WordPress: from CMS to Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

Author - Alex Price

Posted By Alex Price

Date posted 11th May 2019

Category WordPress, Blog

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It would be fair to assume that most of us working in or around digital are well versed in what a content management system (CMS) is. After all, the concept of a CMS has been around since the early 90s when first experimented with by the likes of IBM and AOL, and nearly every website these days will have a CMS of some kind.

But digital experience platform (DXP) is a newer term that could be seen as an evolution from CMS. It might have started as another buzzword, but it seems that ‘DXP’ is now here to stay.

So what is a digital experience platform? Gartner’s own definition of a DXP is:

“An integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints.”

In summary, it means breaking down the silos of different platforms and channels, and having a single platform that can sit at the heart of the entire customer experience, ensuring a truly omnichannel consistent approach to managing the touchpoints via which you interact with customers.

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Our partner WP Engine made the move from ‘hosting platform’ to ‘digital experience platform’ back in 2017, by announcing that they were the industry’s first WordPress DXP.

Whilst maybe being seen as a marketing move at least to begin with, clearly WP Engine had identified that this is where the industry was heading, and as WordPress has matured and enterprise adoption of WordPress continues to increase, there is huge opportunity to compete against platforms that have been in the DXP space for longer such as Sitecore or even Adobe Experience Manager. WP Engine continue to innovate in this space, implementing features and technology that support WordPress on the journey to being able to be used as a DXP, in a similar means to how Acquia support Drupal.

Now we of course have to recognise that platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager operate in a very different space to WordPress. For starters the average cost of an AEM license is about £350,000, meaning a full implementation can then easily run into £1,500,000 and upwards.

Sitecore can also cost about £40,000 and up just for a license, with implementation costs also being high as a result.

So is open source WordPress really capable of competing in the DXP space?

We know from recent client projects, such as migrating an enterprise software company from Sitecore to WordPress, that WordPress is definitely being considered alongside more ‘traditional’ DXPs by innovative digital and marketing teams in some of our clients.

In this case our client didn’t feel they were getting the most out of Sitecore, were not setup as a team to use its many features, found the experience clunky and realised they could deliver multilingual functionality, security and global scale using WordPress. Of course they needed an experienced agency partner in ourselves and the right investment in hosting infrastructure with WP Engine to do this, but we’re receiving more and more briefs that have overlap with these challenges.

The REST API that is now built into WordPress means headless approaches to content management are possible, further opening up opportunity for WordPress to compete in the DXP space which is typically very much driven by APIs that support the flow of content across different channels and touchpoints.

So as hosting and infrastructure platforms such as WP Engine develop to better support WordPress with insights and intelligence features, security enhancements continue to evolve, API-first architecture becomes the norm and innovative agencies drive forwards what’s possible with WordPress, it seems that WordPress is well on its DXP journey.

As a strategic WordPress Agency, we’re excited to see where the journey leads, and the possibilities it opens up in supporting our mission of empowering our clients for success.

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