Deciphering the World of DXPs

Recently the analyst firm Gartner released its Magic Quadrant focused on the emerging suite of technologies known as “Digital Experience Platforms” (DXPs for short). The firm’s publication of the report – only its second-ever to focus on this market – is a strong indication that the term is here to stay.

Gartner isn't the only analyst firm to focus on this topic. Forrester Research has its own Wave Report on the DXP market. And Forrester has also gone on to explore the need for open and agile DXP platforms in a recent report entitled "Coming Soon - Agile Content Curation And Orchestration Will Redefine CMS." And The Digital Clarity Group has also weighed in with an in-depth report on DXP Buyer Trends, Preferences, and Strategies.

All of this means it’s a good time to ask two key questions: What exactly is a DXP and do you actually need one?

The natural place to start is with Gartner’s own definition: “A digital experience platform [is] an integrated software framework for engaging a broad array of audiences across a broad array of digital touchpoints. Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy and continually improve websites, portals, mobile apps and other digital experiences.”

While this definition seems straightforward, it actually points to a fundamental uncertainty around what constitutes a DXP. Gartner says as much in the opening paragraph of the report, acknowledging that the market is “still evolving and relatively immature” and that there is a “huge variability in the types of offerings and approaches available.” The bottom line is: every vendor is likely to have their own definition of what a DXP is.

With that said, here’s how we see it at CoreMedia.

First, we look at DXP capabilities not in terms of the underlying technology but in how it can enable brands to achieve a better customer experience (CX). Because a superior experience leads to what every enterprise wants: brand loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, positive social media buzz, and larger average order sizes (ultimately leading to more revenue). Furthermore, a compelling online experience helps prevent the commodification of products (aka the Amazon effect), which leads to price wars and eroding margins.

To support this, our core belief is that best-of-breed beats all-in-one. Which is to say we have a fundamentally different outlook on DXP strategy than players like Adobe, Sitecore and Episerver – all of whom seek to provide complete functionality via a one-stop-shop solution.

Sure, with digital technologies changing so quickly, a single solution might seem to make sense at first. It’s the hassle-free option, the expensive prix-fixe dinner with all the choices already made. But we believe that it’s precisely because technologies are changing so rapidly that makes this the wrong approach. A single solution locks you in at exactly the moment when you need maximum flexibility.

The reason we believe this is straightforward: integration costs. Gartner says that over the next three years, 85% of the effort (and cost) of building a DXP will be spent on integrations with systems, both internal and external. Just as there are thousands of different business models, so are there thousands of different marketing software products available to cater to those businesses. For each of these products to work properly, they need to be tightly integrated with the specific (often customized) commerce platforms that retailers and brands use. It’s the only way the overall experience will work.

But an all-in-one solution isn’t designed to accommodate that; it’s their way or the highway.

That’s where CoreMedia comes in. We see the market for CX as highly dynamic and full of innovation. And that’s a good thing for brands, as it allows them to choose digital solutions that facilitate groundbreaking online experiences. So the focus of our DXP offering is on what we call “experience orchestration.” In a nutshell this means that CoreMedia Content Cloud acts as a creative integration layer between backend systems (commerce, customer data, content, etc.) and the frontend UX, allowing marketers not only to craft new omnichannel experiences but also preview them in real-time for different markets or segments.

For example, imagine an international fashion brand launching a new collection, but one that has some important variations that need to be accommodated (such as: not all markets launching at the same time, or not all products available in all markets, or different advertising campaigns planned for different channels, etc.). With CoreMedia, these variations can be managed via a single interface with deep integrations into all systems: eCommerce, CRM, and DAM. What would be a challenge with an all-in-one platform is done quickly and seamlessly in CoreMedia.

Not just that but it’s done in a way that minimizes IT involvement and maximizes marketing creativity: via an instant preview that allows marketers to see how every single variation will look on any device for any segment and at any time. If that isn’t a DXP, what is?

Which brings us back to the original question of whether you need one.

Certainly, there are many enterprises tempted to take a wait-and-see approach, let the market mature, wait for a price break from the expensive all-in-one suites. It makes sense on one level. But fortune favors the bold.

So we think the real question is this: Can your business really afford not to have an awesome omnichannel experience?


About the Author

Don Hoffman is CoreMedia’s chief wordsmith, brand storyteller, voiceover talent and overall content guru. A native of New Orleans and graduate of Amherst College, he has more than 20 years of experience shaping marcom strategy for global publishers, eCommerce businesses, advertising agencies and enterprise software companies. He is based in San Francisco and is also a songwriter and opera singer.