Decoding digital experience platforms and the influence of industry vertical

Understanding the value that content management systems (CMS) and digital experience platforms (DXP) can offer to businesses is crucial for any modern digital company. There’s a strong case to make for any such organization to implement a tool that allows it to better connect with its customers in ways that are meaningful -- and with measurable impact. But before any business rushes into it, it’s important to understand that while every premium platform out there has its merits, some are best suited to certain industries and tasks more than others.

First, let’s make sure we understand the difference between a CMS and a DXP. A CMS allows you to create and manage digital content published on a website or app, including organization, security, and user administration.  

Meanwhile, digital experience platforms allow businesses to build real time user experiences optimized across multiple channels - websites, apps, billboards, IoT devices, and more - at every stage of the customer’s journey. DXPs scale and connect not only across channels, but also across geographical locations and languages. 

While many functionalities of each digital platform overlap, it’s vital for businesses to understand the nuances between the two. DXPs have been built to expand on and add to the existing features of a CMS to make sure customer relationships become even more lasting and meaningful. They track engagements through the customer lifecycle, deliver personalized, omnichannel reach, and easily deal with current and future integrations with other solutions.

When should a company use a DXP?

Essentially, every company that uses new technologies to communicate with its customers should be thinking about implementing a DXP if they do not want to get left behind. If your company has a use for optimization and personalization in the way it connects with its customer base, then it will undoubtedly benefit from what DXPs have to offer.

Essentially, using a DXP means: 

●         Knowing who interacts with your digital channels and how

●         Gathering insight for personalization, targeting, and persona creating

●         Exposing the most and least efficient visitor paths through your content toward

a specific marketing goal

●         Transforming shoppers into customers for life

●         Keeping people on your site longer 

●         Mining organic brand ambassadors

●         Increasing noticeably the number of visitors

●         Increasing perceptibly the average time on your website

●         Increasing your revenue

As the DXP market is only set to grow - it’s predicted to reach $13.9 billion by 2024, up from $7.9 billion in 2019 - so will the offerings of the solutions. Right now, some of the biggest players in the field, such as Sitecore and Adobe, are focused on offering a complete DXP experience that facilitates consistent multi and omni-channel strategies, personalized and automated marketing, and content management across all media and devices. 

The demand for the value of DXPs is unmistakable, as Gartner found in its Magic Quadrant for DXPs report (login required), by 2021, 90% of global organizations will rely on system integrators, agencies and channel partners to design, build and implement their digital experience strategies. 

Yet with a number of DXPs on the market, each with disparate offerings in terms of functionalities, many businesses have been left wondering: Which one is the right one for them? How can they decide which functionalities to prioritize, and which aren’t as important?

When deciding on whether to invest in a DXP, and if so, which one is the right one, a business is influenced by a number of factors. These include the measurable value that is given to the customer, how well it fits within the organization’s budget, how long it takes before the platform is fully implemented and operational, and the organization’s maturity in its industry. It’s also crucial to match your business needs with the customer experience offered by DXPs.

Matching your business needs with the customer experience offered by DXPs

When it comes to digital experience platforms, there are six levels of content curation, management, and immersive user experience for businesses to align with their goals and needs:

Level 1: Using a simple “brochure” website that includes proper analytical features and email campaign capabilities. 

Level 2: Creating useful content optimized across all communication channels with the best fit to our market and clients. Channels include websites, mobile apps, social networks, etc.

Level 3: Setting achievable objectives with the tools that are currently available. Creating digital opportunities to increase traffic in order to achieve these goals, as well as establish interactions with customers. 

Level 4: Leveraging metrics and analytics and constantly optimizing digital activities through testing, personalization, and improvement. This requires gathering information about clients and organizing what’s been gathered into specific profiles or categories, and using that information to best understand who buys what products. 

Level 5: Aligning company strategy and customer needs. This ensures that both the company and the customer are given high priority and one does not suffer at the expense of the other. 

Level 6: Having comprehensive insight into customers and having the ability to communicate with individual customers across all channels, almost in real time. Predictions and intelligence help identify a customer’s needs and channel targeted messaging and targeted dialogue in order to trigger specific buying decisions.

How does vertical play into this decision?

When it comes to deciding between providers, the industry in which the business is operating arguably also influences the decision. Let’s take a look into how vertical influences the purchase of different popular DXPs.

Here we can see the popularity of DXP providers Adobe AEM, Kentico EMS, Liferay, and Sitecore according to vertical. The chart shows us the number of implementations, but a game changing factor that we don’t see is any information on companies’ budgets for implementation within each vertical. This information would give further statistic weight to the data. Many of the decisions that are related to the chosen solutions were made not only according to possible options, but were also down to the available budget.

If we ignore the correlation between the available budget and the size of the companies and focus only on a number of implemented websites, we can see that even companies with smaller budgets are becoming increasingly interested in implementing DXPs in their ecosystems. So, while free or lower-price DXPs seem to be more popular, it is in fact not that simple.

It’s also important to consider that some companies already have an infrastructure that they built themselves that might be based on a certain technology such as Java. In this case, the company would choose a DXP that is based on the software they already use (Java), like Adobe AEM or Liferay.

Liferay proves to significantly lead the way in the adult, pets, religion and spirituality, style and fashion, and technology and computing verticals - taking up 40% or more of the market share between the four platforms. 

When it comes to the real estate, home and garden and careers verticals, Kentico EMS heads the way also taking up 40% or more of the market share in each of these sectors. Adobe AEM takes up the largest portion of the market within automotive and vehicles and health and fitness industries.

Sitecore stays relatively consistent across each area, coming up top or a close second in verticals like government and politics, education, food and drink, and business and industrial.

If you are working in these sectors, chances you are already using a dynamic experience digital platform like Sitecore and seeing the benefits across your business: more focused engagement with targeted strata of consumers, whom you reach across multiple channels -- and everything almost in real-time. And if you’re yet to leverage the power of a DXP, it might be time to consider just how far you are falling behind. 

However, as we can see, the decision is a complicated one that requires a real assessment of your company’s needs cross-referenced against the features of the DXP. If you’re struggling to make the choice, an experienced partner can help you through the decision to make sure you settle on the right DXP for your business.

An alternative route?

It’s also important to remember that simply implementing a new, shiny DXP might not be a possibility for all of the companies or organizations that need one - especially if you have already invested in a traditional CMS. Purchasing and implementing a whole new DXP is a complex and time-intensive process that many businesses can’t afford to undergo.

If you have already deployed a CMS and now find yourself in need of a more rigorous solution, there are ways to build on top of it rather than scrap it and start fresh. By adding and integrating other external solutions, you can upgrade your CMS into a program with many of the same functionality as a DXP. For example, with third-party solutions you could transform your digital marketing strategy with tools like personalization, marketing optimization and automation. 

With all this in mind, it’s clear that a number of different DXP providers can offer a serious amount of value to businesses across various verticals. The disparity in which DXP is favored in which vertical comes down to many different factors -- which doesn’t prove too helpful in aiding those companies that are yet to make the decision on which DXP they want to implement. For this reason, a very careful assessment of the options is crucial, whether that’s going for a premium DXP service like Sitecore or Adobe AEM, or building up the features of an existing CMS with third-party solutions. With the help of an experienced partner that has an extensive knowledge of all the factors at play, you can make an informed decision on which DXP is right for you.

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