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Composable vs Traditional Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)

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In this article, we look at the critical differences between composable digital experience/CMS platforms compared to more traditional digital experience/CMS platforms. 

Digital experience platforms (DXPs) are the penultimate evolution of content management systems which have been around for over twenty-plus years. Two years ago, clients never asked us about the option as they were still trying to understand and compare the differences and limitations between headless CMS (the new cool kid on the block) and more traditional feature-focused CMS/DXP platforms. However, now with the limitations of Headless which solely focuses on content, we are being asked by organisations what is the best way and platform for them to evolve their digital strategy.

For the uninitiated, composable and traditional digital experience platforms (DXPs) are two different approaches to delivering digital experiences to customers and users. We feel our unique position and decades of experience partnering with some of the leading CMS/DXP software vendors such as KenticoUmbracoOptimizelySitecore, and, gives us a great perspective on the pros and cons of each approach.

So, what are composable DXPs? 

Composable DXPs are made up of smaller, modular components that can be easily assembled and customised to meet the specific needs of an organisation. These components can be integrated with other third-party systems and technologies, making it easy to add new features and functionalities as needed. This approach allows for more flexibility and scalability, as well as faster time-to-market for new digital experiences. It also allows organisations to take a best-of-breed approach to the selection of the technologies that can be combined to support their overall digital strategy. After all, it can be very hard for one product to be all things to everyone.

You may ask, what are the key benefits of utilising Composable DXPs? 

Wellthe core benefits of composable DXPs are their flexibility and scalability and the ability to integrate via APIs with other systems and technologies. They also potentially allow for faster time-to-market for new digital experiences, as adding new components, features, and third-party systems is much easier. Additionally, composable DXPs can be more cost-effective than traditional DXPs, as they often require less investment in the development of custom functionality, especially using tried and tested third-party components and products.

What is the difference in complexity levels between composable and traditional DXPs?

Traditional DXPs are seen as being monolithic, all-in-one systems that provide a wide and extensive range of inbuilt customisable features and functionalities, such as content management, personalisation, analytics, and digital marketing capabilities. Some even provide full-blown e-Commerce capabilities. These systems are typically built on a single technology stack and tend to try and be great at everything. They typically are customisable and can be integrated with other systems if required. However, their underlying architecture is normally more complex, meaning they require significant investment in time and resources to set up and maintain.

So, are there benefits to utilising Traditional DXPs? 

Well, the core benefits of traditional DXPs include their ability to be a one-stop shop to support all of an organisation’s digital marketing needs with a wide range of inbuilt customisable features and functionalities. As they have been developed for many decades they are typically built on mature and well-supported technology stacks such as .NET Core. They also typically provide a more all-in-one, cohesive, and consistent experience for website users, as all the features and functionalities are integrated within a single architectural framework and platform.

In conclusion

To summarise, both composable and traditional digital experience platforms have their own benefits and drawbacks. Traditional DXPs offer a wide range of inbuilt customisable features and functionalities. While composable DXPs offer more flexibility and scalability but less customisation. This is very true if a decision has been taken to combine a range of third-party components and products to meet organisational goals.

The choice between the two will depend on your organisation's specific needs and digital business goals, plus the resources available to implement and maintain the platforms. Please keep in mind if a headless content-first approach has been chosen by the organisation then clients have no option but to take a composable best-of-breed approach to architecting their overall solution. They will need to augment and fill in the missing features and functionality they require to support their digital strategy.

Interested in learning more? Then why not get in touch to have a one-to-one session with one of our experts?

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