As the habits of people searching online evolve rapidly, we’ve observed a shift from content management systems (CMS) to digital experience platforms (DXP) in order to truly address all the growing needs of online consumers in the most efficient way. But when it comes DXPs, we recognize several approaches, each to suit different companies and their individual level of digital experience maturity. How do we navigate between the various options, and which one is the best for your business?
Turning the page from CMS to DXP.
Did you know that the first content management system (CMS) was here way before Google? The urge to create and modify digital content has been driving the evolution of available tools and platforms that would suit the growing needs of presenting content online and developing digital identity.
But the days when a simple content management system was everything a company needed to cover their static websites are long gone. We see a big shift in how consumers use the internet. The need to simply find answers online has expanded dramatically. It’s no novelty that nowadays, people are also using the internet for entertainment, communication, or shopping, expecting memorable digital experiences, nothing short of excellent.
Therefore, CMSs as such—also called web content management (WCM)—offering the essential foundation and administration tools to deliver and maintain content, had to follow this trend and evolve. To attract more visitors and support them on their customer journeys, the need to communicate better and keep better track of them emerged.
And just so, we were stood in front of an enterprise management system (EMS) with the help of which larger businesses could easily connect their platforms with Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other useful tools to support their core infrastructures.
But with an ever-increasing amount of online content, website providers started to feel the stress of a newly emerging challenge: a fight for visibility. It is a challenge we’re facing to this very day, and will for many more moons ahead, bringing along a whole set of uneasy quests to support their digital presence:
- Being SEO-friendly to rank higher in organic search results,
- Promoting content online and on social media,
- Understanding who our visitors are and interacting with them consistently on all channels and devices,
- And creating perfectly personalized digital experiences that would speak directly to our visitors and skyrocket our conversion rates.
As we know, digital experience platforms (DXP), combining a content management system with the capabilities of digital marketing and commerce tools are the ultimate answer for those needs. Offering functionalities like content personalization, marketing automation, email marketing, and analytics, we’re looking at an essential toolkit that allows businesses to keep up with the high pace of the digital environment.
Different approaches to DXPs.
However, there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to running a company and the composition of a technology stack to support it. And while a DXP is a truly versatile tool that can be adopted universally, multiple approaches can be taken to satisfy the varying needs of each company, help them reach different goals, and provide their customers with truly seamless, omnichannel digital experiences.
In this case, we’re talking about the most typical approach a company can reach out for in terms of DXP solutions. A composable digital experience platform consists of individual best-of-breed tools in the market—be it CMS, digital marketing, email marketing, or others—and connecting them into a unique platform, perfectly tailored to suit a company’s specific needs.
As great as it might sound, it’s not an ideal solution for everyone. Mainly because building, adopting, and maintaining such a solution is very costly and incredibly complex. Not only do you need a perfect understanding of each tool’s user interface and an entire skillset to be able to use these modular capabilities efficiently, which certainly requires a massive team and budget. You can even find yourself facing data integration problems and general complications caused by dealing with many individual vendors.
As Tim Ahlenius, VP Strategic Initiatives at Americaneagle.com, a Kentico Xperience Gold partner, described so cleverly in the episode Achieving Simplicity through a Unified DXP with Kentico Xperience of his podcast Lessons For Tomorrow: Imagine this on an example of remodeling your kitchen. Taking the composable DXP approach, you’ve committed to going out and finding individual contractors for every aspect of the work on your own. Flooring, plumbing, electrical, cabinets, etc.—you’re now working with lots of different experts. Yes, they might have extensive expertise each, but they also all work in slightly different ways and on different terms, and you need to manage them all at the same time by yourself.
This approach addresses the issue from the exact opposite side. That being, a company picks all the tools they need from a single vendor. One procurement process, one vendor to reach out to when problems emerge—sounds fairly easy, right? Unfortunately, as advantageous as this might sound, there’s also a downside to this solution.
