There is an ever-growing demand for a software platform that streamlines the process of creating, managing, and effectively utilizing digital touchpoints. The problem is well known: Digital leaders need software capable of eliminating the inefficiencies that slow otherwise-effective strategies.
One answer to this problem has been digital experience platforms (DXPs), which unite the disparate solutions currently used to manage interactions throughout the customer journey. There are three fundamental elements that make a DXP an effective platform to support digital transformation: 1) comprehensive customer journey capabilities, 2) broad integrative functionality, and 3) frameworks built to encompass future innovation.
What is a Digital Experience Platform?
Before analyzing the key components of a digital experience platform, it’s necessary to understand the definition of a DXP.
According to Gartner, a digital experience platform is, “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.” Put simply, a DXP provides experiences that, without digital technology, would otherwise have to occur face-to-face.
The definition is broad, which can create difficulty for companies trying to identify key components of a digital platform. A few elements that add to this complexity are:
Functionality: A DXPs functionality shifts at each stage of the customer journey. A single digital platform can play multiple roles in a company’s overall strategy.
Flexibility: Each company has different expectations for the ideal customer and employee experience. The definition of a DXP remains broad to provide for these variable expectations.
Innovation: DXPs support the continuous evolution of the digital experience, forever changing with new customer expectations.
Business Model Variations: Different business models — including B2B, B2C, and B2B2C — have unique, inherent needs. A DXP may take one form as part of the B2B experience but deliver entirely separate functionality in a B2B2C setting.
These factors undoubtedly complicate the process of setting expectations for a digital platform. However, such a nebulous definition also creates one significant benefit: flexibility.
Because there are few strict limits on what a DXP can and can’t be, this technology lends itself to a huge variety of industries, applications, and needs. As long as these three key characteristics are present, DXPs can fill almost any gap — even working in tandem with ongoing digital transformation.
Three Key Characteristics of Digital Platforms
An effective DXP needs to be able to do three key things:
Comprehensive Customer Journey Capabilities
The first key characteristic of a digital platform is comprehensiveness.
A digital experience platform should provide support throughout the customer journey, even if its benefits are most clearly realized in post-purchase customer experiences.
If the platform focuses too heavily on customer acquisition, other elements of the digital experience will be neglected. The result is a platform with limited functionality, reduced benefits, and an emphasis on marketing that can leave post-purchase customer needs unmet. Additional online platforms or other solutions will be necessary to bridge this gap, reducing ROI.
But DXPs are equipped to address the entire customer journey. From acquisition to retention, businesses can use a single platform to serve their customers well.
Broad Integrative Functionality
The second key characteristic of a digital platform is the capability for structured integration.
To reduce friction, encourage reuse, and fuel insight, DXPs should be capable of integrating with a wide variety of other systems. This doesn’t just maximize the value of the platform itself; it also helps users effectively leverage systems like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning ERP), and product information management (PIM) software to get the most out of the existing and future tech stack.
Frameworks Built to Encompass Future Innovation
The third key characteristic is scalability.
Digital platforms should never force companies to choose a single approach; instead, it’s vital that the DXP framework be built to support future changes depending on market needs, developing technology, or new digital marketing models. Put simply, the customer journey is always changing, so DXPs should be capable of change as well.
How Digital Experience Platforms Evolve
While a digital platform with all three key elements can support any business model, deliver a strong customer and employee experience, and be a key element in a digital transformation strategy, there’s always room for evolution.
Here are a few trends we expect to see in DXPs over the next year:
- Support for Long-Term Strategies
Digital experience platforms should be able to keep up with innovation. To get to this point, DXPs need to develop built-in support for long-term strategies, helping each company plan its future based on the foundation offered by its digital platform. That means businesses will no longer need to guess what technology or capabilities they’ll have access to in three to five years; they’ll be able to shape their own futures and build plans around their digital platforms.
This evolving capability must also have room for ample tech support. To create and adhere to long-term strategies, companies need reliable tech partners to help identify innovative solutions to complex challenges.
Faster Responses to Customer Expectations
Customer expectations shift rapidly. These fluctuations can cause undue stress when a company’s framework isn’t built to make small changes without completely unraveling. For this reason, the digital experience platforms of the future will likely have even simpler features, allowing companies to pivot at a moment’s notice.
Clearer Value Propositions
DXPs and their vendors will be focusing on making clearer statements regarding the functionality, utilization, and benefits of a digital platform. This achieves two things: clarification of existing qualities and the creation of a value-focused framework to guide the development of future innovation.
Business Model Shifts
For companies looking to shift from a B2B or B2C business model to the newer B2B2C approach, the transition can be difficult. As DXPs evolve, they should become more adept at helping companies navigate these shifts — not to blur the lines between business models, but to create a platform capable of adapting organically to progress (rather than needing to be restructured or redesigned after a significant change).
Digital platforms represent a significant opportunity for businesses. With a DXP, companies can digitally simulate the entire customer journey, creating a controlled environment in which customer needs can be catered to at the click of a button.
Digital Business Starts with Innovation
Digital experience platforms are an emerging product category capable of uniting some of the most vital capabilities in the digital world, allowing organizations to build a foundation for their digital transformation. However, for these platforms to truly excel, they must include three key characteristics:
Comprehensiveness, or support for the entire customer journey.
Structured modification, or broad, integrative functionality.
Prebuilt integration, or a framework that nurtures future innovation.
Not all DXPs offer this robust design. As such, it’s important to find a platform that serves the needs of your customers, supports your employees, and helps define your company’s future.
With Liferay, that platform is well within reach. Explore our digital experience platform to see how we empower your digital transformation.