Digital experience platforms explained

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    In decades gone by, customers and the companies that served them primarily interacted on one digital channel - the website. Nowadays, however, channels and digital touchpoints have evolved to include social media platforms, messaging apps, IoT devices, in-store kiosks, and more, all seamlessly connected to create an omnichannel experience.

    This evolution of customer and brand interactions has coincided with the shift in technology from a web CMS that enabled organizations to create, manage, and publish content to their website to a digital experience platform that facilitates personalized content distribution across multiple channels. According to Forrester, a DXP can be used “to create coherent customer experiences, enable digital operations agility and velocity on modern infrastructure, and fuel insights-led optimization and automation.”

    But what exactly is a DXP? In this article, we’ll break down the DXP and explain the role of a headless CMS in the platform.

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    What is a digital experience platform (DXP)?

    A digital experience platform (DXP) is a fast-growing software solution that helps businesses to create more engaging customer experiences. They are critical elements for companies undergoing digital transformation and seeking to digitize their business processes.

    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.”

    DXPs help organizations compose, manage, and optimize digital experiences across multiple channels. Not only that but the agility and modularity of a DXP enables businesses to move faster. These platforms help provide digital experiences to users across all spectrums, not just consumers but also partners and employees.

    DXPs have evolved from web CMS and headless platforms through interoperability and integrations with other technologies that support contextualizing content experiences, including CRMs, DAMs, commerce tools, and more. These additional technologies enable the DXP to function at the center of any organization’s digital landscape.

    Core capabilities of any DXP

    As WCM (web content management) and headless systems have evolved, the concept of a DXP isn’t clearly defined across the board just yet. Still, there are some specific capabilities a software should exhibit to be considered a DXP, whether these capabilities are found natively or available via integration.

    Analytics: Having the ability to apply analytics to KPIs to assess and improve the performance and effectiveness of digital experiences. This may include A/B testing, multivariate testing, social analytics, business intelligence, or other analytics methods.

    Architecture: Providing the agility to support various types of development styles. This includes a microservices-based architecture that facilitates scalability and independent deployment and operation of multiple services.

    Collaboration: Platform users must be able to work together to achieve common goals. This may include an intranet or portal, integration with video conferencing tools, and simplifying how employees can interact, share knowledge, and work together.

    Cloud-native: A DXP must facilitate multiple cloud infrastructure modules, whether entirely SaaS-based or a hybrid cloud and on-premise deployment.

    Content management: Managing various types of content, including text, graphics, videos, chatbots, voice assistants, mobile devices, and more, is a critical necessity for a DXP. This includes content creation, content workflows, version control, templating, and the option for delivery to multiple channels. Users must be able to take content from various external sources and manage the entire content lifecycle.

    Extensibility: Platforms should have an API-first approach that enables integration with additional apps and services through RESTful APIs or GraphQL.

    Multi-channel experience management: The ability to manage and deliver experiences across various channels including IoT devices, AR, VR and more.

    Personalization: Enabling personalized experiences that are relevant and individualized based on previous customer behavior, segmentation, and external data.

    Security: Providing access control, safety, and authentication through two-factor authentication methods and single sign-on.

    The role of best-of-breed vs all-in-one

    Within the DXP landscape, vendors may apply one of two approaches: all-in-one suite or best-of-breed. An all-in-one suite provides a complete package that includes all of the tools necessary for organizations to facilitate digital experiences. Everything from content management to analytics, personalization, commerce and more are all handled by one platform or a suite of products from the same vendor.

    On the other hand, best-of-breed enables organizations to pick which technology best suits their needs and combines them to create a customized solution. One vendor is selected to manage content, another to handle analytics, commerce and any other capabilities that the business requires.

    Each of these methods comes with its own set of pros and cons, but deciding which one fits depends on your company’s needs.

    All-in-one suites can provide a singular view of everything across the organization since there is only one solution to integrate. This enables businesses to build a relationship with a single vendor rather than create connections with multiple vendors. However, all-in-one solutions might not have the full range of capabilities that a business needs, and they may be stuck dealing with bloated functionality that they don’t need.

    With a best-of-breed solution, organizations can leverage third-party vendors and integrations to meet all their business needs, usually at a lower cost than an all-in-one platform. However, there are some drawbacks, such as having to coordinate with multiple vendors.

    Given the core capabilities of a DXP, it can be difficult for one platform to manage all of these requirements without integrations effectively. It’s for this reason that at Storyblok, we apply the best-of-breed approach to our platform.

    How we think about DXP & the role of CMS

    A DXP manages all of the digital experience capabilities for an organization, enabling the creation of an omnichannel experience. However, given the modular nature of a digital experience platform, multiple pieces need to be integrated.

    Storyblok, as a headless CMS, can be used at the heart of a DXP architecture. This headless architecture provides the foundation for a DXP facilitating much of the functionality required from a DXP, including content management, collaboration and personalization, and allows integration with best-of-breed technologies.

    As a headless CMS that goes beyond headless, Storyblok provides a marketer-friendly interface that includes a visual editor. This enables organizations to achieve the functionality they require in today’s evolving digital environment without being limited by monolithic CMS platforms that place restrictions on what digital experiences can be created or headless CMS platforms that handicap marketers trying to make those experiences.

    A modern CMS needs to be DXP-ready, and Storyblok fits that mold. Learn more about how we do that and the role that a modern CMS plays by reading our whitepaper: Headless CMS - How Does it Solve the Content Problem?