What Is a Digital Experience Platform? Definition, Benefits, Use Cases
- Delivering on CX. Digital experience platforms (DXPs) are essential for businesses looking to elevate their digital presence and deliver exceptional customer experiences across multiple channels.
- Meeting high demands. DXPs help businesses meet increasing customer expectations for seamless and personalized experiences.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated on April 18, 2023, to include new data and information.
In today’s digital-first world, delivering exceptional experiences to customers across digital channels has become a top priority for businesses. From websites and mobile apps to social media and beyond, every touchpoint along the customer journey is an opportunity to engage, delight and retain customers.
This has given rise to the concept of “digital experience” — the sum total of interactions and engagements a customer has with a brand through digital channels. To effectively manage and optimize these experiences, businesses turn to digital experience platforms (DXPs), which have emerged as essential tools for organizations looking to elevate their digital presence and stay ahead in the competitive landscape.
What Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?
A digital experience platform (DXP) is defined as an integrated set of core technologies whose goal is to support the creation, management, delivery and optimization of customized digital customer experiences (DCXs).
Web content management (WCM) systems, also called content management systems (CMS), sit at the heart of DXPs, and many of today’s digital experience platforms evolved from portals and WCM systems, according to research in the CMSWire DXP Market Guide.
Components of a Digital Experience Platform
According to the CMSWire DXP Market Guide, core DXP functionality includes:
- APIs for administration, authoring, interoperability, decisioning and delivery
- Content authoring, workflow and collaboration
- Content and experience analytics
- Content indexing, metadata and search
- Content modeling and extensible content types
- Content presentation and delivery
- Content security and access control
- Content versioning and change management
- Customer experience (CX) personalization
- Digital asset management (DAM) and/or integration
- Ecommerce or ecommerce integration
- Experience design (low code site or page design)
- Experience personalization
- Experience testing and optimization
- Experience/site versioning and change management
- Forms design, integration and delivery
- Image management and editing
- Multi-lingual support and/or localization integration
- Multi-site, multi-channel, multi-device support
- CRM and digital marketing automation integration
- Platform account and access services
- Platform/back office extensibility
- Social media integration
Gartner’s definition of digital experience platforms includes several software capabilities, such as content management, account services, personalization and context awareness, analytics and optimization and journey mapping among others.
Digital commerce, on the other hand, is not required, but is one of the most common adjacent technologies, according to Irina Guseva, senior research director at Gartner, lead analyst for the organization’s DXP Magic Quadrant.
“The ultimate outcome is being able to compose, manage and deliver contextualized and optimized digital experiences across the entire customer lifecycle on all channels of interaction,” she said.
Related Article: What’s Your Definition of a Digital Experience Platform?
Why Do Companies Need a Digital Experience Platform?
Today, customer expectations are higher than ever. Customers demand seamless and personalized experiences across multiple touchpoints, and businesses must meet these expectations to stay competitive. This is where a digital experience platform comes in.
Some key reasons why companies need a DXP include:
Centralized Content Management
A DXP provides a centralized content management system that allows businesses to create, manage and distribute content across various digital channels from a single platform. This enables consistent branding, messaging and user experiences, while also ensuring efficient content creation and updates.
Digital experience platforms empower businesses to deliver personalized experiences (like the email below) to their customers based on their preferences, behaviors and demographics. This level of personalization enhances customer engagement, loyalty and conversions, as it tailors content and offers to individual customer needs and interests.
With customers interacting with businesses through multiple channels such as websites, mobile apps, social media, email and more, it’s crucial for companies to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all touchpoints. A DXP enables businesses to create and manage content for multiple channels, ensuring a seamless and unified experience for customers.
Enhanced Customer Engagement
Digital experience platforms provide a wide range of tools and features to boost customer engagement, such as personalized content, interactive interfaces, social media integration and more. This helps businesses create compelling and interactive experiences that capture and retain customer attention, driving increased engagement and loyalty.
Analytics and Insights
DXPs offer robust analytics and reporting capabilities that allow businesses to measure and analyze the effectiveness of their digital experiences. Customer data management capabilities allow companies to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences and trends, enabling them to optimize their digital strategies and continuously improve their customer experiences.
Scalability and Flexibility
A DXP provides a scalable and flexible platform that can grow and evolve with a business’s needs. It allows companies to add new functionalities, integrate with third-party tools and adapt to changing market trends and customer demands, ensuring long-term success in the digital space.
The Benefits of Digital Experience Platforms
Digital experience platforms offer numerous benefits to businesses, empowering them to create and manage digital experiences, engage customers and optimize digital journeys.
Some key benefits of DXPs include:
- Enhanced Customer Experience: DXPs enable businesses to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences. According to Accenture, 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, and 48% said they spend more with a brand that offers a personalized experience.
- Improved Digital Strategy: DXPs provide businesses with data-driven insights and analytics that enable them to optimize their digital strategies.
- Streamlined Workflows: Digital experience platforms streamline internal processes by providing a centralized platform for content creation, management and distribution.
- Agile Content Management: DXPs offer robust content management capabilities that allow businesses to create, manage and distribute content across digital channels in a flexible and agile manner, allowing businesses to respond quickly to changing market dynamics, customer preferences, and business requirements.
- Competitive Advantage: According to Gartner, 89% of businesses expect to compete primarily on customer experience. DXPs help businesses differentiate themselves by delivering personalized and seamless experiences that meet and exceed expectations.
Related Article: What’s Your DXP Path? Composable or Monolith?
How to Select the Best Digital Experience Platform
To choose the best DXP, start by defining your business needs. Identify your business goals, digital strategy and customer experience objectives. Consider factors such as your target audience, desired features and functionalities, scalability and budget. Understanding your needs and requirements will help you evaluate different DXPs and make an informed decision.
Next, assess the available DXPs in the market. Research and compare different DXPs based on their features, functionalities, ease of use, scalability and pricing. Look for DXPs that align with your needs and offer a comprehensive solution for creating and managing digital experiences. Consider the vendor’s reputation, customer reviews and case studies to gauge their track record and customer satisfaction.
Also consider the implementation and support aspects of the DXP. Evaluate the ease of implementation, training and support options offered by the vendor, and the availability of documentation and resources. Consider the vendor’s expertise, experience and customer support services to ensure a smooth implementation and ongoing support for your DXP.
Is Composable the Wave of the DXP Future?
In Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, researchers cited the need for organizations to adopt a “composable DXP.” This will include the ability to deliver composable user experiences, front-end as a service (FEaaS) and composable content.
Gartner researchers claim this will help replace “heavyweight monolithic applications,” something that vendors will be forced to abandon because of buying behaviors. Vendors will have to increase the modularity of their offerings and the corresponding pricing, based on consumption-based models, according to Gartner researchers.
“A composable DXP entails more than just product modularity and API-based, best-of-breed product integrations,” Guseva told CMSWire. “The composability should come at the packaged business capabilities level and ‘valuex’ consumption-based pricing models, as some of the examples of composability.”
Joe Cicman, senior analyst for digital transformation at Forrester, told CMSWire that when he talks to vendors about their composable DXP strategies it’s clear that being composable is only half the battle.
“The other half,” Cicman said, “is being pre-composed. APIs and events make it easier to piece-together solutions than say five to 10 years ago. But the client is still paying to integrate the stuff together. To take significant cost out of the equation, DXP vendors need strategic ISV partnerships and to appear in one another’s app store to provide one-click integration.”
Related Article: 8 Things to Know About Composable DXP
Digital Experience Platforms Myths vs. Reality
So what are the actual outcomes when implementing and managing DXPs? Guseva put together a myth vs. reality comparison when asked to dispel certain myths around DXPs:
|DXP Is (Reality)||DXP Is Not (Myths)|
|Central technological foundation to be built upon and to support the entire, continuous customer life cycle across all digital channels||Not just a mashing together of new or existing technologies. Not just a bucket of products.|
|Multichannel delivery via APIs of digital interactions across all touchpoints, including IoT, AR/VR, digital assistants and kiosks||Not just a website channel. Or a responsive/mobile web. Or mobile app|
|A unified and integrated platform on which an employee experience (among other experiences) can be deployed||Not a stand-alone intranet package|
|It’s a platform where business and IT with various skills and responsibilities work together toward the common goal of customer experience improvement.||Not an IT system, not a marketing system. It is, however, a way to manage experiences and that management is far from just a task for the IT organization|
|DXP is built for change and can be easily changed as a response to changes in demand||Not a monolithic system that doesn’t undergo constant evolution, optimization and refinement|
DXP Integration Costs Are High
Digital experience platforms don’t come cheap. Gartner found that 85% of effort and cost in a DXP program will be spent on integrations with internal and external systems, including the DXP’s own, built-in capabilities.
