What is Interoperability: Web Content Management Edition

October 21, 2019
Jason Smith

Building out your DXP is crucial to remaining digitally adaptable as technologies and customer demands change. Implementing a highly interconnected and seamless DXP, however, is often a costly endeavor. In fact, Gartner predicts that 85% of the effort and cost of implementing a DXP platform within the next two years will be spent on integrations. 

That’s why it's crucial for your CMS to lay the foundation for integrating with critical internal and external systems. An interoperable CMS — with an API-first approach — therefore, reduces the time and effort required to build out your interconnect DXP platform. 

Let’s look at what CMS interoperability is, what it means to have an interconnected DXP, and how an API-first CMS enables interoperability.

What is Interoperability?

Interoperability refers to the ability of software to easily integrate with other systems in terms of sharing functionality and data. This means interoperable software facilitates communication with external systems by standardizing interactions and reducing compatibility challenges. An interoperable CMS can not only pull data and content from a range of external systems, but can also deliver content and experiences to a multitude of frontend applications.

Another crucial aspect of interoperability is the data itself. If a platform cannot easily exchange data — both to and from — another system, then it’s not truly interoperable. This means it’s often not enough to simply connect with other systems, but the software needs to utilize common standards for the information itself. Standardization could mean using JSON or XML for API communication and having a CMS that stores content that’s completely decoupled from its use.

Data sharing limitations lead to data silos, and ultimately, an ineffective DXP solution.  That’s why avoiding data silos is critical when building a DXP that enables marketers to deliver better digital experiences. Implementing highly interoperable software that's built atop industry standards, therefore, is the only way to build an effective interconnected DXP.

The Interconnected DXP

For most organizations, the DXP is meant to manage and deliver digital experiences across the customer journey. This usually entails a multitude of systems that perform specific functions in a best-of-breed approach.

Graphic_Three Platforms (2)

In general, these external systems that are integrated to form a DXP include:

  • Content Management System: the CMS lays the foundation for the entire DXP and can move your platform beyond merely managing content to acting as a centralized integration hub. This means the CMS can pull content from a variety of data sources and publish content to a multitude of digital touchpoints from one interface.
  • Digital Asset Management: DAM systems often have rich indexing and search features that make it easier for marketing teams to find and use digital assets. This is crucial because digital assets are expensive to produce and often become lost without the proper systems in place. Seamlessly connecting a DAM system with the DXP, therefore, can break down digital asset data silos.
  • Customer Data Platforms / CRMs: bringing customers information and sales data into the DXP ecosystem has enormous benefits when it comes to creating lead generation campaigns and developing digital marketing strategies.
  • Marketing Automation Tools: while a centralized content hub can enable consistency across channels, many marketing automation tools like Bynder and Eloqua have advanced branding features for enterprises to manage their global presence.
  • Analytics Tools: many analytics tools like Google Analytics provide a wealth of information about market segments, trends, and more. When these analytics tools are integrated with the DXP, marketers can leverage data-driven insights to deliver more personalized digital experiences. 
  • Commerce Platform: in many cases, commerce platforms have robust eCommerce features like payment processing and product cataloging that CMSs can’t match. But there’s enormous value in letting eCommerce platforms do what they do best, and pulling the relevant data like product descriptions into a centralized content hub.
  • Frontend Applications: an interconnected DXP doesn’t just include backend data sources, but also the multitude of frontend applications where digital experiences are delivered. These range from traditional websites and mobile apps to IoT devices and AR/VR.

When these systems are interconnected, the DXP ecosystem should be deeply integrated in a way that enables non-technical users to leverage data and functionality from one centralized interface. That’s where the interoperability of an API-first CMS comes into play.

How The API-First Approach Enables Interoperability?

While a highly interconnected DXP that shares data and functionality seamlessly is ideal, it can be challenging to avoid data silos without a standardized way of communicating. That’s why APIs enable greater interoperability amongst software.

Most modern applications now expose APIs that allow developers to pull and push data from one system to another easily. This means an API-driven CMS is ready to connect with most software out-of-the-box. API-driven or headless CMSs are also capable of delivering experiences to nearly any device or channel that emerges. That makes API-first CMSs highly interoperable with both frontend and backend systems.

GraphQL takes interoperability a step further by reducing the learning curve for developers. With GraphQL, developers can use a standard query language to access data from another system without learning their specific APIs. This dramatically eases the burden on development teams when it comes to integrating new systems.

dotCMS: Interoperability Made Easy

An API-driven CMS can lay a strong foundation for an interconnect DXP, but dotCMS takes this a step further. The platform is interoperable beyond default APIs (Java, REST and GraphQL) with features like OSGi support and Velocity scripted APIs. OSGI plugins can range from custom security features like CSRF and OAuth support to custom rules and conditions for greater personalization options.

With dotCMS, developers have a wide range of options when it comes to integrating with backend data sources or frontend interfaces. Low code API tooling and Layout as a Service enables developers to choose the frontend that’s best for the job, while integrating with Edit Mode Anywhere is straightforward and makes marketers' lives easier. There’s also plenty of out of the box integration on the marketplace to save even more time.

White Castle, for example, leveraged the interoperability of dotCMS and its Edit Mode Anywhere feature to deliver a new SPA. Using the in-context authoring environment, the burger chain created a highly-personalized website section they call “The Crave”  so customers can configure the site to display relevant recipes and event-related news. White Castle — and its implementation partner DYNAMIT — believe dotCMS has been critical to becoming more digital adaptable and able to deliver content on-the-fly.

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

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