Architectural decisions to consider when choosing a digital experience platform
The right digital experience platform (DXP) can elevate your business and customer experience to another level. Here’s what you need to know to invest in the right DXP that’ll help you scale and innovate faster.
What is a DXP?
As more and more businesses enter the digital landscape, online customer experience has become the cornerstone for companies to succeed. A DXP is an enabler for businesses to create and offer seamless digital experiences across all touchpoints.
Architectural decisions to consider
There are many DXPs out there in the market – so how do you know if one is better than the other? Here are a few things that you should look out for in a DXP to help you choose the perfect one that fits your business’ needs in the long run.
Composability, interoperability and loose coupling
One way companies prepare in the face of uncertainty (or change) is by architecting the business for real-time adaptability and resilience. It requires rethinking how existing pieces fit together, which is why there is a massive shift in platforms towards composability.
A composable DXP allows businesses to compose and recompose modules to meet the organization’s needs now and as they change in the future. For a composable DXP to work, the modules that make up the platform need to be highly interoperable but loosely coupled.
For example, connecting many different digital solutions such as content management, ecommerce, marketing automation and data platforms will require a lot of integration work. If you are working with a vendor that provides you all these solutions, it’s always best to check if these systems seamlessly connect to each other, yet modular enough that you can swap a module for another that comes from a different vendor with ease. A highly interoperable yet loosely coupled DXP affords the business speed to market yet flexibility to recompose and modify the solution to fit new business needs as they change.
Security, high availability and scalability
When building DXPs, many digital teams get excited with all the features such as AI, AR, VR, Chatbots, and fancy animations. While these are all innovative, every building being built on the ground today doesn’t start with the luxurious finishings; it starts with ensuring it has a robust foundation.
Cloud native architecture
Many companies have moved to a cloud-native architecture as the flexibility it entails gives businesses a competitive advantage. Not only can organizations benefit from being able to easily scale up and down infrastructure resources, have a better disaster recovery and implement higher security, but businesses can also benefit from a reduced overall IT operating cost.
Security and compliance
Security is at the core of any robust cloud infrastructure. Leading DXPs typically have ISO-level security, and include solutions like WAF, DDoS mitigation, encryption everywhere, zero trust and tolerance, as well as comply with GDPR, PCI-DSS, etc.
Another integral part of any cloud infrastructure is ensuring there is no single point of failure. With disaster recovery in place, the web applications should have automatic failover to a secondary set of infrastructure that is geo-redundant and meeting the business’ required SLAs.
With the pandemic pushing more people to use more digital channels, businesses are now investing in the scalability of their digital platforms. Gone are the days of online waiting queues; cloud technology enables businesses to auto-scale infrastructure to keep up with demand and reduce costs during low peak times and so should your DXP.
Data: with great power comes great responsibility
Many organizations today want to be more scientific with the way they go to market. Employing a data-driven approach in the decision making has allowed businesses to thrive and sustainably compete in an ever-crowded digital world.
Technologies such as a Customer Data Platform (CDP) enable businesses to collect, stitch, analyze and synthesize big data into insights that are actionable by organizations. These insights can be used for personalization, marketing automation, experimentation and optimization. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Data residency, sovereignty and localization
Storing personally identifiable information (PII) data requires your platform to abide to data privacy rules. This includes data residency (storing data in a geographical location of preference), data sovereignty (being subject to the laws of the country in which the data are physically stored) and data localization (data stays within the same borders it was created). Businesses need to ensure that their DXP vendor abides by these rules.
Data in silos, data duplication and lack of delineation of responsibility, are some of the challenges that organizations face today when collecting and maintaining data across multiple systems. Organizations need to incorporate a strategy for storing and stitching data and a DXP must enable organizations, if not provide a solution, to this.
Drawing insights from data
We live in a big data world where the collection of data has created a new problem: understanding what it all means.
While businesses can always employ data scientists to draw these insights out, modern technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have helped businesses significantly in this space.
Some examples are automatic reports on which products have high sales scores but low visibility scores or producing real-time segments of customers that are extremely likely to make a purchase in a specific period.
Once if you have those insights, businesses should be quick to act. Unfortunately, technology can be a huge blocker to this. A solid DXP needs to enable businesses to quickly resolve issues or take advantage of optimization opportunities.
See a product that has a high sales score but low visibility score? The DXP should automatically promote the product more. Need to provide the next best content for the end user? A DXP should automatically present recommendations based on individual interests. A user has just abandoned the website? Automate advertising on other channels to bring the user back. These are just a few examples of opportunities that businesses have in optimizing the digital experience.
Lifespan and sustainability (Hint: purchase, not develop)
I’ve heard this a few times from organizations that have relatively large development teams. I was once a developer and know the temptation of wanting to build bespoke solutions such as a Content Management System (CMS), but this is often tunnel-visioned and only solves a particular problem.
One architectural principle in enterprise is to buy off-the-shelf software, as this provides greater longevity, supportability, level of knowledge and upgradeability and is therefore more sustainable. In-house developments are likely to be constrained by the local engineering team and their availability, which can shorten the lifespan of a DXP.
Ease of use and orchestration
From spreadsheets, emails and calendars to various digital marketing systems such as content management, ecommerce, marketing automation, and analytics tools, it’s no wonder marketers have limited time to do the actual work of marketing their brand. Occupying a huge amount of time is administration of work for marketing by marketing, and a DXP needs to solve for this.
First, your DXP needs to be easy to use. The more marketers spend time figuring out how to use the different modules of the DXP, the less time they have on the actual task. This means less productivity and lower concentration levels.
Secondly, your DXP should allow marketers to easily orchestrate all marketing work. This includes automating tedious tasks such as setting up workflows, centralizing digital assets for the various digital sales channels, as well as an easy-to-use, centralized management tool removing the need for disparate systems such as spreadsheets, emails, calendars and online boards. This will allow marketers to do their work more efficiently and effectively.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
A DXP that follows a simple, yet coherent architecture design tends to be easier to explain and understand, support and make changes to. The following signals can validate a simple and elegant design:
- Fast and seamless deployments
- Easy to explain to stakeholders
- Short ramp up time for developers
- Easy to modify and extend in the future
- Easy to operationally support and document
- Reduced overall cost
If you’re finding yourself having to work with so many vendors, spending so much time supporting complex inter-dependencies, customizations and integrations and less time on creating awesome digital experiences for your customers, it may be worth asking if the high maintenance platform justifies the value it provides. The platform needs to enable you to realize your business goals, not the business having to adjust for the platform.
Choosing the right DXP for your business
There are plenty of DXPs in the market, and one DXP varies significantly from the other. Regardless of your business needs, what's certain is that a flexible and scalable platform should be on top of your priority list so that your business can grow and, most importantly, pivot when you must.
Create superior digital experiences with Optimizely
Optimizely offers a best-in-class DXP that's been used by more than 9,000 industry leaders worldwide. From content creation to building a personalized experience on every touchpoint, Optimizely's DXP equips your team to create an impactful digital experience effortlessly.
Contact Optimizely today to learn how you can easily unlock your digital potential with a DXP.