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From CMS to CXP: What the future of content management will look like

Over the last few years, the world of content management has become nearly unrecognizable.

To many of us in marketing, this shift might seem like it happened overnight. But it’s been a revolution long in the making.

Think, for example, about how content itself has drastically evolved.

In the past, content was static, delivered by way of billboards, TV channels, or print magazines. The rise of the web didn’t change that much at first. Corporate websites, in particular, continued to act as billboards with fairly static content. After decades of dominance by a single digital channel – the web – the rise of mobile caused major ripples throughout the world of digital content.

Fast forward to today, and we’ve become accustomed to consuming content in a wide array of formats and via an endless number of devices. We can watch videos in our palms, and we communicate with friends using our watches. We use the power of touch to interact with digital kiosks and screens in malls, restaurants, and on planes. And we consume podcasts on-the-go and use our voice to interact with content from the comfort of our living room couch.

If you’ve ever worn a VR headset and felt the immersive nature of that experience, it’s clear that content is no longer limited to words on a web page.

Even the word “content” itself seems limiting and, consequently, new descriptors such as “digital experiences” are emerging to capture better the breadth and depth of all the ways we now interact with each other and the brands that we love.

Meanwhile, through social media, audiences have become accustomed to direct engagement with their preferred brands through content that’s both more personalized and dynamic than it ever was.

When done right, this results in the interaction – the “customer experience” – feeling authentic and meaningful.

Conversely, people now ignore messages that feel generic and discard them as “spam.”

On a technical level, the name of the game has also shifted from yesteryear’s focus on mere content dissemination. Now, all eyes have turned beyond distribution towards interaction and engagement, something that can only be achieved through personalization and with custom-tailored content.

Today’s goal isn’t merely reaching an audience, but enabling an individual experience that leads to a deeper and more meaningful connection.

For the companies and marketers charged with creating those experiences and reaching audiences so they can foster such engagement, that means they’ve had to adapt.

How, exactly?

Shifting from a content management system (CMS) to a content experience platform (CXP)

In the past, content management systems came in the form of end-to-end, integrated software suites to help manage and publish mostly static content, mostly to websites.

Now that both content and audiences have changed, smart marketers have had to rethink how to use the former to truly engage the latter. It requires marketers to individualize audiences and to create an experience for them and to reach them when and where it matters.

The harsh reality is that it is no longer possible for a single software product suite to cover all of the functional aspects required to create a compelling digital experience.

Technology providers can’t be #1 at all times and in all categories anymore. Instead, new and different vendors and solutions are rising to the top in each respective field, e.g., content analytics, A/B testing, digital asset management, video, commerce, SEO optimization, static site generation, or A.I.-powered translations.

The best architecture then is one that allows you to bring together the best-in-class solutions from each of these categories and combine them at will.

That means you need a platform which assembles your diverse tools into a coherent and manageable content stack with a seamless experience for the end user. You need a platform that allows you to plug in (and unplug) individual components designed for specific purposes.

Further, since who is “the best” typically changes over time, digital and marketing leaders need the flexibility to revisit and revise their choices.

This last concept comes with a significant new benefit, as it allows the technology stack to evolve and improve continuously, without breaking the architecture and without disrupting business operations.

The resulting platform allows you to create rich, individualized content-driven experiences that will blow your audience’s mind.

Because CXPs are so much more powerful, the shift from CMS to CXP is inevitable

CXPs are emerging as the preferred means of managing content across the marketing world, in part, because they put us as marketers back in control and make us better at what we like to do.

They make us more efficient at getting our message across. They allow us to gain unprecedented insights and respond quickly to change.

And with a CXP, marketers can stop inundating developers with trivial or menial tasks (like fixing a website typo or switching a mobile app banner) and instead collaborate with their IT department on strategic digital initiatives that win awards, grow the business, and move the needle.

Enabling developers and business teams to collaborate effectively

Marketers have been living in a world of pain for quite some time, beholden to CMS monoliths and confronted with the impossible decision to choose either innovation or effectiveness.

What CXPs offer is a third choice, which is precisely why they are becoming so popular.

It’s not just incrementally easier than working with a CMS; it shatters the limitations of a decades-old practice. It unlocks unprecedented returns on investments into digital content and digital experiences.

As a marketer, it makes your life easier, and it creates value for your customers that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

This is, truly, the future of marketing and content management.

Matthew Baier is the COO & CMO of Contentstack and former Co-Founder, COO & CMO of (acquired by Software AG). Matthew previously led product marketing at Salesforce for the Salesforce Platform, when mobile and API-first architectures began their unstoppable march across enterprise IT. He moonlights as a Certified Sommelier.

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