The Case for All-in-one Digital Experience Platforms - 5 Important Considerations

Ken Gray - Senior Digital Experience Strategist

23 Jan 2024

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Since 2019, there has been much discussion about switching from "all-in-one" to "composable" digital experience platforms, but I haven't heard too many compelling reasons why someone should not consider the "all-in-one". As a marketer, I've seen many statements and promises on the benefits of "composable" DXPs, but having worked on projects firsthand, I've also seen the pitfalls of not identifying the WHY and the NEED. Maybe your "all-in-one" is all you need.

Here are 5 Important Considerations (in no particular order):

  1. It ain't broke.
  2. You're using everything it offers.
  3. You can make small changes to achieve more.
  4. Your traffic is high and the consumption model will more than double your infrastructure costs.
  5. You have a small team.

It Ain't Broke

As the adage goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I've seen companies look to new technology for the sake of technology to "solve" problems that don't exist. Now, that doesn't mean you aren't looking for opportunities to innovate, but changing your technology stack is not a small consideration. In fact, it can be quite costly in both time and money. 

It's important to count and compare the costs before diving headfirst into a new technology/technologies. Factor in the soft-switching costs such as key team members being away from internal tasks, or team members having to learn the new system, or limited/different functionality that will require you to change your internal processes and potentially open you up to more changes thus creating a change loop. Also, consider licensing costs. How many different "composable" products (a.k.a. licenses) will you need vs if you just stayed with the all-in-one? Is the sum of the parts, greater than the whole? More on that below.

Upgrading your existing platform might make more sense than switching to another technology stack altogether. 

You're Using Everything Your Platform Offers

Most software today is so feature-rich that we use less than what has been provided. Think about the number of tools we use every day - email, word processors, spreadsheets - we may know each one fairly well, but I know I don't use them all to their fullest capability - nor do I have to. Sometimes the feature is not needed in your business and other times it's too complicated to use. If the latter is the case, then hiring a consulting firm like Konabos might be the way to go. 

Rather than spending time and money redoing your website, you can spend time with a firm that can assist you in configuring and training so you gain the knowledge needed to use every feature you dreamed of when you purchased the tool or platform. We call this maximizing your return on investment (ROI).

You Can Make Small Changes to Achieve More

Juxtaposition to "you're using everything", is the position that there are things you're not currently using that are available in your DXP that, with a few minor tweaks, can make a significant difference. For example, while talking with a client I learned that they were having a hard time tracking PDF downloads via their popular analytics tool and it was an important metric for them to gather. I immediately remembered, that I too had a similar challenge several years ago and after finding no solution in the search engines, I turned to the DXP user guide and eventually found an obscure note that led me to discover that the ability to track PDF downloads was contained right within the platform we were using (Sitecore). I shared the solution in a quick walkthrough with the client and with three simple clicks they were super excited to now be able to track their downloads...all in their single platform.

I've been helping clients get more out of their Sitecore version with small updates, training, and techniques for the past decade. I have found that using Sitecore XP's features takes practice and guidance whether it's A/B/n testing, email campaigning, marketing automation, cart abandonment, workflows, or security.

The bottom line is "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater." Maybe you just need a little more flexibility in your templates and layouts to achieve all of your marketing goals. Sometimes it's an upgrade that makes an old feature better, like the revamp of Sitecore's Forms, and marketing automation. Have someone take a look at your digital experience platform with a fresh set of eyes.

The Composable Consumption Model

The composable pricing model for most platforms today is driven by web traffic. So, if you're running a website that is generating a ton of traffic and each composable tool you're using is charging you based on traffic, you could find that your infrastructure costs go up rather than down. You also need to consider future growth versus just staying put and doing an upgrade on your current all-in-one. However, it's worth noting that some all-in-one vendors have begun adopting the consumption model. 

Case in point: While working with a client in 2023, and after running the numbers, we determined that they would need a 70% discount from composable vendors to move from their "all-in-one" dxp; just to keep costs within 2x of their current licensing. It just didn't work...not for the vendors and not for the client.

You Have a Small Team

As mentioned previously in the "It Ain't Broke" section, factoring in the soft-switching costs is key. One such cost is the need for your team to learn the new system or most likely systems with an "S" because the key difference with composability is the ability to mix and match the best-in-breed tools to accomplish business objectives. This could mean different vendors with different ideas on how to design a user interface and construct an application. If you have a small team, and introduce several new tools for them to learn, they will likely lose a lot of productivity in the learning process and this has a cost that should not be overlooked. 

Additionally, if you have a small team and they have to use different tools to accomplish a task that they could normally do in a single platform, then this too has a cost. You may need to spend extra development funds to create seamless integrations or build-in automation so that the systems can talk to each other and the team members can accomplish the tasks as efficiently as they had when they were using the all-in-one platform.

The Bottom Line

One size does not fit all. Conduct your due diligence before "jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire." Consider your people and your processes and make sure you have clearly identified the problem you are solving and more importantly discovered any gotchas that may arise as a result of the change(s). Be sure you know how you will measure whether your decision is a success. Do a proper change evaluation to ensure you mitigate all the potential disruptions. Determine your team's capacity and whether efficiency will improve or decline.

Konabos can help with:

  1. Upgrade / Implementation Assistance
  2. Upgrade Review and Oversight
  3. Technology Roadmapping - Sitecore Upgrades

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Ken Gray

Ken is a two-time Sitecore Strategy MVP who has been working with the Sitecore platform since 2011. He has over 20 years of experience in business analysis, software development, content management systems, marketing, and digital strategy.

Ken’s passion for digital marketing and personalization along with his coaching and training abilities, aids Konabos in helping dozens of Content Authors and Sitecore Marketers improve their productivity and knowledge of Sitecore; thus maximizing each client’s return on investment. 

In short, Ken makes the complex toolset of Sitecore, simple.

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