The Evolution of OrchestraCMS: From CMS to DXP

April 17, 2019

The Evolution of OrchestraCMS: From CMS to DXP

There’s one thing about technology that remains constant and that is its ability to change. As more technology comes out this change speeds up with it. As a kid, I was always interested in technology and eventually made a career out of it. During this time I was able to see all the technology advancements evolve around me.

My first computer had a 20MB hard drive and at that time this seemed huge. Now though, it has become a rounding error on disk size with 1GB = 1024MB, not 1000MB. I saw products come out branded one way then evolving into something else as new features were added. A good example of this is the iPod.  When it was first released its sole purpose was to play and store music. We now have the iPod touch that not only stores and plays music, but it does almost everything the iPhone does except make phone calls. We no longer use the term MP3 Player but instead mobile device. This same type of evolution has happened with our product OrchestraCMS.  At the time, it made sense to for us to be identified as a Content Management System (CMS).  However, as new features were added we started becoming more than a traditional CMS and more like a Digital Experience Platform (DXP).  If you're still unfamiliar with this term, I encourage you to read our Whitepaper “Digital Experience Platform and Its Role in Digital Transformation.” If we didn't uncover the challenges our customers faced and the solutions we could provide for them, our product wouldn’t be where it is today. I’d like to go over the history of this evolution, from where we started and what lead us to evolve the product.  

The Beginning

When OrchestraCMS first launched we had one simple goal: provide content management on Salesforce to allow customers to build public sites that could surface up Salesforce information to the public. Soon after, customers started asking if we could do both public sites and internal sites for their customers, employees, and partners. This worked well and we helped many customers build successful sites.  This was the foundation of OrchestraCMS versions 1 to 4. A case example of a customer that excels in this is Les Mills who amplified its digital presence with communities to drive engagement and build deeper customer relationships.

Organizing Content & Controlling Access - OrchestraCMS Version 5We started to notice that our customers needed the ability to organize content into topics and control access to that content. Because it was fairly simple to organize the content, we quickly introduced our taxonomy feature. Our taxonomy feature allowed customers to create tags in a hierarchical structure that the author could easily select and the system could dynamically build pages on based on that structure.  It also provided a way for people consuming the content to subscribe to topics most relevant to them and receive daily emails of all the new content added to it.

Security has always been a concern for our customers as they need to control access to various types of content and ensure this content is compliant with government regulations. It’s more than just hiding a link, we had to ensure our customers that if someone got a hold of the link by someone sending them an email, that the content wouldn’t be visible. We introduced our private sharing feature that stopped access to content if someone wasn’t supposed to see it.  It provided a way for the authors to select the authorized groups to see the research and if the reader wasn’t part of those groups there was no way to access the research. Addressing all of this brought in a whole new level of functionality to the product about the security and organization which typically isn’t needed in a basic CMS.  Personalization at Scale - OrchestraCMS Version 6The next solution came from the need for personalizing a site at scale.  We have a customer that is a global company with thousands of retail outlets and tens of thousands of employees.  Since they had so many employees working in different locations in different positions, they needed an easy way to personalize the site so an employee could have access to the right content, at the right time, across any channel or device. For example, a store manager in California doesn't need to see the same content as a stocker in Maine saw.  The store manager needed to see items about how the store was doing and how to launch events like Black Friday. The stocker needed to see his or her scheduled hours and how to properly stock shelves safely and in accordance with company policy.  Out of this need to personalize was born OrchestraCMS' targeting engine. It empowered authors to create dynamic groups based on information known about the user including: state, job title, store alignment, etc.  It would then allow content to be tagged with those groups and when the page was shown it would only show the content that the employee needed to see.

Multiple Languages - OrchestraCMS Version 7After personalization came the need for customers to have content in multiple languages. Our customers didn’t want to create independent pieces of content for each language. They wanted to create one piece of content that connected with each language so as they update the taxonomy or targeting of the content they only had to do it once. OrchestraCMS now allows business users to determine what languages to use on a site and what languages a piece of content is available in. As readers come to the site OrchestraCMS determines what language to use and only displays the right content.  For the authors, they only have to create one version of the page, place the content needed on the page and let the system work its magic from there making it very easy to manage. A case example would be AstraZeneca who wanted a single global intranet for 65,000 employees in 10 different languages to empower its global workforce to collaborate and share information across any device. Beyond the Web - OrchestraCMS Version 8Our most recent solutions came from our customers need to author content once and to deliver it in more places than just the web.  Customers are now wanting to deliver content to native mobile applications, social channels like Facebook and Twitter, even voice activated channels like Google Home, Siri, and Amazon Alexa. To address this, OrchestraCMS needed to have a very robust set of APIs to allow content to be authored once and sent down those channels.  It also needed to respect the personalization that authors put on the content so that no matter how a reader gets the content, they are only seeing (or hearing) what applies to them.  

Evolving into a DXP

The major breakthroughs in our product led us to discover that we are much more than your typical CMS. As we defined our meaning of CMS, by asking ourselves “are we a portal or are we a presentation layer?” No. We are all of these features and much much more. Yes, at the foundation we can do all of the functions a CMS can do but we have never been just a system for users to stick a page up on the web. Now we can create compelling digital experiences for customers that reach far beyond the web into all digital touchpoints in a highly compelling and personalized manner.  There's a digital disruption shift happening as more organizations want to engage with their current and future customers. We can confidently commit to defining the term of our product and step out of just being a CMS to a fully fledge DXP.  With the advancement in technology, you can most certainly expect unique and innovative approaches from us that are timely to theses changing needs.