Mike Edwards - Technical Director
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At Konabos we are heavily focused on composable DXP (CDXP). We love the process of building Digital Experience Platforms from best-of-breed solutions. Today, however, I want to moot an alternative argument, and that is why an all-in-one DXP might be the correct solution for you and why all-in-one – “Unified”– solutions still have some advantages over a composable architecture.
Let’s start by defining what we mean by a “Unified” DXP (UDXP).
This is a product, typically under the umbrella of a single company, that provides multiple features of a DXP in a single solution. This may include Content Management System (CMS), Analytics, Commerce, Orchestration, Personalisation, and DAM in a single product.
A few examples of different UDXP providers:
The above list isn’t exhaustive, and these providers can have a lot more features than the few I have listed.
Now that we have defined a Unified, let’s consider the advantages.
So which vendor(s) do you want to use for your DXP? If you are using a unified solution, you might reach out to about six different vendors, compare their products and, from this, select a vendor.
With a CDXP, the number of vendors you need to assess will typically be many more. For each element of your DXP, you may need to reach out to three or four different vendors. Consider, if you have a CMS, DAM, Commerce, and Analytics you may find yourself talking to and assessing 12-16 different vendors. This could pose a great challenge; on the flip side, the assessment of each individual vendor may be quicker because the scope of the evaluation is clear and specific.
If you don’t have the time or team to manage to assess a large volume of dispersed vendors, then a unified solution may be the way to go.
Any composable solution will require a team to be able to integrate the constituent parts. There are two forms of integration that we need to consider:
With a UDXP you don’t have to do the backend integration. The software is written by a single vendor who has already built the integrations between the different systems. For example, adding an image in the CMS will automatically take you to the inbuilt DAM, or analytic information is presented next to the content that it relates to.
Frontend integration is also less of an effort because the vendor supplies a unified API that provides access to all facets of the platform in a common manner. Your development team only needs to understand a single API and its security.
A big challenge for the composable digital experience platform (CDXP) is the number of different admin interfaces that your Technology, Content, and Marketing teams will need to learn. This creates a high cognitive load when introducing a new member to the team and can make onboarding slower.
With a unified digital experience platform (UDXP), your team needs to only learn a single admin interface. And that interface behaves in a common cohesive manner across all tools. This reduces the learning curve and mental load on your team.
User management is also easier: rather than having to manage user creation, deletion, and authorization across multiple different tools, you can manage it in just one.
It is easier for an all-in-one vendor to mix data from different elements of the DXP into a single admin screen.
For example, as a content editor, I might be looking at a blog post and I want to see analytics information for the page. This can easily be pulled from the analytics database and displayed in the CMS.
Or maybe I am browsing the DAM and I want to see which products a certain image is associated with? Easy, this data can be pulled from Commerce.
For a CDXP this is much harder. You would need to create an integration from one SaaS product to another and update the admin interface to display this information. This often isn’t possible because many SaaS vendors do not allow alterations to their admin interfaces. If you are lucky, some may provide integrations with other vendors OOTB, but you are left hoping they have integrated with the ones that you want to use.
With a UDXP, licensing is much simpler. You only deal with one primary supplier, with one set of legal documents to read, and one invoice to pay.
With a CDXP you will need to review the terms and conditions on multiple suppliers with different payment terms. If you don’t have a team in place to do this, this can be time consuming.
In addition, in certain enterprises, onboarding of new vendors can take upwards of a year. Moving one vendor through this process is certainly going to be an easier undertaking than several.
Buying a UDXP does not stop you from bringing in elements of a composable solution. You will be leveraging your existing investments and adding best-of-breed abilities as your company’s capabilities evolve.
In reality, even a UDXP won’t supply all the features you need; for example, most DXPs won’t come with a mass mailer. Also, there are an estimated 28 million Websites already happily utilizing Google Analytics as their tracking provider. What you are doing however is minimizing the number of integrations and systems that you need to learn.
The criticism of UDXP products is that they require you to pay for elements of the platform that you are not using. This is one of the big benefits of a CDXP - you only pay for the services you are using.
A good all-in-one provider will normally have a flexible licensing model that allows you to only pay for the parts that you require. With the ability to turn features on and off as you need them.
CDXP is a new and exciting field of web development but that doesn’t mean we should forget our roots. There are still many advantages of an all-in-one solution and for many customers, it will make sense to purchase one of these solutions.
The rise in CDXP and its flexibility is forcing the all-in-one vendors to change both their licensing models and software architecture to match.
If you are looking to rebuild your DXP then it might be time to check out the all-in-one vendors again.
With 18 years of IT development experience, Mike has worked across government, not for profit, and commercial sectors. He has delivered large-scale multinational websites, desktop and mobile applications, and mission-critical health apps. He works closely with the client and delivery teams to ensure that projects deliver business benefits and not just a technical solution.
Mike is a nine-time Sitecore MVP and is the founder of the very popular Glass.Mapper.Sc ORM, which has over 1 million downloads.
Outside of work, Mike can be found exploring the British countryside, riding his motorbike, and learning the piano.