DXP vs. CMS: The content management DNA fueling modern digital experience platforms

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We explore the differences between a DXP -- digital experience platform -- and CMS. The idea of DXP has emerged in the web content management space as a way to encapsulate the many tools, channels and services required to deliver the end-user experience, of which your traditional CMS is a core component to drive digital identity and engagement.

In 2021, the content-management space is at an inflection point, with businesses seeking to gain ever more granular control over their content in order to be able to leverage it how and where they need. This has given rise to increased interest in the transformative potential of digital experience platforms (DXP) as an evolution of the traditional content-management system (CMS).

So what exactly is a DXP?

What is a DXP?

A DXP is a digital experience platform. At its core, it's a CMS—but a DXP leverages the idea of reaching across channels for the full spectrum of end-to-end customer engagement.

From a product evolution standpoint, your traditional CMS really came to the fore with the explosion of our analog-to-digital landscape in the 2000s. Likewise, the CMS-to-DXP continuum reflects the rapid technological advancements we've seen in the past several years as to how and where users are accessing information "online." Online means everywhere with a connection, and the delivery device as a piece of hardware no longer just relates to a laptop, tablet or even smartphone.

A robust DXP sits at the heart of an array of marketing tools, using APIs to integrate with your existing technology stack and with new third-party services that either exist today or will be available in the future. It leverages solutions like digital asset management (DAM), marketing automation and personalization. A DXP caters to the latest content requirements, such as for simplified production for distributed teams and omnichannel distribution.

Why DXP is growing in popularity

According to one report, the DXP market is projected to reach $15.8 billion by 2025.

In its latest DXP report from February 2021, Gartner also says that DXPs now act as "centers of gravity" within organizations’ technology stacks to increase their digital presence. Gartner notes the impact of the growing DXP market, saying that, "application leaders in charge of digital experiences found themselves struggling with the usability, scalability and uptime of their DXP systems, given the spikes in traffic and growing demand for the digital channel."

Further, the Australia-based publication CMO highlights that in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic increased reliance on DXPs, as many organizations rushed “to set up digital commerce and experiences to meet changing consumer behaviors and needs."

All of these insights point to the heightened need for greater flexibility and scalability as organizations increasingly find themselves under pressure to transform fast and remain nimble. DXPs have entered the spotlight as the solution to help businesses do just that.

Understanding the shift from CMS to DXP

It’s clear that CMS technology is still important, but it needs to evolve. Any good CMS is able to share consistent content across channels, but today people want to also get a personalized experience on top of the content they receive.

This is where DXPs come in, as a DXP's ecosystem of proprietary and third-party services, connected via APIs, solves for the creation of truly connected experiences.

When Gartner retired its well-known Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management report in January 2020, the research firm noted that it saw client demand shifting from CMS technology "to the broader scope of DXP." This is also evidenced by Gartner starting the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms in 2020.

The truth is that DXP and CMS solutions overlap—and, in fact, a CMS is an essential part of a DXP. Marketing stacks are complicated, with many different technologies serving different purposes. It’s also important to recognize that DXP platforms often don’t exist as tangible pieces of technology—rather, a DXP should be thought of as a concept instead of one vendor solution. The right DXP will replace much of your current MarTech stack, and fluidly integrate with the rest of it.

Gartner analyst Irina Guseva has called DXP the new definition of a CMS, and the majority of products that would have been considered a traditional CMS have added enough to be better described as DXP solutions. Clearly, DXPs are taking over the market, and DXP offerings are now table stakes. This means that organizations need to choose a DXP solution that goes above and beyond to meet current and future needs.

Brightspot: A dynamic DXP in action

Most organizations won’t find a single-vendor solution for their DXP needs, so it’s critical to find a DXP that includes the support for custom and in-built integrations plus a flexible back-end framework to adapt to changing business needs and priorities.

Brightspot was designed to replace a traditional CMS. Brightspot was developed from years of our company providing the expertise and technology that some of the world’s largest organizations, including National Geographic, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson, use to deliver rich and responsive digital experiences.

Brightspot’s platform stands out because it’s built to integrate seamlessly into your ecosystem, connecting with everything from mobile apps to personalization engines.

On the technical side, Brightspot can unite various architectures, and then present the content in any way, on any channel. For example, a single data model on the back end can extend to seven different front-end delivery options that include headless, RSS and various JSON formats.

As such, the DXP provides a unified solution for building, deploying and managing the digital experiences your customers expect. Brightspot is extensible to your unique business needs, meaning zero compromise with the digital experience you want to deliver—not the other way around.

Brightspot also excels at providing the CMS pieces that still underpin a powerful DXP. Brightspot has offerings like flexible workflows, migration and replatforming tools, "create-once-and-publish-everywhere" modularity, and a publisher-informed editing interface and experience, which all combine to help drive the digital experience forward faster.

Digital experience platforms are now key to marketing technology stacks. They take the best elements of a CMS and add on to serve as a hub for delivering personalized omnichannel experiences.

As the DXP market grows increasingly crowded, Brightspot has developed its solution—Brightspot CMS—to be supremely flexible and integration-friendly so that organizations can attain innovative, modern content-marketing capabilities.


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