The Rise of Composable DXP

Trends found when reviewing the
2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for DXP

In its latest Magic Quadrant for DXP report, Gartner has placed a strong emphasis on the composable capabilities of DXP vendors. In fact, all of the vendors in the Leaders quadrant have adopted a composable suite approach that includes web content management (WCM), customer data platform (CDP), data asset management (DAM), personalization, journey orchestration, analytics, and commerce components.

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Gartner’s 2022 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms
LeadersChallengersNiche PlayersVisionaries
AdobeSalesforceCrownpeakBloomreach
AcquiaOracleCoreMediaMagnolia
OptimizelyHCL SoftwareProgress Sitefinity 
SitecoreOpen TextKentico 
 LiferaySquiz 

Driven by demand for more agile, nimble, and future-proof systems, digital experience (DX) software applications have transformed over the last decade, giving rise to composable DXP solutions. The transition began with federated content experience delivery, a way to efficiently manage information by accessing and assembling content that resides in separate sources, served to digital experiences built on different platforms. Federated capabilities then evolved into headless CMS solutions, which took an API-first approach to experience delivery and enabled the implementation of more advanced digital experiences. Headless offerings from vendors have continued to improve to accommodate ever-more comprehensive, composable experience delivery capabilities.

composable dxp cloud chart

It is also worth noting that Gartner does not include headless CMS vendors that lack core DXP capabilities within their product offerings,  such as Contentful, Contentstack, and Kentico Kontent. These vendors have focused on elevating their core content management capabilities by integrating third-party complementary technology solutions like CDP, DAM, and digital commerce offerings to provide more advanced DXP capabilities.

Evaluating Composable DXP Vendors

When evaluating the strengths of composable DXP vendors, it is critical to look beyond the basic capabilities of their software to assess how they fully support composable DX solutions. CMS-Connected reached out to a cross-section of the DXP vendors included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant to better understand their composable DXP strengths. Our questions focused on the following:

  • Ecosystem Integrations: The scope, strength, and quality of the vendor’s integrations capabilities into third-party solutions.
  • Solution Accelerators: The vendor’s level of commitment to enabling and encouraging the development of third-party low-code no-code solutions accelerators.
  • Strategic Ecosystem Partnerships: The vendor’s strategic technology partnerships and how these partnerships drive innovation and advancement of the vendor’s solution offerings.
  • Composable Solution Strengths of Partner Ecosystem: The strengths of the vendor’s solution partner ecosystem and its ability to support and deliver end-to-end multi-vendor composable solutions.
  • Vendor’s Vision for the Future of Composable: To understand the vendor’s vision for the future of composable and how their product roadmap strategy aligns with this vision.

Vendor Q & A into their DXP cababilities

Expand the content tab on any of the four vendor to read the full interviews that provide a deeper dive into their DXP capabilities:

Optimizely

Acquia

Magnolia

Progress

The Road Ahead for Composable

All indications are that composable solutions represent the future of digital experience platforms. Over a relatively short period of time, we have witnessed DXP vendors make significant advancements in their capabilities to support composable solutions, yet, there remains considerable room for improvement. This is particularly true concerning the support for composable DX solutions built using components from multiple vendors. While vendor ecosystem synergy is critical for the adoption, growth, and overall success of composable solutions, the reality is that the majority of DX software vendors continue to struggle to play nice in the sandbox.

When it comes to improving vendor support for composable solutions, the four areas we believe vendors should focus their efforts include:

Industry Standards

MACH alliance logoCurrently, there is a distinct lack of industry standards in the DXP space. From a technology perspective, MACH architecture has emerged as the primary accepted standard for DXP vendors. The MACH Alliance (an industry association) continues to work on creating better synergy between DX ecosystem vendors by advocating for open and best-of-breed enterprise technology structures.

Two significant friction points that the MACH Alliance could help address would be:

  • Advocating for more uniform standards around vendor pricing models. Customers often struggle to determine and forecast consumption or subscription costs when evaluating multi-vendor DXP solution stacks.
  • Establishing processes and standards for providing multi-vendor support of DX solutions, which can otherwise prove very inefficient and frustrating for customers. Vendors must foster tighter relationships between ecosystem partners and develop more integrated multi-tier support models and systems with these ecosystem partners.

Incidentally, none of the DXP vendors currently featured in the Gartner Magic Quadrant are members of the MACH Alliance.

Truly Unifying Multi-Vendor DXP Stacks

While traditional DXP and composable suite DXP solutions have provided very powerful user interfaces, the same cannot be said for multi-vendor composable solutions. Building a unifying user interface that integrates with solutions from competitors has not been readily adopted by DXP vendors, particularly DXP suite vendors. This has resulted in a step backward in empowering those tasked with creating, managing, and administrating digital experiences.

One emerging solution to this problem, which also offers vendor neutrality, comes from Uniform — a startup recently included in Gartner’s “Cool Vendor” report. Uniform is working to address the integration challenges of multi-vendor composable solutions, which include providing a unifying experience management interface. We reached out to Mark Demeny, Head of Product Strategy at Uniform, to get his perspective on the road ahead for composable DX solutions.

Mark Demeny Uniform

“Headless approaches have brought major benefits to their users: faster time to value and better performance via cloud-delivered SaaS, choice of front-end approaches, and better connectivity with other systems and channels via API-first delivery. However, business teams such as merchandisers and marketers have often been left behind as decoupled approaches  often mean disconnected processes and interfaces.

“The next major evolution in this space will focus on creator experience to make it easier for practitioners to understand and orchestrate building experiences using data and content from multiple sources seamlessly. This evolution in the market will bring many more visual and no-code tools for building experiences, customer journeys, and content relationships in a way that allows for rapid experimentation and testing while still giving underlying vendor flexibility.”

Solution Accelerators

To effectively bring the speed, flexibility, and agility promised by composable solutions would be to encourage the development and commercialization of low-code/no-code vertical and horizontal accelerators.

A good starting point for vendors would be to invest more in their marketplaces, as overall, DX vendor marketplace strategies have not been well executed. Much can be learned from Salesforce and its success with the Salesforce AppExchange.

Automation

While in many areas, DXP capabilities are becoming commoditized, innovative use of AI and machine learning can provide vendors with an opportunity to differentiate themselves. DXP vendors are still in the early stages of utilizing machine learning and AI, which have focused mainly on recommendation engines, predictive targeting, and auto-tagging content to improve search experiences, user accessibility, SEO, and support automated personalization.

In the future, AI and machine learning could play a more substantial role in content creation and automation of the management, delivery, and optimization of digital experiences at scale. One area that could prove interesting with composable solutions would be the implementation of something I call  “smart components”. Smart components would utilize AI to automate the next level, configuration of application-level low code/no code components, and provide the ability to create sophisticated digital experiences — even when deployed by non-technical users.

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