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Beyond Content “Management”: Introducing the Content Experience Platform

Feb 18, 2021, Matthew Baier

It’s no secret that the world of digital experience is evolving rapidly – and so are the definitions of the technologies that meet the changing needs of enterprises to deliver cohesive experiences for their customer, their partners, their employees, and across all of the ecosystems that matter to them. Leading research firm Gartner retired the WCM Magic Quadrant last year, reflecting a new world of content management that goes much farther than the web.

The Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is also evolving, shifting from a term that implies a monolithic, tightly-coupled, all-in-one offering encapsulating content, commerce, personalization, search, analytics, and customer data, to a vision of a composable business architecture where Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless (MACH) technologies comprise the enterprise digital experience “stack.”

We at Contentstack have always had evolution at our core. As a platform that empowers enterprises to transform the way they create and use their digital content, we have not been blind to the challenges of describing our category.

Often, we call ourselves a Content Management System, a term that calls up grey dialog boxes and clunky databases – and for the most part, as a product, mainly refers to content storage and publishing, not its creation, analysis, or personalization.

But what do you call a platform that recognizes and empowers content as the lifeblood of an organization – a platform that supports not only the publishing and omnichannel delivery of content, but that content’s entire lifecycle – from ideation, to creation, to dissemination, to its analysis and evolution?

It’s not an academic question. In this rapidly changing digital environment, many organizations are desperately trying to find help in defining this need. What experiences should I be building? What use cases are there for my industry? And who are the proven and emerging players?

Today, we believe we are closer to an answer. We’re excited to support Aragon Research in introducing the category of Content Experience Platforms.

Content Has Changed

The world has become so much more digital - and touchless - than anyone could have expected in the past year. But it was already changing long before we were confined to our homes in 2020. The way businesses communicate has become increasingly more interactive and complex. We’ve moved from a single channel of communication, the web, to an infinite number of channels. How much eCommerce is now done across mobile – 10%, 25%? It turns out, it’s already half and growing! And customers are increasingly expecting something that’s tailored based on individual preferences, not demographic labels, using language specific to their vocabulary and needs. It’s not enough to read content on a website. When we seek to interact with companies or brands, or organizations, we want to interact.

That means that it’s no longer enough to have content. Content has to do more and be more. And that’s where experiences come in.

Introducing the Content Experience Platform (CXP)

Today, Aragon Research has defined the category of Content Experience Platform (CXP) as the “next-generation offering to address the age-old enterprise need to create and deliver dynamic experiences to users on any device” – including content experiences – in a multichannel world.

If experience is the future, there is no meaningful experience without content. Content is at the core of every experience. If you use it right, that experience is engaging, meaningful, valuable, and unique. The CXP is at the core of powering the transition from flat content to a rich experience.

A CXP is an organization’s primary control center that turns content into experiences and experiences into business.

cxp-content-experience-diagram

Just like other systems of record, such as a CRM and ERP, a CXP is the centralized hub that coordinates all creation, management, and delivery of content-first experiences across all channels.

Says Aragon, “Simply put, new offerings are harnessing content to provide integrated user experiences, moving beyond isolated content creation and delivery towards a comprehensive content development lifecycle that enables the construction of customized buyer journeys that meet the needs of users at their specific contextual perspective. Transcending the limitations of a traditional “pu(bli)sh” model, modern technology makes content more impactful and enables organizations to reap superior returns on their investments through digital content experiences. Given COVID-19 and the rush to become a complete digital business, Aragon feels that CXPs are one of the key priorities for a digital enterprise.”

What makes it different from other approaches – and categories – on the market? A Content Experience Platform must:

  • Be omnichannel by nature. It must be built to open new channels quickly and easily, so content is not bound by any predetermined boundaries. It can instead flow instantly to anywhere it’s needed, including touchless, voice-driven, and extended reality experiences.
  • Be composable and extensible. The platform must be built to integrate with any tools and technologies that a business may require to scale and extend its digital reach, such as analytics platforms, personalization technologies, or localization services.
  • Empower the content experts. Content is at the heart of the CXP. So the platform must be built with the content creators and end-users in mind, allowing the full Content Development Lifecycle (CDLC) to take place seamlessly within it, including ideation, creation, testing, and publishing.

The purpose of the CXP is to allow content to flow through organizations at maximum speed and with minimal friction. It helps businesses become unstuck from old-school models of – and tools for – creating and disseminating content. The CXP unleashes the power of content across the whole organization.

It’s Not Just for Content Managers

Content lives within all aspects of the digital enterprise, far beyond the reach of the marketing team. There is simply too much demand for hyper-relevant content for the old model of a single creation team to write and edit content, and be published days or weeks later with another team’s help. These days, the world moves too fast for that. To use content to its full potential, businesses have to enable a new kind of collaboration.

Democratizing content creation across all subject matter experts, with operational oversight provided by agile governance and workflow models, and untangling the content process from waterfall IT cycles, will unleash all those highly skilled professionals’ full potential. This makes it possible to use the CXP to do more than create and publish content, but to deliver personalized and optimized experiences enriched with all the digital innovation that is here today and possible tomorrow. The CXP touches every part of the organization and helps it to function better by letting content creation be as distributed as its consumption and its publishing be unfettered by technological constraints.

This Is the (R)Evolution of CMS: It’s a New Kind of Platform

It’s 2021. Businesses no longer have to rely on outdated technologies that are built for an old world. We believe that they should be able to build or buy any of the capabilities they need without a long list of restrictions and restraints. “Building” increasingly means “build up” from a collection of individually functioning, independently maintained, microservices “pieces” – LEGO blocks for content creation, publishing, delivery, and distribution. Our fundamental belief is that, with a CXP, it will never again be impossible for the business to do something they want.

The CXP architecture is composable and rooted in the technology principles of MACH – Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, Headless. Contrary to legacy, static CMS suites, a CXP embraces the extensibility and diversity of an ever-changing technology landscape and makes it easy to incorporate innovation through integration. You can assemble the pieces that you need from the top players in each category and connect them to the centerpiece – the content hub, the CXP. Change becomes your superpower, not your Achilles’ heel.

What Does This New Category Mean for Business?

With a CXP, organizations reap unprecedented returns on digital content by streamlining content management operations and accelerating time to market with rich, engaging digital experiences.

By embracing a platform that puts content back at the heart of their engagement strategy, enterprises can repair the content optimization cycle that has been broken for too long. That means optimizing content for personalization with information flowing continuously and in real-time to the content creators without costly workarounds or black-box visibility limitations.

Businesses can innovate instead of being weighed down by a CMS built for a bygone era that drains precious resources through costly upgrade cycles or scalability concerns. There are many very talented developers and marketers and a lot of interesting projects they could be working on with new technology. Infusing personalization, AI, AR/VR, and anything else that a business wants to do next is possible with a platform built for content experiences.

But don’t take our word for it. Aragon predicts quite explicitly that “By YE 2022, 50% of large enterprises will shift to a Content Experience Platform (CXP) (70% probability)” – and we are excited to be at the forefront of this shift.

Aragon Research. “The Rise of Content Experience Platforms—And Why Your Website And Digital Experiences Will Never Be the Same,” Jim Lundy, February 18, 2021 | Research Note 2021-05