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3 ways tech and business teams can help each other through a transformation
Not all great tech transformations are brought to the table by a developer, engineer, CTO or other technical person. We see great projects kick off because someone in marketing, sales or customer success raises the flag for change. Sometimes business people can see opportunities that aren’t as plain to the tech teams.That’s what happened when Booking.com decided to transition off its old systems to a headless CMS. Juliette Olah, senior manager of Editorial, realized that her teams had produced thousands of pieces of content over the years — but the capabilities of their current technology significantly limited the value that content produced in their local markets and possibilities for the future.Listening to her “People Changing Enterprises” episodes, I admired the way Juliette united Booking.com’s product and editorial teams from the beginning to pull off their transformation. Business and tech can either be each other’s biggest advocates or frustrating roadblocks.To avoid the latter, these are three examples of how tech and business teams can support each other throughout a transformation.Thoroughly debrief at the onsetAt the beginning of every project, we encourage organizations to sit down with their cross-functional teams and level set. Business and tech have their own KPIs and goals to achieve. In a project that bridges the two, there should be a frank discussion, ending in clear, written requirements of process and goals for both sides.Once Juliette realized a tech transformation was the answer to the editorial team’s needs, she became the living bridge between the editorial and product teams. Sitting down with tech stakeholders, they talked through what Juliette called a “comprehensive 360 view of the benefits to the technical side of the platform”:The editorial team’s strategy and the justification behind the new technologyReal-life examples of what execution would look likeThe business value of a central headless CMS would bring to each local marketOpportunities they were currently missing out on because of their current toolBecause she had clearly done her homework and demonstrated the need on both sides, the product team was eager to get started.Partner up to find and test new toolsFinding and testing new tools is an easy way for business and tech teams to partner effectively. When the new CMS was in place, the teams at Booking.com partnered to try out the new tool to make sure it worked for both sides.At Contentstack, once a new solution is initially developed, we pull in our business partners for User Acceptance Testing. They can test, catch bugs, or point out which workflows function trickier than anticipated — versus the tech teams doing it all themselves.Additionally, when you’re on the hunt for new tools, tag a business partner in for their opinion. From a different mindset, they might be able to raise questions or point out benefits you didn’t consider. Work together to phase out what isn’t neededA transition to composable is the perfect time to evaluate what tools you’re bringing into the new environment — and which ones you should retire. This is another area that tech and business teams should work together.A few years ago, we bought an analytics tool for the organization to use on their reports. It was low-cost and met some of our needs upfront, so we decided to take a chance on it. Six months down the road, we were spending a huge amount of time trying to force the tool to work. When a business person came to me and admitted the tool wasn’t helping their team meet their objectives, we decided to look into something else. On a composable project, it’s not always clear on the back end if a tool is working for teams as they need. That’s where our business partners come in. It’s a partnership.Babe Ruth once said, "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime."It’s easy for business and tech teams to work in silos, but working together produces more value. Especially in a tech transformation, the two teams are different sides of one coin. Find ways to bridge the gap and you’ll see much more value in your resulting tech stack.
How switching to a composable DXP will affect security
The top priority for any business is protecting sensitive information from cyberattacks, and the effectiveness of your cybersecurity measures largely depends on your tech stack. There are a number of benefits of going composable, and a key one is that composable DXPs can offer better security than monolithic solutions. Read on to learn: How going composable can improve your organization’s cybersecurity What you need to know to make your composable tech stack as secure as possible What is composable architecture? Composable architecture breaks down the large and complex functions found in monolithic solutions into smaller, more manageable pieces. An API acts as the go-between for these smaller pieces, allowing them to communicate and transfer information more efficiently. In a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end layers are decoupled, so changes can be made to the front end independent of back-end functions. There are a variety of benefits of moving to a composable DXP, including reduced IT costs, more streamlined processes and functions, easier updates and, when properly implemented, better security. What are the biggest threats businesses face? Cyberattacks have always posed a risk to businesses, but that threat has grown in the past decade. Businesses have beefed up their cybersecurity measures when it comes to some of the more common threats like phishing and malware; unfortunately, hackers have responded by developing more sophisticated cyberattacks that are harder to spot — and more difficult to guard against. Today, businesses face a slew of cybersecurity threats. Ransomware attacks hold entire networks hostage. Endpoint attacks are on the rise, thanks to the shift toward remote work and, in turn, the number of off-site Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to business systems. Supply chain attacks exploit security weaknesses in third-party vendors or providers to gain access to their partners’ systems. And even though we are better trained to spot phishing attempts and avoid malware, these strategies still work often enough that hackers continue to use them. Composable DXPs provide the flexibility to employ cutting-edge cybersecurity measures to protect against cyber attacks and data breaches. The security benefits of going composable A strong cybersecurity strategy is especially important with composable DXPs. As noted above, a composable approach offers the ability to break the large, single-suite functions of monolithic platforms into smaller components. This allows for more customization options, as organizations can pick and choose the specific programs and functions they need to deliver a top-tier digital experience. But each individual piece has its own security requirements and vulnerabilities, and your cybersecurity strategy needs to account for all these differences so there are no holes to exploit. When moving to a composable DXP, a key first step is to define your security needs and identify the security tech stack that best meets those needs. This will serve as the foundation of your cybersecurity framework, and all the functionality that follows needs to fit within it. The benefit is that it makes it much easier to identify and isolate any vulnerabilities in your security. With monolithic systems, spotting security risks or finding the source of a breach means combing through the entire system. With a composable DXP, it’s much faster and easier to go through each individual function and make the necessary adjustments to secure your system. How to properly secure your composable tech stack Breaking out functions into individual components with a composable DXP solution creates more endpoints that can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. But even though there are more potential points of access, there are also more ways to secure your systems. API management platforms make it easy to track API usage and integrate up-to-date security protocols like OAuth and OpenID. That allows you to control who can access and use critical applications and data stored in cloud services, and with authentication processes to verify user IDs, you can catch any security threats before a breach occurs. To secure your composable DXP, these functions are essential: End-to-end encryption Access controls Authentication: Encryption keys; 2FA; securing IoT devices Data protection Detailed monitoring Implementing these functions and tailoring them to the unique needs of your composable DXP helps ensure that the sensitive data in your platform is protected from cyberattacks. Data security in your composable DXP When it comes to brand interactions, today’s consumer expects a personalized experience, but in order to create a robust customer journey, you need to gather data about your customers. Consumers are willing to provide that data if it means a better digital experience — but they also expect that their sensitive information will be safe in your hands. The financial cost of a data breach can be massive, but it’s nothing compared to the damage your organization’s reputation will suffer if your customer data is exposed due to a security breach. Fortunately, your composable DXP strategies can help provide better data security. With a monolithic system, if your critical infrastructure is breached, all your customer data is exposed. A composable DXP allows you to create modular data pipelines that connect to each individual component and the relevant data, rather than a single large block that contains all your data, as is the case with legacy systems. With composable, you can scale up or down and implement or remove components based on your security needs. And if a data breach does occur in one component, the scope of the data exposure is usually limited. Securely meeting consumer demands The customer experience is delivered across different parts of your composable DXP, from your headless CMS to your marketing stack — and it all needs to be supported by a robust cybersecurity strategy that meets or exceeds industry standards. Cybersecurity threats come in all shapes and sizes, and cyberattacks can come from anywhere. To combat those threats and protect your system, your cybersecurity strategy needs to address all the potential risks. Your technology also needs to be flexible and adaptable in order to guard against new threats as they arise. Going composable allows you to build your tech stack to match your security strategy, and vice versa. It’s important to remember that ensuring a safe and secure experience goes beyond adding security protocols to your tech stack. Rather, it’s about deploying the right technologies and data protection programs and practices for the unique needs of your organization. Learn more Learn more about composable architecture in our blog post, “Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience.” Schedule a free demo to learn how Contentstack can help you create a secure composable DXP solution that best suits your organization’s needs.
From legacy systems to microservices: Transforming auth architecture
Contentstack receives billions of API requests daily, and every request must be validated to be a valid Contentstack identity. It is a common industry practice to achieve this using some sort of “identity token" for every request. Imagine having multiple types of identity tokens, such as session tokens, OAuth tokens, delivery tokens, management tokens, etc. The problem of securing billions of API requests daily can be challenging. We decided to address this by spinning up a new team that handles the complex problems of user authentication and authorization in a token-agnostic platform.Our transition journey Contentstack started as an API-first headless CMS platform that allowed content managers to create and manage content while simultaneously and independently enabling developers to use Contentstack's delivery API to pull that content and render it to create websites and applications. This means that Contentstack’s traffic increases proportionately to the traffic received by our customers' websites and applications.With increased traffic and usage, we catered to various new use cases by developing new features. These features were powered by a set of microservices, each catering to a particular feature domain and needing support for processing multiple identity tokens that had roles and permissions associated with them. The whole system had turned out to be quite complex, and performing auth had become a great challenge. This prompted us to redesign our auth architecture, which addressed the issues of being a token-agnostic and low-latency platform.Read on to learn more about this journey and how we have been able to:Transition from a monolith to a low latency microservices-based auth (authentication plus authorization) and rate-limiting architecture.Set up centralized authentication for multiple (any domain) microservices that are part of the same Kubernetes cluster.Set up decentralized and self-serviced, policy-based authorization for internal services and teams.Increasing feature sets increased domain microservices, which increased the complexity of performing auth.Monolithic auth architectureMonolithic architectures can be difficult to maintain, scale and deploy. In a monolithic architecture, user authentication and authorization are typically tightly coupled with the application code, making it difficult to implement and maintain robust security measures. Monolithic architectures often rely on a single authentication and authorization mechanism for the entire application, which can limit the flexibility of the system to accommodate different types of users or access levels.Performing auth in a typical monolithic architecture.In monolithic architectures, the steps involved in auth are the following:Users use their credentials at the client to generate a session token or use an existing identity token to generate other identity tokens.Users then use the generated identity token to perform a business operation by making a request to the application server.Once a request is received at the application server, the authentication middleware authenticates the token and forwards the request to the business module.The business module performs the business operation based on the authorization rules applied to the user identity.Problems with monolithic auth architecture:Authentication and authorization logic is mixed with the business logic.Changing the way an identity performs an operation on a resource involves a change in the associated auth-related logic.Each domain individually implements the authorization logic, causing a difference in implementation.Since authorization logic is deeply nested in business logic, we lack visibility into authorization rules applied to a resource.Shipping of new authorization logic requires a fresh deployment of the application image.New microservices require knowledge of various identity tokens and resource authorization rules to be applied.Microservices auth architectureMicroservices offer a more flexible, modular approach that allows for easier maintenance, scalability and deployment. With microservices, each service can be developed, deployed and scaled independently, allowing for faster time-to-market, improved fault tolerance, and better alignment with modern development practices. Additionally, microservices offer more efficient use of resources and