5 Telltale Signs You Need a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
All websites begin to show their age after five or six years: your design may look dated, and navigation on rival sites or marketplaces is noticeably sharper.
Time for a refresh!
Of course, technology has not stood still since you launched or last relaunched your site(s) so you will have a wish list of things you’d like a new site, or a new platform to be able to do.
How long is that list, and what is it telling you?
While it is tempting to stick to the WordPress-style solution that has done a respectable job for many years, often without cost, you likely know that there is a better solution out there: a Digital Experience Platform (DXP).
But if your CMS solution is good enough, or just about, is it worth investing in better?
In this blog we explore this question by asking you about the pain points that you are experiencing with your existing solution. Is a CMS-type approach adequate to resolve them, or do you need more advanced technology?
Before we go through the points of friction, we should define what we mean by a “digital experience platform."
What is a digital experience platform?
This is Gartner’s definition of the technology: “A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is a well-integrated and cohesive set of technologies designed to enable the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences across multi-experience customer journeys.”
This broad definition plays into the misconception that DXPs require a Big Bang moment of complete digital transformation. If a DXP can do everything, as Gartner’s wording suggests, do I have to do everything all at once? Where do my specific needs fit in?
The most effective DXPs are what is called “composable”. Their modular architecture allows businesses to build change incrementally in line with their requirements and budget.
The other misconception about DXPs is that they are mere extensions of Content Management Systems. This misses the fundamental point of DXPs. Certainly, they are an evolution of CMS but only in the way that smartphones evolved from the traditional mobile phone – an entirely different product with an entirely different set of possibilities.
This is why a renewed commitment to a WordPress-style environment is an investment in the past because these CMS solutions were invented to solve the problems of 20 years ago.
So, let’s now look at some of the problems businesses want to confront today.
Five pain points that require a DXP solution
1. ‘We’re spending too much time managing the site’
The impression that the site is controlling you rather than you controlling the site is a common experience, especially in B2B businesses with deep inventories or multiple sites. Integrating the backend of a CMS with a Product Information Management (PIM) system is tricky, so marketing teams often resort to manual workarounds to update the site. Delabie, a leading European manufacturer of taps and hygiene ware used Excel spreadsheets to orchestrate its updates – a process that took so much time, product information was updated just once a month. Now that it has replatformed to a DXP, content changes can be delivered in a matter of minutes. freeing up content editors to create real business value.
- Product management is centralized on Ibexa
- Editors can change product content in real-time
- Multiple language sites have been integrated with new back office
- Production managers have much more autonomy to make changes on the site
You can read the full Delabie success story here.
The problem isn’t always about manual input; the CMS itself is also a barrier to agility. Unintuitive or inaccessible backends make it impossible for contributors or local editors to upload content, with the frustrating result that a single person or small team must take charge of everything, and even the upload the same content multiple times across several sites. This becomes unsustainable.
In a DXP, content changes can be automated across all instances of the site, even translated content. Permissions can be set flexibly for local editors to upload their own content.
2. ‘Customers want more personalization’
The first generations of “digital natives” are coming of age and taking up leadership positions in B2B which they expect to have the same level of design, ease of use, and personalization as the B2C sites with which they grew up.
Digital commerce in B2B is complex, and personalization is no exception. B2B catalogs typically run into tens if not hundreds of thousands of SKUs, so suggesting an alternative product (or simply finding it) requires integration with your PIM or – even better – a native PIM module as part of your DXP.
There are other types of recommendation that add value in B2B. If a product is out of stock, you want to offer alternatives: a comparable product or version of the product, or the same product sourced from a different warehouse and with a different, probably later, delivery date.
Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are relatively new. They allow marketers to build up incredibly detailed profiles of their customers, and mine deep insights into their behavior across all your channels.
All this is beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced CMSs.
Custom catalogs and pricing are transformative in B2B, but they do not necessarily require that you also make your products available for purchase online. We shall consider the scenario of “full ecommerce” later.
3. ‘Our digital landscape is out of control’
B2B has been digitalizing its activities for more than two decades – with strategies devised for the technology of the day. As a result, many organizations have inadvertently built up a busy and chaotic digital landscape of sites, systems, and siloed data sources. Acquisitions complicate the picture still further.
Before it migrated to a DXP, the French Ministry of Culture had more than 200 sites, some of them obsolete. The digital landscape of bott, the German manufacturer of van racking, workplace storage and workstation systems, was fragmented across the 20 sites of its subsidiaries and export partners. Swissport, the global leader in aviation services, operates in 45 countries with virtually each geography running its own website, using every WordPress-type tool imaginable. These organizations needed a DXP to rationalize and consolidate their digital infrastructure.
Your brand needs to have a cogent and consistent message across all its activities, for all its products, in every market you serve.
The Ministère de la Culture, bott, Swissport – and thousands of other B2B organizations – could have done little to prevent its digital landscape from becoming almost impossible to navigate, because the CMS systems they used did not lend themselves to consolidation.
Consolidation is also a necessary condition to resolve another pain point: omnichannel.
4. ‘We can’t implement omnichannel’
McKinsey research has revealed the astonishing fact that B2B buyers now visit 10 distinct channels in their decision-making journey before contacting a supplier, up from 5 channels in 2016.
This means you get 10 chances to get it right – or wrong – before you even speak to a potential customer. Getting it right means that buyers receive the same brand message and the same information on whichever channel they choose to go. Product specifications, price, inventory position, special offers – these must be uniform in real-time on the website, on social media, in your physical shop or showroom, on live chat or in customer support, and so on.
Omnichannel is impossible to achieve in CMS systems which were designed for a single channel. Some DXPs make heavy weather of this too, so look for a platform with Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) capabilities to automate integrations with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) (for real-time price and stock position), PIM (if necessary), and other third-party solutions.
5. ‘We want to do ecommerce’
B2C sites have been engaged in ecommerce on CMS-type sites from the very beginning but these were typically third-party solutions. One of the reasons why ecommerce took so long to take off in B2B was that the available solutions – usually “extensions” of software conceived for B2C – were not up to the task.
There are many factors that complicate B2B ecommerce – the longer sales cycle, the intricacies of contractual pricing structures, the fact that there is seldom one “B2B buyer” but usually several, each with their own roles, priorities, and decision-triggers.
The ecommerce solutions on the market today are much better than the first generations of improvised solutions for B2B – but none can compete with platforms that are native to your DXP.
This is what excites B2B businesses: one platform, one UI, one vendor relationship, one development framework for all customer engagements.
This matters even if you aren’t ready yet to commit to ecommerce, because you want a solution that is futureproof – not one with a foot in the past.
Most B2B organizations need a DXP to futureproof their business or service, and to keep pace with the market.
If you are still working with a CMS-style system, chances are you have outgrown it. Most digital and marketing teams’ soldier on heroically but there comes a tipping point where you are wasting too much time, and missing too many opportunities – and so the spark of change is lit.
Transformation is challenging work, but composable DXPs break down the journey into manageable stages. Very soon, even before the platform has been fully implemented, organizations can see the value. “We should have done this years ago,” is the universal reaction.