“The digital business platform with a CMS at its core.”

This is the new face of Magnolia, according to the company’s CEO and co-founder, Pascal Mangold.

Mangold, along with Boris Kraft, co-founder and chief visionary officer for the company best known for its CMS, delivered the keynote for last week’s Magnolia Conference in Basel, Switzerland.

In its sixth year, the conference brought together more than 300 users, developers and partners for three days of sessions around content management and digital business.

Focusing on the concepts of digital transformation and the Internet of Things, the Magnolia executives showed how these tie in with Magnolia 5.4, the company’s latest release now in beta.

“Magnolia is for a new age — it’s made for the digital transformation,” said Mangold.

 “This is very important because we are able to do small and extremely large projects with Magnolia – not only websites.”

Digital Transformation Now

Following Mangold’s introduction of Magnolia’s new branding and evolution from a CMS to a digital business platform, Kraft gave a more in-depth look at the concept of digital transformation and how Magnolia was designed to help companies navigate this transformation.

He told conference attendees that digital transformation has created the potential for mass disruption, as has happened with the likes of Craigslist, Airbnb and Uber.

“Our world keeps changing,” said Kraft. “Digital transformation means that we are changing from an analog to a digital world. Transformation also means it affects us – as organizations and as individuals.”

He noted that digital transformation features two characteristics: disintermediation and dematerialization.

“Disintermediation means we’re cutting out the middle man,” he said. “Whereas, previously, people would control the channel and make money controlling the channel, now we can just forget about them.”

He used the record industry as an example.

“Previously, if you wanted to record something, you’d sign a deal with the record company, and they would control the distribution channel,” he said. “That’s no longer true. Now you can just record whatever you want in your home studio and then publish it on the web without asking anybody.”

Dematerialization, he continued, is about digitizing materials, which makes it easy to copy and distribute it online, for free.

“We’ve seen how that changes the dynamics of the market,” he said. “Now you can read books without ever buying a physical book. You can listen to streaming music. You have Netflix instead of the old VHS tapes that you would have rented at the corner store, so this has disrupted a lot of businesses.”

In short, digital transformation is being able to disrupt what is happening, getting into the area of new business models, and seeing that digital becomes, sometimes more relevant than physical.

Improving the UE for Developers

To help companies navigate this digital transformation, they’ll need to make it easy for customers to engage with them and to make meaningful connections, said Kraft. And to do that, you need to have a lot of integrations with back-end systems.

But for the user interface part, he continued, it’s all about front-end technologies.

And so, with the release of version 5.4, Magnolia has concentrated on creating an outstanding user experience for developers so they can contribute to that overall customer experience.

The new release now makes it easier for developers to work with Magnolia, offering new ‘light modules’ for customization that don’t require the use of Java.

“The front end is the new back end,” said Kraft. “That is why with Magnolia 5.4, we introduced Magnolia templating essentials that allow developers to work without Java. They can work with whichever framework they like right now, and that’s a really cool step forward for developers and for organizations that want to build great customer experiences.”

He urged attendees to think about Magnolia as “an operating system for digital transformation.”  

“An operating system abstracts from the underlying systems that you have, and it provides common services, and that’s exactly what Magnolia does,” he said.

For example, Magnolia allows you to unify your digital infrastructure by adding a layer above your existing systems to provide a unified experience and empower your employees.

Magnolia also allows companies to unify their digital touch points, he added.

“No matter which device you’re using, it’s all unified with the same brand experience.”

The Best of the IoT

Finally, Kraft talked about how Magnolia supports the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The Internet of Things is a big driver of digital transformation,” said Kraft. “Magnolia is here to help you make the best of the IoT.”

He illustrated this with Magnolia’s built-in beacon support — specifically how its Beacon Management App can help personalize interactions with customers.

With the app, said Kraft, you can register your beacons within Magnolia, and use indoor location information to personalize what you say to customers. Location management and coupon management apps also support the app.

“We think that the Internet of Things and Magnolia as a digital business platform fit very well together. The Internet of Things and our support for it is really a proof point of the platform. Even if you think, ‘I don’t need the Internet of Things,’ or ‘I’ll never use it,’ it’s still an example of how you can cope with these challenges.”

And what does Mangold think about Magnolia’s new offerings?

“With its products, I think Magnolia will rock more than ever,” he said. “Use Magnolia for all of your digital initiatives — small or enterprise, and be prepared for the digital transformation that is happening right now.”