The Rise of Digital Experience Platforms

Digital Experience Platforms

What is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)? Well according to the analysts at Gartner:

… an integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints. Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy and continually improve websites, portals, mobile and other digital experiences.

So a Web Content Management System (WCMS) renamed? What about commerce as part of the digital experience? Gartner again:

DXPs should not be confused with digital commerce platforms. DXPs are designed to serve a broader range of use cases than digital commerce. Conversely, features and functions specific to digital commerce are not required for a product to qualify as a DXP platform. Still, several DXP providers offer native or integrated commerce functionality, which adds significant breadth to their offerings.

As an analyst, a DXP and and an Ecommerce System are separate because they might upset certain vendors and not be able to sell as many Magic Quadrant places if the two were combined.

But if a DXP is truly a Digital Experience Platform, then increasingly, the commerce experience has to be an integral part of that customer journey and not a separate system.

Some years ago, when Ecommerce was relatively new, there were systems that were built to manage your website content – things like Sitecore and WordPress. These platforms were good at presenting editorial and your company blog, but struggled a bit when it came to adding a product to a basket or processing payments.

The Ecommerce tasks were managed by a separate platform like Magento or Demandware or Shopify. While the user experience (UX) has become a more important element for Ecommerce tools, the focus was largely transactional. Most of the online shopping systems integrated with the WCMS products, but this required integrations that complicated the process for both the company and consumer.

Data equals Relevancy.

All these systems are now driven by a new currency – relevancy. Some call it personalisation, but it is what it has always been – understanding your audience and delivering the right information, product or service at the right time. Google calls this managing Micro-Moments.

Separate systems make it harder to deliver relevant information to customers because they are effectively data silos. The CMS knows that a customer looked at a certain blog post or downloaded a certain white-paper, but the ecommerce system doesn’t. The commerce platform knows that a customer added a certain product to a basket or wishlist, but the CMS doesn’t.

A joined up digital experience then was often the job of a third party plugin, perhaps an email service provider or personalisation plugin that tracked the customer across the two systems.

So a true DXP must include commerce, which is a scary thing (or an opportunity) for a traditional Ecommerce platform. This is especially true in the context of the amount of B2B growth that is predicted for the Ecommerce market.

For now, 2018, the investment in two separate platforms – one as a CMS and one for Ecommerce – will probably mean that a CRM, Marketing Cloud or some other integration will join the experience together, however as companies source solutions and re-platform, they should consider the DXP solutions to meet all customer requirements, from Employee Generated Content to Commerce.