What is a digital experience platform, why should you care, and what to do about it? - Integral

What is a digital experience platform, why should you care, and what to do about it?

March 22, 2022
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Is it just me, or have Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) featured increasingly in analysts’ articles and commentary recently? Although they’ve been around for at least five years now, they seem to be getting a lot of press at the moment. 

For anyone wondering what all the fuss is about, this article represents a short primer: what exactly are DXPs, what is their value, and how do you go about attaining one? 

Firstly, a definition: 

A digital experience platform (DXP) is a well-integrated and cohesive set of technologies designed to enable the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences across multiexperience customer journeys.[1]

In other words, a DXP is designed to enable the delivery of the right digital content to the right person on the right device via the right channel at the right time. No wonder they’re popular. 

There are two key elements to the definition from Gartner: firstly a combination of technologies, and secondly the term “contextualised” applied to the digital experience. Let’s take each in turn. 

Technology Combination

With a multitude of tasks to perform – content development, management and delivery; customer management, personalisation and journey mapping; internal management, collaboration and integration; the list goes on – it’s perhaps no surprise that it takes a village of applications to deliver the functionality of a DXP. In many cases, organisations have part of the platform already, but more on that later.  

Contextualised Experience

This is where the ‘right place right person right time’ aspect comes in. To deliver the experience that consumers (and we’re all consumers, even in a B2B context) expect, communication and content needs to be relevant, consistent and tailored. Those three words hide a world of complexity! For example, for a piece of content to be ‘relevant’, it needs not only to be of interest to the recipient, but timely and in the right format.  

The second question we’re asking is about the value to be derived from DXPs. Much of the answer lies in the two elements we’ve already discussed. By bringing together multiple applications in a centralised platform, functionality is optimised, and better results delivered – ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ in the words of the cliché. This helps to provide the “multiexperience customer journeys” of Gartner’s definition, and ultimately of course deliver a better customer experience. And when 85% of business buyers and 79% of consumers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services[2], that’s a big deal. 

Further advantages of bringing together technologies are efficiency and effectiveness. A unified platform saves both technical and business staff time through factors such as shared and concurrent updates, reuse of content and inbuilt integration.  

Our final question was how to get started. Again, the ‘combined technology’ and ‘contextualised experience’ elements point the way here. Ideally, every organisation would start with a metaphorical blank sheet of paper and implement a platform with all the applications they need. One of our favourites (and, full disclosure, a partner), is Kentico. That way you get everything in one box, neatly aligned and ready to go.  

Unfortunately, too often the real word screws up our metaphorical sheet of paper, and the organisation already has several digital marketing, content management, analytic or other applications. In this case, it makes sense to keep what you already have (if it’s serving its purpose of course) and use the integration tools that many vendors offer to combine existing technologies into a new platform. This is where Integral has helped several clients in the past.  

Either way, an organisation should end up with an extensible but composable (another Gartner word; think Lego) platform that should be flexible enough to deliver digital customer experience far into the future, whatever is thrown its way. To quote Gartner, “Application leaders can not meet market needs or business objectives with monolithic digital experience platforms and must update tech stacks, decompose monoliths and deliver task-oriented capabilities. To future-proof the stack, a composable DXP must be used to deliver composable user experiences.”[3]

[1] Gartner, ‘Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms’, February 2022

[2] Salesforce, ‘State of the Connected Customer’, 2020 

[3] Gartner, ‘Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack’, 2020

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