At the close of January every year Gartner publishes its Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms (DXP). This herald’s chest beating from the various vendors as they explain how and why they have all landed where they have.
Yet in a recent article on CMS Wire about DXP’s, the point is raised, that ‘many organizations are not utilizing this functionality to its fullest potential’.
All the DXP’s that Gartner feature are highly credible platforms, feature rich and often carrying an enterprise sized price tag for PAAS and SAAS functionality.
Part of the challenge lies in the procurement process. As a core piece of infrastructure regardless of whether the organisation is utilising the commerce functionality. IT and procurement functions will be involved in tendering, as will marketing and potentially ops who will be responsible for some if not all of the administration of the platform once implemented and configured.
By acquiring a DXP you’re not purchasing a digital experience you are purchasing the means to create and manipulate digital experiences. If you are purchasing a DXP for the first time you need to be also onboarding DX as a strategy and approach, not simply a platform or capability.
And in part, here lies the challenge.
Escaping the traps above will ensure that your DXP implementation will deliver the intended ROI and potentially exceed the headline expectation in the years to come.
For some organisations the ‘website’ is a functional beast. A repository for content or product. That can be accessed to interact or transact. For these it may be worth considering that a DXP may be an unnecessary expense. Enhancing open-source content platforms with off the shelf marketing tooling may be sufficient.
However, the organisational shift to an organisation that deals in experiences and not just content is essential to stay competitive and enhance margins.
Within the plan for the new platform, it is important to understand that many DXP’s require extensive implementation, this may well require a technical partner aligned to your chosen platform. Platforms are increasingly complex and configurable. Selecting a PAAS system for its available features does not always mean that all the features will be applied in the implementation. It is important to be realistic about what features are needed and how they will be used by your teams. Staying in control of this will enable you to be sure that the features you need will be available to you on day one, and in the future. An essential part of the discussion here needs to be an understanding of how you are going to be using the platform. For instance, are you as an organisation keen on moving to the delivery of dynamically attributed, related content and product recommendations? If so, it is important that recommendations are considered within the development of the interface and the content workflow. Not just considered as a tick box in the procurement process. Even if you feel that AI driven recommendations may be a phase two or three implementation, having that consideration understood within the UI and accounted for in the development of the available blocks will enable you to adopt new technologies more quickly and cheaply at a later date.
Part of the issue is that some UX processes have been developed around the delivery of CMS systems, an important precursor and component of your DXP. However, an adept marketeer will be looking to understand the tools and opportunities to optimise recommendations, not only within the layout but the experience overall. Creating the flexibility in the implemented product to deliver ongoing optimisation of the recommendations, helping deliver an increasing ROI. As is/to be analysis of user journeys can sometimes be used to define a single optimal journey that is then baked into an implementation. This can be short-sighted. Users do not always know what they want until they see it and an experience that is correct today may need to be adapted or enhanced by the time the platform is live.
Our recent experience with Covid 19 has shown how customer expectations can shift rapidly. Customers who may have required telephone servicing previously are now more accepting of online to fit around home schooling and work. Equally expectations within ecommerce have developed radically as the volume of items consumed online escalates through the lockdown. We have tracked some of these changes here (1, 2-3) over the past 6 months.
Ensuring you take steps to retain the inherent flexibility available to you within a DXP will assist your marketing team to enhance returns and the experience down the track. For some organisations divergent web platforms may need managing differently. For instance, the market facing corporate site may not need more than periodic upkeep and can be largely a content vehicle, however the customer facing product site which is an important customer digital experience.
The ability to personalise content, or intelligently propose related experiences is a core feature of your DXP. Yet the definition of the journeys and the maintenance of them requires acumen and more importantly resources within the support teams to deliver and refine.
As you go through a DXP implementation process it is important to identify where these resources are. They may be freed up by removing legacy activities from your old platform, if it required extensive maintenance or management. These resources may be repurposed. If not, it is important to identify what curation, promotion and optimisation skills will be required and build these into the implementation plan.
If your implementation is the first DXP, it is essential that consideration is given not only before but during the implementation to how your organisation will use and deploy resources to support the DXP and what capabilities, you will be requiring of the DXP.
To inform this process it’s important to understand what are the objectives of acquiring the DXP. Where is the return on investment that you will gain, on what will be a major investment? How will you improve on that ROI moving forward and ingrain the featured functions of the DXP into your organisations marketing, service and sales workflow.
If you don’t know how this will pan out, some implementation partners may have change management capability that will be able to assist (alternatively take a view from an independent consultant). If the task is an upgrade to a newer version make sure you don’t ignore understanding how the new DXP enhances your previous capability. Many of the major platforms have been on the M&A march (Since 2016, Adobe (4), Episerver (3), Acquia (3), Salesforce (4) and Sitecore (2)) and have incorporated or are incorporating new functionalities that will not only empower your team but may require you to look at your internal workflows around content and merchandising to ensure you continue to get optimal returns.
Addressing why a DXP?
A DXP, implemented mindfully and used well empowers your operation. However, in doing so it requires implementation to ensure not just successful roll out but ongoing success. It also needs a sophisticated marketing team and a clear understanding of how to implement a change in how experiences are handled within your platform.
The important point is that A DXP is a powerful business tool. If you are going to make use of one and reap the benefits on an industrial scale it is important that you give the appropriate thought to how well it is implemented.
If you are already paying a premium for a highly configurable business tool, and If you are not sweating it like any other asset. Take a look.
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