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4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP

The Contentstack TeamJan 19, 2023

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Whether you’re a company leader, developer or a creative director, chances are that you understand the importance of having good content on your website and other communication channels that your organization leverages. If you’re like most mid-sized to large companies, you have a complex mix of content that’s used for diverse purposes: marketing and promotions, internal communications and investor relations, delivering personalized customer experiences, engaging potential customers and more.

Traditionally, having relevant omnichannel content has been disjointed, time-consuming, difficult to manage, slow and inefficient. Compounding these issues is the accompanying frustration from developers who are leaned on to edit code when any little thing needs to change, and from marketers who can’t get updates made fast enough.

Fortunately, there’s a much easier and streamlined way to manage and publish content these days with digital experience platforms (DXPs) built with composable architecture and headless content management systems (CMSes). An increasing number of organizations are transitioning to this type of system for benefits including agility, speed and scalability. Last year, Gartner predicted that more than half of mainstream organizations would invest in composable applications by 2023.

Before delving into the benefits of composable, let’s first take a look at what a DXP built on a composable architecture actually is.

What is composable architecture?

Composable architecture is a way of separating the front-end (what you see on the display) and the back-end code (development) of a website, making development faster and easier. This separation means the front and back end can be developed independently of each other, making deployments simpler and more efficient.

A composable architecture typically has a headless CMS at its core. This type of CMS provides an application programming interface or API that the front-end code can call to fetch data from the back end.

 What kind of tools or APIs are used in a composable DXP?

In addition to the headless CMS, which is the central hub of the composable DXP, this type of platform will include a wide variety of microservice-based APIs based on what your organization needs. The beauty is that you can pick and choose the best options in each of these areas below in addition to others without being locked to a specific vendor:

  • E-commerce
  • Asset management
  • Customer management
  • Omnichannel management
  • Marketing automation and analytics
  • Content workflows
  • Customer engagement
  • AI tools

In a nutshell, composability means you have the freedom and flexibility to create a unique DXP that’s tailored specifically to your organization’s needs by choosing the right microservices. You might think of these microservices as being an arsenal of tools that can help you elevate your organization above the competition.

If the idea of switching from a traditional, monolithic platform to a composable DXP seems daunting at first, keep in mind that the transition doesn’t have to take place all at once. Instead, it can take place one piece (or API) at the time as you add different products and services to the headless CMS. Compatibility enables this kind of targeted transition because each component or API works independently of every other component. As you might imagine, this has many advantages. One of the biggest is that a failure in one component doesn’t bring down the whole system.

A composable DXP provides many significant benefits for your organization’s executive, creative and technology teams. Here are four key features of composable DXP and how each team benefits.

Very little to no coding needed

With a composable DXP, most changes don’t require the technical knowledge of a developer. Here’s how this benefits teams at every level of your organization.

Executive teams

When marketing and technology teams can focus on what they do best, there should be less friction between the two. This reduces frustration levels and makes for happier employees, helping you retain your best workers.

Creative teams 

Composability will empower marketing teams to create, change and publish content without having to have any technical expertise. Content is easy to access in one central location. Marketing teams will no longer have to create tickets and wait for developers to get around to their requests. Instead they’ll create campaigns and push a variety of content types to multiple platforms and channels with greater speed and efficiency.

Technology teams

The time developers typically spend making everyday fixes and working with code to launch new campaigns will be freed up so that they can focus more time on creating user-friendly digital experiences for customers.

Scalability

Do you plan on adding e-commerce down the road? Want to add a mobile channel? Want your website to have chat functionality? It’s very easy to add new apps and services to your websites and other channels with a composable DXP.

 Executive teams

The business can more easily expand its product and service offerings without having to worry about downtime for websites and other channels. You can focus on growing the business with confidence that your content management system has the agility to keep up. 

Creative teams

As new marketing automation and tools become available, it will be simple to add these to your API mix.

Technology teams

It will be easier for IT to scale apps because services can be deployed independently. Tech can focus on one type of digital service, while others continue to work as normal. There’s no need for rushed overnight deployments or site downtime to release new functionality.

Speed

Composability improves speed in several different ways, including speed of publishing content, speed of implementing campaigns and speed of reaching business goals.

Executive teams

Business goals can be fulfilled faster, whether you aspire to expand into a new region or roll out new products and services. What better way to stay a step ahead of the competition?

Creative teams

Marketing leaders will be empowered to launch campaigns and publish content much faster. Again, there’s no waiting on IT to make changes. They can also push content to multiple sites without having to totally recreate content from scratch. Composability makes it easier to create a content block for one site, and then quickly push that content to other sites and channels.

Technology teams

Slow implementations become a thing of the past, as IT teams focus their efforts on targeted API functionality, rather than being bogged down with tickets for minor edits and updates.

Improved customer experiences

When relying on a composable DXP, delivering content that’s personalized and relevant becomes the status quo instead of the exception, boosting customer satisfaction. 

