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Breaking down content silos with Content Federation

Avoiding content silos and ensuring a free flow of information is crucial for companies to building a seamless omnichannel experience that meets customer expectations.
Jing Li

Jing Li

Jul 09, 2023
Breaking down content silos with Content Federation

Digital experiences are no longer synonymous with web browsers. They can also include mobile applications, digital kiosks, AR/VR headsets, and other digital touchpoints. As customers interact with their favorite brands across these different channels, they expect that their experience isn’t diminished as they move from one channel to another.

For organizations providing these digital experiences, internal processes must be aligned to ensure the most well-thought-out marketing strategies are smooth. As such, avoiding content silos and ensuring a free flow of information is crucial to building a seamless omnichannel experience that meets customer expectations.

#What is a content silo?

Content silos refer to pieces of content isolated across different content management systems and storage databases.

For example, a content silo might occur when the marketing department of a publishing company stores content assets created since their CMS migration to the new cloud-native CMS. However, older articles that may need to be referenced are still stuck in the previous custom CMS that has yet to be decommissioned.

Content silos are often confused with other data and information silos, but there are some key differences to note.

  • SEO content silos group related content assets into distinct sections and subsections on the website. It means creating a structure for content around different keyword themes.

  • Information silos are mindset-based and occur when different departments don’t share information, leading to disharmony and inefficiency.

  • Data silos form when information is isolated or inaccessible by other parts of a company hierarchy.

While these other silos might have some overlap, our focus is on content silos, which occur when content data exists in specific systems within the tech stack but it can’t be easily transferred to another system.

Content silos don’t communicate with other systems that make up the larger technology stack, and when content is inaccessible to other systems, editors may have to re-enter data manually.

#The rising issue of content silos

Often a byproduct of systems not being properly connected to ensure a free flow of information, content silos are a growing problem. High-volume data organizations, such as educational institutions or large corporations with an extensive partner ecosystem, are some of the most likely to suffer the consequences of content silos.

These silos can sometimes be created intentionally to increase the security of certain data assets. However, discrepancies in software architecture as companies evolve are usually the primary culprits.

There are two main causes of content silos:

Legacy system migration

Legacy systems offer a treasure trove of information for organizations. However, a legacy CMS likely needs full integration with the newer tools the company might have added over the years, such as a CRM or CDP tool containing customer data. With multiple disconnected tools throughout the tech stack, there will be several content silos that will need to be accounted for during the migration process.

Microservices adoption

With the rise of best-of-breed microservice systems design and modular architectures, content is now maintained in many disconnected data silos, resulting in an overwhelming complexity. Many organizations perceive custom middleware development or glue code as a solution to these challenges, but building and maintaining this is time-consuming and complex. The result is often the formation of even more content silos and painful challenges.

For example, let’s consider a publishing company with a legacy CMS and a modern cloud-native solution. Rather than decommissioning the legacy CMS, the IT team builds a bridge between the two systems using glue code.

On the surface, this solves the immediate problem. Still, content and data silos quickly form once the company adopts a new personalization engine to help optimize content experiences. More glue code must be created to link the new personalization engine to the legacy CMS and content assets get lost in the complex web.

#How do content silos hinder your tech stack

Content silos can limit what brands can accomplish with their tech stacks. Some of the ways that they can hinder you include:

Data fragmentation

Content silos can lead to data fragmentation across different systems. This makes it challenging to consolidate and analyze information. Silos also restrict data-driven decision-making since organizations lack a comprehensive view of their content assets.

Also, content silos occur when there isn’t seamless integration between the systems and tools in the technology stack. This can impede data sharing, hinder workflow automation, and require additional manual effort to transfer and synchronize content across platforms.

Reduced agility and time to market

Adjusting workflows, introducing new features, or integrating emerging technologies can become more time-consuming and cumbersome due to the interdependencies between different silos. This also results in content teams being unable to launch new campaigns quickly as they can’t quickly locate the content assets they need.

Lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing

Collaboration and knowledge sharing among teams within the organization is much more complicated due to content silos. When content is locked within specific silos, it becomes harder for teams to collaborate, share insights, and leverage collective expertise, impacting productivity and effectiveness.

Inefficient resource allocation

Content silos can lead to redundant or underutilized resources within the technology stack. Each silo may have its own tools, licenses, and infrastructure, resulting in wasted resources and increased costs.

Limited scalability and innovation

When content is isolated within silos, scaling and expanding the technology stack becomes more challenging. Adding new tools or integrating additional platforms may require significant effort and customization via glue code to bridge the gaps between silos, slowing down the ability to adapt to new challenges or seize opportunities.

#Unifying content silos with Content Federation

One way enterprises seek to avoid the problem of content silos is by creating a central content hub for all assets. While this is good, large organizations with multiple departments, content assets, and technology stacks might need help finding this.

In many cases, moving content into the content repository isn’t possible or desirable. For example, there might be a different system of record for a particular asset (e-commerce/product data such as price or availability, content from another vendor such as GitHub or IMDB). Alternatively, content maintained in legacy systems can’t be easily migrated.

Bringing content systems together

With Content Federation, you can bring siloed content from other data sources and systems to the Hygraph API without migrating the content itself. Connect various data sources, such as PIM, CRM, or headless e-commerce systems, and join information across systems with a single API call to quicken your development process. This keeps teams from migrating data from old systems into their content platform and ensures that the front end has the latest data.

Content aggregation

Content Federation allows developers to aggregate content from multiple sources and merge it into a single API, whether using a CMS, DAM, PIM, or headless commerce platform. Using the Content Federation, siloed content can be seamlessly integrated with APIs, allowing data to be retrieved seamlessly from external systems like Salesforce, Shopify, SAP, and commerce tools.

Removing manual requirements

Content federation eliminates the need for teams to import the same data to services repeatedly manually. Instead, the development team populates the data into the content core, and then this service distributes it to the frontends and various services. This saves developers precious time and ensures content consistency across platforms, and leads to a massive reduction in development time and costs when integrating with multiple APIs.

Unified content delivery

Hygraph integrates your existing backend services and business processes to provide unified content delivery and central management of enterprise content from multiple sources. You can unlock programmatic possibilities to let content travel in numerous directions across all your frontends and backends. Content federation allows services to source the latest information directly from Hygraph. In addition to providing additional performance and security, we’re providing a robust caching infrastructure.

#Federating live data and eliminating content silos

Biotechnology publisher BioCentury offers deep-dive analysis and business intelligence reports to C-level biotech executives. However, their existing infrastructure needed to be updated to provide the modern experience their customers required.

Their monolithic setup didn’t allow data to be shared between their systems, and integrations between the CMS and CRM, in particular, were lacking. Plus, a rigid templating process meant publishing content was challenging.

With the help of Hygraph, they were able to federate their siloed content into a single structured layer, share live data, and publish millions of articles programmatically to their users. Plus, the ease of use and intuitiveness of creating structured content and content modeling freed their content editors and made content publication much more effective.

#What’s next

Content silos can wreak havoc on even the most modern technology stacks. As organizations adopt microservices-based architectures and implement more best-of-breed tools, migrating from legacy CMSs can see more content silos begin to form.

However, stitching these systems together using glue code can lead to other challenges restricting organizations. Instead, Content Federation offers the solution to break down content silos and pull data from disparate sources into a single unified repository.

Hygraph offers the capabilities to unify their data systems and successfully manage modern digital experiences. Discover how Hygraph can help to eliminate content silos by contacting us today.

Blog Author

Jing Li

Jing Li

Jing is the Content Marketing Manager at Hygraph. Besides telling compelling stories, Jing enjoys dining out and catching occasional waves on the ocean.

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