better support for diverse technology stacks.AuthenticationWhy centralized authentication?Centralized authentication is a security model in which a central authority manages authentication, such as a server or service, rather than it being distributed across multiple systems or applications. There are several reasons why centralized authentication is commonly used and considered advantageous, including increased security, simplified management, improved user experience and lower costs. While there are some drawbacks to centralized authentication, such as the increased risk of a single point of failure and increased complexity in managing the central authority, the benefits often outweigh the risks. Centralized authentication and rate-limiting at the edge of the service mesh.The steps involved in the centralized authentication process are the following:Any incoming request to the Kubernetes cluster first lands at the Istio ingress gateway.The request containing the identity token is proxied to a central authentication gRPC service with the help of envoyproxy's external authorization filter.The central authentication service queries Redis with the identity token and metadata associated with the request.Redis responds with the identity associated with the token and the current rate-limit count based on the request metadata.The central authentication service responds to Istio with either of the following:Authenticated response with user context attached to the request in the form of request headersUnauthenticated responseRatelimit exceeded responseAn authenticated request containing the user context is then forwarded to the upstream service.Advantages over the monolithic architecture:Easier to onboard newer microservices to central authentication service by using label based istio-injection.All requests are authenticated and rate-limited at the edge of the service mesh, ensuring that each request entering the cluster is always rate-limited and authenticated.The request forwarded to the upstream microservice has user identity context attached to it in the request headers, which can be further used for applying authorization rules.Keeping centralized authentication eliminates the problem of multiple mutations performed by the upstream microservices on the identity of the token.Authorization Centralized authorizationWe tried a model where along with authentication and rate limiting, we also added authorization as a responsibility of the central authentication and rate limiting service. The service would first identify the incoming request’s identity from the token and apply rate limiting based on the request metadata. Once the user identity is known, authorization rules could be applied to the user’s identity, thereby performing the entire Auth at the edge of the service mesh. Problems with this model are the following:This model could only perform basic authorization at the edge based on the request metadata provided, such as validating organizations, stacks, etc. However, it could not perform fine-grained authorization, such as finding out which content types the logged-in user had access to.For RBAC, each domain has its roles and permissions associated with it; performing authorization for such requests requires knowledge of the upstream domain and leads to the addition of domain-specific logic in the centrally managed domain-agnostic platform.With newer domain microservice additions, this again would lead to the problem of lacking visibility into authorization rules applied to a resource.Distributed authorization with central authorization serviceWe then tried implementing a model where we distributed authorization to the upstream microservices where each upstream microservice makes a call to a central authorization service. The authorization service has access to all the roles and permissions of different domains and was able to give appropriate authorization results. Authorization could now be performed from the upstream service’s business module by making a network request using Kubernetes cluster networking to avoid making a call over the internet.Problems with this model are the following:The central authorization service becomes a single point of failure.Any change in the API contract defined by the central authorization service requires all the upstream services to abide by it and makes shipping these changes independently a complex task.Performing authorization adds a network hop, thereby increasing the latency.Distributed authorization with the sidecar patternLearning from the previously discussed disadvantages, we wanted to build a model that had authorization distributed, low latency and made shipping authorization logic an independent activity. ArchitectureThe architecture involves the following components:Auth sidecarCentral policy serviceAuth SDKArchitecture for authorizing an authenticated request with the sidecar pattern.Auth sidecarThe auth sidecar is a gRPC service that gets injected along with the microservice’s application container in the same Kubernetes pod. Let’s understand how this architecture helped us tackle the previously mentioned problems.Single point of failure: The auth sidecar service runs with the application container in the same pod, and any case of failure is only limited to the current pod. Restarting the pod gives us a fresh set of application and auth sidecar containers.Independent delivery: Since the auth sidecar service container is shipped along with the application container, the application service can decide which version of the sidecar image to use, thereby making the delivery of newer versions of the authorization sidecar independent.Low latency: There is no network hop involved in making a gRPC call to the auth sidecar running in the same pod. This helps the application to get the authorization result with very low latency (in a few milliseconds).Updating authorization logic: The auth sidecar periodically downloads fresh policy bundles; any time there is a change in policy bundle coming from the central policy service, the auth sidecar updates its local policy cache with the new bundle.This way, updating authorization logic does not involve a fresh deployment/restart of the application container.Components involved in auth sidecar Responsibilities of the components involved in the authorization sidecar.Aggregator: The responsibility of the aggregator is to fetch authorization-related data for the current identity based on the metadata provided by the application service in the gRPC call. It then aggregates it to be evaluated against the authorization policy.OPA Engine: We use OPA (Open Policy Agent) to periodically download fresh policies and evaluate the policy path mentioned in the gRPC call against the aggregated data.Central policy serviceThe central policy service is a repository of policy bundles (*.rego files) which are independently managed by the domain microservices. The maintainers of the domain microservices create these policies for various resources that need authorization. Since these policies only involve rules, it greatly increases the visibility of authorization rules being applied to a particular resource.Auth SDKThe auth-sdk is an internal library that we developed that helps the developers of upstream microservices to easily communicate with different auth components. It can do the following:Extract user identity and other useful information attached in the request headers by the central authentication serviceDiscover various auth components and streamline communicating with themExpose different helper methods to perform any auth-related activity on behalf of the application serviceRedesigned (new) architecture:Tracing the request lifecycle in our redesigned auth architecture.ConclusionMicroservices-based architectures can help address some of these challenges of monolithic architecture by separating user authentication and authorization into individual services, which can be developed, deployed and maintained independently. This approach can provide greater flexibility, scalability and security for user authentication and authorization.However, it's important to note that transitioning to a microservices-based architecture can also come with some challenges, such as increased complexity and a need for more advanced DevOps practices. Proper planning, implementation and ongoing maintenance are crucial to ensuring a successful transition.
How to make the most of your composable DXP with ChatGPT
ChatGPT has gotten plenty of attention in recent months. The chatbot, developed by OpenAI, recently made headlines for (among other things) passing law exams, a Wharton business management exam, and parts of the US Medical Licensing Exam, all without any external input. ChatGPT reached 1 million users within five days of release; by comparison, it took Spotify five months to reach that threshold. For digital brands, the arrival of ChatGPT is a game-changer — especially when it comes to creating content and content management. Read on to learn how to use ChatGPT with a composable DXP.What is ChatGPT?ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool powered by AI technology. Using reams of text from the open internet, the program is asked to predict the next word in a text string, over and over. Over the course of trillions of predictions, GPT has learned not just how to predict the next word, but also use its training data to answer questions and complete tasks assigned to it. As you can imagine, this presents a lot of opportunities for brands to enhance their digital experience platforms.How can ChatGPT integrate with a composable CMS?Although ChatGPT was not designed specifically to work with content management systems, there are ways to integrate it into your CMS and leverage its capabilities to improve the digital experience.Chatbot engineWith most chatbots, user communication is on rails. Standard chatbots only recognize specific prompts, and depending on how the chatbot is designed, those prompts might not cover everything users may need. ChatGPT is able to have real, natural conversations with users for a more robust and personalized experience. Using ChatGPT as the conversational engine for the chatbot, the CMS can use relevant content — such as articles, FAQs, product information, and more — as training data, which ChatGPT can then use to answer user queries. ChatGPT can also enhance the chatbot's ability to understand and respond to natural language queries, so users can ask questions however they want and still get the answer they’re looking for. The benefit for your team is less time spent designing the chatbot to respond to every possible user query (and every possible variation of those queries). ChatGPT can also connect to your CMS via custom API integration. When users interact with your CMS, the web service can run the user’s query through ChatGPT, and ChatGPT’s response can then be returned to the web service to be displayed to users. Whether you use ChatGPT to power a chatbot or integrate it with your CMS, users benefit from a more engaging and personalized experience — and your customer support team benefits from the automation of some of their more time-intensive tasks.Marketing automation and personalizationGood marketing is informative. Great marketing is informative and has a personal touch. Generic or broad automated marketing is unlikely to win new customers; instead, your marketing needs to address each user’s unique preferences in order to win their business. Unfortunately, creating highly specific content that speaks to each individual user is incredibly time-consuming. ChatGPT can take information about your customers’ interests, preferences and behaviors and use it as training data to create more personalized and targeted marketing content in a fraction of the time. In other words, brands don’t have to choose between reach and personalization — ChatGPT can provide both.Coding suggestions for front-end and back-end developmentReviewing code is a necessary part of updating and enhancing your composable digital experience platform, but it can be a major time and resource drain for your DevOps team. Since ChatGPT is a language model, it can read and understand code written in a variety of programming languages — which can save you time and stress as you prepare to roll out new features or functions on your platform.Strictly speaking, ChatGPT is not able to “review” code in the way a developer would, because ChatGPT doesn’t understand the context of the code the way a human developer does. Still, ChatGPT can answer specific programming questions for developers, review code syntax and point out any potential logical flaws in the code that can save time on debugging. Content creation and testingEffective content helps attract new users to your site and delivers a quality experience that will encourage repeat visits. Producing high-quality content requires a lot of time, effort and resources. ChatGPT can handle many of the tasks that might otherwise require you to hire a team of writers or content specialists.ChatGPT’s role in content creation is entirely up to you and your needs. You can use ChatGPT to generate content ideas by providing prompts and suggestions related to your business and letting ChatGPT suggest topics that will resonate with your target audience. ChatGPT can also be used to test existing content: Simply provide the AI model with existing pieces of content and ask for suggestions, and ChatGPT will offer suggestions to make the content more engaging, more informative or more SEO-friendly. On the other end of the spectrum, ChatGPT can also be used to create outlines or even entire pieces of content from scratch. With a bit of guidance in the form of prompts or content topics, ChatGPT can write full articles and blog posts, which can then be edited and customized to match your brand’s voice and messaging. It’s important to note, however, that while ChatGPT can drastically reduce the amount of time spent on content creation, there is still value in a human element. Users may eventually learn to spot AI-generated content, and your SEO can suffer if your content bears too many AI fingerprints. When used effectively, ChatGPT can help reduce the time your team spends on content creation and the tedious tasks that go with it.How Contentstack AI Assistant leverages the power of ChatGPTContent creation is a crucial part of building a connection with your audience, and ChatGPT is poised to transform the content creation and publishing experience. The new Contentstack AI Assistant harnesses the power of ChatGPT to help teams create brand-specific content in seconds. By adding ChatGPT to your entry editor through in-line UI extensions, the Contentstack AI Assistant makes it easy for content teams to leverage ChatGPT’s capabilities however they choose. Want to experiment with content creation? Quickly and easily build outlines for content writers? Create summaries, outlines, metadata tags, and headlines so editors and publishers can move on to other tasks? Translate content for global users? All this (and much more) is possible with just a single prompt to the Contentstack AI Assistant. The possibilities for your content are endless. With Contentstack AI Assistant, it’s never been easier to tap into those possibilities to take your content to a whole new level and get the most from your composable DXP. Learn moreWatch this episode of "Contentstack LIVE” with Contentstack VP of Product Conor Egan to learn more about the power of generative AI.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack can help you leverage the power of automation to launch digital experiences at the speed of your imagination.