Executive teams

The business can expect to reap the rewards of improved customer experiences. A current Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study demonstrates an ROI of 295% with a composable architecture.

Creative teams

Marketers will no longer be hindered by the rigidity of a monolithic CMS. Instead, they will have unlimited access to all the tools they need for success with the freedom to expand their toolkit any time they choose.

Technology teams 

With less time spent on repetitive requests, the IT staff can put its expertise to work in key areas which will have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.

FAQs

As a recap and to answer additional questions you may have, here are a few frequently asked questions about composable DXPs.

Am I tied to one vendor that determines what solutions I can use?

No, a composable DXP gives you the freedom to choose the best solutions, regardless of vendor.

How do I know all the components that I want in my composable DXP will work together?

Composable providers understand the importance of their solutions being able to integrate with other APIs and have worked to address this issue. Composable providers ensure their solutions can seamlessly enable multiple APIs to work together by making them easy to plug in with software developer kits (SDKs) or one-click connections.

What if I want to keep tools on my current websites that are working?

With a composable DXP, an organization can choose the best options and even keep using some of the existing solutions that are already working. You are no longer locked into using just the services and apps that your vendor or platform supports.

What is the first step in transitioning to a composable DXP?

Begin by thinking about the apps and services you would want to have in your DXP if the options were limitless and then write them down. Be sure to get input from executive, creative and IT teams before searching for products and scheduling demos.

Learn more

Learn more about composable DXPs in our guide, “What is a DXP? Understanding digital experience platforms.”

Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can benefit executive, creative and technology teams at your organization.

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Additionally, it became imperative that the website was mobile-first since that would be users’ primary mode of interaction.The art of prompt engineeringTo ensure an exceptional user experience, the team developed a system of prompt engineering that stores specific prompts as metadata entries in the Contentstack stack.Each character choice corresponds to a prompt designed to elicit attributes and traits that align with that particular character type. Simultaneously, these prompts provide ChatGPT with the user's input and the selected character type, allowing for seamless integration of personalized elements into the hero's story.Solving the name puzzleAnother crucial aspect the team had to address was the generation of a Composable Hero name. While they could ask ChatGPT to include a name in the story, extracting and identifying the hero's name from the text posed a challenge. One approach was to instruct ChatGPT to add a special character next to the name in the story, which worked effectively when using ChatGPT in the browser. However, this method proved less practical when using the API.As a result, the team devised an alternative solution: after generating the story, they fed it back into the service to obtain a hero name based on the story. Additionally, they requested the service to provide us with the hero's powers. This refined approach allowed them to create a more precise flow diagram, outlining the interactions between various services and Automation Hub.The revised flow diagram served as the blueprint, guiding the interactions between the different components to deliver an exceptional result.Automation Hub: Streamlining the experienceAt the core of the unified experience lies Automation Hub, a vital component that optimizes various tasks, including API interactions, content publishing and email notifications. The main automation includes a Lambda function that plays a pivotal role in orchestrating the entire workflow.Here's a concise breakdown of its key steps: Creation of hero imageThe Lambda function sends a customized prompt to generative AI services in order to create a hero image specific to the user.Image handlingOnce the image is ready, the image is retrieved and securely stored in an S3 bucket.Text content processingThe automation sends the text content to ChatGPT.The hero's story is retrieved, incorporating personalized elements based on user input.Card creationThe generated image and story are seamlessly integrated into a visually appealing trading card using Placid.Storage and managementThe final card is securely stored in Aprimo.The card's URL is stored within the initial Contentstack entry.Real-time displayTo enhance the user experience, the team leveraged Pusher to display the generated images in real-time on the front end.The magic of Composable Heroes with MACH and generative AIWith the individual experience in place, the team aimed to make the event interactive and enjoyable. They set up a dedicated photo station equipped with a blank canvas and professional lighting to achieve this. Users had the option to have their photos taken (with their own phone) on the spot or upload their own pictures, including images of themselves or their pets.The live event proved to be a resounding success, showcasing the immense potential that can be achieved by adopting a MACH approach to generative AI. Central to this success was Automation Hub, which played a pivotal role in executing complex tasks, such as interacting with APIs, publishing content, and sending emails. With a sophisticated automation workflow in place, triggered by user actions, the team was able to harness the capabilities of generative AI to deliver personalized hero images and stories.To learn more, click here to book a demo and learn how EPAM, Aprimo and Contentstack:Maximized the potential of Contentstack’s Automation HubHarnessed the power of new technologies, such as AI-generated contentCreated a unique and immersive omnichannel experienceAs well as create your own personal Composable Hero trading card!

