Introductory History of WCMS To Composable DXP for Marketers

Morgan Blackett - Marketing Strategist

6 Jun 2022

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A Static Beginning

In the early stages of the World Wide Web websites were static. This means that the content was often redundant, difficult to change, and personalization was impossible. There was no CMS in the backend collecting data. This was acceptable at the time due to the limited amount of Internet users and websites being viewed as digital brochures. Websites, at this time, were still a “nice to have” but not integral to an organization’s success. However, as Internet user adoption increased, and the potential of websites was being realized there needed to be a way for organizations, and even more so enterprise-level organizations, to organize content, data, images, video, etc. to improve their online presence.   

Closed-source CMSes

The first WCMS come to the forefront in the mid ’90s. These were closed source, proprietary CMS which means that only internal developers had access to the source code. These early WCMS depended heavily on developers because they wrote the source code. These early WCMS allowed organizations, mainly enterprise-level organizations, universities, or governments to manage their content. The major downside to these early WCMS was that smaller organizations typically could not afford these closed source platforms. Internet adoption was growing exponentially, new websites were being created every day and most of them were for individual use or small business use. There was a growing need for a WCMS to address.  

Open-source CMSes

In the late ’90s, several open-source WCMS hit the market such as Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. These WCMS made it possible for an individual or small business to be able to manage the content on their websites. Due to these platforms being open source it meant there was already built-in code which allowed non-developers to be directly involved in their WCMS in a way that they never could have before.  

Web Experience Management (WEM) is Born

It is the early 2000s, WCMS has been around for some time now. A new company called Sitecore is founded in 2001. (Listen to ourKonaverse podcast episode with the co-founder of Sitecore, Lars Nielsen, about how the company started) Enterprise level organizations have several websites for the various brands they own. There is a need for omnichannel marketing, cross-departmental collaboration, and personalization. A WCMS is no longer enough to manage the number of websites.   

It is at this pivotal juncture that we introduce, WEM (Web Experience Management), WEM allowed enterprises to be able to manage multiple websites. In addition to other websites, WEM enables enterprises to utilize emerging new channels such as mobile and IoT (Internet of Things). These channels are becoming increasingly more important. According to Statista, mobile users are estimated to be7.49 billion by 2025. Statista also estimated that there will be 30.9 IoT active connected devices by 2025.  

Why WEM was Different

A significant difference between WCMS and WEM is that WEM enabled enterprises to share personalized experiences across their channels. WEM introduced enterprise-level personalization which made it possible to create a unique customer experience for each customer based on their persona created by their shopping habits and interests. This meant that enterprises could now reach specific target audiences thereby enabling a more personal, one-to-one, communication as opposed to mass, one-to-many, communication. Another key difference between WCMS and WEM, is that WEM was more marketer-focused than developer-focused. Unlike the WCMS. WEM allowed marketers to shape customer experience more than ever before.  

It wasn't all Roses

One shortcoming of WEM was that they were difficult to integrate into other parts of an organization’s technology stack. This limited the ability of the organization to deliver an omnichannel experience across its technology stack and to be agile. To correct this, open-sourced and Headless WEM platforms entered the market which allowed greater integration, agility, increased personalization, and collaboration across cross-functional departments.   

The DXP Evolution

Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) were the next step in the evolution of technology, as the need to provide an omnichannel experience across the technology stack increased. DXPs are focused not only on websites, mobile and IoT but on any digital touchpoint whether that be in-store, online, billboards, kiosks, etc. There are two types of DXP, monolithic and composable. Monolithic DXP and Composable DXP. A monolithic DXP is one where the core functions are built into a tightly bound platform, all of which are handled by a single vendor, such as Sitecore. Additional optional parts such as Marketing Automation, A/B Testing, Social Media Integration and Email may also be tightly bound into the platform. A composable DXP has all the components of a Monolithic DXP, but they are loosely connected. This means that the Composable DXP is made up of services that are provided by one or more vendors that work together through integration.  

Agile Future-proofing with Composable DXP

Composable DXP is the latest evolution in this digital space. Gartner says that “By 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.” Composable DXP combines the flexibility and agility that open source, headless CMS provided with the omnichannel experience of a Monolithic DXP. Gartner expresses that the only way to future-proof your enterprise’s technology stack is by having a composable DXP to deliver a composable user experience.    As this blog has hopefully illustrated, the history that has led up to Composable DXP is a rich one. Technology changes as the needs of enterprises are changing. From the early days of close source WCMS to open-source WCMS, the use of new channels led to the introduction of WEM and how that led to the rise of DXP. Enterprises need to be aware of the dynamic environment in which they exist an adapt in order to serve the needs of their customers effectively and ensure their ability to survive and thrive.  

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LinkedIn Marketing
Composable DXP
Headless CMS

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Morgan Blackett

Morgan has a passion for business, specifically marketing, and is eager to help and improve systems. He focuses on marketing automation and business communication.


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