Composable or poseur? What to look for in a DXP
As customer needs and expectations continue to evolve, organizations need to be able to respond quickly in order to remain competitive. A composable digital experience platform (DXP) offers speed and flexibility while delivering the personalized experiences today’s consumers expect. This has prompted a growing number of organizations to make the switch to a composable DXP. Unfortunately, it has led to a growing number of composable DXP offerings that are not quite the real thing. In this article, we’ll show you how to spot these and how to avoid what we call composable poseurs.
What is a composable digital experience platform (DXP)?
In a traditional, monolithic (or “legacy”) architecture, an all-in-one suite of software from a single vendor. Functions are built into the software by the vendor, and users can seamlessly incorporate whatever functions they need to deliver their customer experience — in theory, anyway. In practice, monolithic architecture is often complex and difficult to maintain.
Let’s say you want to add a function that isn’t included in your legacy suite. To do so, you’ll need to add a vendor-approved third-party plug-in, but the ones available may not be quite what you’re looking for. Or, you can update your CMS to include that function, but that’s a time-consuming and complex process that requires significant updates to back-end code. Plus, monolithic platforms are sold as a suite, which means you often wind up paying for features and functions you’ll never use.
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. Users can fully customize any combination of functions according to their specific business needs.
A composable DXP is assembled from a series of best-of-breed solutions. These solutions work together via APIs to deliver content and digital experiences to customers in a more agile and flexible way than a single, integrated and monolithic platform.
Why this matters for your business
A composable digital experience platform offers many advantages for users, such as the ability to push content to multiple channels quickly, make changes with little to no coding skills, or update specific modules or blocks incrementally over time as business needs evolve. In addition to making life easier for your organization’s teams, a composable DXP approach can make it easier to future-proof your marketing tech stack, deliver a robust and personalized customer journey, and even save your organization money.
What makes a DXP composable?
So you’ve decided to move to a composable DXP. What features should you be looking for in your new, future-proof architecture? And what does a true composable digital experience platform look like in practice?
In the early days of the internet, CMSes were designed to store and present content on web pages. A traditional CMS stores all its content in one big repository — but because that content is only intended to be displayed in a specific way for one specific medium (websites), it can’t be repurposed or reused for different channels.
With a true composable DXP, content is still stored in a CMS; however, the CMS is headless, so content can be deployed via APIs across any digital touchpoint. The content in the CMS can also be structured so that if you need to edit site copy or an image, you don’t need to update it on each channel. Just edit it in one place and it will automatically update anywhere that content is located.
A true headless CMS also does not include a presentation layer, so you have full control over how your content will be displayed to customers.
Many DXPs that claim to be composable also tout all the pre-built functions that come with their composable DXP. They seem to think that’s a strong selling point — but in reality, it’s a clear sign that their DXP offerings aren’t truly composable at all.
The benefit of a composable DXP is the flexibility to assemble a technology stack that works best for the digital experience you want to create for your audience. If most of that tech stack is being supplied by a single vendor, then the architecture isn’t truly open. What you get will likely have more in common with monolithic DXPs than a true composable DXP solution.
A growing user base for your site or application is a good thing, but if you want to maintain that growth, you have to scale. A true composable DXP allows you to quickly and efficiently scale individual functions according to demand, often in a low- or no-code environment.
How to tell if a DXP is composable (or just ‘composable’)
The difference between a composable DXP and a “composable” DXP can be difficult to spot. If you’re not sure which is which, ask yourself the following questions:
Will your teams feel empowered?
With a true composable DXP, content and marketing teams can make changes to the front end or publish new content without the need for IT involvement. And by spending less time on tedious tasks, your IT team can spend more time on bigger-picture projects. In addition, composable DXPs enable developers to make changes quickly and efficiently when necessary. If the solution doesn’t seem like it will make a big difference in the way your teams work, it might not be truly composable after all.
Are all the functions independent and separated?