And here’s another number to share with your digital marketing teams: 90% of global organizations will rely on system integrators (SIs), agencies and channel partners to design, build and implement their digital experience strategies.
What is the message to the buyer about selecting a DXP?
“Most often they do actually look for the holistic DXP approach, but some companies do prefer a more modular approach and go after a best-of-breed, piece-by-piece approach and essentially build out their own vision of a DXP,” Guseva said.
Comprehensive integration separates true platforms from mere product portfolios, according to Cicman. Companies buy digital experience parts from multiple vendors and implement them over time, Cicman added. “Even when a company goes all-in with a single vendor, it doesn’t implement all the parts all at once,” he said. “That means a vendor’s products always run (if even just temporarily) in a multi-vendor stack.”
Platforms are expected to deliver efficiency, not just the ability, for assembling capabilities. Larger vendors proclaim their portfolio of products are pre-integrated and work well together. Smaller vendors focus on pre-integrating their narrower portfolios with cloud parts from the broader ecosystem, according to Cicman.
Internal DXP Integration Skills Lacking
Most often, organizations tend to rely on an experienced systems integrator for DXP work, as they typically lack internal expertise or skill sets to be able to pull off the implementation, or even a DX strategy, according to Guseva.
“It is such a multi-faceted and complex endeavor. Just knowing how to code in .NET is great, but typically not enough to properly implement a .NET-based DXP,” she said. “Successful DXP investments entail a high degree of planning, strategy, and agile product management. I think while the DXP market is maturing, it is still in the early stages of mainstream.”
A true DXP is designed to be an integration hub, in addition to providing the capabilities around experience composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences across the entire customer journey, Guseva added. Architectural flexibility, API-driven approaches, Content-as-a-Service (CaaS), head optional/hybrid/headless, microservices-oriented architectures are all supposed to aid in integration work, but this is “not consistent across the marketplace and some vendors do this better than the others,” she added.
DXP is the centerpiece for customer experience and digital experience strategy execution, but it’s not a silo and cannot be viewed as a single platform to solve all business needs, Guseva added. “DXP is the centerpiece in the tech ecosystem that brings content, data, experiences, applications and micro-experiences into one layer,” she said. “Therefore, integration with multiple in-house, legacy, adjacent technologies is a must. The goal is a unified, continuous and optimized experience. You need integration with other systems to accomplish that.”
Digital Experience Platform Market Size & Growth
How hot are DXPs? According to Statista, experts predict global digital experience platform revenue to hit $15.8 billion by 2025, a projected growth of $2.95 billion from 2023.
Marketers’ desire to adopt digital platforms for marketing strategies will drive the demand for DXPs, according to researchers. The B2C application segment of DXPs dominated the market as consumer brands strive to use technologies to provide relevant, personalized and consistent content and products.
While many companies analyze customer data and experiences with the help of a pre-integrated technology stack and DXPs, integration and business process issues arise for DXPs during implementation. Further, there is a reluctance in the deployment of updates. These factors, according to researchers, are projected to hinder market growth. Researchers also see a lack of a skilled workforce for operating DXP solutions as an obstruction to market growth.
Related Article: The Benefits — and Challenges — of Composable Digital Experience Platforms
The Future of the Digital Experience Platform
A digital experience platform can be a powerful tool for businesses to create and manage engaging digital experiences for their customers. By providing a unified and seamless experience across various digital touchpoints, DXPs enable businesses to deliver personalized, relevant and consistent experiences that drive customer engagement, loyalty and business growth.
When selecting a DXP for your business, it’s important to carefully assess your business needs, research and compare available options and consider implementation and support aspects to make an informed decision. With the right DXP in place, your business can leverage the power of digital experiences to achieve business success.