4 questions for e-commerce brands considering composable
There’s a lot of confusion in the market when it comes to composable architectures. A company says one thing and their competitor says something different — all the while, the people who hunger for change inside complex organizations struggle.We see this in potential e-commerce customers all the time, knowing they need a change but not really understanding what composable can do for them. Emma Sleep, one of the fastest-growing D2C sleep brands in the world, was one of those organizations.Andreas Westendörpf, chief technology officer of Emma Sleep, talked about why they chose composable and what it did for them on the latest “People Changing Enterprises” podcast. Hearing him speak about the differences between traditional environments and composable inspired me to create this litmus test. Ideally, this will help provide clarity for e-commerce organizations wondering if composable is the right move for them.Are you aiming to grow quickly?For organizations trying to scale quickly, traditional CMS and legacy systems are far more complicated than composable architectures. They are less flexible and take more developer intervention to launch new markets, products, and content. Composable wasn’t in Andreas’ original plans. But when Emma Sleep introduced their ambitious growth goals, they were operating from a highly customized legacy system. Doubling business every one or two years in vastly different markets would be difficult, frustrating and extremely error-prone with these technologies. They also wouldn’t be able to support personalized content for each market — what works for European audiences doesn’t work for Asia or Latin America. If you are a scaling organization, you need composable. Other options are too rudimentary and inflexible for you. You will have to manipulate and create custom code to force things to work, which is not only a huge risk — as it will most likely break often — but inefficient when efficiency is required.Are you outsourcing the problem to the vendor?Andreas made a good point in the podcast. E-commerce was one of the first ways to make money on the internet, which is why many platforms still follow the architectural design principles of the ’90s and early 2000s when they were founded. While that’s changing, it’s happening slowly. In the meantime, e-commerce organizations are struggling with monolithic technology.The common solution is outsourcing your development to the same vendor you’re struggling with — a tricky catch-22. The problem doesn’t change. Instead, it comes with long consulting timelines and following industry “best practices” that actually aren’t best, like planning out your project five years in advance (more on that to come).Composable solves two problems at once: providing a more flexible, agile technology stack and by bringing control back in-house.Do you need to make room for innovation?I recently read a great piece that nails down what innovation really is: riding a wave. Mary Kay Ash didn’t invent cosmetics; she rode the direct-sales wave. Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile; he rode the assembly line wave. Steve Jobs didn’t invent computers; he rode the digital wave. So on and so forth.Here’s what I’m trying to get at: Are you equipped to ride the wave?E-commerce brands must ride the wave more than most. They ride the waves of public opinion, of social media, of what customers need when they need it. But the thing about waves is they disappear quickly. If you don’t catch it, you sink. E-commerce organizations don’t have the luxury of submitting a developer ticket or a feature request and waiting around for six months until the request becomes a reality; the wave could be gone by then. Yet that’s often what happens with legacy technology — so many missed opportunities.In the podcast, Andreas expresses his desire to experiment quickly and figure out what works versus what doesn’t. In a composable architecture, their team can integrate up-and-coming tools like ChatGPT for use pretty quickly. Emma Sleep also tests new platforms for new markets beforehand and implements them when ready. That was not possible for them in their previous environment.Do you need to transform quickly?“The five-year plan is dead.”That might be my favorite quote from a “People Changing Enterprises” podcast so far, and Andreas is absolutely right. Why stretch your timelines out that long, especially when you can reap value much earlier?Andreas added: “Don't plan for a five-year project. If you are trying to implement within a five-year timeframe, things change too much. So plan for two years. Two years is a good time horizon. If two years becomes two and a half, fair enough. But you need to somehow have the most critical work done at the end of two years, like 90%.”Enterprises choose to make the transition from monolith to composable in different ways, but one thing all successful transformations have in common is that they don’t push it too far down the road.The litmus test is done. If you answered “yes” to most — or all — of these questions, then it’s time to talk with us about moving from monolith to composable. Here’s the good news: When you choose to make the transition to composable, you’re future-proofing your organization. According to Andreas, “it’s the last replatform you’re going to need.”
How your business can save money with a composable DXP
Are you feeling the crunch of tight budgets and limited resources? It can be difficult for enterprises to find ways to cut costs while still remaining competitive. One way to do this is by investing in a composable digital experience platform (DXP). A composable DXP allows businesses to quickly create personalized user experiences without the need for extensive development time or costly technology infrastructure. By taking advantage of its flexibility and scalability, companies can save money while improving customer engagement. In this blog post, we'll discuss how a composable DXP could help your business improve its efficiency and profitability.What is a composable DXP?Gartner defines a DXP as “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”A DXP is not necessarily a single solution but a variety of solutions that work cohesively from a central hub. A composable DXP uses MACH technologies (microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless) to deliver services to various devices and channels.How a composable DXP saves moneyScalabilityA composable architecture allows you to scale according to your business needs. If you’re just beginning to implement composable technology, you may choose to keep elements of your existing technology while adding composable applications where they are most needed to improve efficiency.If you choose to invest in a new digital experience platform, a composable architecture enables you to choose the best tools available for your needs, and only the tools you need. ReliabilityA composable DXP can help your business avoid costly downtime because its microservices-based architecture means a failure in one service won’t affect the entire system. SpeedA composable platform based on a headless CMS will enable you to quickly launch new digital experiences, update and adapt as needed without the need for developers to create new solutions each time, so you enjoy faster time to market while saving costly development time.EfficiencyIn a platform with a composable architecture based on a headless CMS, the front end and back ends are decoupled, so marketing teams IT teams can work simultaneously to create and update digital experiences and content faster. A composable platform also enables automation of routine tasks so you avoid costly human errors and your team spends more time on higher priority tasks.How to save money when implementing a composable DXPOne way to save money while transitioning to composable technology is to leverage your existing technology wherever possible and add composable technology where your legacy system doesn’t function as needed.To do this successfully, start by:Defining your business goalsIdentifying what you use, don’t use and what’s missing in your current systemMapping out your ideal systemDefining a roadmap for implementation When implementing a composable DXP, the key to saving money is understanding what services you need for success. Consider your business needs and goals and then research composable DXP providers that best match those needs. Whether parting with a smaller sum of money up front or investing in more expensive but comprehensive packages, make sure that you aren't overspending on features and services you won't actually use. Look out for special bundle deals or discounts, as these can be great ways to save while still getting top-notch services. Remember that investing in composable DXP is an investment in the future of your company; save smart in order to get the most ROI from your composable DXP implementation.Conclusion Businesses are looking to save money while transitioning to more modern technology to meet current customer needs. A composable DXP will help achieve this, allowing you to implement gradually while increasing speed and efficiency and reducing development costs. Learn moreLearn more about going composable in our blog post, “De-risking your transition to composable.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack can help you save money and increase ROI with the only fully composable digital experience platform.
How to measure performance of your composable DXP
Consumers have high expectations for brands. They want personalized experiences that evolve according to their needs and are delivered seamlessly across multiple channels. On top of that, they want it to be lightning-fast, or they’ll take their business elsewhere.Composability is the future of the digital experience. A composable digital experience platform (DXP) gives you greater flexibility, customization, speed, scalability and reliability. But to be sure you’re maximizing the benefits of your composable DXP, you need to measure its performance. Here are five key metrics to measure and how you can measure them:FlexibilityYour organization’s needs will evolve, and your platform has to be able to adapt. A composable DXP provides the flexibility you need to deliver the digital experience customers expect. Benefits of flexibilityReduced cost Composable’s flexibility makes it easier to incorporate new functions. This helps you keep pace with customers’ needs and expectations today, while also future proofing your tech stack. With composable, you only pay for the microservices you need — much more cost-effective than buying a full suite of monolithic functions just to access the one or two you intend to use. How to measure it:Microservice usage: Is your composable DXP weighed down by things you don’t need? Overlap between microservices: If you have a lot of overlapping functions, try to combine them where possible.Number of workarounds: If your platform is riddled with workarounds, review your tech stack and look for ways to optimize its efficiency.Efficient collaborationThe IT-heavy nature of monolithic architecture can be a major pain point. With legacy architecture, updating the front end means developers have to update the back-end code, even for minor tweaks. Not only does this add to the IT side’s workload, it’s also frustrating for marketing teams to have to wait for their requests to be handled.With composable architecture, front-end changes can be made without touching the back end. The result: faster turnaround, fewer IT tickets, and better collaboration between both sides of the business. How to measure it:Time from request to action: With less of a burden on your IT team, they should be able to push new changes faster and more efficiently.IT team retention: Less work means less stress and a happier IT team.Number of IT tickets for minor changesMissed deadline percentageFreedom to experimentWith a composable DXP, organizations can try out changes to the digital experience before fully committing to them. And since your IT team has to handle fewer small updates, they have more time to focus on strategic initiatives.How to measure it:Number of tweaks to changes after going liveAmount of IT time spent on minor adjustmentsCustomizationOne of the key selling points of monolithic architecture is the in-built suite of programs and functions. In theory, those programs and functions can be used to create whatever experience an organization wants; however, every organization has their own unique needs. The one-size-fits-all functions of monolithic platforms leave little room for customization — so unless the built-in functions are exactly what you need, you’ll have to spend time and resources finding add-ons that can get you in the vicinity of where you want to go.Benefits of customizationMore efficiencyBoth composable and legacy architecture let you personalize experiences and deliver content across multiple channels. But with monolithic solutions, that work still has to be completed by a team member. With composable DXPs, organizations can calibrate their microservices for maximum efficiency.How to measure it:Number of users: Too many users can be an inefficient use of resources — and create opportunities for avoidable errors.Governance capabilities: In-built governance capability means less need for human oversight for each piece of content created or delivered. Workflow automation rate: The more processes that can be taken off your team’s hands, the more time they have to focus on what really matters.Seamless integrationA composable DXP allows you to seamlessly integrate an app framework or SDK library with minimal setup time. This gives you the freedom to find the perfect tool for each function, so you can deliver the exact digital experience you have in mind. How to measure it:Number of apps in useTime to launchCostUser customizationsThe customizability of your DXP solution doesn’t just apply to customer experiences, but to users in your organization as well. Your composable DXP can be configured however your marketing team wants, so they can create and deliver content in a format that’s comfortable for them. UI customization: More UI customization within your composable DXP means your team is likely taking advantage of the customization options to build a structure they are comfortable with.Team satisfaction with platformSpeedCustomer needs and expectations can change in an instant. The speed of your composable DXP allows you to push new content, implement campaigns, and reach your goals — faster. Learn more about the value of speed for your organization in our article, “4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP.”Benefits of speed Faster time to marketThe quicker you can update your composable DXP to bring new services, functions, or products to market, the better the overall digital experience for your customers. How to measure it:Build time for new initiativesImpressions & Conversions: If you strike while the iron is hot, your content can reach a bigger audience — and that can help bring in new business.Empowered creative teamsAlong with ease of use, the speed of composable architecture allows marketing leaders to launch campaigns and publish content much faster and without having to wait for IT. How to measure it:Content publishing timesContent creation time: Composable DXPs allow your creative team to create a content block for one site, then quickly push it to other sites and channels. That means less time spent re-publishing the same content on different channels and more time thinking up the next big idea.Better customer experiencesThe digital experience is designed to improve customers’ experience with your brand. Your composable DXP allows you to deliver a personalized experience that your customers will appreciate.How to measure it:Conversion rateRate of return trafficCost per leadScalabilityIf your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. Composable architecture enables continued growth without needing to build each new piece of the experience from the ground up. Benefits of scalability Greater reachThe scalability of your composable DXP affords you greater reach and easier access to new markets.How to measure it:Site load speed: Delivering your digital experience to a wider market does no good if it takes users too long to access it.Number of locationsLanguages in useOptimized contentThe scalability of your composable DXP means you can increase your content output without sacrificing quality or increasing the size of your team.How to measure it:Conversion ratePercent of return customersLead costsBetter ROI on content creationUsing modular content blocks to deliver content allows you to optimize and personalize your content to connect with your audience — and that means a better return on your content investment.How to measure it:Error rate of reused contentTime spent reworking content% of automated contentReliabilityWhat good is it to build a great digital experience if consumers can’t actually experience it? With composable architecture, you can say goodbye to the errors, downtime, and security issues that can cause customers to leave and not look back.Benefits of reliabilityImproved securitySecurity breaches cause site outages, lost data, and compromised customer information. The financial impact of poor security can be staggering, but a composable DXP can help prevent that.How to measure it:Security breach rateData loss frequency & scopeConsistent content deliveryHigh traffic is great — as long as your platform can handle it. If it can’t, you risk delivering a subpar digital experience.How to measure it:Site or service downtime during high trafficSite load timesSite error rateImproved digital experiencesContent can be handcuffed by the limitations of monolithic architecture. That often leads to a mediocre digital experience. A composable DXP doesn’t have those limitations, so you can focus on delivering the best digital experience possible.How to measure it:Bounce rateImpressionsOrganic trafficLearn moreLearn more about composable and how your teams benefit in our post, “4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable DXP can help your organization deliver the digital experiences your customers desire.