In a monolithic DXP, all the functions are contained within a single CMS, which means they are not independent or separated from one another. Some vendors use a “decoupled” approach, in which the front end and back end are separated. Content can be delivered via an API or via an integrated front end, but you are still limited in how the whole system can be structured. In a truly composable DXP, all your content and applications operate from a single CMS, much like in a monolithic solution; the difference is that the headless CMS holds the content, and APIs connect each operation and function, so everything is kept independent and separate for maximum flexibility and speed.
Do you have a true variety of options?
A composable DXP should have the ability to incorporate the following:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Customer data platform (CDP) solutions
Digital asset management (DAM)
Customer experience management (CEM) software (chatbots, automation, etc.)
In a “composable” DXP, these features will either be automatically included out of the box, or the vendor will only allow you to pick from a handful of third-party vendors if you want to add these features into your tech stack.
Composable poseurs may use terms like “headless” to try and capitalize on the shift to composable architecture, but their offerings aren’t intended to be used as part of an open architecture. A truly composable DXP will offer greater flexibility, increased ease of use, and a much wider range of options, so you can choose whatever software works best for your marketing stack.
Learn more about composable DXPs and the benefits they offer in our article, “Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience.” To see the difference between “composable” solutions and a truly composable DXP, schedule a free demo with us today.
How composable technology improves experiences in financial services
The financial services industry is one of the most advanced sectors when it comes to using digital technology. However, companies in this space are constantly competing for customers at every level, from large investment firms to small, independent banks.To stay ahead of the competition and satisfy customer needs, financial institutions must take advantage of the most advanced solutions available to optimize customer experiences. Composable digital experience platforms provide an easy-to-implement suite of tools and features that allow businesses to execute complex tasks quickly and cost efficiently. In this blog, we’ll explain what a composable DXP is, then look at how financial services companies rely on this technology. We’ll also cover the major benefits of composable DXPs and give you questions to ask when selecting a DXP.What is a composable digital experience platform (DXP)?In a legacy platform, a suite of features and capabilities are built into the software by the vendor. You pay for everything in the suite, even features you don’t want. To add functionality, you must choose vendor-approved, third-party plug-ins. There’s no freedom to choose the ideal solutions for your business as you grow.Composable DXPs differ. They’re “composed” of best-in-breed solutions that work together via APIs to deliver omnichannel content and digital experiences. With composable, you’re no longer locked into features and capabilities chosen by the vendor. Instead, you can compose a unique DXP with the right mix of tools for your business.Many types of software can be integrated into a composable DXP such as:E-commerce toolsAsset managementCustomer managementOmnichannel managementMarketing automation and analyticsContent workflowsCustomer engagementAI toolsThe architecture of legacy and composable DXPs also differs. With a legacy platform, developers create HTML code to control how a website’s front-end display looks. This is great for managing content like photos, text, art, and videos on one website. However, it’s inefficient when using content across multiple websites and channels like social media sites and native apps.With legacy systems, users must manage content separately for each channel. This is difficult, time-consuming and also increases the risk of human error. Legacy systems simply can’t provide the level of agility financial organizations require to deliver the meaningful content experiences required to be competitive.Composable DXPS are built on composable architecture with headless content management systems at the core. With headless, the front-end display and back end are disconnected. Because of this separation, content for multiple channels is managed from one central hub. Then it’s pushed to websites, mobile apps and social media on demand. When integrated with tools like real-time customer data and analytics, organizations become more agile. This leads to greater customer satisfaction along the customer journey.How financial services companies use composable technologyTo understand how financial companies rely on composable technology, let’s consider their customers. According to the Forbes Advisor: 2022 Digital Banking Survey, nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. prefer using a mobile app or website for banking rather than banking in person at a physical location.That’s not surprising when digital is more accessible and convenient. With digital, customers can bank 24/7 from anywhere in the world on any device. They no longer have to leave home to make a deposit, get a loan or even close on a new house.New digital-only banks have also disrupted the market. These non-traditional banks offer fast, convenient mobile banking solutions and payment services. And they have left some traditional banks struggling to keep up.Advances in digital technology aren’t limited to banking either. E-commerce is booming. