DXPs…are they as easy as 1, 2, 3?

A well-integrated DXP provides the means to evolve relationships with clients, customers, prospects and employees. Where previous tools in this space allowed for one-way conversations, a DXP facilitates a dialogue, allowing organizations to tell stories (content) and listen (see how users react). While it’s true that a DXP connects a lot of moving pieces and it should fit in holistically within your IT Ecosystem, it should not be an overwhelming process.

Following a few simple steps at the outset will shape your approach and prevent the most common missteps. If you are ready to make the leap to a DXP or want to learn how to ensure you are getting the most out of your existing one, read on.


It is estimated that in 2020, each person was tied to an average of 6.58 network connected devices, which translates to roughly 50 billion network touch points and opportunities. To be successful, organizations have had to adapt their digital ecosystems to provide a fluid user experience across a number of devices and platforms.

The challenge that many businesses face is finding a way to deliver a seamless user experience that delivers relevant content to the user (accounting not just for personal preferences but also roles like employee, prospect, client, etc.) while also providing feedback to the business. Enter the DXP…

What is a DXP?

To borrow the explanation from Gartner, a DXP (or digital experience platform) “is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences”.

In essence, its purpose is to deliver and support the management of a consistent, integrated user experience across digital systems. It is a tool that organizations can use to integrate the various channels they use to interact with their various demographics and create a cohesive digital presence and brand identity.

It fosters communication by creating a feedback loop whereby the organization releases content, the user reacts, and the organization adapts its offering to a more personalized experience or to better support changes in client needs or whims.

To understand the importance of DXP and how to utilize it, we must first look back at where it came from and what gaps in that the DXP proposes to fill.

First things first…

At its heart a DXP is the evolution of the traditional web Content Management Solution.  Content Management Solutions (CMS) have been around for decades now. They come in on-premise and cloud-based versions and chances are, you’ve heard of the more common versions of them:  WordPress, Drupal, WIX etc.

The idea behind a CMS is to make it as easy as possible to create, manage, and publish digital content.  As an example, a CMS system would let the user create an impressive piece of branded digital content using a pre-defined template (providing the organization’s signature look and feel) and would take care of making sure that the content looked correct regardless of the form-factor it was viewed on (computer vs. phone vs. tablet).

So, the user really only worries about the content most of the time – not the formatting.  The CMS takes care of making the content look right and also does things like maintain a library of standard content, ensuring proper approval flows are used when publishing, etc.  They’re really quite powerful.

There are, however, two aspects where a traditional CMS system tends to fall short. First is that the content tends to be generic – not personalized. Everyone sees more or less the same stuff.

Second, the ‘conversation’ tends to be one-way. The organization doesn’t typically get a lot of feedback on how well the content was received or how useful it was. At least not via the CMS system.

CMS Evolved

This is where the Digital Experience Platform (DXP) comes in. As the name suggests, it is used to create an experience for the user, one that is intended to cultivate brand loyalty and a connection through not only branded storytelling but a personalized experience. It builds upon the capabilities offered by a CMS and adds more powerful attributes, turning that one way conversation into a relationship.

For example:

1 | The DXP is designed to know what kind of individual the customer is and allow for content to be personalized to them specifically.  Product organizations will use this, as an example, to target advertisements and referenced content to the customer based on their demographics, profile, or other key metrics.

2 | Further – the DXP is designed to integrate to the customer’s specific profile within the organization if they have one.  So rather than just provide content that’s relevant to the type of individual the viewer is – it can provide information that is unique to that viewer.

It will also integrate with other systems in your IT Ecosystem and wrap personalized content from them into whatever it is the DXP is showing the user.

3 | Finally, the DXP is designed to listen to the user as they navigate the provided content.  Specifically, it can track what the user spends time on, and what they don’t.  It can identify if a given piece of created content isn’t resonating with users or highlight content that’s very popular.

It provides analytics back to the organization that will allow them to continuously monitor and improve the experience of the users without necessarily having to survey them or speak with them directly.

In the beginning…

To map out and design your DXP implementation experience, there are a few key activities you should do first. Stratford has a methodology for this type of planning effort designed specifically to avoid the most common pitfalls.

  • You need to know what that ‘experience’  should be in the first place. First and foremost you need to define what success looks like for this type of system.
  • You need to identify where the content (generic and personalized) for this system lives or will live. This will drive technology selection, configuration effort, integration effort, module selection, data migration planning, etc.
  • You need to be really clear on ‘who’ you’re providing the experience for and why. Typically some demographics are more critical or more demanding than others and you should plan accordingly.
  • You need to plan how to roll this new experience out in a structured and intuitive manner and you need to decide what you’ll do yourself and what you’ll rely on an implementation partner to help with.

All these factors contribute to the over-arching business case for this kind of initiative. Clients typically falter when they overlook or undervalue the importance of these early definition steps.

Plays well with others

In order to harness and utilize the full potential of a DXP, it cannot exist in isolation, but must work holistically with the other supportive systems that feed and support the desired outcome.

The DXP has a lot of integration with your content generating solutions, your CRM, your internal systems that maintain user ‘profiles’ as well as the systems that maintain the user’s unique data.  Setting up the DXP solution without also considering these other pieces will just result in you having an expensive content management system, which is not the goal.

Spending time up front defining what the desired experience is for both all your key demographics will help ensure you design and configure the system correctly.

Also spending time identifying which internal systems that the DXP needs to integrate with (like the ERP) and what that means will save a lot of grief down the line.  This is especially true given there will be significant potential overlap in the functionality between the DXP and the other systems.

So while DXPs are indeed powerful tools, they should not be treated as isolated projects. They are meant to act as collection points for your organization’s IT Ecosystem to provide the best and most integrated experience possible.


We’d love to chat with you about how Stratford’s IM/IT Operational Assessment can help your organization retool its IT Ecosystem to incorporate a digital experience platform. If you’d like to learn more about our Strategic IT services, please reach out to [email protected].

About AJA senior technology executive with over two decades of accomplishments in digital strategy development and large-scale solution delivery, AJ Harris has distilled his extensive experience into best practices and leadership insights that have won awards at a national level. AJ has successfully designed, staffed, and implemented value-based, business-driven technology solutions in a number of different industries across six continents. AJ specializes in designing and applying Digital Strategies for visionary companies, ensuring successful implementation of large-scale IT programs, and maturing IT & Professional Services organizations.

 

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