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Unlocking the Mystery behind Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)

Offering content in exchange for customer data has long been an incentive for drawing in customers and building loyalty. Today, organizations are often challenged by how to solve for the distribution of content across channels at scale to enable personalization.

Marketers have always struggled with enabling business users to manage content for seamless CX – with or without support from their technical counterparts. Years ago, they realized that solving for content was turnkey in their marketing tactics and digital footprint. So here’s a bit of a history lesson:

Platforms that were once considered web content management systems slowly transitioned to enterprise content management systems (CMS). In recent years, a shiney new term has circulated; “digital experience platform” commonly called DXP. It sounds impressive, I agree. The term has the industry abuzz about the new technology that will solve single-source content at scale for personalization. But, does it really? How does a DXP stack up to a CMS and what are the differences and similarities? It’s been hard to wade through the marketing speak and get to the heart of what a DXP is and what can it provide. I am here to help.

What is a Digital Experience Platform?

Gartner defines a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) as:

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 multi experience customer journeys.”

A DXP is, at its core, an API-driven Content Management Platform. Much like CDPs, DXPs have varying functionality, but most require a suite of integrations and other platforms to perform at capacity. This means that to fully take advantage of DXP capabilities, each additional capability (Commerce, DAM, Testing, etc.) would need to be natively integrated with the core platform or custom-built.

Is a DXP right for you?

First, your team must identify the use cases you are solving for and the requirements needed to power them. For example, if only a decoupled front-end is needed for a specific channel, then a headless CMS could do the trick. However, if the requirements are more broad and you are looking to solve for experiences across channels in a customer journey across devices, then a DXP could make sense.

It’s important to also understand that as the demand evolves, so do the more traditional CMS models from well known vendors. Many of these traditional CMS platforms, often labeled as “monolithic”, are moving to a headless, DXP model and can compete with newcomers in the space. Capabilities such as separation of content, logic, and design are not new; CMS platforms have supported this functionality for years. Enablement across channels for a CMS might have traditionally been strictly web and apps, however with the headless model approach and the right integrations, true omnichannel personalization can be supported.

So, a DXP and best in-suite CMS can compete? Yes. However, most DXPs do not provide comprehensive functionality (DAM, Commerce, Testing, Personalization, etc.) with one platform. For platforms to meet this full suite of capabilities, other point solutions will be need to be integrated with the core platform. This is important to call out again as integration costs are not cheap. To build and maintain integrations, there will be a constant reliance on IT, and system integrations will persist through the life of the platform.

All in all, the industry continues to evolve and it is exciting. There is a strong solution for any use case. Going best of breed or all in on a suite of platforms is ultimately a business decision. Either way, as long as the time and vetting effort is put in, the solution will be right for your organization. The key takeaway here is that like most new, flashy CX technologies, a DXP, while a centerpiece for costumer experience execution, can not be viewed as a single platform to solve all the business needs. Even with the best DXPs, integrations will be needed to create content at scale with a continuous, personalized, and optimized experience for your consumers.