What is a digital experience platform, and how can it help business stakeholders achieve the goal of delivering a simple, wonderful experience to their customers – a fully connected journey that drives revenue and loyalty?
It’s easier said than done, since this journey traverses multiple systems, organizations, and applications as customers gather information, evaluate their options, and make decisions. From search, to banner ads, to social media, to events, to written and multimedia content: Each moment counts.
To make things even harder, achieving this simplicity demands technology platforms and multiple business applications. For any enterprise trying to figure out the right stack, there are five key things that your digital experience platform must have to ensure success.
What is a digital experience platform (DXP)?
As brands and businesses strive to provide connectivity and simplicity to consumers, the digital experience platform (DXP) has emerged to meet the needs that have arisen from digital transformation.
Organizations and brands know that the customer experience now rules when it comes to creating brand loyalty, but they aren’t necessarily sure how to deliver on outstanding CX. Every part of the journey matters: Social interactions, sales processes and post-care, in-store experiences, and of course, how your product or service works.
A digital experience platform is enterprise software that helps tie together the customer experience. A DXP is built to administer and govern large-scale content and asset management, like managing multiple micro-sites, launching e-commerce platforms, and syncing the content across verticals such as IoT devices, web, customer portals, etc.
A DXP is usually a suite of products that work in conjunction with each other, but can sometimes be a single product.
5 key elements of a digital experience platform (DXP)
1. A suite of core front-office business applications
These applications are your customers’ main interface with your company, and include:
- Marketing: An automated application that drives awareness, engagement, lead generation and nurture, and brand management, based upon a deep understanding of a customer’s behavior and sentiment.
- Commerce: The main system for digital transactions. Today, e-commerce goes beyond your owned digital storefront. It can be a marketplace, a partner or re-seller portal, social applications like Instagram and we-chat, etc. This may also include other types of online sales or point-of-sale transactions in stores.
- Sales: The core system that captures your revenue planning and execution, usually for parts of your business that deal directly with business accounts. Functionality may include contract management, quote-to-cash, sales orders, commissions, and so on.
- Service: The critical component for all post-sales customer interactions and a primary driver for customer loyalty that is often unfortunately overshadowed by revenue generation.
There are literally thousands of vendors that provide solutions in these areas, some with industry specialization, some for small and medium companies, and still more with specific regional expertise. In fact, if you took an inventory of all the customer engagement applications you currently use, it wouldn’t be unusual to find up to 10-15 tools just in your marketing stack! Having access to a packaged suite of applications simplifies the management for IT and for the business users.
2. Data and technology integration
You can’t deliver a connected customer journey if the data in your systems aren’t connected. How can you know all the ways your customers interact with you without visibility into all those systems?
Integration tools are a critical part of your digital platform, since your digital experience platform must incorporate all customer identities, data, and business processes. These integrations should be customizable (because every business is unique), extensible and, most importantly, easy-to-use.
With legacy systems, niche tools, custom applications, and continuously changing business and technology requirements, most companies spend a huge amount of effort and resources developing and maintaining integrations. If you ever wonder what your IT department and developers spend their time on, this should give you an idea.
Most companies can barely keep up with critical integration requirements, and usually run out of time and money for innovation. Therefore it is important for your digital experience platform to have standard, out-of-the-box APIs, with flexible tools that can integrate various technologies to help decrease the effort and cost of developing and maintaining the systems.
3. A single customer identity and profile
The first application of your integration capabilities is towards creating a complete customer profile. Everybody claims to have a ‘Customer 360’ program, yet many companies still struggle to make it a reality. Why? Because today’s digital customer jumps from device to device, does not always follow the journey you’ve crafted, chooses to remain anonymous, and may even have multiple identities. Add issues around privacy and consent, and you have a daunting task.
Let’s tackle privacy first. As companies realize the value of customer data, customers have discovered the importance of privacy and the need to own and control their information. Today, your platform needs to be able to deliver true transparency, security, and privacy to comply with regulations such as GDPR*1, CCPA*2, APP*, and LGPD*, but more importantly, to win your customers’ trust. Your platform should have the ability to capture customer consent and ensure it is applied at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Once privacy concerns are addressed, the main goal is to generate a full picture of each customer, including their behaviors, sentiments, and interactions. The clearer the picture, the better you create a personalized experience. Without this, a sales person busy trying to sell a new product may be oblivious to service issues encountered with a previous purchase. Your marketing team may persist in targeting a customer online, unaware that they’ve already bought the promoted product. As consumers, we see this every day!
Avoid confusion by ensuring the platform integrates all necessary systems, collects customer data and insights, making that information accessible across the enterprise to serve customers.
4. Business intelligence and analytics
There is only one way know whether your efforts are producing results: Measure everything, continuously! Gut feelings often seem right, guesses can help you get to the next step, deadlines can push you to just move forward with the status quo, but to get a true measure of your success, define your metrics carefully, measure and analyze the results, and take action accordingly.
Most companies use BI vendors who specialize in this area, but this usually means pulling data from one or more applications and pushing it to another, with implications on performance, security, and integration.
Today’s digital experience platforms include analytical tools to collect data, define, track and visualize your KPIs. They’re also delivering embedded analytics within applications, as well as even more advanced features like machine learning and artificial intelligence. The value of these tools is based on included out-of-the-box functionality and the ability to customize and extend it easily.
5. Cloud platform infrastructure and administration
All the above tools and applications listed above are important, and in an ideal world they would be enough. However, today very few companies have migrated all their systems to the cloud, and most actually work within a hybrid landscape of on-premise and cloud systems. While most organizations know that the move to the cloud is inevitable, it’s a decision that every company must evaluate and address based on their own priorities.
This makes cloud infrastructure and administration capabilities even more relevant because the platform must deal with the past, present, and future landscapes. Your digital experience platform should be technology-agnostic to make it future-proof.
The architecture must be flexible enough to integrate with legacy on-premise systems and extend to next-generation applications. Every company must have the ability to be able to customize the integration and analytics to meet their unique needs.
The digital experience platform also needs to provide administration capabilities for security, authentication, and access across all the core business applications. The more visibility IT teams have into their systems, usage, and performance the better they can optimize their configuration.
Now you know what a digital experience platform is, and have an overview of what capabilities to look for in a state-of-the-art DXP that’s relevant today and ready for tomorrow – one that will help you do your job, design the best customer experience possible, and make your company successful.