What developers should know about composable DXPs
As enterprises strive to create a unified digital experience for their customers, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of composable DXPs. This blog post will explain what these platforms are, how they work, and how they can help create an effective customer experience. What is a composable DXP? A composable DXP (digital experience platform) is a technology stack that supports the development and deployment of applications across various channels such as web, mobile, voice assistants, wearables and more. It consists of different components such as content management systems (CMSes), microservices architecture, APIs, analytics tools, customer data platforms (CDPs), marketing automation tools and more. These components work together to enable developers to rapidly build and deploy applications with minimum effort. How does it work?The key to making a composable DXP successful is having the right components in place. Components of a composable DXP include:A CMS that is the foundation for managing content across multiple channels APIs that provide access to data stored in other systems such as databases or cloud services. Microservices architecture that helps break down large applications into smaller services that can be deployed independently. Analytics tools that allow developers to gain insights into user behaviorMarketing automation tools help automate tasks such as sending emails or messages on social media platformsA customer data platform to store customer data securely and easily access it when neededBenefits of adopting a composable DXPUsing a composable DXP has several benefits for developers including:Increased agility: With a composable DXP in place, developers can quickly build apps without spending time on coding from scratch or integrating multiple technologies together. This increases agility by allowing them to respond quickly to market needs or changes in customer preferences. Scalability: Composable DXPs are highly scalable so they can handle large amounts of traffic without compromising performance or reliability.Cost savings: Using a single platform reduces costs by eliminating the need for multiple technologies and license fees associated with them. Challenges for developersIntegrating multiple components One of the biggest challenges with composing a DXP is integrating all the different components together in a way that works seamlessly with each other. This requires extensive knowledge of web technologies, coding best practices, and design principles. It also requires developers to have an understanding of how different software interacts with each other and how they can be integrated into a single platform. Additionally, if there are any compatibility issues between two components or systems, then the developer will need to find a workaround or replace one component with another. Maintaining quality standards Another challenge that developers face when implementing a composable DXP is maintaining quality standards throughout the process. Since they are dealing with multiple pieces of software that may come from various sources, it’s important to ensure that all components meet certain quality standards before they can be used in production. This means making sure that all code is up-to-date and bug-free; all third-party APIs are secure; and all data sources have been tested for accuracy and completeness before being integrated into the platform. Testing for performance issues Finally, when creating a composable DXP, developers must also test for potential performance issues. As more components are added to the platform, there is an increased likelihood that some parts may not perform as expected due to memory usage or runtime errors. Therefore, it’s important for developers to thoroughly test their composable DXP before launching it in production to ensure its stability and eliminate any potential issues from arising later on down the line. ConclusionImplementing a composable DXP offers many advantages over traditional monolithic applications but comes with its own set of challenges. Developers must make sure each component functions properly and meets quality standards before being implemented into the system. They must also test their platform for potential performance issues before launch. You can overcome these challenges by carefully planning your architecture and understanding how each component integrates with one another so you can create an effective solution for your customers’ needs.Learn moreLearn more about going composable in our guide, “How to go composable in 6 steps.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable content experience platform can help your organization benefit from the flexibility and scalability of a composable DXP.
How to go composable in 6 steps
To provide your customers with responsive, engaging and memorable digital experiences, your company needs a robust digital experience platform. In this guide, you’ll learn how to create and implement a platform that is tailored to your specific needs and can be easily updated as your business evolves. Step 1: Define your business goals and objectivesImplementing a composable digital experience platform can help improve customer engagement, brand awareness and overall business growth. To achieve these goals, you need to identify the strategy for implementation and specific objectives that you need to meet. Understanding the business case for why a DXP is necessary provides you with a framework to help with planning, setting priorities and ensuring successful implementation.This involves recognizing any pain points that need to be addressed and taking advantage of new marketing channels that could benefit your business objectives. It would be best if you also understood how various data sources can be integrated into the DXP to fully leverage its functionality and maximize its potential impact on customer engagement and overall organizational growth.Clearly defining your objectives, strategizing around their fulfillment and keeping an eye on your desired outcomes can help ensure success when it’s time to scale up toward achieving your broader goals.Step 2: Research what you have and what you useReviewing the capabilities of your current marketing technology stack will help you identify any potential gaps. You should ask your team which features they use regularly and if there are any changes they would like to see. This will help you further define the elements you want to include in your composable DXP.Look at data points such as customer interactions, project success rates and user feedback to determine what areas can be improved. Considering all of these factors when making decisions regarding required elements for your DXP structure will allow you to craft a solution tailored to the needs of your business and its customers.Step 3: Create an ecosystem strategyYour perfect composable DXP ecosystem will be a platform that integrates all essential components to help your company design, build and manage digital experiences that are personalized, responsive, secure and engaging. It will provide end-to-end capabilities to create and deliver customized user experiences across web, mobile and emerging platforms. You'll want the features to cover everything from content management to commerce and from marketing automation to data analysis. Mapping out your ideal composable DXP ecosystem helps you see all the different parts you need to succeed. This includes workflows to streamline content creation, review, approval and publishing. You will also need to make sure your content governance meets regulatory standards. Look for an integrations marketplace that is a hub for extensions, apps and integrations built by partners and your engineering team.A comprehensive set of features and capabilities will give you the freedom necessary to build your own unique digital experiences with ultimate flexibility and scalability to stay ahead of the competition.Step 4: Define a roadmapA high-level roadmap needs to consider all the factors that will affect the construction of your composable DXP. Include pricing, licensing agreements, data privacy, compliance regulations and any technical issues that may arise. Everyone involved in the project needs to think about things that could make the project more expensive, take more time or change the end result. This is important so that the project meets all of the standards set by those in charge. This approach will help identify the relative costs and dependencies of the project.Think about the support you will need and involve the IT team from the beginning. This will help uncover any compatibility issues when integrating solutions into existing systems. Consider support you will need in the long term. This could include ongoing training or access to technical support if any issues arise after implementation. Step 5: Integrate MACH technologiesA MACH-based content management system as the foundation of your composable platform will provide the agility you need to deliver omnichannel experiences, adapt quickly to market conditions and scale up or down as needed. MACH is an acronym for microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless. MACH technology allows businesses to create a custom-built tech stack using best-of-breed technologies. This means you can choose the features that meet your unique business needs instead of investing in a fixed, pre-made set of services. It also gives you the flexibility to add new functions gradually as your business grows.Step 6: Begin your transitionStarting a composable DXP journey is a big change that needs to be planned carefully. Sometimes problems come up that weren't expected, but having a roadmap will allow you to make changes as needed based on user feedback while reducing the stress for your teams during the transition. By taking an incremental approach, teams can ensure that their progress is steady and can adjust their strategy as changes or new requirements arise. This iterative development cycle also allows you to learn as you go, so when it is time to scale, you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to succeed. Implementing a platform with the right tools and workflows for your business is critical for success in this fast-paced digital age. Defining your goals, researching what resources you have and need, creating an ecosystem strategy and defining a roadmap will help make sure you're on the right path. Learn moreLearn more about composable DXPs in our guide, “The ultimate marketer’s guide to composabe DXPs.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help your team create engaging digital experiences at the speed of your imagination.
A marketer's guide to composable analytics
In today's digital world, staying ahead of the competition often means making lightning-fast decisions to take advantage of new opportunities. To be successful, a business must find ways to effectively and quickly analyze ever-changing data sources in order to make informed choices. Advances in technology have enabled organizations to leverage composable analytics to gain insights without relying on traditional modes of reporting or support from IT teams. Read on to learn more about the benefits of composable analytics and what steps you can take to start leveraging it in your organization.“Composable analytics” refers to the process of combining a set of independent tools — data, analytics services and AI solutions — into one digital solution that solves a business problem. Composable analytics gained attention and traction at Gartner’s Data and Analytics Summit Americas 2021. According to VentureBeat, Gartner analysts predicted accelerating change as a trend for enterprises, and said composable data and analytics would be key to achieving this. The need for composable analytics has grown in tandem with consumer expectations for digital experiences. To keep up, enterprises must deliver unique digital solutions using the most up-to-date data from multiple sources. Making decisions without access to relevant data because it’s too siloed or unavailable slows organizations down and prevents them from remaining competitive.Composable vs. traditional analyticsLet’s clarify what sets composable analytics apart from traditional data analytics. Here are four requirements of composable analytics:● Uses a unique combination of data, analytics and AI solutions that work together as a packaged business capability (PBC) to solve a problem● Links insights to rapid business decisions and actions by leveraging machine learning models● Relies on a composable architecture for the storage and distribution of resources to various channels and devices● Leverages low-code or no-code applications to enable nontechnical users to compose unique analytical solutions from available data and analytics assets● Scalable in terms of storage, distribution, data quality and moreHow composable analytics can be usedTo help you gain a better understanding of how composable analytics work in the real world, here are a couple of examples.Speeding up an approval processA financial services company must make fast approval decisions for customers applying for loans online. Their loan approval process had a complex pipeline that took applications on the front end of their website through various approval tools, one at the time, on the back end. This process was slow and prone to errors and glitches. By combining the tools that feed data into the analysis pipeline into one integrated solution, the pipeline is shortened, potentially reducing bugs and greatly speeding up the loan approval process.Delivering unique data to teamsMarketing and sales teams at an enterprise-level organization rely on queries of the same database, but have different needs and require different data to make decisions. Each team must input data into different analytics tools. With composable analytics, each team can compose a unique solution that integrates data from the database with the right analytics tools. The marketing team can use composable analytics to make decisions about the types of content it creates and deliver personalized content to customers via various channels in real-time. What are the benefits of composable analytics?Composable analytics can provide a wealth of benefits to organizations across a broad range of industries. ● No technical expertise required. One of the biggest benefits of composable analytics is that it puts actionable data insights at the fingertips of the end users who need it without requiring them to have any special technical skills. The data and data analysis they need to make informed business decisions is readily accessible when they need it. ● Improved synergy between IT and business teams. With composable analytics, IT teams will still be responsible for configuring the tools that marketing and other teams will use to compose their data analytics solutions. However, these teams will be empowered to create their own analytical experiences without reliance on IT, creating more synergy between IT and other areas of business.● More interactive analytics experiences. Composable analytics creates opportunities for more interactive analytics experiences. Rather than display preset information, visuals like dashboards can be automated and display different information instantaneously for stakeholders and customers.● Shareable data to drive business change. Stakeholders can more easily create and share reports or visualizations showing specific data they need to influence business decisions.● Faster innovation. When machine learning models are integrated into composable analytics tools, they can learn over time and make predictions based on data inputs. These predictions can help enterprises innovate and scale faster for an edge over the competition.Why composable architecture is a must-have for composable analyticsSince “composability” is at the core of composable analytics, this type of analytics solution requires an architecture that supports its modular nature. Composable architecture enables microservices and applications, including composable analytics solutions, to remain autonomous while communicating with each other from a central hub. This is typically a composable digital experience platform (DXP) using a headless CMS.The key benefit of this type of architecture is that it’s easy to roll out new content and services as well as updates to specific endpoints without affecting other components. This removes boundaries that have held back marketing teams and other business users for decades, empowering them to experiment and think outside the box.Website analytics, social media, customer relationship management, databases, sales figures and other sources of data can be packaged into composable analytics solutions in the DXP to provide a complete picture of your customers, your industry, or whatever it is you need to understand.Marketing teams, for example, can roll out new interactive features and data-gathering tools and quickly make improvements based on customer data and feedback. When the right data is easy to access and analyze via composable analytics solutions, teams can move faster and better meet customer expectations. That’s why composable analytics perfectly complements a composable architecture and vice versa.Learn moreLearn more about composable DXPs in our guide, “The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can enable your team to reap the many benefits of composable analytics.
Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience
Digital experiences are rapidly evolving, causing more and more enterprises to consider the move to a composable digital experience platform. Should your business be one of them?If you haven’t started your journey to a composable architecture, read on to learn:Why experts say composable is the way of the futurePotential benefits of a composable DXPHow to get started and why being “fully composable” mattersWhat is a composable DXP?The composable digital experience platform (DXP) is the most recent concept to emerge in the evolution of the digital experience from its beginnings, when enterprise content was limited to a static website viewed on a desktop where customers could find information about a brick-and-mortar business.With no need to frequently update or publish to multiple channels, a monolithic architecture was the answer to publishing enterprise content. Businesses would purchase a predetermined set of tools designed by one vendor.Then came the smartphone, which led to today’s e-commerce landscape where consumers are not only shopping online but doing so on a plethora of devices and channels. Monolithic platforms, which require developers to code any changes to content, are unable to keep up.The composable DXP is the latest solution for businesses aiming to meet and serve their customers across multiple channels and devices. A composable DXP uses a headless CMS as the foundation for a content hub where microservices are delivered via independent APIs, allowing content to be quickly and easily deployed across channels.Why a composable DXP is the way of the futureAs digital commerce evolves, customers not only expect to be able to interact with your website; they expect a seamless, personalized experience. Monolithic systems, which require IT teams to code every change and update, don’t have the ability to rapidly respond to customer preferences and publish fresh content across multiple channels. According to Gartner Research, businesses can no longer meet their objectives with monolithic platforms. In its 2020 report “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack,” Gartner predicted that by 2023, organizations that adopt a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in implementing new features.Potential benefits of a composable DXPA composable DXP offers many benefits for enterprise marketing and IT teams, which can positively impact the success of the overall business. These include:Flexibility, scalability and faster developmentComposable architecture provides organizations the flexibility to choose and combine a unique mix of best-in-breed tools and microservices and to easily change this mix as business needs evolve. The modularity of composable architecture supports the seamless integration of these independent best-in-breed solutions. This means they can be added, removed and recombined quickly without downtime. The ability to deploy services independently to multiple websites and channels from one central hub enables enterprises to scale faster and more easily as needed.Speed and agilityBecause the tools and microservices in composable architecture are modular – meaning they work as independent components or APIs – each can be updated incrementally as needed without impacting other tools, services or channels. Organizations become more agile as marketing and IT teams are empowered to act faster to keep pace with changing customer expectations by providing richer, more up-to-date content experiences.Ease of useWithout coding or technical expertise, marketing teams can modify user interfaces and content experiences without having to open tickets and wait on developers to fulfill requests. Workflow governance for multiple sites and channels is managed from one central hub with customizable user controls ensuring the right persons have approved content prior to rollout.Rapid innovationMonolithic platforms are complex and require hundreds of hours of development time and resources to upgrade and maintain with heavy reliance on tech teams. A composable platform is easier for IT to upgrade as technology evolves because new apps and functionality can be launched independently. Major website overhauls become a thing of the past. Freed from mundane marketing requests and maintenance, IT can focus on innovation and delivering better customer experiences.Increased ROIA composable DXP reduces both development time and time to publish, resulting in reduced costs and an increased profit.Real-time feedbackWebsite analytics, social media, customer relationship management and other sources of data collected via the tools and microservices in the DXP can provide a more complete picture of your customers in real-time. This enables the personalization and up-to-date, relevant content experiences that customers expect.Omnichannel content deploymentIn a composable DXP built with a headless CMS, creation of content and the channels where it’s published are mutually independent. This allows marketers to maintain a responsive presence across multiple channels and devices from one central hub by seamlessly and rapidly optimizing and pushing out marketing campaigns to reach customers where they are.Getting started on the journey to a composable architectureIf your current digital experience solution is holding you back from experiencing the benefits above, it may be time to think about switching to a composable DXP. But where do you begin? Start by listing everything that isn’t working in your current platform. Consider the parts of your current system that are working well to meet the needs of your business, and whether those needs are likely to change in the near future. This will help clarify which apps and microservices you should include in your future solution as well as how to approach implementing it. Transitioning to composable doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out your entire current system and starting with something completely new. Based on your assessment of what’s currently working and not working, you may want to adopt a gradual approach by first implementing composable applications in crucial areas where it could make the most impact and where your monolithic platform is slowing you down.Finding the right composable DXPOnce you’ve decided on the best approach, it’s time to research solutions. If you decide on a gradual approach, make sure the vendor you choose has the ability to take you all the way to your goal of going fully composable. Many vendors currently market their platforms as being “composable” even though they aren’t fully composable. Instead they are selling platforms built on monolithic architecture that offer some composable functionality such as the ability to plug in some APIs or integrate with certain microservices. A fully composable DXP, on the other hand, is built on a composable architecture rather than on monolithic. At its foundation is a headless CMS that separates the back-end coding from the end points such as your website interface. Instead of being one centrally controlled system, it’s a variety of solutions that are independently controlled but work cohesively from one central hub.Does being ‘fully composable’ really matter?If you’re wondering if it really makes a difference whether a DXP is fully composable or not, it actually matters a great deal. A DXP built on monolithic architecture will not deliver all the great benefits of a fully composable platform that we’ve covered in this blog. In fact, it will have many limitations that a fully composable platform won’t have. One of the most notable differences is with monolithic architecture, the vendor controls the type of technology that you can and cannot use. This means your organization will not always have the flexibility to choose and leverage the best available apps and microservices for success as your business grows. This is especially important moving into the future as technology continues to evolve and new options become available. A fully composable DXP provides the flexibility to choose the best solutions now and later so your organization can always leverage the most up-to-date technology tools it requires for success. Fully composable puts you in control of creating a unique DXP, one that will evolve over time to continuously align with business needs, without being limited by a vendor.Learn moreFor a more detailed look at how you can get started on your journey to a composable architecture, see our guide, “How to switch from a monolithic to a composable architecture in 7 steps.” Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help future-proof your enterprise.
4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP
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-commerceAsset managementCustomer managementOmnichannel managementMarketing automation and analyticsContent workflowsCustomer engagementAI toolsIn 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 neededWith 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 teamsWhen 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 teamsThe 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.ScalabilityDo 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 teamsThe 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 teamsAs new marketing automation and tools become available, it will be simple to add these to your API mix.Technology teamsIt 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.SpeedComposability improves speed in several different ways, including speed of publishing content, speed of implementing campaigns and speed of reaching business goals.Executive teamsBusiness 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 teamsMarketing 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 teamsSlow 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 experiencesWhen relying on a composable DXP, delivering content that’s personalized and relevant becomes the status quo instead of the exception, boosting customer satisfaction. Executive teamsThe 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 teamsMarketers 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.FAQsAs 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 moreLearn 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.
De-risking your transition to composable
Everyone has a different journey to composable. Some companies adopt it quickly; some take several months. Some are eager; some are skeptical. But nearly all are concerned about risk during the transition. That’s not surprising — any good business leader considers all the risks at hand when making a big move. Levi Strauss & Co certainly did, and they weren’t shy about discussing it on our “People Changing Enterprises” podcast. I was a fan of the openness from Zach Crittendon, a software architect, as he broke down Levi’s approach to transitioning from their monolith environment to a composable architecture.Since risk is on everyone’s minds, I wanted to share my perspective on how to minimize risk when making the move to composable.Get everyone on boardChoosing to make the switch from monolith to composable doesn’t happen overnight. It also can’t be accomplished alone. You need a team. If critical stakeholders like finance and procurement are not on board at the start, it can cause problems and increase risk in the future. Finance might question the higher upfront costs because the business is adopting several best-of-breed tools with built-in benefits like scalability and extensibility. Procurement is going to look at the different vendors to manage and balk.Demonstrate the business case for why this move is important:To finance: “The market is ever-changing and we need to pivot quickly when required. Our current environment doesn’t allow us to do that. Composable is much less risk, time and cost than our current environment in the long run.”To procurement: “I know you want to consolidate vendors, but our current tools aren’t working for the business. There’s no solution in the composable world where we just buy everything as one.” (If Contentstack is your composable partner, I would recommend telling them about Care Without Compromise™, the industry’s only cross-vendor support program).It’s a slow process, but worth it. There’s much less uncertainty and chance that risk might be incurred in the future from internal conflicts.Make a plan and take it in phasesOnce you have everyone on board, your next move to decrease risk is to make a plan. I recommend pacing the transition in phases so it’s not so overwhelming or too fast.I like how Zach said it: “I think the choice of the word ‘composable’ is really meaningful in the sense that it’s like a musical composition. It’s a series of notes and chords that come together into bars and movements. Eventually, you have an entire piece.”The terms “come together” and “eventually” are important in Zach’s quote. Levi’s didn’t adopt composable all at once. In fact, they started with just four modules. Eventually, they were able to create cool content experiences that they had been dreaming about for a long time — but it wasn’t what they started with. They started with a plan and phase one.However, remember this: Plans change.I love this quote from President Eisenhower surfaced by a previous “People Changing Enterprises" guest: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”I wouldn’t say having a roadmap for your transition to composable is useless, but I would advise you to be open to change as circumstances evolve. It’s the act of planning for the future that will de-risk your transition most, rather than the plan itself. Balance the present and the futureConsider the balance between the capabilities you need now and what you’ll need down the road.One of the benefits of composable architecture is the flexibility it provides. If you build something into your initial stack that you want to remove later, it is much easier than in a monolithic environment. Conversely, if you leave something out that you discover a need for, you can easily integrate that into your stack. Balancing the present and the future also means you have a long-term vision of what you want to do but start with a very clear and provable business case. For Levi’s, their first phase in the composable transition was proving Contentstack would excel with one use case: the homepage. While the homepage ran through the headless CMS, the rest of the website remained on the monolith. It was like a small trial run: Once they proved the business case for composable, they moved on to phase two. They replaced their old environment and created a simple version of the website in a smaller market (for them, it was Eastern Europe). The third, and last, phase was taking the lessons learned from phases one and two to fully replace the entire website.Trust your instinctsThe term digital transformation – along with all the moving parts and plans it brings – can be intimidating. So, here’s my biggest advice in this process: as a business leader at the head of the charge, trust your gut. I got this advice from Dheeraj Pandey, founder and CEO of Nutanix and someone I respect, who said that gut feeling comes from experience. You may not have walked through a digital transformation project before, or it might have looked very different in the past. But experience forms the foundation of your gut instinct.If something seems like a risk, consider it. Check with your colleagues and trust their gut instinct, too. Remember this transition to composable is a less risky approach than staying with your old tools and technologies. Any good tech leader knows you’ll never fully de-risk your transition to composable. But with a thorough approach, an understanding of where you want to go, and an experienced partner to offer expertise, you can pave a path to less risk and more flexibility for the future.
