Sand dunes on the beach at sunset with ocean in background.
Editorial

8 Things to Know About Composable DXP

7 minute read
Matthew McQueeny avatar
There are important things to know and lessons to glean when entering the Composable DXP fray. Here are eight nuggets.

The world of Composable DXP, or Digital Experience Platforms, is a fascinating ecosystem. It is a direct response to the way legacy technology platforms had been delivered for years, through the so-called “monolith.”

In this, all the necessary content and marketing technologies were bundled into one system, programmed together like a single system-on-a-chip. This monolith provided comfort to its buyers in that one purchase, one license, enabled a panoply of services that a chief marketing officer and/or chief technology officer dreamed could catalyze the entire enterprise into action. However, that promise often ran into a reality where one system buckled under the expectations of having to be everything to everyone! 

Why Composable DXP Took Front and Center Stage

Additionally, competitors began to offer individual, decoupled solutions that were far superior to some of the bundled products from the monolith. Think technologies like analytics or email platforms. As this happened, architectures like Jamstack and Headless came to be, allowing for the best solutions to be connected through APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, and purposely disconnected between front and back end.

Composable DXP is all the rage today, a future-proof strategy to keep your organization nimble and in front of the issues inherent to a single-source platform. But there are important things to know and lessons to glean when entering the composable fray. 

Here are eight, in honor of this the eighth month of the year (August):

Related Article: Have You Recognized the Potential of the Composable Digital Experience Stack?

Don’t Go from 'All-in-One' to 'All-at-Once'

When deciding to move on the composable path, the excitement may cause you to want to go “all in” and do so with great alacrity. On the flip side, an anxious executive may see the path ahead as long and perilous and wonder how it will ever get done in time to generate value.

The ultimate end state, where you decouple all layers of your tech stack, could feel akin to the “Gnarfle the Garthok” challenge in the comedy Coneheads. But much like a diet or exercise plan, gains accrue dependably over time if you stick with the program. Additionally, composability allows you to work and transition from the monolith piece-by-piece.

Composable Providers Play Well With One Another

 Allaying one of the concerns that can arise from a decentralized architecture — how does the Composable DXP maintain cohesion between its constituent parts? — composable providers build strong connections between each other. 

Through Software Developer Kits, or SDKs, and highly-accessible integrations — sometimes “one-click” API connectors — solutions can be seamlessly stitched together.

Related Article: Why Monolithic Digital Experience Platforms Still Trump Composable

Evolution, Not Revolution

While a monolith's promise is more bark than bite, there is a comfort in having all the tools and solutions you need in one place. As I have written before, going composable is like cutting the cord with cable television. There are great benefits in cost and agility, but there can be unforeseen microcosmic downsides in perceived range of the solution.

Therefore, much like the case made in the first point, it is best to move evolutionarily. Be fastidious about your roadmap, and let those sessions guide your next steps. Select the elements of your stack to investigate, procure, backlog and develop on a case-by-case basis. This is one of the great upsides of composable anyway, that you can focus on the best solutions for your exact pain points. So why go and try to reconstruct the monolith, on a composable tightrope? 

Best-of-Breed or Suits-Your-Needs

This descriptor “best-of-breed” is always used when talking about Composable DXP. And for good reason. 

Having the opportunity to select the best options — and having those software vendors compete for your business to boot — for things like content management, personalization, analytics, email platform, commerce, automation, etc., is a revelation. 

But one of the underestimated parts in my opinion of composable is that you can also continue using the solutions your team may have been working with already. For instance, if an enterprise purchased a license in the monolith days, the marketing and technology teams would often need to be retrained and learn to work on the particular solutions within that monolithic platform. Those teams were potentially already working with systems they were skilled or expert at. In the composable paradigm, this “suit-your-needs” delineation may produce the best option.

Related Article: What Is a Composable DXP?

Learning Opportunities

No Vendor-Lock, Solution or Implementation Team

With a typical month-to-month Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based pricing model, the customer is in the driver seat. Long license lock-ins, and the resultant lack of innovation and dearth of customer service, are a thing of the past.

With the aforementioned SDKs that are commonplace in Composable DXP, as well as great trial options, sampling from different solutions is a seamless possibility. The fact that the customer can quickly vote with their wallets and move between software platforms puts the onus on the companies behind those solutions to be always innovating, updating and in lockstep with customer needs and marketplace developments.

Be ready for great customer service and vendor teams that help you get your — and their — product to market quickly. 

Emergence of Low-Code/No-Code

This will be music to the ears of the non-technical. Marketers benefit because they can get to what they do best — reaching and engaging with customers — without being limited by technological knowledge. Developers benefit as well in that they can get to the business of architecting, strategizing and orchestrating across the various platforms of the composable mix without being bogged down by having to program.

There is also the opportunity cost from not having to troubleshoot their own programming! The composable software vendors have in theory created the best framework for the needs and desires of that specific layer of the composable stack, with the companies behind them employing their own product teams to do the development.

Related Article: Are You Ready to Ride the Composable Digital Experience Train?

Composable DXP Should Follow from Composable Business

It’s going to be difficult to make the composable leap if the enterprise itself is a monolith. To benefit from a composable DXP, there needs to be a concomitant presence of or shift within the organization to composable thinking.

The way that the DXP is a conglomeration of the best digital products connected through APIs, an enterprise should have connective tissue within the organization, but also maintain autonomy within departments to thrive in each of the disciplines. To be best-of-breed in marketing, in sales, in operations, in finance, in partnerships, and on. Businesses with this mindset will be best placed to leverage the considerable benefits of a composable DXP.

Educate. Educate. Educate.

It is imperative to stay keenly aware of the composable marketplace. Coming from monolithic thinking, where it feels like you only had to learn a few important concepts and platforms — where you could essentially “set it and forget it” — composable opens up to so many new ideas, products, innovations and ways of working on a daily basis!

It can feel impossible to keep up, and as a digital expert you are expected to lead the transformation. Continuing education is the antidote, through outlets like CMSWire, and tools like webinars, white papers, learning portals, and good old continual communication with customers, partners, vendors and coworkers. 

With these eight “August” thoughts and a dedication to improvement, you can build your own learning “roadmap” and be on the path to composability in no time, modular block by block.

About the author

Matthew McQueeny

Matthew McQueeny works in leadership at Konabos, focusing on relationships, marketing, community, and project management. He has worked with clients ranging from Fortune 500 to startups.