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce sales in 2022 were estimated to total $1.03 billion. Payment providers, acquiring banks and card schemes like Mastercard work behind the scenes to enable these transactions.Customer expectations of financial services organizations have evolved along with technology. Customers now expect options that make it easy to manage their banking, conduct financial business and make purchases quickly and conveniently. This has increased competition between financial services companies trying to seize their share of the market.Competition is actually responsible for furthering banking along the digital journey toward digitized processes and digital revenue. In fact, according to Gartner’s CIO Survey 2021, it’s further along than any other industry.That's why robust DXPs are must-have technology for financial services companies trying to seize their share of the pie. By robust, we mean composable DXPs that support personalization, marketing automation, data and analytics, and other tools your tech stack may require to keep pace with customers expectations.Benefits of a composable DXP for financial services Increased flexibility Banks, payment providers and other financial services companies gain the freedom to keep existing systems and solutions they require to do business, while integrating new solutions they want to leverage for customer engagement and other purposes. Put simply, they can choose the best mix of tools for their unique success story.From one composable platform, this mix of best-in-breed solutions will connect and communicate seamlessly. Many complex processes that were once slow, time-consuming and left room for error become automated and streamlined.Agility Composable empowers financial organizations to move faster. They could mean pushing important information to multiple channels quickly or adding a new product ahead of a competitor. This agility enables financial organizations to scale faster while still keeping up with customer expectations and regulatory requirements.Composable DXPs can even help financial organizations to grow as it enables them to deliver much better content experiences. This not only helps to attract brand new customers, but builds customer satisfaction and customer loyalty among existing customers. Enhanced security Composable enables faster implementation of security updates. This minimizes both disruption and vulnerability to cyber attacks. Financial organizations are very susceptible to cyberthreats from criminals trying to access financial assets or personal information to target customers. And the slow process of updating security protocols with traditional, legacy DXPs can result in lengthy downtimes. During these times, secure systems are more vulnerable to cyber threats.Not only do government regulations require that financial organizations take security measures to protect their customers from cyberthreats, customers have similar expectations. They want security when they bank or conduct any business through a financial services provider. This is true whether they’re banking on their phone or making a purchase on an e-commerce site.What to consider when implementing a composable DXPBefore choosing a DXP, it’s crucial to first consider who will be using the platform and how they will use it. Be sure to loop in stakeholders from marketing, IT and business. Developing specific use cases will provide a clearer picture of what you require from a platform.Next, it’s time to begin searching for a DXP to fulfill your requirements. Be sure to ask these four questions: Does it have a headless CMS? A headless CMS is important because it enables composable DXPs to manage content from one location, then push it out to multiple channels like your website, social media and native apps.Is it easy to use? Composable DXPs should enable content creators and other nontechnical users to create and edit content without any coding skills or assistance from IT. Select a platform that’s easy to use and intuitive.How configurable is it? Regardless of how easy a platform is to use, it isn’t going to be the right fit unless it can be customized to align with user requirements and business objectives. Choose a DXP that offers the customization options your business needs, as well as the capability to integrate the best-in-breed solutions you may want to leverage both now and later as your organization scales.How good is the customer support? Transitioning from a monolithic platform to a composable DXP is a unique experience for every organization. Making the switch is often done in phases with different capabilities and features being rolled out over time with minimal disruption. You’ll need technical support throughout the transition. Make sure your provider is willing to listen and comprehend your use cases and business objectives and will be there when needed.How financial services companies use composable DXPsHere are three examples showing how banks and financial services companies are using composable DXPs:Composable banking: Many banks have already adapted to composable banking, which makes it easy to quickly adapt to changes in the market. With composable banking, products and services are broken down into separate components that are managed independently. Composable DXPs support composable banking by making it easy to launch new products and services at the right time without disrupting other services.Managing content across channels: Banks with multiple locations, divisions and different suites of products and services for personal and commercial banking customers are using composable DXPs to manage all their content from one central hub. When an interest rate changes, for instance, a composable DXP enables content teams to quickly push the new rate out to multiple channels in a matter of minutes. Whereas in the past, someone had to go into each piece of content and manually update the rate. This was not only tedious and time-consuming, but increased the risk of human error.Personalization: Some larger banks are focusing heavily on enhancing personalization through better technology to deliver a better customer experience. Composable DXPs enable banks to seamlessly integrate and connect sophisticated automated and AI-powered tools that communicate and share data. For instance, localization tools can determine a customer’s location and deliver personalized content in their language, while feedback from analytics tools ensures the message is relevant to them.Learn moreLearn more about the advantages you can expect from our composable DXP in our blog, “Contentstack demonstrated 295% ROI in Forrester study.” To see how Contentstack’s composable DXP can help your digital transformation, schedule a free demo.
