You’ve probably heard of SaaS (software as a service, software delivered via the cloud). You may have heard of other as-a-service acronyms, like DaaS, DRaaS, NaaS, IaaS, PaaS, even XaaS (everything, or anything, as a service). Have you heard of CaaS, content as a service?
Few people talk about CaaS. But if you’re a content professional, you need to think about it because it enables organizations to give customers contextually relevant, personalized experiences on the devices of their choice. Customers have the freedom to decide what they want to receive and how they want to receive it. Then, they just sit back and wait for delivery.
CaaS is licensed or subscription-based content that has these two characteristics:
CaaS consists of a repository of channel-neutral (format-free) content. In other words, it is not tagged (hard-coded) for web delivery or mobile or any other channel. It is structured content that can be published to anything: web pages, mobile-device apps, wearable devices, store displays, the exploding Internet of Things, and any new channel that may appear in the future.
Customers can subscribe to content on areas of interest and have that content automatically delivered to them on the device and channel of their choosing.
CaaS (content as a service) delivers content to the customer’s choice of channels and devices: to smartphone apps for consumption, to smartwatches as an alert of content availability, to customer-specific desktop workspaces, or to any other specified device or channel. Customers decide what they want, in what format they want it, and where they want it delivered.
CaaS is designed for dynamic delivery of licensed or subscription-based content. Customers can subscribe to regular delivery of content for a particular interest area.
Many organizations provide newsletters to their customers. People can subscribe to any number of newsletters. Each newsletter is pushed to the customer as it becomes available, typically as an email.
CaaS is different. While CaaS can deliver traditional email-based newsletters, what makes it unique is personalization – dynamic delivery. Dynamic means changing. Each time the content is delivered, it changes to suit the context: the device being used, the location, the profile of the user, and other variables.
Dynamic content delivery provides personalized content, giving customers what they want, when they want it.
Member-based and standards organizations are early adopters of CaaS, moving from traditional sellers of books and journals, conferences, and seminars to powerhouses of creative content delivery using a subscription model for ongoing, value-rich content. Using CaaS, they provide such offerings as monthly or even weekly content updates, specialized publications compiled from common subject journal articles, podcasts, ongoing webinars, transcripts from keynote speakers repurposed as articles, videos, e-books, e-journals, and so on – all tied to log-in profiles for a unique, value-added experience.
Example: A member-based organization becomes a CaaS publisher
For example, one professional organization I’ve worked with has more than 45,000 members. Its leaders realized one day that this wasn’t just an organization delivering conferences and newsletters to members – it was also a publisher.
The leaders did the math. On an annual basis, the organization published about 25 books, 150 monthly newsletters, and five research reports. It also managed two large annual conferences and had 30 certification/education programs. It had a website where members could access information and a store where members could buy products.
Unfortunately, most of the members were unaware of all the content and often couldn’t find it.
So the organization changed its membership paradigm. Using an intelligent content strategy, these are the things its leaders did:
- Structured the content
- Broke the content into reusable components
- Tagged the content components with a robust taxonomy
- Added the content components to a content management system
- Developed a content-as-a-service delivery platform
The taxonomy is particularly important because the dynamic assembly of content for personalized delivery is only possible with a good taxonomy. The taxonomy was developed with the help of volunteer subject matter experts (SMEs) in the industry.
The new platform still had a traditional store and basic materials on the website. In addition, the organization developed a personalized delivery model based on years of membership and member-specific content requests. Members identified what type of information they were interested in, and the system automatically delivered snippets of content from newsletters, reports, books, etc., on a regular basis each month.
Member satisfaction increased, and the organization was able to create new content products rapidly and easily.
Corporations are becoming particularly interested in CaaS to provide licensed content to their customers. Instead of delivering static, prebundled content, CaaS can provide content configured to match customer product purchases, customized configurations, market, role, language, or any other variable that uniquely defines the individual. And CaaS can provide the content on the device of people’s choosing.
CaaS also provides powerful federated and faceted search to enable customers to find the content they are looking for and build a personalized workspace with the content.
Some organizations, noticing that the demand for content is becoming a corporate differentiator, resulting in increased demand for quality content, have begun the process of harnessing content and setting up CaaS delivery of their content to enrich and delight their customers.
The power of CaaS is built on intelligent content (structured, modular, reusable, metadata, format- free, and adaptive).
How about you? Are you ready to make content a product and let your customers drive their consumption?
- The Promises, Challenges and Opportunities of Content as a Service, Roland Benedetti, eZ blog, October 9, 2014
- A Model That Works: Content as a Service (CaaS), Michael Brito, WCG Common Sense blog, June 26, 2014
- The ‘Scoop’ on Content as a Service, Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer, CMSWire blog, August 11, 2014
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute