DXM DAM CMS which role does each one have

DXM, DAM, CMS… Which role does each one have in ensuring the best possible experience for your audiences?

How can you create a digital experience that makes the most of your assets and knowledge of your audiences? How do DXM, DAM and CMS solutions contribute to this?


Could you explain, in a few words, the difference between a DXM (Digital eXperience Management) solution, a DAM (Digital Asset Management) platform, and a CMS (Content Management System)? Let’s face it, the answer is not instinctive, especially as new features of these solutions continue to muddy the waters. Let us break down these terms.

Let’s start with the CMS, the building block undoubtedly the most well-known, and the one whose role is often overestimated. The popularity of the most common CMS – WordPress – tends to make many of us forget that there are a multitude of other CMS out there. Some (Joomla!, Typo3, Drupal, Drupal, ezPublish, SiteCore…) use the PHP language; others (DotNetNuke, Umbraco, mojoPortal, Kentico…) rely more on Microsoft technologies. Not to mention there are solutions offered by players like IBM, Oracle and Adobe.

Apart from the basic technological prerequisites, these CMS have one thing in common: they are designed to dynamically apply a style sheet to web-like content (as opposed to media  content such as audio, video or PDF files). Most CMS typically have a fairly ergonomic back-office to allows users to edit their own web content and, depending on their associated rights, publish them.

From CMS to headless CMS

Within this category of CMS has emerged a new name, the so-called “headless CMS.” Whereas a CMS is usually coupled with a web front-end, a headless CMS is more like a back-office that can feed multiple front-ends through a set of APIs: one or more websites, but also mobile applications. These headless CMS are emerging to support the CaaS (Content as a Service) architectures that are developing in this omnichannel era. These solutions (such as Contentful, Directus, Cockpit), focus on the organization of web content and its exposure to facilitate multiple distribution. This begs a legitimate question: what is the difference between these headless CMS and DAM (Digital Asset Management) solutions?

 The DAM, a repository of content that is decoupled from its distribution

A first answer is obvious: headless represents a new trend for CMS, but it is already part of the DAM DNA. In fact, from the outset, a DAM is designed to decouple management of content from its distribution. Better yet, a DAM is able to generate secondary content from “master” assets, but only formatted to the technical requirements of different channels. The DAM is therefore not only “headless,” but designed to prepare different variations of media depending on the channels you want to use – although it does not do this on the fly, at the request of the CMS.

In practice, there other differences. While a CMS sticks to web content, a DAM aims to reference all corporate content: web content, but also media files and sometimes office files. It associates these assets with rich metadata (and not just a few tags or categories) to take advantage of business taxonomy. It organizes resources by product classification, audience segmentation, technical format, or by content-specific attributes. DAM solutions, like the Wedia module, rely on cloud resources and can also use AI (artificial intelligence) technologies to recognize text or elements in images and videos, and automatically enrich them with metadata.

The DXM, at the crossroads of content and customer context

As for the DXM, its primary purpose is to generate a dynamic rendering of content according to the context of customers or employees, in the event of an internal communication. It should be noted that this notion of “context” also includes the technical deliverability of content: depending on the bandwidth available, it is up to the DXM solution to provide the appropriate experience.

For which concrete results? The use cases are numerous. Based on the identified preferences of visitors, it is possible to dynamically adapt the visuals of a webpage, to modulate the content of a PDF document, or to generate interactive video content. All types of assets are affected by this dynamic and contextual rendering of content, for which the DXM measures the performance. By logging the actual consumption of each type of content for a given user context, the DXM provides KPIs with particularly rich analysis dimensions – valuable insights to better manage asset production and enhance customer experience.

In order to achieve such a digital experience, both contextual and unified, the DXM must interact with several key components of the information system: the DAM of course, but also the CMS (Content Management System), the CRM (Customer Relationship Management), the CDP (Customer Data Platform), or Marketing Automation and e-Commerce solutions. The ability to integrate with existing systems through APIs and web services is a key feature of the DXM.

The DAM + DXM or the complete “single source of truth,” from management to diffusion

Compared to the DAM and the CMS, how is the DXM positioned? Not surprisingly for the DXM, the DAM is its primary source of assets, the one in which it draws from to assemble content and produce a unique and relevant digital experience. As for the CMS, in the end, it is just a means of adjusting and organizing content that has been dynamically adapted and contextualized by the DXM, within an information architecture context.

With such capabilities, the DAM and DXM binomial is able to perform the role of “Single Source of Truth” for both the management and delivery of content. The DAM stores all the so-called “master” versions of assets, their location and their variants. In this way, it is well placed to control the lifecycle of content, including distribution rights – which may vary from country to country – and of course, the expiration of these rights. Compared to the CMS, the combination of the DAM and DXM is THE source of content that both complies with the rules of the company and adapts to the context of the audience. A combination of context and content which lays the foundation for a successful digital experience.

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