The Benefits of Using a Composable DXP

Mike Edwards - Technical Director

5 Jan 2022

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If you are a marketer, content admin, content editor, or just anyone not part of the IT department, you have probably heard the IT team getting excited talking about "Composable DXP," "Headless Systems," and "Serverless functions." You probably thought, "I will just walk away before they try and talk to me about it." 

And before you decide to do the same with this blog post, I promise I will try (badly) to steer clear of the technical side as much as possible and instead focus on what matters and what this revolution will mean for the way you work and the tools that you use.

So, traditionally, building Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) is generally a server-based process (sorry, I am already breaking my promise, but I need to explain this tech bit). Basically, a company's content management system (CMS) or E-Commerce software sits on a computer in a big room somewhere. You have a whole team of different IT people set up to manage and support these machines. 

A setup like this takes a ton of time, effort, and resources. The IT development team will spend hours trying to make systems talk to each other by leveraging a bunch of technical tools, enabling them to accelerate the process. 

Alternatively, you would still be privy to conversations like "It will take IT 6 months to get it installed and set up."

"Apparently, we already have a similar tool which isn't as good. We still have to keep using it as it's already installed on our devices." 

"IT says they can't make system X talk to system Y. That's why it won't work."

"IT says we only use Java; I don't understand what an Indonesian island has to do with it."

If you are nodding your head or laughing at these, then you are in the right place to learn about "Composable DXP."

So what does "Composable DXP" mean? 

I will try and use the analogy of an orchestra to describe composable (stick with me).

In an orchestra, you have lots of instruments with various uses. But to make a beautiful piece of music, you need each instrument to sync together and make the right notes.

Now think of the parts of your current DXP as different instruments. For example, the DAM (digital asset management) might be a drum, the CMS a piano, and the CRM a string. Your IT team is the composer, bringing these different elements together to make exhilarating music.

Historically, the instruments that we have in our orchestra were limited based on the last enterprise piece of software the company bought. So maybe you want to use a viola in your selection of instruments, but the software only allows you to use a violin, or you want to use a flute, but you have only got an oboe. 

You could buy a flute, but apparently, it costs too much and would take too much time to add a seat (yeah, I know, I am really leaning in on this analogy). With these limitations, you can make music, and it sounds ok, but it might not sound perfect, forcing you to make compromises.

Composable DXPs remove these limitations. So you now can pick the software (instrument) best suited to your needs and requirements. You are no longer limited to a single piece of enterprise software and can instead integrate tools from a range of service providers. 

If you target a new social media platform or use a unique data asset management tool, the remarketing tool can work wonders. 

What is better is that each element in your new orchestra is played by an expert who is a specialist in that particular domain. A composable DXP allows participants to improve efficiency and lower costs. 

Let's summarise the benefits of using a composable DXP

  1. Each tool added to your DXP is managed by a specialist who knows it inside out and obsesses about making it better.
  2. The tools can be easily integrated or removed from in-house platforms.
  3. The instrument is maintained by the specialist reducing costs associated with IT maintenance.
  4. New features can be quickly rolled out, and you no longer have to wait for upgrade plans or an upcoming version. 
  5. The most important benefit is the ability to choose the best tool for each part of the DXP. 
  6. It should end conversations such as "Well, it does about 80% DAM, 70% CMS and 55% IAM but they all come in one box.". With composable DXP, you can shoot for 100% on everything!

You will still need your IT team to compose the music or connect these components together. However, the cost, effort, and speed of integration are much lower because these tools are designed to be interactive. 

If a part of it does not work out as expected, it can be easily swapped for something else. 

In the modern internet age, DXPs need to quickly adapt, change, and embrace new trends. The Composable DXP allows you to do precisely this!

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Mike Edwards

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.

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