Composable vs. monolithic: Which is right for you?
Businesses are trying to create better customer experiences, so composable digital experience platforms (DXPs) are becoming more popular. But what are they? How do they compare to monolithic platforms? And how do you choose the right one for your business? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more.What is a digital experience platform (DXP)?Digital experience platforms (DXP) are purpose-built technology solutions for creating, managing, delivering and optimizing consistent digital experiences across different customer touchpoints. These tools offer businesses a valuable way to communicate with their users through content and obtain customer feedback through data collection.Companies can utilize DXPs to create content tailored to websites, email campaigns, mobile apps, social media channels, e-commerce sites, IoT devices, digital signage systems and more. Beyond simply broadcasting content on each platform, DXPs also allow marketers to automate marketing activities and develop a unified digital experience that can take users toward their desired goals or objectives.DXPs help companies understand what customers want and need. They can do this by looking at how customers act online on websites, social media, and other online places. Businesses can then use this information to reach out in new ways or to improve their relationships with existing customers. Ultimately, using a DXP helps organizations make more sales or conversions by providing a better user experience across multiple channels.What is composable architecture?Composable architecture is an innovative way of organizing and managing software development that separates front-end and back-end code. This technique enables teams to create, modify and launch content without relying on developers for coding. This method of organization helps speed up development and make it more efficient. Composable architecture makes developing software easier while encouraging teamwork between different departments. For example, if you use a composable content management system, the marketing team can make changes and publish their work without waiting for developers to finish coding. This way, teams can post new content more quickly. Additionally, developers can focus on creating unique experiences and features instead of being bogged down with marketing tasks or fixes.What is a monolithic DXP?A monolithic DXP solution is an all-in-one platform that provides a suite of tools for managing content. These platforms are designed to enable users to store, manage and publish content quickly and easily. They typically offer features such as content editing options, user permissions and roles and media asset management.Monolithic content management solution platforms can be rigid in terms of how they operate and may not be able to keep up with the ever-changing needs of a business. Additionally, they tend to take longer to customize than composable DXP systems.What is a composable DXP?The composable DXP concept is still relatively new and has become increasingly popular recently. A composable DXP is a platform that allows digital teams to assemble individual services or microservices into an experience that meets their specific needs. This innovative type of DXP is essentially an assembly of best-of-breed solutions to deliver content and digital experiences to customers in a much more agile, flexible and efficient way than a single monolithic platform.As opposed to the traditional monolithic approach taken with DXPs, this microservices approach enables companies to cost-effectively customize their DXP according to their business needs. Furthermore, allowing for a greater level of scalability and interoperability allows faster time-to-market for new features or services, as well as improved customer satisfaction.The composable approach gives organizations better control over their digital experiences and helps them stay ahead of their competition by enabling them to focus on innovation instead of maintenance. A composable solution makes it easier for businesses to move quickly while keeping up with the ever-changing technology landscape.What to consider when comparing a composable and monolithic DXPsCan the platform integrate with solutions your team currently uses?Monolithic suites are large programs often made up of products obtained through acquisitions and then given a makeover in terms of branding and user experience to fit into the overarching process. Such products lack the open-source code needed to integrate them seamlessly with other solutions, which can limit their utility as part of a more comprehensive DXP solution. This technique makes it simple for internal integration, but external integration can be difficult or even impossible.On the other hand, with a composable DXP, external integration is better facilitated due to its ability to connect with existing best-of-breed solutions more readily. As such, organizations have more control over how their digital experiences are created and tailored for their specific audiences. Furthermore, each individual component can be monitored separately from the rest of the system, allowing for greater visibility into performance and ease of scalability when needed. Ultimately, a composable DXP offers organizations greater flexibility and agility compared to monolithic platforms by providing enhanced external integrations and visibility into performance metrics on an individual basis.How much time will it take to deploy the platform?Deploying a new monolithic suite can require significant time and effort — sometimes months — and demands constant monitoring for unexpected changes or challenges during set-up.Moreover, it's necessary to ensure that all employees acquire the required skills to work effectively in this new environment. Besides the technical implications of such large-scale transition projects, there are also social and psychological implications that business leaders should take into consideration. Companies must be aware that transition periods affect team dynamics and thus must create an atmosphere of collaboration that encourages employee engagement and satisfaction throughout the process.On the other hand, a composable DXP approach allows companies to start quickly, taking advantage of the existing knowledge their staff already has. This strategy eliminates the need for extensive training since they can be up and running with a condensed feature set using workflows they're already familiar with.How will we keep the platform up-to-date?Companies can easily keep their composable DXPs up-to-date as the various vendors focus solely on perfecting their solutions. Additionally, organizations can frequently enhance open-source products with improved customizations and updates that won't depend on the vendor.For monolithic suites, a single vendor provides updates and new features; however, some of these “nice-to-have” additions may take an extended amount of time to be implemented to the platform — if at all. Even minor bugs can be left without resolution until suite-wide updates are rolled out. Companies should be aware that they may not always get timely fixes for any issues they encounter while using DXPs with a single-source provider.How secure are these platforms?A composable architecture allows security updates and patching solutions to be implemented quickly for each component without hindering other systems. This expedited process allows for swift response times in case a breach or vulnerability is discovered. However, if a security flaw is found in one component of an entire suite, it can likely extend to the whole system, thereby rendering the entire suite susceptible to exploitation. Consequently, organizations must take extra care when monitoring their suites for security flaws to ensure that all corners of their system are protected from malicious actors.On the other hand, monolithic solutions can be patched as a single software package. Still, patches may need to happen when the system is not being used, causing extended exposure to vulnerabilities.ConclusionComposable DXPs offer more flexibility and agility compared to monolithic platforms. This means they can scale better, have new features and services faster and improve customer satisfaction. They also provide shorter deployment times, easier updates and enable responsive security updates. However, while they may be more flexible than a single-vendor platform, companies must still carefully monitor their systems for any potential security flaws or vulnerabilities that could put their entire suite at risk. Ultimately, businesses can make informed decisions about which type of system best meets their needs by understanding the differences between these two approaches to digital experience delivery and the pros and cons of each.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable DXP can help your organization deliver the digital experiences your customers crave.
The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs
Many content management systems today are being called digital experience platforms (DXPs) because they have evolved to have more functionality and features than the traditional CMS once had. However, identifying a true DXP involves looking at the way a platform performs and interacts with other tools and communication channels.In this guide, we’ll tell you how to recognize a DXP, explain the difference between monolithic and composable DXPs and show you how a composable digital experience platform can better enable your marketing team to flex quickly to keep pace with the ever-changing content needs your business and its customers require.From launching campaigns to making quick website changes without a developer, you’ll learn why a composable digital experience platform can be a real game changer for your marketing team.Functionality is the key to identifying a true DXPA digital experience platform or DXP is a central hub where content is managed and stored for the purpose of delivering personalized experiences to customers throughout the buyer journey. It enables the seamless integration of multiple apps and services.Gartner defines a DXP as “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”As this definition tells us, a DXP is not necessarily a single platform. Instead it’s a variety of solutions that are controlled and work cohesively from one central hub.It’s important to note that all DXPs are not equal. DXPs can be built on a traditional, monolithic architecture or with a composable architecture, and there are significant differences between the two.DXP architecture: Composable vs. monolithicThe most important consideration when choosing the right DXP is its architecture. Is the DXP built on a “monolithic'' or a “composable” architecture? While it’s not crucial that you understand everything about what these terms mean, it’s important to know this one key difference: A monolithic architecture is limiting, while DXPs built with composable architecture virtually have no limits. Why monolithic architecture is limitingA digital experience platform built on a monolithic architecture will provide some flexibility to integrate with third-party apps and services. This flexibility can help your marketing team deliver more personalized experiences to customers as it connects with analytics tools and other services. However, because of its very nature, this type of DXP limits what you can and cannot do.That’s because the platform’s vendor controls the type of technology that will work with the system. They not only control which third-party apps, services and communication channels can be integrated with the platform but also how they will interact.This might not be an issue if you find a platform that works with all the channels, third-party services and analytics tools that you rely on today. But what happens down the road when you want to leverage new tools that come to market that aren’t compatible with the monolithic platform? Other than telling the vendor you would like to be able to integrate these tools, your hands are tied and you’re left with two options: Stick with a platform that doesn’t allow you to integrate tools you need, or start all over again by shopping for a new platform.Why composable architecture is limitlessA DXP built with composable architecture is composed of a set of independent APIs — editable software modules — that work together to deliver personalized content experiences at various touch points throughout the customer journey.A composable DXP houses an organization's content and campaigns, and it brings together all its sophisticated marketing tools and technology including automation, e-commerce and analytics. The DXP works with cloud-based and microservices solutions.The term “composable digital experience platform” gained popularity when Gartner released a report called “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack” in December of 2020. That report elevated composable DXPs and indicated that organizations using them would have an advantage over their competitors with statements like this one: “... by 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”It’s true that speed is an important advantage of composable DXPs. These platforms make it easier to customize and scale to align with your organization's unique needs and growth into the future. You’re in total control when choosing the tools your DXP leverages now, when you want to add or remove them, and when scaling your DXP later to add new services that haven’t been developed yet. This is what we mean by “limitless.”Adding new functionality is as simple as adding a new API, replacing an existing API, editing an API or integrating it with a different third-party application, service or channel.There’s also less downtime since failures in one service are isolated from others on the platform. Likewise, services can be added or removed without affecting everything else.5 benefits of a composable DXP As you might have gleaned, DXPs with composable architecture offer a myriad of benefits that empower marketing teams to enrich customer experiences. With composable platforms, marketers will benefit from greater:Speed: Launch campaigns faster and enhance customer experience without having to wait for developers to change coding.Knowledge: Data from multiple sources and channels provides a more complete picture of the buyer. These include website analytics, social media, loyalty programs, customer relationship management and more.Agility: Customer data and feedback allow you to pivot quickly to deliver more targeted and personalized content experiences at various touch points throughout the buyer journey.Ease of use: Content editors can modify user interfaces and content experiences without help from developers. And since all content is managed in one central location, it’s simple to access, edit and repurpose content quickly as needed.Omnichannel reach: Composable DXPs empower marketers to more easily reach customers wherever they are, on the devices and channels they rely on the most.Enriching the customer journeyCustomers today expect personalized content experiences that are relevant to their daily lives and needs. Until recently, that’s been a tall order for marketing to fill due to the limitations of traditional CMSes and monolithic DXPs.At best, reaching customers throughout the buyer journey, from awareness to loyalty, has meant cobbling together apps and services to reach them at the different stages through different channels; writing a lot of content for different audiences and platforms; running analytics, problem solving, making changes and trying new approaches. The result was disjointed content that was hard to get to customers on time and difficult to manage.Composable DXPs enable marketers to more easily manage all the different communication channels like social media and websites, to deliver more consistent messaging throughout the buyer journey. Customers enjoy more relevant and personalized content delivered in real-time across at all the different touch points throughout the buyer journey.Is a DXP a good fit for your marketing needs?There are several factors to consider when deciding whether your organization and marketing team need a DXP including price, business needs and growth and current satisfaction with your existing platform. If a traditional CMS that integrates with a few apps and services fulfills your current needs now without any significant pain points, then making the switch may not be worthwhile at the moment.However, the opposite may be true if you find your current platform is stifling the kinds of content experiences your marketing team is able to deliver to customers and potential buyers. If you’re ready for more freedom and flexibility to adapt your websites and content with greater speed, knowledge, agility and ease, this is a clear sign that it’s time to consider a composable DXP.Learn moreWhat are the critical ingredients for adopting a digital-first marketing strategy? Contentstack CMO Susan Beerman shares her expert insights in this episode of "Contentstack LIVE."Schedule a free demo to experience the game-changing benefits of a composable architecture with Contentstack’s digital experience platform.
