Which platform is right for you?
Digital experiences depend on delivering content in context, with content being organized, stored and delivered to meet business needs. A Digital Experience Platform, or DXP, includes the functionality to manage content on digital devices and environments.
DXPs fit into a hierarchy of functionality with content management systems (CMS) and web experience management (WEM) platforms. A modern CMS provides a foundation for maintaining shared content collections. A WEM platform adds capabilities to this foundation to help produce web experiences, such as publishing content to web browsers and mobile apps. A DXP, in turn, extends these web-centric capabilities to different digital environments that control the flow of content for business results.
A DXP includes content management and WEM capabilities. Likewise, a WEM platform includes content management capabilities and uses a CMS within its main platform. Because of these similarities, development and sales teams are faced with multiple choices between adopting pre-packaged and customizable features in a platform or developing specially designed applications.
Explore the differences between DXP, CMS, and WEM platforms, and how each can benefit organizations.
What is a CMS?
A CMS collects and organizes the different types of content that enable digital work. It defines content as stand-alone files and stores them in a network accessible repository. The repository of a CMS goes from on-premises physical storage device to a virtual location in a cloud storage infrastructure. The repository controls how corporate users can share and distribute content for different business purposes.
A CMS performs two distinct functions in a digital environment, which are:
- manage security, as it manages the access rights and permissions that determine which people and processes can create, read, update and delete content in the repository; and
- Support the content lifecycle and provide functionality that enables users to add, organize, use, delete, archive, and potentially destroy content in the repository.
At a minimum, a CMS supports a file plan with a predefined folder structure and obvious file names. These systems mark files with additional content categories or metadata – which are tags that describe the information contained in the files. Different sets of metadata can help build content-centric applications. A CMS also requires an information architecture that brings together similar elements, which enables people and processes to recognize the interrelationships of the elements.
Organizations can optimize a CMS to handle specific types of content, such as electronic documents in a document management system, digital assets in a digital asset management system, and electronic records in a records management system.
When deployed on-premises, a CMS functions as an enterprise application with predefined capabilities and will require a application development initiative to extend or improve these capacities. When deployed in a cloud environment, a CMS functions as a content hub and provides loose coupling microservices to manage content-related tasks.
CMS products differ in scope, scale and functionality. Enterprise platforms, such as Box, Microsoft SharePoint, and OpenText Extended ECM, support essential business activities. For example, these platforms allow organizations to maintain content lifecycles and share files through network file sharing systems.
These platforms also provide RESTful API to influence content flows between repositories and third-party machine learning engines to summarize text and recognize objects in images. CMS products are built on predefined data connectors, which allows them to integrate with other business platforms, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
What is a WEM platform?
A WEM platform combines text and multimedia content to publish web pages. The underlying software platform manages both text and images and can integrate streaming video and audio clips into the interactive environment. A WEM platform is not limited to stand-alone files and its content consists of discrete content components, or building blocks of information, with predefined tags and other metadata.
Like a CMS, a WEM platform maintains content in a shared repository that manages security and supports the content lifecycle. Yet, WEM platforms separate how the organization can organize and manage content from how it can publish content to web pages. A WEM platform separates content management from content delivery because it adds the following functionality:
- content presentation templates, which define where content components appear in web pages; and
- capabilities for non-technical users to create and modify information blocks in predefined templates.
These models often support responsive designs, which adapt the layouts to the different screen sizes of smartphones and tablets.
In a WEM platform, publishing content is a multi-step process, which looks like this:
- UX specialists design the models, while IT professionals implement the back-end content repository.
- UX and IT specialists work with sales teams to define the information architecture.
- Content creators and editors manage sets of web pages themselves, with predefined forms or WYSIWYG template editors to update content components in web pages.
WEM platforms focus on publishing processes and provide editorial workflow and content planning capabilities. Content teams can update, review, and approve content before it’s published, as well as schedule pre-approved changes or posts to publish at specific times. For content delivery, a WEM platform can tailor information blocks in models to criteria based on customer profiles and business rules. In addition, to support corporate search engines and search engine optimization web crawlers, a WEM platform publishes the associated metadata as not visible.
Popular WEM platforms, such as WordPress and Drupal, offer additional functionality through SaaS offerings. Marketers and non-technical users can modify the templates to launch their own websites or create microsites based on an initial design.
What is a DXP?
DXPs go beyond the basics of web publishing and add insight to drive engaging content experiences on digital devices, including smart speakers and portable devices. However, the ease of use of DXP masks the sophistication of back-end content management activities.
As a cloud platform, a DXP provides a content hub and loosely coupled services to control the flow of content. These platforms also allow non-technical users to configure content feeds to generate specially designed results and create digital experiences. A DXP organizes interconnected content services in a cloud environment, which RESTful APIs enable.
Marketers can use DXPs to structure their campaign content flows by:
- design landing pages for different offers;
- personalize e-mail messages;
- script customer journeys; and
- automatically configure certain promotional messages on social media platforms.
However, marketers often need IT expertise to deploy the core platform and integrate content feeds with other business applications in the cloud environment.
A DXP seeks to break down the artificial barriers used to handle different types of content. For example, non-technical users can edit video clips and photos while simultaneously adding new text to a message. Without barriers, users would no longer need to switch between different editing applications with separate user interfaces.
A DXP provides capabilities to personalize content delivery and match content categories with customer profiles. It relies on content components labeled with consistently defined metadata. Comparable term sets can classify text elements, image collections, and video clips.
Additionally, a DXP frequently relies on a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to maintain detailed customer profiles. A CDP captures both proprietary and third-party customer data and normalizes data elements from disparate sources into customer profiles. A DXP can recognize and act on sensor-generated data that the CDP captures, such as the location of smartphones or the heart rates of fitness trackers.
DXP providers offer a wide range of features and functions. Headless CMS platforms, such as Contentful and Contentstack, provide ways to configure content flows across disparate devices and ecosystems. Specialty platforms, such as Cloudinary for streaming video and Microsoft Cognitive Services for automatic content tagging, offer capabilities to generate engaging experiences.
Key points to remember
Content management technologies follow a hierarchy of features. CMS are the foundation, as they include the fundamental content management functionalities on which the other two platforms were built. Second, WEM platforms use similar functionality, while separating content management from content delivery. Finally, DXPs prioritize the customer experience with content on different types of devices.
Marketing terms for content technologies often change as the capabilities of the platform evolve. Organizations continue to seek better ways to deliver content in context, transform business operations, and improve their competitive advantages through digital channels.
A DXP offers easier ways to connect with customers and streamline business processes. However, the adoption and deployment of DXP can create challenges for well-organized content collections. An organization needs time and effort to benefit from a DXP.