Is A ‘Headless’ CMS The Answer To Better Public Sector CX?

Business people using laptop at meeting in office

Ahead of Innovate Australia, Marcus Paterson, Storyblok’s Sales Director, APAC explains why government bodies and departments need to reconsider their content management systems if they’re serious about delivering better digital experiences.  

The pressure is on government agencies across the ANZ region to develop and deliver better, more efficient digital experiences digitally, as citizens grow hungry for the same seamless, frictionless experience from the public sector as they receive from their favourite brands.  

In fact, research shows that nearly a third (32 per cent) of Australian and New Zealanders say they are more satisfied when using digital platforms. Similarly, 48 per cent say they now expect to use digital services most of the time when accessing government services. And more than half (58 per cent) say they have increased their use of digital platforms to engage with government agencies since the start of the pandemic. 

New South Wales (NSW) has recently taken a proactive stance, leading the charge towards better CX by publicly committing to be the most customer-centric government in the world by 2030.  

Its recent customer experience survey known as CXS surveyed more than 30,000 customers, providing benchmarks against Victoria and Queensland, as well as more than a handful of other leading international jurisdictions, including New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark among others. 

It found that 77 per cent of customers feel that it is easy to interact with NSW government services, 76 per cent are happy with its services and 73 per cent trust that NSW government services is working in their best interests. This lies in stark contrast to the clunky government CX of yesteryear known for painfully slow and unhelpful service experiences and hard-to-navigate websites as standard.  

Overcoming ‘innovation inertia’ 

More than an interesting concept, ‘innovation inertia’ can be a significant challenge in the public sector. It refers to the tendency for large organisations to become resistant to change and innovation, often due to bureaucratic processes, risk aversion, tight budget constraints and a lack of leadership.   

After spending seven years in Canberra and working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australia Tax Office (ATO), Services Australia, and Defence, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges government agencies like these face. 

Many are battling legacy systems, complex processes, privacy concerns and fragmentation or silos, leading to inconsistent citizen and user experiences and difficulties in accessing government services. And when it comes to innovation, simply maintaining what they have can feel like an uphill task. Of course, there are many great stories of breakthrough progress also. 

Overcoming ‘innovation inertia’ isn’t easy; it takes transformative changes in culture, leadership and technology. 


Culture refers to the values, attitudes and behaviours that shape how an organisation operates. To foster a culture of innovation, the government needs to encourage risk-taking, embrace directionally correct failure as a learning opportunity and prioritise customer-centricity. 


Leadership is crucial for driving innovation and creating a culture that supports it. Government leaders need to be willing to take risks, challenge the status quo and empower their teams to experiment and innovate. 


Technology is also an essential factor in delivering better CX. The Martech landscape is getting increasingly crowded, however a headless CMS, for example, is a powerful tool that can help governments create and deliver better content and services to citizens. 

Ahead of its time  

The Australian Government has made significant progress in CX, taking strides to digitise its services and allowing citizens to access services online and through mobile apps. Personalisation has also remained front of mind, with a growing emphasis on user-centred design to create solutions that meet customer needs.  

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, NSW made a bold move to abolish more than 500 websites to transform into a revamped portal for users to easily get the information they need, heralding a broader system redesign across all Australian governments. It was a play that not only made citizens happier in their engagement with the government but one that also saved them big — an estimated AU$20,000 a website in operational costs and upwards of AU$10 million a year. 

The Victoria Government followed suit, building out a single-presence site after a long period of research around citizen user needs. It was built upon a sophisticated, open-source publishing stack that integrated into a headless CMS (content management system). This enabled multiple agencies like Treasury and Finance, Victorian Police and some divisions of Education and Health to use common publishing elements and functionality. 

This innovative approach has resulted in a common ‘look and feel’ across government websites, making it easier for citizen users to navigate across different sites. 

The case for going “headless”

In a world of high customer expectations, systems as well as their users must constantly evolve to create the best possible experience. And “headless” technology – systems that separate the two ends – has completely changed the game, transforming what users can expect from their CMS. In fact, recent Storyblok research finds that an overwhelming majority (84 per cent) of businesses report improved KPIs, revenue growth and productivity since using a headless CMS.  

