Why CIOs are getting comfortable with composable DXP

By Jesper Lyngbye, VP Integrations and Technology Partnerships, Umbraco.

Digital experience platforms (DXP) emerged in response to customer demand for streamlined, personalised interactions, that provide a consistent experience across organisations’ websites, apps and other digital touchpoints.

First to market were the monolithic DXPs from Adobe, SAP, Salesforce and Oracle. These platforms go beyond content management systems (CMS) to deliver CRM, digital asset management (DAM), product information management (PIM), analytics and reporting, within a comprehensive solution. However, using this model organisations pay for the full DXP functionality, even if they only require certain elements. Delivering new business capabilities, in response to market changes and opportunities, usually requires extensive customisation and integration work.

The impact on speed, cost and flexibility has led a growing percentage of organisations to adopt composable DXPs whereby they select and connect a blend of best-of-breed technologies that are optimised to deliver the required business capabilities, with the flexibility to add more, or different elements in response to changing business and customer demands.

Has composable DXP reached a tipping point?

Composable architecture allows organisations to capitalise on market opportunities, rapidly deliver services across a range of digital touchpoints, and deliver premium user experiences.

Gartner’s research note ‘Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack’ predicts:

“By 2023, 60% of mainstream organizations will list composable business as a strategic objective and will use an increasing number of packaged business capabilities (PBCs).

By 2023, 60% of organizations will seek composability in new application investments.

By 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”

Why APIs underpin composable DXP strategies

As described, a DXP extends the functionality of a traditional CMS, going beyond traditional websites to integrate CRM, PIM, DAM and analytics for personalisation and localisation. This may mean offering content in the right language; products in the correct currency; and payment gateways aligned with local preferences.

Packaged business capabilities, connected by APIs that secure and exchange data between modules, form the foundation of composable enterprises. API-connected components allow organisations to select and combine the technologies that most effectively meet their current business and technical requirements.

Importantly, APIs also allow individual DXP elements to be retired and replaced, without requiring extensive integration or full migration to a new platform. This affords organisations greater flexibility as they grow and adapt to changing market demands and helps to ensure that all DXP elements are optimised to deliver the best user experience (UX).

Which technologies are typically being combined?

Umbraco’s open-source CMS was developed to make it simpler, faster, and more intuitive to deliver content. Because it’s open source, organisations can select from thousands of community-created CMS extensions to tailor the digital experience for their customers. This lies at the heart of our composable DXP, which works with several best-of-breed integrations.

To provide premium UX, maximum flexibility and platform extensibility, common best-of-breed integrations that we’re seeing from our digital agency partners include Umbraco and UCommerce, HubSpot, Bynder and Vendr, as described in the examples below.

Which organisations are already using composable DXP?

Digital consultancy, Great State, recently developed the MyNavy Progressive Web App, which provides Royal Navy personnel with access to targeted information and digital services on their mobile phones, allowing them to manage their training, apply for leave, order fresh uniform, and view career opportunities. To develop the click-and-collect uniform ordering capability, Great State integrated UCommerce with Umbraco’s headless CMS, which decouples the backend databases from digital touchpoints, providing the flexibility to deliver content on the most appropriate devices.

Taking a composable approach allowed the Royal Navy to select the right blend of technologies that will allow the app to be extended over time with new features and functionality, so that service personnel can continue to use it throughout their careers.

The MyNavy app has been hailed by the first and second Sea Lords as an example of transformation best practice within the armed forces.

Andrew McKaskill, Lead Technical Architect at Great State, comments, “Umbraco offers us the required flexibility in terms of how we’re able to put together data structures and content. Its extensibility is a real bonus. From a technical perspective, MyNavy uses Umbraco as its control centre. There's an API gateway, an identity system and our front-end web sites, but the only place where editors are logging in to make any changes is Umbraco.”

Digital consultancy, The Reading Room, also used API-based integration between Umbraco and UCommerce when developing the website and digital assets for British Safety Council. Unusually, the web architecture was extended out to support British Safety Council’s UK charity partner, Mates In Mind, to allow both organisations to share resources. Adopting a composable approach allowed British Safety Council to control costs and meet its need for digital expansion, while also providing the flexibility to separate the web environment of the two charities should the need arise in future. David Lillington, managing director of The Reading Room, comments, “The integration between Umbraco and UCommerce has been a seamless process, the extendibility of UCommerce provides our developers the confidence to be able to deliver the client’s requirements without worry about restrictions of the platforms being used. Using Umbraco and UCommerce has given British Safety Council the foundation for a cost-efficient solution.”

When digital consultancy, Carbon Six Digital, was asked to develop a multi-lingual, multi-currency, content-rich digital platform serving 13 countries, to support the D2C ecommerce strategy of dashcam brand, Nextbase, it too adopted a composable DXP approach. This involved combining the Vendr ecommerce platform with Hubspot CRM on Umbraco’s open-source CMS platform and creating a plugin for Hubspot’s eCommerce Bridge API. Carbon Six Digital also integrated Nextbase’s CRM platform with Zendesk Knowledge Base to improve post-sale customer service, while rich usage analytics were delivered by incorporating Google Analytics, HubSpot Marketing Suite, Hotjar and GTMetrix, with PowerBI for reporting.

Conclusion:

As Gartner has pointed out, a growing number of CIOs are recognising the benefits of composable DXPs which allow their organisations to select and connect the most appropriate solutions to deliver localised content and personalised digital experiences to end users.

By taking a composable approach, organisations are no longer constrained by single-vendor solutions and can introduce fresh tools that allow them to respond more quickly and efficiently to customer requirements and market opportunities.

As many of our partners have demonstrated, composable DXP also underpins the omnichannel and international growth strategies of their enterprise clients as they seek to future-proof their tech stack.

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