How to switch from a monolithic to a composable architecture in 7 steps
In recent blog posts, we discussed the benefits of a composable architecture and the common pitfalls of moving to a composable architecture. Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits and the challenges, there’s only one area left to cover: how to make the switch.The goal of switching from monolithic or “legacy” architecture to composable is to do so with as little disruption as possible to your organization’s digital experience. This seven-step process helps you do just that.Step 1: Make sure you’re readyMoving to a composable content management system (also known as a “headless CMS”) is a major undertaking that requires a lot of time and resources. So before you take any concrete action, it’s crucial to first ensure that your organization is ready to make the switch. To determine if your organization is ready to switch, ask yourself the following questions:What are your goals?Do you need to scale certain key functions or features to keep up with customer growth? Does your digital experience require a particular tech stack that can’t be replicated with a legacy CMS? Do you need to cut down on development time and reduce your time to market? Before moving to composable, it’s important to define what specific business needs you hope to meet by making the switch.Can these goals be achieved with your legacy architecture?Depending on your organizational needs, it’s possible that your monolithic architecture isn’t up to the task. Still, it’s a good idea to confirm this before committing time and resources to moving to a composable CMS. Do you have the right people in place?Implementing and managing a monolithic CMS and a composable CMS are two very different things. You need to be sure you have engineers and developers on your technical team who can effectively manage the transition — and everything that comes after.Step 2: Take inventory and categorize functionsA monolithic CMS is large and complex. You may not realize how many functions are contained within the codebase — or the ways each function connects to and depends on the others. You don’t want to find yourself midway through a migration and scrambling to find an application to replace a key function you didn’t know was there.In order to ensure a seamless switch from monolithic to composable architecture, it’s important to take an inventory of what you currently have. Mapping out how all the existing monolithic functions work together helps ensure you have the right tech stack in your new composable CMS to handle those functions once the migration is complete. During this step, you should also group all your functions into logical units based on the area of your business they support. For example, all the functions that support your customer service can be grouped into one unit, while functions that support shipping can be grouped together in another. Knowing what functions and services you currently have is a crucial part of the next step: deciding what to prioritize as you switch to composable. Step 3: Define your prioritiesIt can be tempting to want to migrate everything from your legacy CMS to composable all at once, but doing so is a recipe for disaster. The smartest and safest way to switch to composable architecture is with an incremental process; how that process unfolds is up to you.There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this step. Some enterprises may focus on moving functions with the fewest number of dependencies into a composable CMS. Others may be experiencing performance issues with core functions in their legacy CMS and choose to move those services over first. Each organization will have its own unique business needs and priorities. Step 4: Find a platformThe purpose of this step is to help you get a clear picture of what you need from your composable CMS and how you intend to use it, which in turn helps you identify the platform that is best suited to host your new composable CMS.Once you’ve taken inventory of what you have in your legacy CMS, the next step is to define how each existing feature works. This will give you a better idea of how those features need to function as individual applications in a composable CMS. You’ll also need to identify the APIs needed to build each of these applications. There are different categories of APIs depending on the functions and protocols required for your organization’s tech stack. Step 5: Isolate functions and design applicationsNow that you’ve taken inventory of your monolithic CMS’s functions and split them into groups, you’ll need to isolate the functions themselves. That means untangling any dependencies that exist between functions within these groups so they can work as independent applications in your composable CMS. Designing the applications will fall on your organization’s technical team, which is why it’s so important to ensure you have the right talent before starting the transition. In a monolithic CMS, functions are linked to domain logic, but composable doesn’t work that way. Your team needs to separate the presentation, business logic and data layers of each function — and set up gateway APIs to route requests between each of those layers — in order to ensure these functions can operate independently in a composable environment.Step 6: Define your strategyYou’ve started the process of designing the applications and determined the order in which these functions will be migrated over to your composable CMS. Now you have to decide on a migration strategy. There are a few ways you can perform this migration.The Strangler PatternIntroduced by Martin Fowler in 2004, the Strangler Application Pattern is an incremental approach to migrating from legacy architecture to a composable system. With the Strangler Pattern, your team builds and deploys the individual applications for each function. While this is going on, a router (also known as an intercept, a proxy or a facade) directs user requests. If the request involves a function that hasn’t been migrated yet, the legacy CMS handles it; if it involves a function that has been migrated, your new composable CMS handles it. As more applications go live, your composable CMS will pick up more and more of the user requests. Eventually, once all services and functions are up and running in your composable CMS, you can route all traffic there and retire the monolithic CMS. This approach gives your enterprise a valuable safety net in case one of the applications doesn’t work as intended, allowing you to quickly identify the problem and deploy a fix. It’s also minimally disruptive to an existing system, which makes it a very popular approach to migrating to composable architecture.Domain-Driven Design (DDD)The Strangler Pattern is ideal for organizations with static needs. But if your organization is constantly adding new functionality, Domain-Driven Design (DDD) offers greater flexibility during the migration process.With DDD, new functionality is added to a standalone application, rather than to the monolithic codebase. An API gateway routes incoming requests to the monolith or the new composable application, depending on where the requested function lives. In the long run, DDD and the Strangler Pattern both eventually phase out your monolithic CMS — the difference mainly lies in how agile your CMS can be during the migration. Parallel adoptionA parallel adoption pattern works similar to the Strangler Pattern, but with one key difference: the monolithic CMS does not get retired right away. Instead, the monolithic and composable solutions run the same features in parallel with one another. Duplicating these features allows you to compare how each CMS performs with a given request, which can help you determine if the composable application is an improvement over your existing functionality. Eventually, the monolithic CMS does get retired, but not before you can gather extensive performance data to ensure the composable CMS is delivering as expected.Step 7: CI/CD & Strategic MigrationThe last step is to create a CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) process. The CI/CD process allows your team to automatically test any changes and confirm the code is ready to deploy, and if it is, to automatically publish those changes. A CI/CD pipeline allows your team to code, test, and deploy changes without getting in each other’s way, and it’s a key part of a major benefit of composable: the ability to test and code changes without disrupting the digital experience for your users.At this point, you’re ready to begin migrating functions out of your monolithic CMS and into your new composable solution. As we mentioned above, the order in which you migrate and implement each application depends on what best suits your needs. Above all, the migration should be done gradually to ensure your monolithic CMS can serve as a backup and your team is able to address issues as they arise. Learn moreLearn more about the benefits of a composable architecture in our guide, “What is composable architecture?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless content management platform and industry-leading, cross-vendor support can help your organization make the transition to a composable architecture today.
How to avoid the pitfalls of a composable architecture
Digital content management is in a state of perpetual evolution. Consumers have come to expect robust, seamless digital experiences when interacting with brands, and organizations that fail to meet those expectations can quickly find themselves left behind.It’s tempting to think the solution is to build a digital experience that satisfies the expectations of today’s consumer; unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Every day brings new channels and new competitors, and the digital experiences consumers want today might not look anything like the one they want tomorrow.A composable architecture gives businesses the speed, flexibility and scalability they need to deliver digital experiences that meet the expectations of current and future customers. However, there are complexities in the implementation process that enterprises need to be prepared for in order to ensure a seamless transition to composable architecture.What is a composable architecture?Content management systems traditionally have relied on monolithic architecture: an all-in-one system in which the front-end and back-end layers are handled by a single codebase. That approach served us well for decades; that is, until 2014, when mobile internet usage supplanted desktop usage. Since then, consumers have grown to expect a seamless omnichannel experience that a traditional monolithic CMS was never designed to deliver. “There are a lot more requirements on the customer [or] end user side,” said Jeff Baher, head of product marketing at Contentstack. “Content that once resided solely on a website is now in a lot of different places.”Monolithic architecture offers a suite of functions that can be managed from one codebase, which makes for a fairly simple implementation process. But what happens when an organization’s needs surpass the capabilities of a legacy CMS?“Can any one single vendor get their arms around it and solve for all that?” Baher asked. The answer is increasingly no. Enterprises are instead often forced to rely on clunky plug-ins to deliver the functionality they need, and with each new plug-in, the site gets a little slower — and the digital experience suffers as a result.Organizations that wish to avoid plug-ins can update their CMS, but that’s a time-consuming and expensive process. With monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code. And, of course, that process inevitably needs to be repeated every time consumer expectations change or new channels emerge.A composable architecture breaks down the large and complex functions found in monolithic solutions into smaller, more manageable pieces. An application programming interface (API) acts as the go-between for these smaller pieces, allowing them to communicate and transfer information more efficiently. In a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end layers are decoupled, so changes can be made to the front end independent of back-end functions.The result is the same functionality found in monolithic architecture, only more efficient, more flexible and with more freedom to build a customized or modular solution to meet an organization’s specific needs — once the new architecture is up and running, that is.Common pitfalls of implementing a composable architectureA composable architecture allows organizations to build rich, omnichannel digital experiences on their own terms, free from any of the limitations imposed by monolithic architecture. But, a wider range of possibilities also means more potential challenges.What goes where, who’s on first?A monolithic architecture has a variety of inherent shortcomings, but monolithic solutions do offer a clear benefit: simplicity. Although notoriously difficult to update, legacy architecture is fairly easy to implement, which may be attractive to some organizations depending on their needs. And since monolithic solutions are typically created and sold by one vendor, organizations benefit from a one-stop point of contact for any issues that may arise. A composable solution brings together capabilities of different vendors, Baher said. This is undoubtedly a positive in terms of flexibility and freedom, but if one element doesn’t work as intended, it can affect the entire digital experience. With a monolithic solution, the vendor handles the process of identifying and fixing the problem, but with composable, the organization has to manage the diagnostic process. On top of that, if the issue is being caused by two elements from two different vendors; which vendor is responsible for the fix?The ‘kitchen sink' problemThe main selling point of a composable architecture is its flexibility; there are few limits on what your organization can do with a composable solution. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A composable architecture is “similar to Lego pieces, allowing you to build a lot of different things,” Baher said. “But that’s also the challenge: What do you build? How do you do it?”Assembling, or integrating, the available pieces is only half the battle. The other half is making sure each component selected is necessary to create the digital experience you have in mind. Remember, there’s “must-have” functionality and there’s “nice-to-have” functionality — and the more you have of the latter, the less time your IT team has to focus on the former.Disconnects between teamsAs the old saying goes, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” The flexibility of a composable architecture is useless if nobody can agree on the best way to use it. In organizations accustomed to monolithic architecture, it’s not uncommon for siloed teams or departments to form and operate independently of one another.Under these conditions, each team may develop their own idea of what “best” means in terms of functionality, user experience and so on, which can make for a rocky transition to a composable architecture. In order to overcome this challenge, and to maximize content re-use, organizations need to break down those silos by clearly defining cross-team goals and making sure departments work collaboratively to achieve them. If not, the digital experience you deliver to consumers is likely to resemble a camel.The people problemUltimately, an organization’s ability to successfully implement a composable architecture rests largely on its people for it’s not only a technology shift, it’s also a mindset shift. With a monolithic CMS, all the features are included in the software, but a composable solution is essentially a blank canvas — and it’s up to your people to think through and feel comfortable and confident with how to fill it in. Eliminating disconnects between teams is a key part of success in this regard, but organizations also need to have the right frame of mind and right resources on the technical side to build everything out.Overcome the pitfalls and go composable with confidenceMoving to composable architecture is more complex than many organizations realize initially, but the pitfalls are all surmountable. The following considerations are the key ingredients for success, according to Baher:Choose the right component technologies.Select vendors who view going composable as a partnership, not a dealership.Invest in automation technology to simplify integrations and automate routine tasks.Seek expertise and support to help you along the way.Run the numbers and a proper ROI analysis.Learn moreWatch this episode of "Contentstack LIVE!" to learn strategies for implementing composable technologies from Auden Hinton, director of digital experience at Contentstack.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless content management platform and industry-leading, cross-vendor support can help your organization make the transition to a composable architecture today.