This comes as no surprise, considering headless CMS technology can provide government bodies with the flexibility, agility, security, scalability, cost-effectiveness and improved user experience they need to effectively manage and distribute content. Take a look:  

1. Flexibility:

A headless CMS allows government bodies to separate the content management from the presentation layer, giving them the flexibility to use any front-end technology or framework they prefer. This means that they can easily create and manage content once and publish it across multiple platforms and devices without the need for extensive development resources. A visual editor allows you to see the changes you are making in real-time, displaying them exactly how they will appear when published.  

2. Security:

With a headless CMS, the content is stored separately from the presentation layer, reducing the risk of a security breach or data leak. This separation also allows for better control over user access and permissions, ensuring that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised individuals.

3. Scalability:

Government bodies often have a large amount of content to manage and distribute, and a headless CMS can easily handle this scale. With a headless CMS, it’s easy to add or remove content and make updates as needed, without affecting the front-end user experience. 

4. Cost-Effective:

A headless CMS can be a cost-effective solution for government bodies who continue to look for ways to do more with less, as it eliminates the need for extensive custom development work for each platform or device. It also allows for easier and faster updates, reducing the need for ongoing development resources. If users can quickly find what they are seeking the first time, they are less likely to drop out and use the more expensive contact-centre channel to resolve. 

5. Improved User Experience:

A headless CMS can provide a better user experience by allowing government bodies to create content that is optimised for each device or platform, without having to rebuild the same content for different channels. This means that users can access information in a way that is most convenient and intuitive for them, improving overall engagement and satisfaction. 

True transformation is led by customer obsession 

While significant momentum has been achieved, more work must still be done to bring Australians to the centre of government. Going forward, they will continue to demand a better experience and consistency across touchpoints. Therefore, a culture of continuous improvement is vital to ensuring service delivery standards keep pace with their increasing expectations.  

This means going beyond their experience at the front office of customer service to considering them at the outset during policy development as well. As stated by KPMG, citizens must be included in shaping the services of today and the Australia of the future.  

Discover more about what’s in store for the next frontier of citizen services with CX and digital services that inspire true public trust and engagement at Innovate Australia Wednesday, 15 March 2023 at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. Register your interest here. 

About the author  

Marcus joined Storyblok in April 2022 and has since established a regional capability to support its rapidly expanding customer base across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. His professional background includes executive roles in banking, financial services, IT, sales and consulting. 

Most recently, he provided consulting services and led digital transformation and strategic IT projects and services to the Australian Federal Government. Prior to this, he had multiple years of experience in Tier 1 Banking in Australia and Asia, where he led product, marketing and Account Management teams in multicultural settings. His expertise in this area has enabled him to spearhead the company’s regional expansion in Phuket, Thailand. 

About Storyblok 

Storyblok, the content management system (CMS) category leader, empowers both developers and content teams to create better content experiences across any digital channel. 

Storyblok enhances audience experiences with best-in-breed performance, security, optimised omnichannel storytelling, and robust personalisation. Enable content teams to create and manage content intuitively and independently with drag and drop visual editing, custom collaboration workflows, and a world-class digital asset manager. Empower developers to build anything, integrate with everything, and publish everywhere with Storyblok’s headless CMS architecture. 

See more at and follow Storyblok on LinkedIn and Twitter. 


Please login with linkedin to comment

Marcus Paterson Storyblok

Latest News

Avid Collective Nabs Niki Jones From Junkee Media As New Head Of Enablement & Operations
  • Media

Avid Collective Nabs Niki Jones From Junkee Media As New Head Of Enablement & Operations

Avid Collective has officially announced the appointment of former Scout Publishing and Junkee Media executive Niki Jones (lead image) as its new head of enablement operations. In the newly created role, Jones will be responsible for overseeing operational activities across various arms of business with a focus on partner engagement. “Niki’s appointment comes at an […]

Asembl Luanches Golden Gaytimes Inspired Biscuits In Partnership With Griffin’s Marvels
  • Campaigns

Asembl Luanches Golden Gaytimes Inspired Biscuits In Partnership With Griffin’s Marvels

Brand extension agency Asembl has whipped up a wonder in every bite with the partnering of Streets’ Golden Gaytime and Griffin’s Marvels for the first ever Golden Gaytime Inspired Biscuits. Available now from Coles stores nationally and online, the Griffin’s Marvels Golden Gaytime Inspired Biscuits are a wonder in every bite – irresistible Golden Gaytime […]