5 key takeaways from ContentCon 2023
If you were lucky enough to attend ContentCon 2023, the Contentstack’s highly anticipated annual customer conference held May 8-10, you know how incredibly useful this event can be for those on the journey to composable. With inspiring keynotes and exclusive workshops, attendees take away new insights on composable leadership and technology. In case you missed it, here are some highlights and key takeaways from ContentCon 2023:The monolith is dead: Welcome to the age of composableThe monolith is dead, Contentstack CEO Neha Sampat declared in her opening keynote.“When you're living life according to the rules of the monolith, you're stuck in a cycle of what's not possible,” Sampat said. “You're constrained by the limitations of tech. But when you do break free suddenly this whole world of possibilities can open up to you.”To break free from the monolith, Sampat said, “We have to find our people. We have to find our champions, and we have to find our inner heroes. We challenge the status quo, we redefine the rules, and we can only win if we do it together.”The first-ever Composable CharterCustomers and partners from over 100 leading enterprises at ContentCon 2023 participated in the creation of the first-ever Composable Charter, a roadmap for any business to be successful on the path to composable. The Composable Charter provides a framework of 10 guiding principles applicable to enterprises across all industries seeking to future-proof their business through the adoption of composable technologies and architectures. It takes a village to raise a platform Procurement in the age of composable technology is no longer just one contract but many. Keynote speaker Mindy Montgomery offered a “procurement survival guide” based on her experiences as senior technical product manager at ASICS. "I think communication and managing expectations amongst the team of the solution provider, the brand and the integration partner is going to be more and more key because we are dealing with much more complex solutions that we need to bring to market,” Montgomery said.Her recommendations for brands implementing a composable platform also included:Product management should lead procurement activities but not be the decision maker.Create a contract expiry and scope schedule and review it quarterly.A scoring matrix for requirements makes it easier to quantify and defend decisions to internal stakeholders and solution providers.A framework for getting everyone on boardJurre van Ruth, strategic program manager at PostNL, shared how he used a storytelling framework to persuade decision makers to invest in a fully composable digital experience platform.Name your enemy: “You could say we created a Frankenstein out of our old CMS,” van Ruth said. Like Frankenstein’s monster, “It was alive. But alive doesn’t mean it’s bringing joy and happiness,” van Ruth said. Create a sense of urgency: The existing platform provided inconsistent communication and a long lead time for content changes, resulting in unhappy customers and employees and slow time to market.Agitate the problem: If the company didn’t act now, customer satisfaction would keep dropping, costs would keep increasing and employees would become more dissatisfied.Offer the missing piece of the puzzle: Content as a service in a central platformSpark intrigue: van Jurre created a model that showed how a headless CMS would save up to 90% of time spent on content management.Sell benefits, not features: A headless CMS would deliver a consistent experience, cost savings and customer satisfaction.Show, don’t tell: A workshop with users allowed them to experience the changes and understand the impact of the headless CMS.Build trust: Rather than presenting the need for change himself, van Jurre gained support from others so decision makers knew employees were already on board.Demonstrate the potential: van Jurre’s team created an inspiring video to share the possibilities of the new CMS with employees to get them on board.Show long-term vision: Jurre’s team positioned the headless CMS as being part of something bigger, a composable DXP with capabilities to facilitate the best possible digital experience.A ‘360-degree’ approach to content strategy for AI Ana L'Antigua, global head of technology partnerships, and Sam Chapman, vice president of content and communications at Aprimo, led a workshop on how to develop an approach to content strategy to get the most out of generative AI.“Our lives are about to change as a result of generative AI,” L’Antigua said. “In fact, they already are in so many ways. The way that we do business will never look the same. And with those changes will come extreme challenges, and unless you and your teams are equipped and prepared to face them, you will be left behind.”L’Antigua and Chapman presented Aprimo’s “360-degree” approach to content strategy to get the most out of generative AI. The steps include:Create a cross-functional steering committee to develop a centralized company POV on opportunities to use generative AI.Consider AI use policies and brand safety risks and develop an approach to mitigate them.Identify budgeting and process changes that will be needed to take advantage of AI.Develop a prompt-management strategy as a reference point for content creators.Create training strategies for creating effective AI prompts and scaling performance and consistency.More from ContentCon 2023Visit the ContentCon 2023 Video Hub to watch videos of these presentations and more.