Why a composable CMS is right for you
The average digital user spends 54 seconds on a page. That may seem like a short amount of time to formulate an opinion about your site, but from the user’s perspective, it’s practically an eternity. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 75% of consumers decide whether a company is credible based solely on their experience with the company’s site. And research from Google found that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load.Your site has a very small window of opportunity to make a good impression. A composable content management system (CMS) can help your organization meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers while remaining agile enough to adapt when those needs change. (And they will.)Here’s how.What is a composable content management system?Content management systems are traditionally built using monolithic or “legacy” architecture. With the monolithic model, entire applications are designed as a single unit: a monolithic CMS provides a suite of functions, all handled by a single codebase.This model worked well when the digital experience only had to be delivered on desktop browsers, but that changed 15 years ago with the release of the first iPhone. Monolithic was slow to adapt to mobile internet usage; since then, a slew of new channels has popped up, from smartwatches and gaming consoles to devices like Google Home and Alexa.Today’s consumers demand a seamless omnichannel digital experience, and monolithic struggles to keep up: a legacy CMS can be upgraded to fit new channels, but those upgrades are reactive, not proactive. Monolithic is slow to adapt to existing channels, let alone anticipate new ones. In addition, the inherent complexity of legacy architecture makes for a lengthy publishing and launch process, which affects the time to market on any upgrades. That’s not just inconvenient — it’s a genuine risk to an enterprise’s long-term success. That’s why more organizations are moving to composable architecture.How does a composable CMS work?A composable CMS is built using a collection of smaller, more manageable pieces, instead of the single large and complex unit found in monolithic solutions. With a composable CMS, organizations choose the individual systems and services that best suit their needs and allow them to build a custom digital experience. These pieces are tied together using an Application Programming Interface (API) that acts as a middleman for these smaller pieces to communicate and transfer information in a more efficient way.What are the benefits of a composable CMS?The modular approach of composable architecture offers a variety of benefits for both businesses and consumers.Innovation forward Because monolithic is so large and complex, most of the development time and resources are spent on upgrading the CMS just to keep up. Unfortunately, that leaves less time for developers to take a more forward-thinking approach. The rapid development time of updates and upgrades to a composable CMS means your team has more time to focus on innovation.AgilityWith monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code, and that means developer involvement — even for something as simple as updating site fonts or a carousel. With a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end code are decoupled, so front-end changes (i.e., changes to the presentation and delivery of the site to users) can be made without having to update the back end. This flexibility is crucial in the age of digital disruption, when organizations that are unable to adapt to new channels and behaviors can get left behind.Composable CMSs allow you to swap out modular components on the fly. This cuts down on development time and allows organizations to experiment with changes to a site or application before fully committing to them.Scalability 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. Both monolithic and composable CMSes can scale horizontally by adding more instances of a high-demand function or feature. But in a monolithic CMS, everything is interconnected: if you need to run five instances of a specific feature of your site or app to meet demand, you have to run five instances of the entire application — even if you could meet demand for all the other features with just a single instance. Therefore, ensuring the performance of that one function could mean having to pay for five times more server or cloud storage than you really need.Composable lets you scale individual functions according to demand. It’s a more efficient and budget-friendly way to consistently deliver the digital experience users expect from your business.Enhanced capabilities Every monolithic CMS has its own unique pros and cons: Adobe Experience can handle a lot of site content, but it’s expensive and requires significant IT support throughout its lifespan. Sitecore can be scaled easily and is more secure than most other CMSes, but skilled developers are hard to find and transitioning to Sitecore is a lengthy and expensive process. With a monolithic CMS, the digital experience is limited by what that particular CMS does well. Composable lets you choose the best applications for each function and build a limitless CMS experience. Reduced talent costsTo maintain and upgrade a monolithic CMS, you’ll need developers and engineers who are experts in that specific CMS’ proprietary framework. Those specialized skills mean organizations have to pay more to attract and retain talent. In addition, it’s difficult to learn these complex and highly specific systems on the job, so organizations usually have to hire more top-dollar talent every time a member of the team leaves the company.With composable, organizations can access a much larger talent pool, making it easier to find the right people to handle each individual function — for the right price.Improved user experienceA composable CMS can make a major difference in the user experience. A monolithic CMS can usually only be customized via plug-ins, which negatively impact site loading and speed. This can affect your bottom line: recent research from Portent found that an e-commerce site with a one-second load time had a conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site with a five-second load time. Composable allows for as much (if not more) customization, but without sacrificing speed.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “What is composable architecture?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s content experience platform can deliver the benefits of composable to your organization.
What is a composable architecture?
Today’s consumers expect to interact with your business on any channel they choose, whenever they choose, and to stay ahead of the competition you need to be able to deliver seamless customer experiences across those channels. The need to quickly deliver new experiences and adapt to market changes has led more and more businesses to move toward a digital experience platform with a composable architecture. According to Gartner, “By 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.” What is a composable architecture?In a traditional website or application, the front-end code (what the user sees and interacts with) is tightly coupled with the back-end code (the database and server-side logic). This can make development and deployment difficult as even small changes to the front end can require developers to make significant changes to the back end. A composable architecture decouples the front-end and back-end code, making development faster and easier. A composable architecture typically uses a headless CMS, which provides an application programming interface (API) that the front-end code can call to fetch data. This separation of concerns means that the front end and back end can be developed independently, making deployments simpler and more efficient. The benefits of a composable architectureThere are many benefits of a composable architecture, but perhaps the most important is that it allows for a more modular and scalable approach to website development. With composable architecture, individual components can be developed independently and then brought together to create a complete website or application. This modular approach makes it much easier to scale a website or application as needed, since new functionality can simply be added as needed without having to re-architect the entire site. Composable architecture also tends to be more resilient than monolithic architectures because individual components can be swapped out or updated without affecting the rest of the system. Finally, a composable architecture is often more cost-effective than monolithic architectures, since it requires less development time and effort to create and maintain.Composable Architecture vs. MonolithicIn a composable architecture, also known as a microservices architecture, applications are built as a set of small, independent services that can be combined to form a complete app. This approach contrasts with the more traditional monolithic style of development, in which an app is built as a single, self-contained unit. There are several advantages to composable architectures: They allow for greater flexibility and agility during development, as services can be added or removed without affecting the rest of the app. Composable architectures make it easier to scale apps, as services can be deployed independently depending on need. Composable architectures help prevent downtime, as failures in one service are isolated from the rest of the app. Headless CMSes are well suited to composable architectures. In a headless CMS, the decoupled front end and back end allow content to be reused across multiple channels and devices without having to rebuild the entire app. As a result, headless CMSes give developers greater control over how content is presented and make it easier to create seamless user experiences across channels.How to get started with a composable architectureIf you're interested in a composable architecture, the first step is to implement a composable digital experience platform with a headless CMS. A headless CMS provides the structure and content for your website or application but doesn't dictate how it should look. This allows you to build composable architecture that can be easily adapted and customized as your needs change. Once you've chosen a headless CMS, you can start adding the different components that will make up your website or application. These can be anything from simple text and images to complex interactive elements. The key is to start with the basic building blocks and then add on from there. As you add more components, you'll be able to create a truly unique and custom composable architecture that meets your specific needs.To install composable architecture you will need to follow these steps:Understand the ecosystem - audit the existing architecture and its capabilitiesAssess the need for composability - scope out the requirements of upgrading to composable Architect the requirements - based on business requirements, design the architecture that is required to achieve measurable goals for the businessBuild the system - build, test, measure results and continue to evaluate and growExamples of composable architectures in the real worldComposable architectures are becoming increasingly popular in the world of software development. A composable architecture is one in which different parts of the system can be composed together to form a whole. This approach has many benefits, including improved modularity, flexibility and reusability.One real-world example of a composable architecture is the microservices approach to software development. In this approach, different parts of the system are designed as independent services that can be deployed and scaled independently. This makes it much easier to update and maintain the system and allows greater flexibility in how different services are combined.Another example of a composable architecture is the use of containers in modern software development. Containers allow different parts of the system to be isolated from each other, making it easier to deploy and run them on a different infrastructure. This approach also allows great flexibility in how different containers are composed together.The future of composable architectureThe future of composable architecture looks very exciting. With the rise of the headless CMS, we are seeing a lot more flexibility and control over how we build applications. Now we can break down our applications into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be easily reused and composed into new applications. This gives us a lot more power and flexibility to build the applications we want without being tied to a specific platform or framework. Composable architecture also allows us to easily change and adapt our applications as our needs change. We can simply add or remove components as needed, without having to rebuild our entire application from scratch. This makes it much easier to keep our applications up-to-date and responsive to our changing needs.Composable architecture is a powerful tool that offers a lot of flexibility and control over how we build our applications. This makes it an essential tool for any business that wants to stay ahead of the curve.Learn more Learn about composable DXPs in our guide, “The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs.”Schedule a free demo to experience Contentstack and see how a composable architecture can propel your marketing strategy.
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