What are Digital Experience Platforms (DXP)
Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) allow users to control and optimize their customers’ digital experiences across all potential touchpoints. Typically, vendors in this space offer a portfolio of integrable products, or (less commonly) one suite solution to manage digital experiences. DXPs collect and aggregate customer data across a range of digital channels. This enables companies to build, maintain, and personalize the content available to its customers.
Many products in this category are functionally very different, even though they may all contribute to managing digital experience. For example, a DXP may include individual e-commerce, business intelligence, marketing, data analytics and management, content management, and customer experience products. These functionally specific products are also included in this category. Additionally, DXP suites from different vendors do not always contain the same components. This can make it difficult to directly compare these products with one another, even though they each address a part of digital customer experience.
For enterprises, it may be convenient to categorize and compare products with functionally different components within the context of a DXP. This can help companies integrate their digital experience management strategy.
One key benefit of DXPs is the ability to access and coordinate different products across multiple interaction channels through one unified interface. These channels can include websites, customer portals, e-commerce systems, and mobile apps.
The core functions of digital experience platforms include:
- Granting individuals personalized access to information based on their user credentials
- Streamlining customer interactions across channels to provide a consistent experience
- Coordinating and collecting customer data across all touchpoints using APIs
- Conducting web-based analytics on customer data
- Securing and storing customer data collected across multiple digital channels
These platforms are similar to and may have overlapping capabilities with a few other software categories. These include: customer experience management (CXM), enterprise content management (ECM) products, and more advanced content management systems (CMS).
However, the goal of CXM products is to improve customers’ experience using feedback and customer data. In contrast, DXP products aim to streamline, coordinate, and personalize the presentation of content to users across multiple interaction channels. CXMs may also involve serving personalized content and experiences, but for the purpose of customer satisfaction and retention. DXPs are more focused on integration, presenting a unified brand face to customers, and giving marketers more strategic control over personalization.
ECM software is focused on maintaining the internal company ecosystem by capturing, storing, and managing structured and unstructured data and content. In a similar vein, DXP products also aim to streamline processes. However, they manage external-facing digital experiences (i.e. customer’ and prospects’) rather than employees’. DXP use cases expand beyond optimizing internal functions, site development, and data management to include providing a better customer-interface.
Evolution of Digital Customer Experience Software
Digital experience platforms are the next evolution of content management systems (CMS) combined with elements of CXM.
Content management systems have traditionally focused on managing the creation and presentation/layout of customer-facing web content. They are commonly used for blogs, news sites, e-commerce and corporate websites, and company intranets. CMS software is still a good option for buyers who deliver and manage content primarily through web channels.
Currently, many companies are reinventing the way they do business to make it more customer-oriented. Digital channels such as web, mobile, e-commerce, and social media have become very popular customer interaction channels. Consumer expectations are higher than ever, regarding the degree of consistency, integration, and personalization brands should be able to provide. And CMS products typically do not include the tools necessary to manage customer experiences across all these communication mediums.
DXPs have emerged as an enterprise level solution to optimize and organize a customer’s experience across multiple interaction channels - not just on their websites. These software suites also include products that can process and analyze customer data to facilitate content personalization and presentation.
Related Software Categories
Besides CXM software, digital experience platforms are closely related to three legacy categories.
One thing to note is that a hallmark of many emerging DXP software suites are their strong integration capabilities. Thus, though the DXP heritage categories below are somewhat functionality specific, most suites offer products that address each of these areas.
1. Content Management Systems (CMS):
These type of DXPs may be better suited for marketing or creative departments that focus on short-term customer acquisition. Key features include strong user segmentation for larger audiences, web-based analytics, and content management for advertising and email campaigns.
Examples of DXPs that have developed out of CMS products are: Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore Web Content Management, and Kentico Web Content Management.
2. Ecommerce Platforms:
DXPs typically include commerce functionality or integrate with ecommerce platforms, however, they serve a much wider range of purposes. Ecommerce style DXPs are often used in retail environments to personalize the presentation of content for shoppers. They may integrate with other functionally specific products such as inventory management, payment, shopping cart, and check-out and fulfillment software.
Examples of DXPs that have been developed by ecommerce providers are: SAP Hybris, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and Magento Commerce Cloud.
3. Web Portal Software:
DXPs derivative of portal software may be better suited for cultivating long-term relationships with customers post-sale. Customer portals can collect highly personalized information specific to individual customers (including content for product promotion). This helps companies understand the factors contributing to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and renewal.
Examples of DXPs emerging from the web portal space are: Liferay Digital Experience Platform and Jahia.
Digital Experience Platform Features & Capabilities
These are some of the common capabilities offered by many DXP products. However, this is not an exhaustive list and may not be standard for all vendors in this space.
- Content management
- Content personalization and A/B testing
- Content classification
- Content search and discovery
- Social media
- Integrations (e.g. CRM, HR management, marketing automation, third-party CMS applications, e-commerce systems, and social media platforms)
- Content aggregation
- Customer/user data management
- Analytics and optimization
- Security administration
- Cloud enablement
Digital Experience Platform Comparison
Before deciding to invest in one digital experience platform over another, consider the following key factors:
- Function and fit: since DXPs have evolved from a few, functionally different, types of software (e.g. CMS, web portal, and ecommerce platforms), make sure you pick a digital experience platform that best fits your current use case.
- High TCO: While many DXPs are well-suited for midsize businesses and enterprise organizations, they can have high initial costs and additional implementation fees that make the platforms too expensive for smaller businesses. Overall, digital experience platforms can have a high total cost of ownership (TCO).
- Developer resources: depending on the type of DXP, certain platforms can require more developer resources to help produce and update different types of experiences or content. For example, true Headless CMS platforms often require extra technical work to update content that has been pushed out to web, mobile, or other endpoints.
Vendors that offer software suites with a range of different products to manage digital experience typically price products individually rather than as one large suite bundle. Individual products may either have a one time or annual licensing fee, or be charged a monthly subscription fee. Since these are large enterprise investments, most prices are not advertised on vendor websites but are available upon request.
The following Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) offer award-winning customer relationships, feature sets, and value for price. Learn more about our Best Of Awards methodology here.