Blogs
Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

What is a Composable DXP?

Jun 06, 2021
By: Jason Smith

In the world of content management, innovation has become the norm. With so many new terms and acronyms and different definitions being thrown around, it can be difficult to know what they all mean. But one thing that has been popping up more and more lately is the term “composable DXP.”

A composable digital experience platform represents a new generation of digital experience platforms that shy away from packaged, monolithic services. Instead, composable DXPs leverage microservices architecture to take different systems and combine them.

But what does exactly that mean for businesses, why is a composable DXP better than a monolithic one, and how can you implement a composable DXP strategy? Let’s find out.

DXP Explained

According to Gartner, “a digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”

A DXP can be seen, then, as the evolution of the traditional, coupled CMS. Rather than focusing on content management for a specific channel using a set of technologies, a DXP takes the as-a-service model to the next level and provides Content as a Service (CaaS) functionality along with marketing automation tools, personalization engines, analytics, and eCommerce capabilities, which results in an omnichannel experience.

Plus, DXPs go beyond web content management by delivering unified digital experiences to IoT devices, mobile apps, websites, and even smartwatches. Digital experience management is a the center of an extensively interconnected digital ecosystem allowing both marketers and developers to work in sync in their quest to deliver the best digital experience possible.

Monolithic vs. Composable Approach

A healthy number of enterprise architectures are currently composed of multiple systems that have different functions but work together to deliver an end-to-end solution. But for most businesses out there, both enterprise and SMBs, the monolithic architecture reigns supreme.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between both kinds of digital experience platform architectures.

Monolithic DXP

Monolithic DXPs, or software suites, offer a set of packaged business capabilities and are often sought after by companies. They give them several different functionalities in a single software solution. However, the main drawback of monolithic solutions is that they tend to be indomitable behemoths that require trained team members to wrangle with them and build the experiences you want.

Monolithic digital experience platforms incorporate different services, all handled by a single vendor and housed under the same roof. That adds both to the cost and the complexity of monolithic solutions, which, in turn, makes it difficult for users to integrate them with other software.

Also, the monolithic structure comes with the added drawback that prepackaged software is slow to react to changes. It can be challenging to modernize a whole monolithic application to meet the changing business objectives of modern enterprises.

Composable DXP

The composable DXP approach was born out of the need for greater flexibility and customizability. Composable DXPs aim at breaking down data silos and addressing the complexities of integrations that monolithic DXPs create. Composable digital experience platforms are purposely built to be easy to use and implement, adapting to the company’s existing tech stack and enhancing it.

The composable architecture follows a modular approach. That means that they leverage microservices that can be easily connected via the cloud using APIs to create context-based, personalized experiences for visitors and customers. This increased level of modularity comes with several benefits. It ensures that users can roll out new features and provide new functionalities to their websites and apps with less effort and code involved.

This reduced time-to-market enables organizations to create better digital experiences in less time. With a composable software solution, companies can deliver new features in the same timeframe, which gives them time to experiment and test new possibilities in a way that isn’t possible with monolithic digital experience platforms.

However, keep in mind that while the composable architecture brings greater extensibility and integrability, integrations are left to the user. The increased connectivity enables users to do more and move more data between multiple systems, but only integrating different digital asset management tools, customer data platforms, and digital marketing engines isn’t necessarily the recipe for success.

Monolithic Versus Composable Digital Experience Platforms

Monolithic DXP vs Composable DXP

Source: Gartner

Just like we mentioned above, the core capabilities of a composable experience platform revolve around flexibility. Composable DXPs divide architecture and functionalities into packaged business capabilities or PBCs representing a related set of functionalities built for a specific purpose, oriented to particular tasks, and independently deployable.

For example, a composable DXP is built of the following components:

  • A content management system
  • A commerce platform
  • Search engine connectivity
  • Analytics
  • Personalization engines
  • Customer data platforms
  • Content delivery networks
  • Frontend libraries to build UI

Each of these categories contains individually packaged business capabilities that can be switched around as needed. Plus, for a modular DXP to be successful, its elements must be modular, autonomous, orchestrated, and discoverable. What does this mean?

