What is DEM or Digital Experience Management? As a marketer, you’re likely familiar with the acronym CMS, which stands for Content Management System and is broadly defined as a software application used to create and manage digital content. The CMS has gone through three waves of evolution. We’re now in the third wave where content management becomes digital experience management and CMS becomes DEM.

Read this article to learn:

✔ The three waves of CMS evolution
✔ How CMSs are evolving to Digital Experience Management (DEM) platforms
✔ Why hotel groups should choose hotel-centric DEM solutions

The three waves of CMS evolution

To understand where we are now, we need to understand where we came from:

First wave – WMS

The first CMS was introduced in the mid-90’s. At the time, it was called a Web Maintenance System (WMS). Achiga was one of the first companies to launch a WMS. It was a good transition into the world of content management, but it was only the beginning. A CMS in the first wave was heavily product focused with no thought to consumer engagement. Rather, it was designed to empower people with limited technical skills to manage and update a website.

Second wave – WEM

The second wave of content management introduced the idea of Web Experience Management (WEM) and building dynamic websites. During this second wave, large complex web experience management platforms rose to the forefront providing a wide range of capabilities that tied the presentation layer to the backend CMS administration. While this approach worked for some, for many, it became complex and difficult to manage.

New publishing channels started to appear – like mobile and email – and it became increasingly difficult to support multiple publishing channels on a single platform.

Third wave – DEM

In the third wave, where we are now, a website is just one of many publishing channels a CMS should support. A third wave CMS is smarter, has the ability to adapt content to different channels and audiences and delivers content in new ways. Content is context-first, intelligent and readily available for any website, campaign, app or device. As technology evolves, so does the terminology we use to describe it. We’re seeing new terms and acronyms enter the scene that represent the shift from content management to digital experience management, including DEM.

The table below shows how a CMS has evolved with each wave.

1st Wave

Web Maintenance System

  • Brochureware websites
  • Static HTML web pages
  • heavily product focused
  • website primary channel

2nd Wave

Web Experience Management

  • Module-based websites
  • Dynamic database-driven web pages
  • Rule-based personalization
  • Stand-alone marketing tool
  • Website primary channel

3rd Wave

Digital Experience Management

  • Composite sites
  • Agile content
  • Ability to adapt content to different channels
  • Content is context-first
  • Integration play – API architecture

Watch the short video below in which Ali Naqvi, Director of Marketing at Achiga, explains why hotels are moving away from CMS to DEM platforms.

Introducing hotel specific DEM solutions

Generic DEM solutions available in this third wave may be highly effective for retail businesses and other industries. However, the hotel industry and its guest journeys are unique. The average digital experience management system isn’t designed to meet the specific needs of the hotel marketer at the hotel brand or the high expectations of hotel guests.

As the complexity of a hotel brand’s digital presence increases, the scale of content and digital assets, multi-lingual requirements, performance, security and integrations make a hotel specific DEM more aligned with high expectations. This is why choosing a DEM solution that has been designed for the hotel industry (over a generic digital experience management system) is the best choice for a hotel group that requires an easy way to create and manage great digital experiences across all channels.

Prior to hotel-specific digital experience management systems entering the scene, many hotel brands either chose to outsource to a hotel industry digital agency, while others adopted off-the-shelf hotel website builders to manage their online presence. Both options have their benefits, but a hotel-centric digital experience system is the ultimate solution delivering great omnichannel guest experiences.

It is not about digital presence anymore, it’s about digital experience. An experience with a brand now takes place on an increasing array of digital channels.

John McAuliffePresident, Achiga

Content is the core of a great digital experience

Content needs to be available, it needs to be quality and it needs to be consistent. As the complexity of a brand’s digital presence increases so does the scale of its digital content and the challenge of ensuring it is available in high quality and consistent on a growing number of digital channels. Meeting the multi-lingual requirements of a global travel market, reliable content delivery, performance and security and seamless integrations with other applications are all new challenges that today’s hotel marketers and brands are left to solve.

If you contract a digital agency or web developer to manage your web presence, your website will most likely be built and managed on a commercial, open source or proprietary content management system.

If you manage your web presence in-house, you may be using an off-the-shelf hotel website builder which you’ve used to create a ‘drag-and-drop’ website based on a theme with built-in functionality and some customization options.

In either scenario, your web presence is built and managed using a Content Management System that falls in to the second wave of CMS technology. While these systems are called “Content Management” systems, they’re typically designed to build web pages, not to manage content across a range of channels and apps.

The CMS/DEM landscape is very diverse with many options that differ in form, functionality, and cost. While there are a number of options available from simple website builders to enterprise scale Experience Management solutions, none of them truly meet the specific needs of a hotel group seeking to provide personalized and consistent user experiences across all channels, including their own websites, landing pages, mobile apps, call centers, and so on. The first step to choosing the right CMS/DEM for you is knowing your options and the pros and cons of each one.

As you evolve from managing digital marketing to managing digital experiences, you need technology that evolves with you.

John McAuliffePresident, Achiga

Want to learn more? Download The Hotel Marketer’s Guide to Digital Experience Management and learn how to choose the right technology to deliver great digital experiences throughout the guest journey.



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