What is a DXP? (Digital Experience Platform)

by Sorina Mone, Marketer at Magnolia
Sep 10, 2020 | 9 MIN

How can the customer experience be improved? That question is the driving force behind several brands' digital strategies today, and with good reason.

A great customer experience can have a positive impact on a company's bottom line. In fact, 80% of companies that prioritize the customer experience have reported revenue increases. Customers are no longer the second or third thought for brands hoping to increase profits, they’re now quickly becoming the number one priority.

In keeping with efforts to improve the customer experience, brands are turning to a new type of technology in the content management space for assistance, the DXP.

More than just a content management system, DXPs provide the architecture and flexibility that allow brands to deliver the customer experiences their audience requires in this increasingly digital world.

Digital Experience Platform Defined

According to Forrester, a digital experience platform “provides the architectural foundation for flexible, agnostic core services to maximize scale, quality, and insights across channels and systems while delivering context-specific tooling for practitioners to build, manage, and optimize digital journeys on "owned" channels (web, mobile, messaging) and orchestrate third-party experiences (e.g., social, retail marketplaces).”

There’s a lot to unpack within that definition, but the principal purpose of a DXP is to help brands optimize the digital customer journey and improve the customer experience. The number of content channels available today has swelled to enormous heights, and customers want high-quality experiences on all of them.

Options are a customer’s best friend. 59% of shoppers enjoy having the option of shopping on mobile when deciding which brand to purchase from, and 87% of internet users rely on more than one device when going online.

With so many channels and so little time, a DXP helps companies to manage all of their content and data in one central location and connect to other pieces of the tech stack to provide insights and a whole lot more.

How the CMS Evolved to Become the DXP

The content management world has always been one filled with acronyms to help simplify things. However, CMS, WEM and DXP aren’t just fancy buzzwords; they go a lot deeper and speak to how the requirements of the industry have evolved over the years.

Let’s take a look at these three tools to see how the industry has evolved to what it is today.

The Content Management System

First came the standard content management system (CMS), which served the purpose of organizing content for organizations. Whether that content came in the form of written blog material, images, data or anything else meant for a website.

The CMS provided not only a means of organizing everything but also access to authoring tools and workflows that made delivering this content much easier. The traditional CMS platform, as it’s classified today, is perfect for websites that only need to scratch the surface of the digital experience. For everything else, there needed to be another option.

Web Experience Management

Next came web experience management (WEM). Content was now filtering through to more than just websites, and that required a new way to manage these experiences. New channels began to emerge, such as mobile phones and tablets, plus the rise of the internet of things (IoT).

WEM offered the ability to create personalized experiences for audiences and not just deliver the same blanket content to everyone. The technology also began to change as well with more open-source capabilities and the introduction of headless and hybrid headless CMSs.

With these changes, companies could not only deliver content across multiple channels; they could improve collaboration between departments as well.

Digital Experience Platform

Now, we have the digital experience platform (DXP) - the next stage of the evolution. DXPs provide a more connected experience to go along with everything WEM platforms were able to offer.

With headless capabilities, web content management focused on making it easier to deliver to multiple channels. On the other hand, a DXP focuses on connectedness and integration.

Many organizations today favor a best of breed approach to building their tech stack. This differs markedly from the suite approach that was common among legacy CMSs. For smaller organizations, the traditional CMS or headless CMS offers everything necessary for managing content. But for a complete digital experience, only managing content is no longer enough.

A DXP makes it easy to connect to other parts of the marketing tech stack, including analytics, customer data, marketing automation and eCommerce, to provide the ultimate digital experience for customers.

Benefits of a DXP

Having a flexible foundation only scratches the surface of what is possible with a DXP. There are also quite a few other benefits. Here are some of them.

1. A Single Point of Control

DXPs offer brands one central point of control for everything that they do. In today’s world, it can be complicated if not borderline impossible to use a suite approach when building a martech stack. There are so many different options that each organization tends to choose the piece of technology that works best for a particular purpose.

DXPs allow brands to have separate vendors for each of their core technology needs by making it easy to integrate with the preferred automation or eCommerce tools. Data gets pulled using APIs and delivered to the central digital experience platform, giving brands more control over all of their data.

2. Flexible Architecture

Building off of the single point of control, DXPs have the architecture and flexibility that make it possible to view everything in one place. The classic headless CMS includes integrations with other tools, but unfortunately, integrations aren’t always complication-free. With a DXP, integrations can be smooth and seamless, allowing for the creation of a connected software stack.

DXPs also rely on microservice-based architecture that makes it easy to build, test and deploy applications.

3. True Omnichannel Possibilities

Omnichannel marketing is the goal of most brands today, and the expectation of most customers they serve. With other content management systems, it can be challenging to build a reliable omnichannel strategy and create the same quality of content for more than one or two channels.

With a DXP, omnichannel marketing becomes a reality. Developers can connect the platform to new and emerging channels and touchpoints with ease, and marketers can more easily create and manage the content that gets delivered to those channels. Customers can then benefit from personalized content at scale wherever they interact with their favorite brands.

4. Improved Insights

Having access to the right data can be the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that misses the mark. The connectedness of a DXP means that brands don’t need to rely on one data source and then guess how that data affects another part of the business.

A DXP provides total control in one location, allowing companies to maximize the data and insights they receive and use it to improve.

Discover Magnolia´s DXP

Magnolia's flexible DXP empowers all users so that you can achieve digital excellence at speed and scale.

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Trends Impacting the Future of DXPs

As the world around continues to change, so too will the world of content management continue to evolve. Channels like digital signage, mobile apps and more sparked the need for web experience management.

As technology continues to advance and other factors like chatbots, voice assistants, and artificial intelligence become more prevalent, the technology that delivers content will need to advance as well.

Gartner already recognized this shift and discontinued the Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management in early 2020, citing a maturity of the market and a shift in demand for digital experience platforms instead.

Some of the core requirements for a platform to be considered a DXP included:

  • Native content management capabilities for multiple types of content including textual content, mobile app content, web content and voice content.

  • Native support for multichannel presentation and experience delivery.

  • Customer journey mapping capabilities.

  • Personalization, analytics and optimization capabilities.

  • Provisions for rich, extensible, interoperable and well-documented production/consumption APIs.

These requirements only begin to scratch the surface of a DXP, but they do indicate where the overall industry is heading and the requirements brands will have going forward.

A Digital Transformation Needs a Digital Experience Platform

Digital transformation has been accelerated in recent months as more brands clamor to digitize their product offerings or improve on the ones they already had. This has created an even larger focus on the DXP as companies need it to meet the demands of customers.

The needs of the customer experience are constantly changing and organizations are choosing to invest in digital experiences in hopes of closing the gap between customer expectations and reality. A DXP helps to bridge that gap.

At Magnolia, the best of breed approach is the center of our philosophy, so our architecture is built in such a way to provide options and flexibility for brands that need it. Magnolia relies on a fast enterprise-grade architecture that is known for speed. Connector Packs help to integrate additional tools that aid in your content management, including eCommerce, Analytics, Marketing Automation and Digital Asset Management, and the platform has everything you need to deploy in the cloud.

If your business needs to revamp the customer experience from the ground up, break down limiting silos and plan ahead, then it may be time to consider a DXP to create the foundation for a better digital future.

About the Author

Sorina shapes Magnolia’s brand and product communications, with a focus on creating demand and on enabling sales, partners & clients to make the most out of this great product.