Jun 15, 2023 | 5 min. read

Headless commerce vs. composable: What you need to know

The online world is constantly evolving, so companies must change how they work and develop new ideas to meet customers' changing needs. The e-commerce sector has witnessed the rise of two unique models: headless commerce and composable commerce. While they might appear similar at the outset, a deeper examination reveals critical distinctions.In this article, we'll demystify the two approaches, spotlight their respective pros and cons. And provide insights for organizations pondering a transition to a composable architecture.How headless commerce beganIn the early days of online shopping, businesses had two ways to sell their products: physical stores and online platforms. But as technology advanced, many companies didn't keep up with the changes. This made it hard for them to stay up with what customers wanted and take advantage of new trends. The problem was that their technology wasn't flexible enough to adapt to new ideas.To serve customers better, stores began separating their online behind-the-scenes system from what the public sees on their websites. They did this by using APIs to access the back end, which made their operations more flexible.Headless commerce is a way for brands to keep their complicated commerce systems while making the front end more flexible to changes in the market.Composable architecture means that each part of the system works independently and can be customized to fit a brand's specific needs. This gives businesses the power to choose which parts of their digital services to use to meet their unique business requirements best.Examining headless commerce architectureHeadless is a new way of handling e-commerce that separates the parts that users see (the interface) from the parts that do the work behind the scenes (data, operations, applications). Most e-commerce systems combine these two parts, making it hard to keep up with the constantly changing digital market. Headless, by contrast, allows the front- and back-end systems to function independently. Benefits of headless architectureAdopting a headless system introduces several advantages:It delivers a flexible and customizable front end. With the visual layer decoupled, developers are no longer tied to the constraints of the back end, allowing for the creation of custom user experiences. It enables seamless integration with other systems. The back end operates independently, communicating simultaneously with multiple front ends. This allows businesses to provide a consistent omnichannel experience across various platforms like websites, mobile apps, smartwatches, and IoT devices. For instance, should a brand face difficulties in producing content for new products due to the constraints of its content model, the headless commerce system allows the integration of a different content management system with adjustable content models. This flexibility ensures a smoother operation by effectively mitigating the identified issue.It accelerates the speed of innovation. Changes to the front end won't impact the back end, and vice versa. This promotes quicker updates, experiments and iterations, all critical components in today's fast-paced digital landscape.Drawbacks of headless architectureWhile headless offers clear benefits, it also carries some drawbacks:This way of setting up a system can be challenging to handle. It needs someone with technical knowledge to take care of the different parts and keep them working.While the freedom to customize front-end interfaces is a benefit, it also means that businesses are responsible for designing and developing these interfaces, which can be time-consuming and costly.Depending on the chosen system, limited support or functionalities may be available.Understanding composable architectureComposable is an approach to building digital services that allows each component to exist independently. This includes things like managing product information, content and customer relationships. Businesses can choose which parts they need to create a custom digital platform.Advantages of composable architectureComposable e-commerce offers significant advantages.It provides extreme flexibility. Since all components are separate, they can be independently updated, replaced or reconfigured, enabling a truly agile e-commerce platform. This architecture allows for continuous optimization without fear of disrupting the entire system.Composable future-proofs your DXP stack by implementing task-oriented packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which are essential for faster time to market and better adoption of a digital experience. With the ability to add or replace components as needed, businesses can keep pace with technological advancements, customer demands or changes in business strategy.It promotes the best-of-breed approach. Businesses are no longer confined to the capabilities of a single vendor. They can select the best software for each component, maximizing functionality, efficiency and performance.Pivoting toward composable architecture: Points to ponderEmbracing composable commerce vs. headless architecture is a significant decision you should not take lightly. Businesses should thoroughly analyze their current and future needs, evaluating whether the flexibility and adaptability of composable commerce align with their strategic goals.The appeal of composable architecture lies in its flexibility and potential for success. However, it's important to remember that just because something is possible doesn't mean it's a good idea. Composable architecture can be compared to Lego blocks, as it allows for the creation of many different structures. But the challenge lies in deciding what to build and how to make it happen.The challenge is twofold. First, there's the job of putting together all the components. Second, it's essential to ensure that each element chosen is not just a fun extra but helps create the desired digital experience is essential. It's crucial to tell the difference between the "must-have" and "nice-to-have" features. Focusing too much on the latter can take away your IT team's attention and resources from the essential functions.It's important to think about how much technical knowledge is needed. Composable gives you a lot of choices for customization. Still, it takes a skilled technical team to handle everything and ensure it works well. If you're thinking about using composable, you should ensure you have the right resources or get help from experts to make it easier.Additionally, companies must evaluate their current system's limitations. Are you finding it challenging to innovate due to a rigid, tightly coupled e-commerce platform? Does your business plan to expand into new channels or markets that your current platform cannot support? These pivotal questions can help determine if the transition to composable is warranted.When picking technology partners, it's crucial for organizations to choose carefully. The best partners will offer a variety of components that can be easily swapped out and will provide support and updates over time. The goal is to create an e-commerce platform that can grow and change as the business and customers do.Learn moreLearn more about transitioning to composable in this episode of "Contentstack LIVE!" featuring Contentstack Vice President of Technical Services Pete Larsen.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable digital experience platform can help your organization achieve its e-commerce goals.