for many organizations this spring. In situations like this, the simplicity of an all-in-one tool can easily backfire. When a tool is created for a specific purpose, it does not function in a novel situation. A modular stack approach combining multiple technologies makes the fast adaptation of new technologies possible.

When a stack approach is kicked off with a smaller use case, you might even be surprised how well the technology or service is adopted within your organization. In this sense, a modular stack that combines relevant technology solutions becomes, at best, organic growth, when needs and trajectories can be discovered and reacted to without redefining the entire solution.

Even if the CMS offers ready-made page templates, organizations still usually need to build tailored modules for presenting content. Fixed solutions rarely cut it in a highly competitive market. Another challenge with CMSes that utilize page templates is getting the page template source code and content mixed up.

Content ownership and management remain

When we consider solutions based on cloud services, questions about data ownership often come up. It’s important to make sure that your organization’s data is secure, editable, and transferable to a new service when needed.

Contentful is a fully API-first platform, which means that all functionalities, including those related to maintenance, are usable directly through interfaces. The system's own browser-based management tool is built on the same APIs that are also directly available to the content owner. This ensures the smooth transfer and integration of data into other systems, too, as it’s fundamentally a structured data storage solution used through these APIs. 

A/B testing with Contentful

As Contentful is based on modular web development, it does not offer an off the shelf solution for A/B testing. One system does not fit all, which is why Contentful connects seamlessly with Google Analytics, Optimize, Optimizely, and other systems suitable for A/B testing.

Needs for testing must also be taken into account in the content structure and be integrated with other business areas. Again, flexibility and easy connectivity have greater advantages than fixed and standardized functionalities.

The benefits of Contentful and agile tech stacks in a nutshell

  1. Speed: Speed is more important than ever in business. This must also be reflected in how services and applications are being built.

  2. Adaptability: Previously, CMS solutions aimed at offering as many features as possible in one product (suite). Now it’s better to build an agile modular architecture with relevant technologies (stack).

  3. Management: Contentful is designed for an environment where integration to other modules in a given stack is more important than a list of features. On this note, it’s also easier to get the most out of a technology that is the best fit (best in breed) for example in A/B testing, rather than building it into a product as a feature.

Frantic’s experts work both as part of our clients’ development teams and on a project basis. Would you like to know more about the benefits of an agile modular architecture and how your organization could adopt agile stacks? Contact our consulting unit director Maija Typpi-Häkkinen: & +358 50 566 2819.

Panu Ervamaa Development