What is a Digital Experience Platform?

DXP
CMS

Customer experience is increasingly a crucial aspect of any product or service. In fact, 91% of respondents in a 2020 Salesforce survey are more likely to make another purchase from the same brand if they have a positive . As enterprises move to deliver the best possible service to their customers, having the right tech stack can go a long way.

Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) were born out of a need to provide an integrated and unified set of technologies to meet rising customer and market demands.

In this article, we give you an in-depth look at what a DXP is, what makes one different from a CMS, and how to properly implement it.

What is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?

Gartner defines a digital experience platform (DXP) as “an integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure, and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints.”

Let’s unpack this definition to understand the core concept of what a DXP is:

  • Integrates different technologies and platforms
  • Serves as the neural center for all those connected tools
  • Delivers content and data to different digital touchpoints
  • Enables personalization and enhanced security protocols

Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy and continually improve websites, portals, mobile and other digital experiences. The platform manages the presentation layer based on the role, security privileges, and preferences of an individual.

They combine and coordinate applications, including content management, search and navigation, personalization, integration, and aggregation, collaboration, workflow, analytics, mobile and multichannel support.

DXP Diagram

In June 2020, DXPs rose to prominence when Gartner decided to retire the Magic Quadrant for WCMs. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is a series of market reports that talk about market trends in a specific industry. By retiring WCMs from the Quadrant, Gartner signals that the customers of today are demanding more than simple website-building tools; they look for integrable solutions that enable content delivery beyond the website and to emerging channels such as chatbots and IoT-powered tools.

In addition, as the DXP market grows, the global market size is projected to reach USD 15.80 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 10.9% from 2019 to 2025, according to Grand View Research.

CMS vs DXP

A content management system (CMS) is a system used to create, publish and maintain the digital presence of businesses or organizations by publishing web pages. Basic CMSs have powered the web since the 1980s. Since then, they have grown increasingly complex and powerful as the users’ needs grow. Today, A CMS enables companies to organize content and assets as well as authoring workflow, website building capabilities, and user management.

Digital experience platforms are an evolution of CMSs. Rather than focus only on the content, they are an extension of the CMS, encompassing other crucial features necessary for delivering the best customer experience. Just because DXP is the new sexy term, that doesn’t mean that companies can make do without one. Modern users still need the functionalities of the CMSs we know and love, and the principles of web content management are still relevant today in the IoT era.

DXPs, then, do not replace CMSs. They instead integrate the concept of content management into a bigger landscape, an ecosystem of integrated technologies that may include an ecommerce platform, personalization engine, analytics, search functionality, digital asset management, among many others. The CMS is still the backbone of digital experiences, but the DXP concept adds capabilities. Some traditional CMS like WordPress and Joomla already house some DXP features as part of their product offerings.

A DXP isn’t only content and web. As the digital journey expands, it is necessary for businesses to deliver omnichannel experiences that are not siloed and restricted to a single platform. A DXP enables companies to share different kinds of content and assets across multiple digital channels and touchpoints at the same time, be it signage, a portal, an eCommerce platform, or an Alexa device.

Let’s see the differences at as closer glance:

Traditional CMS DXP
Create and Manage Web and Mobile Content Yes Yes
Create Omnichannel Content Experiences Possible, but not its intended purpose Yes
Content Personalization No Yes
User Analysis and Tracking Not without add-ons or plugins Yes
Audience Segmentation No Yes

DXP vs Headless CMS

Unlike a traditional CMS platform that restricts developers to a specific template or method for presenting content, a headless CMS is API-driven and front-end agnostic, which allows it to serve content to any desired device or channel using APIs.

Whereas legacy CMS platforms such as WordPress and Drupal are ideal for delivering content to websites, the changing landscape of the internet and the new channels of content consumption provide headless CMSs with more flexibility than their traditional counterparts.

