A composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP) means more flexibility and faster development.
What is a composable DXP? First, let’s talk about what it is not. It is not a monolithic DXP, which is a solution where every function comes from a single vendor. The focus of this type of DXP is on the quantity of capabilities—not the breadth and quality of each capability. The result is a lack of scalability, an inability to integrate other IT solutions, and limited customization.
A composable DXP, in contrast, offers a best of breed approach. Composable features such as cloud support, a decoupled presentation layer and flexible APIs all support agility and the ability to quickly meet unique market and business requirements. Learn more in our Digital Experience FAQ.
In a recent DX Summit session Composability: Just Another Buzzword or the Key to Your Digital Future, Scott Snowden, a partner at Flywheel Strategic and Sitefinity MVP, talked about the meaning of composable digital experiences, and explained:
Progress Sitefinity expert Sean Rusinko talked to Snowden about his hands-on experience with Composable DXP. Here are the highlights.
Rusinko: Tell us about Flywheel Strategic.
Snowden: Flywheel is a digital experience agency. We help clients with modern approaches to digital marketing, web technology, sales and marketing automation, and have been in this space for over 15 years.
Rusinko: What does composable mean to you as a digital experience professional? We have composable user interfaces and composable building blocks to digital experience.
Snowden: To boil it down to its elemental parts, it provides an experience that is modular and flexible. Our clients can imagine anything they want in the future and find a way to enable that with the toolset that we put together.
Rusinko: I like the toolset metaphor where composability is a set of building blocks and tools that create digital experience programs and do so quickly. It also breaks down a digital experience program from an organizational standpoint, where a lot of the process, core components of design and thinking translates into design features and functionality.
Snowden: I was just exchanging notes with a client in the financial services space. They're a big asset manager and sustainability is a key part of their brand and messaging. They've been evolving the way they communicate that theme and have a whole new framework for how to include more content along that nature in their site.
They decided what to communicate, took that script and that content and reconciled it against the other pages, other layouts, and other UI elements that were on the website. They wanted this new content to incorporate those visual elements and those interactive parts of the site that they had on other pages.
They didn't ask if it was possible or how to get it done. They just came to us asked for help putting it together. By the time I signed off for the end of my business day today, we had that whole experience built out.
Then they needed it in another language but didn’t have multilingual capabilities on their site. With the Sitefinity composable DXP platform, we enabled another language in the multilingual engine and they were on their way within a matter of days. They were thrilled. They thought they were going to have to plan this out for the end of the quarter, but it was delivered within a week.
Rusinko: One of the dilemmas is whether composability for a technology vendor can create a conflict of interest when you are working with so many other technology platforms that have particular use case. In your use case, you have a number of other platforms that are powering that digital experience.
Snowden: The challenge is shattering those stale beliefs or expectations in order to have an open-minded perspective and not worry about the technology, or get caught up with the existing platform, ecosystem or stack. Instead, have a business first perspective focused on what you want to accomplish and what the marketing and communications goals are.
Most projects we do start with persona development, journey mapping and that sort of goal setting. That is the framework—then you layer on the technology later. Platforms that make it easy to integrate and hook things and have other composable capabilities, service hooks, and APIs that can be leveraged by business users and a good dev team—that means the business doesn't have to worry about anything other than what is the right experience.
Rusinko: We're at an inflection point where best of breed and composability—the connectivity of technology—allows customers to select based on best in category, best of breed, and connect it all together at a reasonable cost.
Much of it has to do with cloud technology enjoying more adoption and having open API frameworks to connect into those platforms—even sometimes with prebuilt connectors.
Snowden: We're all used to seeing, whether you're on the partner side or the customer side of the table, evaluation criteria for RFPs and system platform selections with the checklists we all have to figure out how to answer. You scratch your head wondering if you are supposed to find a way to say yes to everything on the list. There's a disingenuous pressure on the industry and on vendors to try to be everything to everyone. You end up with a mediocre solution product platform if that is your driving influence.
I still see that happening every day. It drives me nuts. You get a much better experience, more delightful conversations and more satisfied customers by being open minded and saying, "Let's be goal-oriented, pick good, smart, creative, clever partners to help solve a business challenge." We use Zapier and Microsoft Power Apps more now than we ever have before for this very reason. And the finished product is exactly what you want. It doesn't need to be compromised by a limitation in the chosen platform.
Rusinko: We've just turned the whole term composability into something much bigger than the industry had been associating it with. It absolutely mandates organizations or vendors to think about a customer-first strategy.
It democratizes the entire process by allowing you to select the pieces of the puzzle you would like to put in place. It could be best-of-breed technology. It could be composing the actual service delivery of how you want that program to be delivered from a services standpoint—insourcing versus outsourcing, multi-vendor, agency, etc.
When there is more ability to have additional options and make sure that they are still connected together, you can focus on what's important and deliver value.
Snowden: We're also seeing a different governance framework. Once upon a time, it was your brand kit and style guide that you had to adhere to constantly, and that is still relevant. But we're dealing with different business owners. It's not necessarily centralized. We often get tapped to be the gatekeeper for that brand extension of the digital experience. It requires a bit of oversight to make sure it doesn't become a rats’ nest of too many components. But the nice thing is that you're also not encumbered by, or constrained by, a single platform.
What I love about the whole concept is that bigger campaigns and bigger strategies used to be out of reach for smaller businesses. It's exciting to talk about the same strategies and concepts no matter how big the organization is. You don’t need to be at a different budget level to be able to do these things.
For a deeper dive, tune into the full DXP Summit session Composability: Just Another Buzzword or the Key to Your Digital Future.
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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