5 ways AI tools can help you create content
Generative AI is a powerful technology that has transformed how content is created and consumed. Many companies, big and small, use generative AI to create better content, make customers happier and grow their businesses. Read this post to learn how content creators can use generative AI to make different types of content, like text, pictures, sound, video and personalized suggestions.What is generative AI?Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that specializes in producing new content, data or patterns by relying on existing data. These AI solutions have undergone extensive training on a wide range of content, including written articles, images, websites, social media posts, and real-time conversations, primarily in English. As a result, they can now effectively copy the structure and grammar of written language and frequently used phrases. Generative AI has developed a remarkable ability to recognize shapes and patterns in images, such as the silhouettes of cats, children and shirts.How is generative AI used in content creation?The versatility of generative AI tools for content creation is vast and diverse, with many industries and formats benefiting from its implementation. Some of the most common applications include:Natural language processing (NLP) for text generationImage synthesis for generating imagesAudio synthesis for generating music and speechVideo synthesis for generating videosMachine learning-based systems for personalized contentNatural language processing for text generationOne of the most popular applications of generative AI in content creation is natural language processing (NLP). NLP is the process of computers and human languages interacting with each other. This enables machines to read, understand and create human text. Models such as GPT-4 have attracted a lot of attention due to their impressive capacity to produce clear, relevant, and natural-sounding text that fits the context.Data scientists train NLP models to mimic human writing by analyzing extensive datasets to comprehend grammar, syntax, and context. Businesses use them for various purposes, such as composing emails, generating product descriptions, producing blog articles, coding and even creating poetry.Image synthesis for generating new imagesCreating new images using generative models is known as image synthesis. One of the most well-known techniques used in this process is called Generative Adversarial Networks or GANs. These involve using two neural networks — the generator and the discriminator. The generator is responsible for creating new images. At the same time, the discriminator is used to evaluate these images against the existing training dataset. As the generator continues to create new images and compete against the discriminator, it learns to produce more realistic images.When it comes to image synthesis, the applications are wide-ranging. You can create original artwork or design virtual environments. You can even generate realistic product images and synthesize faces for digital avatars. A great example is StyleGAN, an NVIDIA-developed AI system that can produce photorealistic images of human faces, animals and objects. Audio synthesis for generating music and speechAI has made great progress in creating new music and speech through audio synthesis. AI models can generate new compositions by learning the structure and patterns of music, including rhythm, melody, and harmony. Platforms like MuseNet and Magenta have produced AI-generated music spanning different genres and styles.AI-powered speech synthesis, or text-to-speech, transforms written text into spoken language. This generative technology is trained on human speech and produces realistic voices with intonation, emotion and accent. It can be used for virtual assistants, audiobook narration, and video voiceovers.Video synthesis for generating videosAI-powered video synthesis is a growing field that employs generative technology to create or modify videos. Composers can generate realistic video sequences using techniques such as GANs and VAEs. This method analyzes motion patterns, scene composition and object interaction to produce a fresh video piece of content.Deepfake technology is a well-known example of video synthesis. It uses AI to manipulate videos by replacing one person's face with another, making it appear that the person is speaking or acting in a way they never did. While deepfakes have raised ethical concerns, the underlying technology has promising applications in filmmaking, advertising and virtual reality.Video synthesis is ideal for creating 3D animations. This is done by training AI models on 3D models and motion data to produce realistic animated sequences. This technology benefits video game development, animated movies and virtual environments.Machine learning-based systems for personalized content AI-powered recommendation systems now personalize content experiences for users. By analyzing user behavior, preferences and demographics, machine learning algorithms