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Understanding the Differences between Digital Experience Platform and Content Management Systems (CMS)

Content Management Systems (CMSs) have come a long way since they came into existence, and their evolution cannot be disentangled from how customer experience (CX) has evolved. Some say that a CMS has transformed into aperie, which provides a rational framework backed by capabilities like enterprise data management, flexible architecture, engagement analytics, headless content capabilities, and interoperability between technologies and information sources.

However, a certain section of users feels that modern-day Web CMSs are capable enough to take on the requirements of today’s customers too, as they have been fairly successful in enabling front-end interfacing in publishing while efficiently controlling content online. 

Here we discuss in detail the key difference between a DXP and Content Management Systems on the basis of five broad factors: 


Delivering outstanding customer experiences depends heavily on your ability to publish relevant content to attract, engage, and retain customers. Although a CMS provides the building blocks to create, manage, and deliver digital content – and continues to be at the center of technology stacks that support customer experience initiatives – it doesn’t cut much ice with today’s ‘always-on’ consumers. With an increasing number of channels, integrated architectures are needed to operate large enterprises at the speed of ever-evolving customer expectations.

This has led to the rise and popularity of DXPs, which act as all-in-one platforms providing a cohesive and rationalized framework for delivering a unified and contextual digital CX. With a flexible architecture and headless approach, DXP combines the capabilities of CMS with a radically open platform to support the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences. Multichannel API integration of several digital touchpoints allows the platform to provide a fully integrated experience by including multiple ready-to-use functionalities. DXPs provide the perfect platform to build, deploy, maintain, and improve digital experiences continually. 


With its ability to integrate with legacy systems and workflow management capability, Content Management Systems improve operation efficiency and streamline the content creation process. While a CMS enables the synchronization and delivery of digital content by allowing multiple users to create, manage, modify, and publish digital content, a DXP goes one step ahead and provides automation and end-to-end touchpoint optimization for smart delivery and personalized experiences across multiple customer touchpoints – websites and portals, apps and IoT devices, and more. DXPs enable the digitalization of business operations and provide an architecture for delivering omnichannel orchestrations, top-class content management, and customization capabilities – all adding up to connected customer experiences.

To achieve CX goals, businesses need a centralized platform that allows them to create fully integrated and seamless omnichannel experiences. This is where a DXP scores high as it combines the capabilities of various applications, platforms, tools, and microservices seamlessly. Besides improving individual digital experiences through persona modeling, journey mapping, responsive layout, and data-driven design, DXPs leverage data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to provide rich insight into customer behavior.


Marketers are constantly challenged by newer ways of reaching their audience as the medium of engagement continues to evolve at an unimaginable rate. With screen sizes constantly changing – from desktops, laptops, mobiles, and tablets to smart TVs, smartwatches, VR headsets, or jumbotrons – the omnichannel experience has witnessed a major shake-up. In such a world, conventional CMSs, although enabling content creation and publishing, fail to deliver a truly omnichannel customer experience as they are limited by their ability to extend content, customize presentations, and personalize experiences for different newer channels. 

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DXPs, on the other hand, are designed to reach and engage with diverse audiences across a range of digital touchpoints. Ideal for creating, publishing, and improving digital experiences, DXPs easily combine and synchronize local and remote content applications, such as web, mobile, social media, the Internet of Things (IoT), apps, and more, to streamline customer engagement under one cohesive umbrella. With a 360-degree customer view across channels, DXPs allow marketers to reach the whole spectrum of their customers easily and ensure connected and consistent customer journeys. 


Tending to be monolithic, the standard conventional CMS is a single-platform software solution with nominal integration capabilities. It facilitates user collaboration on content creation and document management for multi-author editing and participation. Such CMSs use a database or a content repository to store content, metadata, and other information assets. The coupled architecture of traditional CMSs results in closed, siloed systems with limited scaling and customization opportunities. 

In stark contrast, DXPs are characterized by their versatility and flexibility that support seamless integration with existing systems and third-party applications. Available as platforms with core components, this flexibility is what makes DXPs the marketer’s go-to guide today. The secret of a DXP’s flexibility and effectiveness lies in its microservices architecture that enables modular platform improvements and lets marketers slice and dice their offerings into smaller modules that can be upgraded at different frequencies. This is critical for building and deploying custom components or integrations with other best-in-class applications.

Agile and scalable, DXPs ensure that businesses are quick to pivot while accommodating ever-changing customer demands. 

Customer centricity

Recent studies have indicated that delivering better CX tops the list of priorities of 60% of CEOs. With rising customer demands for seamless, consistent, and unified experiences across touchpoints, customer experience has emerged as the key differentiator.

Customers are everywhere, and they expect brands to deliver hyper-personalized experiences wherever they are. For businesses trying to strengthen their foothold in a new normal, increasing market share and regaining customer trust is mission-critical. This has intensified the need for businesses to rethink their CMS investments and adopt DXP solutions to respond to the new demands of the customers swiftly and accurately. 

By collecting customer data from different systems across the organization, DXPs can provide detailed data on customer behavior, preferences, and their pain points. These insights help marketers deliver holistic, prophetic, accurate customer engagement campaigns that are tied to business outcomes. With data-driven and actionable insights, organizations can make customer-centric decisions with foresight, build on their capabilities to improve customer relationships, and deliver more engaging customer experiences.

Summing up

Enterprises today – large or small – are working towards building capabilities to serve one purpose – enhance customer experience. With 80% of customers believing that experience is as important as products and services, the global DXP market is expected to reach $15.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 10.9% from 2019 to 2025. This is partly fueled by the growing trend for more devices and touchpoints, forcing organizations to reengineer their business processes and reimagine customer experiences to stay ahead of the curve.

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