From “Knowing” to “Doing”: The Evolution of Content Management Systems (CMSs) to Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)

The Evolution of CMS

In our always-online world, having a website for your business is easier than ever. With subscription services and a variety of content management systems, creating a simple website for a small store or an independent professional doesn’t require much web development anymore. However, there are important differences between having a marketing website for your business and having a modern enterprise portal. In part, it is because of a particular shift: how we have changed our online behavior from “knowing” to a focus on “doing”.

Content management systems (CMS for short) played a very important role from the early stages of the massively expanding Internet. In their early form of blogs and journals, they enabled people to experience the digital world without the need to hardcode HTML pages each time they had something different to say. More importantly, their software engine helped to keep, manage, and edit changes (a specialization that eventually would spawn a new profession: web editors or web content authors) overcoming potential technical difficulties.

In the mid 2000s, user-friendly content systems like the open-source WordPress started to create paths for small businesses and even organizations that couldn’t afford their own in-house IT team. At the same time, larger companies and global brands were facing a new challenge: how to use technology to make sense of all their information, media, and data they produced and stored for days and years, manage it and structure it, create insights, and leverage it in the best way possible.

For every type of content on the Internet, there’s an engine making it happen. So, these “big business” needs were met head on by DXPs. Digital experience platforms — CMS’s evolved cousin — like those offered by Liferay, HCL, SAP, Oracle, and Adobe provide new sets of digital features to deliver rich, relevant, and timely multimedia content and online services to multiple business audiences: from clients and suppliers to distributors and investors.

So, if our basic websites were to display basic information like contact information, accurate pictures, and deliverables like PDFs to make our business reachable, modern and contemporary, then portals gave us the ability to provide the services online. In part, that’s why we call them platforms: because they go further than display information or allowing us “to know things” — they enable businesses and users. Providing actionable content, self-serve services, transactions and productive communication (which allows you to book an appointment or receive technical support) is the baseline of what we understand nowadays as modern digital business, that is, “doing”.

Given any option, what types of portals and websites should we build these days? Here are some of the guidelines of what we believe are the foundations of modern and powerful portals and websites. 

Static content shouldn’t be the core of your portal: service, transactions, actionable content, and engagement should.

While traditional CMS helped organizations and people handle their publications (mostly text with images), these systems always focused on explaining and exposing, rather than action. Nowadays, digital platforms help your audiences to achieve specific objectives and are more into the “doing”: book a meeting, have a call, receive customized information, watch, purchase, claim, register, etc. Audiences want to do more and better through your online services. Customer satisfaction is now measured in how much they can do with little to no effort.

Content personalization for different audiences has become crucial for digital experiences.

Early content management systems had a very simple task: publish and share for the whole wide Internet. As the idea of privacy and customization have gained momentum, organizations and business have increasing needs of targeting demographic specific content to particular audiences. You may want to disclose sensitive content only anyone except your IT team (like security issues), your regional reps (dynamic prices), or a group of investors (financial status). Yes, we all want to use digital tools and prompt communication in our processes. But, by customizing and defining workflows, digital experience platforms can help keep it relevant and appropriate for business purposes.

Having users and roles is important, but not as much as creating authoring workflows for your business.

As a consulting firm, we know that adoption is as important as the technology itself. It doesn’t matter how many users or content authors have access to create content or to update a product catalog — what is really important for the organization is to have the appropriate workflow and governance set in place. An organization may create 50 author accounts and without the proper workflow, content won’t be published or delivered in a timely manner. Process management, order and responsibilities must be set in place, as well as training and resource materials if any doubt arises.

If your audience doesn’t need the extra attention, self-service is the way to go.

There are services that require personalization to get it right: going to the doctor, ordering branded handcrafted goods, or setting up a long-term payment plan. But there are many that don’t.Purchasing retail goods and groceries, subscribing to online services, making an insurance claim, submitting a refund, managing your bank account — the quicker you can do these, the better. Online business that offer self-service functionalities to their audiences are not only giving them their time back, they are empowering them and giving them the comfort and option to manage their life at their own pace. It also means that you enable your business to sell and provide services out of business hours, which doubles productivity. Delivering content and services on demand has never been more important.

Templates and components not only will make your life easier — they will let your online business grow faster.

A core functionality of digital experience platforms is offering resources like templates, modules, and components that are meant to be reusable when building your portals. They will not only allow you to be consistent throughout your site, but also enable you to create new sections, landing pages or complete websites more quickly and without much code. If we want our online services to keep growing, we must be prepared to do so in an orderly manner. If we truly understand the types of content that we have and where we are heading with our digital assets, we will be able to offer a more profound, satisfactory and productive experience.

Research firms like Gartner have evaluated and assessed performance of digital experience platforms for over 10 years with their Magic Quadrant approach and keeping an eye on the leaders that will help organizations and businesses go digital. It all starts with one simple question: what does your business need? Do you need people to find you and understand what you do so they can look for you offline later, or can you offer them online your products and services and start your journey earlier? The best content solution will be the one that fits your business model, your vision of your organization, and your ambition. We would love to help you find it, together.

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