generate tailored recommendations that match each individual's unique taste.These recommendation systems are commonly used in content platforms like Netflix, Spotify and YouTube to provide personalized suggestions for movies, music and videos. But they can also be employed in other industries, such as e-commerce, news and even online learning, to curate a personalized experience for each user.Generative AI is changing how we produce and consume content in different fields and formats. With the help of generative AI, companies can create more appealing, imaginative, and individualized content, which leads to better customer experiences and business growth.To excel as a business leader, marketing professional, or technical expert, it's crucial to stay informed about emerging technologies and consider how to incorporate them into your existing content marketing strategy. By doing this, you'll be prepared to adapt to the future of content creation and outdo your competitors in a world that is increasingly influenced by AI.Embracing generative AI in your content strategyTo make use of generative AI in your content plan, here are some practical steps you can follow:Start by evaluating how you currently create content and pinpointing opportunities where generative AI could be beneficial. This may involve automating repetitive tasks, producing personalized suggestions, or generating unique and captivating content.To make the most of generative AI tools, it's important to do your research and invest in those that match your business goals and content requirements. Depending on your focus, tools like GPT-4 and other NLP models could be worth considering for text generation.Collaborating with experts in the field of generative AI can be challenging due to its constant evolution. With so many new AI tools available from various vendors, finding an expert in marketing content management to help guide you is crucial. It's important to balance automation and human creativity when it comes to content creation. While generative AI can be incredibly helpful, it's crucial to remember the value of the human touch. Rather than relying solely on AI, use it as a tool to enhance your team's expertise and imagination.AI-generated content has ethical considerations that you must address. It would help if you established clear internal guidelines to ensure transparency and maintain trust with your audience. These guidelines should address privacy issues such as unintentionally exposing personal information, prevent bias that may exist within the existing data and maintain authenticity. By doing so, you can protect your brand's reputation and ensure the ethical use of generative AI technology.In the rapidly evolving field of generative AI, there may be better solutions than what works today. It is important to test and measure the performance of your AI-generated content continuously. Be open to refining your approach as new technologies and techniques emerge.Incorporating generative AI into content generation presents numerous chances for companies to improve, interact, and customize their content. By adopting a methodical approach and adhering to the steps described above, you can leverage the potential of generative AI to enhance your content plan and stay ahead in a highly competitive, AI-centric environment.Learn moreLearn more about using generative AI in our blog post, "How to transform your content creation with generative AI."Contentstack recently announced AI Assistant, a ChatGPT integration for our composable digital experience platform. Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's DXP and AI Assistant can help you scale your marketing content creation.
Watch ‘Contentstack LIVE!’ for latest in composable tech
Are you looking for ways to maximize your business outcomes through composable technology? Join us every Friday for our new webinar series, “Contentstack LIVE!” to explore the latest in composable tech strategies, innovative practices and insights from industry leaders.In our first episode, Contentstack VP of Product Conor Egan joins hosts Jeff Baher and Austen Chen to talk about the power of generative AI and how Contentstack’s AI Assistant leverages ChatGPT in a composable digital experience platform. Their 19-minute conversation covers:How generative AI works, its uses and limitationsHow content editors can use a ChatGPT integrationWhat’s on the horizon for AI technology and composable DXPsThis week, Contentstack CMO Susan Beermann joins Jeff and Austin to talk about digital-first marketing. Tune in to catch Beermann’s expert take on:The critical ingredients for going digital-firstAdvice she gives to her peers about going composableMarketing technology trends she’s most excited aboutVisit our website to watch these episodes of “Contentstack LIVE!” and see new episodes every Friday. Join the Contentstack LIVE community to connect with Jeff, our guests and the rest of the Contentstack community. Schedule a free demo to talk to an expert about how going composable can help you reach your business goals.