However, despite the similarities, a headless CMS on its own isn’t a DXP. It’s the foundation for a digital experience platform that leverages best-of-breed technologies to achieve the best results in the most cost-effective way.

For instance, Sitecore is one of those platforms. It enables headless, omnichannel content delivery and gives you a solid toolset out of the box for you to build digital experiences while at the same time, providing you with the architecture to build your own DXP the way it makes sense for your business.

Why (and How) Enterprises are Using DXPs

To shed more light on how DXPs can disrupt your business, here are some case studies of enterprise-level businesses that have seen some massive gains after building a DXP:

Royal College of Surgeons

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is a medical professional and educational institution with centers in both Malaysia, Ireland, and Bahrain. They needed a platform capable of increasing digital engagement, optimize content to best suit the customer journey, and scale website roll-outs in multiple regions, and deliver personalized content.

With such different needs, RCSI needed more than a CMS; the organization needed a solid platform capable of accommodating the diverse language and cultural differences of three locations: Ireland, Bahrain, Malaysia

To make such growth possible, the company integrated different Sitecore tools: Sitecore Experience Manager (XM), Sitecore Experience Platform (XP 9.2), and Sitecore Experience Database (xDB).

These three tools together significantly improved engagement. Site visits grew by 177%, sessions by 52% and page views up by 127% with organic search up 90%.

RICOH Asia

The Ricoh Company, Ltd. is a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company. They needed a platform capable of delivering personalized content to nine different regional websites.

To make that possible, the enterprise integrated different Sitecore technologies such as Sitecore Experience Manager (XM), Sitecore Experience Platform (XP 8.2), Sitecore Experience Database (xDB), Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA), and Sitecore Cortex to create a tailor-made DXP adapted to their needs.

Common Mistakes Companies Make When Implementing a New Digital Experience Platform

Mistake #1: Failing to Design a Seamless Digital Experience

At their core, digital experience platforms facilitate the building and delivery of content and assets across channels. For a digital platform to succeed, it must first enable seamless delivery of value for every visitor.

Mistake #2: Failing to Make Risk Mitigation A Priority

Digital experience platforms work as connected, integrated tools, but sometimes things go wrong.Without a plan for mitigating risks, when issues crop up, it will be difficult for companies to cope with them. To prevent that, make sure that all stakeholders are aware of the ongoing implementation and outline ways for them to communicate their questions and raise their concerns about security and compliance to prevent problems down the road.

Mistake #3: Failing to Exploit the Synergy Between Every Channel

Many companies make the mistake of ignoring opportunities because they don’t understand the benefits of omnichannel customer journeys or interconnected experiences. Digital experience platforms can not only deliver seamless experiences to visitors across the globe but they can also collect data about their use, which enables a range of services that they or third parties can provide.

Mistake #4: Failing to Innovate Beyond the Digital Experience

Building and implementing a DXP isn’t the only thing companies need to do to stay nimble and competitive. The platform organization should embrace agile methodologies and continuously innovate. They can do this by iterating through the quadrants following agile principles to adapt to changing ecosystem conditions and the fast-paced competitive dynamics created by the digital disruption.

When following the agile platform innovation loop, consider how the experience is to be reengineered: this means that future platform iterations should better align the digital

experience to the ecosystem.

Read More: Sitecore Implementation 101

Examples of Good DXP Implementation and Maintenance

Implementation is more than half of the battle. Once you’ve built your DXP, you need to maintain it. Proper implementation and ongoing maintenance are the two keys to a successful digital experience platform.

At Oshyn, we helped The National Education Association Member Benefits launch and maintain a new Sitecore-based site. Oshyn spearheaded a redesign and implementation of a new website running on Sitecore. The process included a migration plan for the previous CMS and integrations with third-party software and services.

Sitecore CMS is a powerful web content management (WCM) platform that provides an enterprise-grade solution for managing content, delivering digital experiences, and marketing campaigns.

If you want to learn more about Sitecore development best practices, read more here: Sitecore Implementation Best Practices