  • Modular: The elements of your DXP need to be partitioned into different components.
  • Autonomous: They need to be self-sufficient and independent from each other.
  • Orchestrated: They need to be packaged to be consumed by APIs.
  • Discoverable: Designed with clarity and economy and able to be used by non-technical users.

Benefits of a Composable DXP

Now that we’ve defined and dissected the composable DXP, let's talk about its enterprise benefits.

Customer-centric

The composable architecture enables companies to put the customer’s needs first. By implementing the best-of-breed approach, companies can use better customer data platforms and control every customer touchpoint to provide an enhanced customer experience.

Omnichannel-ready

With a composable DXP, it’s easier to create and follow omnichannel marketing campaigns. A composable DXP enables a cohesive view of your customers at every step of the customer journey. All are managed from a central platform.

Customizable

Composable DXPs are customizable by nature. With traditional DXPs, vendor lock-in prevents you from customizing your solution, and it forces you to tailor your entire strategy based on the platform you’re using. With a composable platform, you can customize each piece of your tech stack based on your objectives.

Faster to implement

Composable solutions enable you to turn ideas and prototypes into full-fledged solutions and converting marketing campaigns. Traditional platforms require more training, thus reducing your team’s effectiveness. Also, a composable solution enables you to test how well your digital content performs faster and gain insights quickly.

The Roadmap for Choosing Your Next Composable DXP

The good thing about composability is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to how you should build your tech stack. Customer demands can influence how your stack should be built, which can bring much confusion into the RFP process.

Plus, as digital channels and devices grow, users need a platform that supports the way you do business. Agility and the ability to pivot and switch between different approaches is also something that composable DXPs need to thrive in the changing digital ecosystem.

One thing is certain, though, monolithic digital experience platforms won’t support that level of customization and granularity. That’s why organizations need to move to the composable, microservices-based paradigm to get the capabilities they need to build a personalized digital experience.

With that in mind, we’ve devised a quick roadmap to guide you when you’re choosing and implementing the best composable DXP for your business.

  1. Have a clear picture of your business goals
  2. Identify your marketing channels and formats
  3. Map your functionality needs
  4. List your DXP providers
  5. Start sending RFPs and booking demos
  6. Ask for case studies of work done to companies similar to yours
  7. Map an implementation timeline of your selected DXP
  8. Negotiate the pricing and licensing options
  9. Implement your composable DXP

Going from Traditional to Composable With dotCMS

The journey from traditional, coupled DXPs will be incremental and modular. It won’t happen overnight, and companies will start breaking their monolithic solutions into multiple PBCs working within the same DXP that will act as an orchestration tool that can be extended to respond to the changing needs of your customers or clients.

However, implementing composable DXPs can still pose some challenges as it falls under the user’s responsibility to integrate different solutions. Following Gartner’s footsteps, we want to show you the three steps you must take when looking to future-proof your operations with a composable solution.

  • Prepare: Assess your current situation and evaluate your implementation to get things ready for when you move to a composable solution.
  • Select: Choose the best solution for your needs.
  • Scale: Implement and scale your solution to achieve your business goals.

dotCMS, and its Content as a Service model, can work as the foundation for your composable DXP strategy. CaaS takes away the barriers of managing your content and assets and enables you to extend your capabilities with APIs and microservices.

CaaS simplifies operations and reduces time to market, even in omnichannel settings. By allowing marketers to personalize customer experiences and by providing relevant content to users on their platform of choice, dotCMS’ CaaS platform makes it easier for companies to build a composable DXP and scale it as they grow.

To learn more about dotCMS’ CaaS model and how the platform enables the interoperability and extensibility that make it one of the best composable DXPs in the market, read this whitepaper: How dotCMS Enables Interoperability & Extensibility.

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