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Section 5

The future of the CMS

Read time length: 4-5 minutes

Implementing a new content management system is a big move. So whichever one you choose, it needs to work hard for you for at least the next five years.

But a lot can happen in five years—particularly the next five years, as multiple pivotal technologies simultaneously mature and converge.

Forces of change

Ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity.
Smarter, faster devices.
The falling cost and size of computing, storage, and sensors.
Improved augmented reality, virtual reality, wearable, and voice interfaces.
More sophisticated AI and machine learning.

We’re not going to pretend we can predict the future. But a few things are for certain:

  • Devices will continue to get smarter and smaller
  • New visual and voice interfaces will evolve
  • Sensor-laden, everyday objects will bring the Internet of Things closer to reality

As digital experiences evolve with these advancements, CMSs (and the marketers who use them) will need to adapt. They’ll need to process new kinds of data, create and deliver new kinds of content, and support their audience to consume information in new ways.

An hour in 2023

It’s 6:45 a.m. on October 28, 2023, and Kate is asleep.
Data from her smart pillow and smartwatch indicate that she had a restless night. The healthcare app on her phone pushes her alarm back 15 minutes, and her AI assistant automatically reschedules her 9 a.m. meeting.

It’s 7:00 a.m., and Kate is waking up.
She gets up, showers, and goes to make breakfast. A screen in her kitchen displays a meal plan for the day based on the food in her refrigerator and her estimated activity levels. Afterward, she gets an email from her grocer about her weekly food delivery.

It’s 7:25 a.m., and Kate is getting dressed.
Meanwhile, her voice assistant reads out a curated collection of news, financial reports, and inbound messages from the business networking site she uses.

It’s 7:40 a.m., and Kate is going to work.
On the way, she decides to shop for some shoes she’d like to wear to an event that evening. 3D renders of her favorite styles and brands are projected through her AR glasses. She chooses a pair in her size; billing information and pickup point is automatically sent to the vendor.

It’s 7:45 a.m., and Kate is just getting started.

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The CMS Workload

Kate’s morning raises two major challenges for future CMSs.

One, they need to be highly extensible, with frequently updated APIs, connectors, and integrations that account for new technologies as they appear.

At the presentation layer alone, that means supporting augmented and virtual reality displays, context-aware wearables, and AI-enabled voice interfaces (plus anything else that emerges).

Two, they need to deliver personalized, anticipatory, and holistic user experiences, seamlessly across every channel, for everyone.

In short, CMSs need to help marketers deliver context marketing at scale. And that means much more content, delivered to more specific audiences, at more specific moments.

Doing this manually today is impossible, and in five years, that’ll probably still be true. Instead, CMSs will need to leverage AI and machine learning to automate the heavy lifting.

Doing this manually today is impossible, and in five years, that’ll probably still be true. Instead, CMSs will need to leverage AI and machine learning to automate the heavy lifting.

The CMS + AI future

In the near future, the use of AI and machine learning in content production will start to free marketers from the constraints of available resources.

Forward-thinking content teams will be in a position to provide outstanding, personalized content experiences at scale, through:

  • Automated, cross-channel content distribution
  • Dynamic workflows for real-time personalized scenarios
  • Accurate, predictive next actions and anticipatory prompts

Crucially, they won’t have arrived there by accident.

AI and machine learning are going to be a precious source of competitive advantage in coming years, and the early movers will get there first.

Fortunately, it’s still early today. Your first steps toward leveraging AI and machine learning should be to ask questions, rather than make decisions. Start by assessing your readiness by answering some key questions.

AI future

Getting ready for an AI future

Is your CMS extensible enough?
Your CMS needs to closely integrate with peripheral systems, like customer experience management platforms and e-commerce solutions.

Do you have the right CMS architecture?
Automated content production works by teaching machine learning algorithms about the properties of specific content objects. This is much easier with an object-based CMS architecture.

Is your data ready?
Machine learning algorithms depend on clean, structured, tagged, and organized data to be effective.

Can you meet the processing requirements?
AI-driven processes are computationally expensive. Robust, scalable, and flexible cloud resources are prerequisite for agile, affordable experimentation in machine learning.