Firstly, it’s quite clear that all the tools in the vendor’s offer won’t be the best ones on the market. Secondly, it’s not even guaranteed that they will share the same user interface—after all, they have probably been originally acquired as separate tools, along with their specific functionalities and established user experiences. So, you will also need an entire team and a generous budget to leverage them to their full potential, as the differences are often substantial. Finally, you might eventually face the so-called vendor lock-in that can make things difficult for you in case you decide to re-platform in the future.
Steering back to Tim’s kitchen remodeling example; Imagine working with a single contractor but you’re limited to the one and the skillset that they have, as well as the people that they have. They might have a plumber, but he might just have finished his education and isn’t quite ready for the challenges he must face with your project. But you don’t have a choice as you’re locked in with that vendor and the workers they provide in all the different areas.
How about this. Imagine, you operate a single platform, built, delivered, and maintained by a single vendor. One procurement process, one product with a single philosophy behind it, growing alongside your needs. It has a unified user interface and is ready for your marketing team to be adopted as a whole, right away. Plus, whenever you feel like you’re about to outgrow the possibilities the different areas of this solution have to offer, you can easily plug in any third-party tools and the platform will allow you to do it with no extra effort.
Too good to be true? Not at all! That’s exactly what a unified DXP represents. It’s a practical solution with a quick time to market and a great return on investment that will cover most of your needs and let you bend it to exactly serve your specific purposes. It simply allows you to grow separately in different areas as your business develops and matures.
Taking this approach when remodeling your kitchen, this means that you’re really finding the core of the group. Imagine having one trusted general contractor who’s going to handle the core elements. And he already has all the experts in the necessary areas that he’ll bring in but only as there’s the need for them because he’s truly trying to be as efficient as possible for you.
Is a unified DXP the right choice for everyone?
Definitely not. But it’s the most reasonable choice for most businesses. Essentially, a business’s suitability for implementing a certain type of digital experience platform and the success of its adoption is dependent on its level of digital experience maturity.
Each company is constantly developing—to grow, evolve, and adapt to the ever-changing market trends. Every development stage requires different toolsets to operate with. And given how complex of a tool a DXP is, it would be short-sighted to believe that one type of solution would fit all these stages.
But here’s why a unified DXP, such as the one from Kentico Xperience, offers the most suitable solution that has most companies’ backs. While a composable DXP might be the best option for businesses that are digitally very mature and need to work in such an extent that there’s simply no other option but to use a whole lot of best-of-breed tools, a unified DXP offers a whole lot of flexibility. Most importantly, it allows companies to grow in areas that matter the most for them at the specific stages of their digital journey.
It might very well happen that a company is extremely mature in the way they use their analytics but still needs some development when it comes to the way they design their digital content. With a unified DXP, utilizing the available content management functionalities will cover all their needs while integrating a more sophisticated analytical tool with no extra effort, which makes it easy for them to gain all the data they need. As simple as that.
Establish your level of digital experience maturity.
Admittedly, we’ve made it clear that in order to deliver perfectly fitting, seamless digital experiences, you need to leverage the right technology. And to decide what technology is right for you, you need to understand the exact level of your digital sophistication. Feeling lost? No need! To give you a helping hand, we’ve prepared an easy-to-use, free tool that will help you understand your business’s individual level of digital maturity in all key areas.
The Kentico Xperience Digital Experience Maturity Model, divided into clearly understandable development stages in specific subject matter areas, will also serve you as a guide on your journey to adopting more sophisticated tools, as your needs evolve over time. With this model, you can be sure that your organization will mature tactically, in order to achieve the objectives and goals that they set to accomplish.
Curious to learn more about this topic? Listen or watch the Lessons For Tomorrow podcast, where Jenda Perla, VP Kentico Xperience, introduces the various stages of the Digital Experience Maturity Model and discusses the pros and cons of the individual DXP approaches with Americaneagle.com's Kentico Practice Director, Wes McChristian. Alternatively, the managing director of Kentico Xperience, Dominik Pinter, explores this subject in more depth in his presentation Simplicity through a Unified DXP. You can also read more about the evolution of DXP in our whitepaper Beyond the borders of a CMS: How a well-implemented DXP will boost your business results or simply talk to our experts to get all your questions answered!
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