The pace of transition towards the all-digital customer has accelerated significantly over the last several years. Many customers still struggle to digitize business operations, deliver connected customer experiences, and gather actionable customer insights across multi-experience customer journeys. To stay competitive, organizations need to speak to the customer through content and listen to the data collected throughout the customer’s journey.
Integrated solutions—typically referred to as Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)— have emerged to address these challenges. In many instances, these platforms are evolutions of existing Content Management Systems (CMS) and Web Content Management (WCM) systems formerly used to deliver rich user interfaces for corporate marketing and commerce systems. As a result, one might expect to think of a DXP solution as just a more integrated tool for facilitating user interactions across touch points. And that is certainly a component of a robust digital experience. But the key to delivering a successful DXP solution that meets the needs of customers lies not in the user interface capabilities but in your data.
To stay competitive, organizations not only need to “speak” to the customer through engaging interfaces backed by robust content. They also need to “listen” to the data collected throughout the customer’s journey. This data forms the heart of the DXP architecture and shapes the customer’s journey by providing context, personalization, and analytics to drive the overall experience.
DXP Reference Architecture
Let’s begin by examining the components of a complete DXP architecture. Figure 1 shows the Anexinet Reference Architecture for DXP.
The core components of the architecture are represented in the middle of the diagram. Here is a brief description of each high-level component in the core DXP architecture:
- Interaction Services: These facilitate the interaction with the user across touch points. These may include web, mobile, char, voice, etc.
- Content Management: This component contains the capabilities needed to structure and shape the user interactions. Using these services, contributors can create, edit, and publish content as well as integrate it with capabilities (e.g., localization, search, and metadata). All of which can be accessed via APIs for integration into multiple types of user interactions.
- Audience Data Management: This component enables the management of integrated profiles for the digital experience user. With this profile, the platform can offer segmentation, personalization, and consent management across the user journey.
- Analytics: These services allow for automation and reporting across the DXP architecture. Insights into the performance of content throughout the user journey can drive the digital experience for each user.
- Data Lake: This is the repository that stores data about user behaviors, transactions, sentiment, etc. as collected by the DXP or from systems outside the architecture.
- APIs and Integration Services: These services let components in the DXP architecture interact seamlessly with each other as well as with other core enterprise systems and external services.
Components outside the core DXP stack (e.g., Commerce Services, Security Services, CRM, Point of Sale (POS) and Marketing Services) are integrated into the core architecture via the integration services. These components have two roles in the architecture:
- Providing key services throughout the user’s digital experience journey (e.g., product catalog, cart/checkout services for eCommerce, authentication and SSO for managing identity, marketing campaign management, etc.).
- Sending and receiving user profile data into and from the DXP system, enabling a single view of the digital user profile to facilitate the user’s end-to-end digital journey.
Focusing on the Role of Data Within the Architecture
As you can see, the management and flow of data within a DXP is key to its ability to drive the user’s digital journey. In fact, when you look close at the evolution of the various technology solutions from CMS and WCM into full DX platforms, you’ll see a clear commonality to that evolution: the addition of an underlying data management layer within the architecture.
From Adobe to Liferay to Salesforce to Acquia to Episerver, some aspect of a Customer Data Platform underpins every DXP solution. Because data is what separates a DX platform from a CMS or WCM solution. The ability to consolidate and understand your user profile data in one place is what lets such an architecture deliver a targeted digital experience using segmentation, personalization, content targeting, and relevant marketing campaign—all while generating valuable insights at each stage. This data is what turns a series of individual user touch points into an orchestrated journey.
Therefore, given the foundational nature of data within a DXP, the project for implementing such a business solution—not just a UX project, but one focused on data and integration, requires many considerations. What will your common user profile look like? Where is the user data located? How are you going to collect it and move it into the DXP Data Lake in near real-time? Without the answers you cannot reap the value a Digital Experience Platform offers your business.
If you need help laying out a robust architecture to support your DXP initiative, please reach out to us. From UX design and development—through to the critical data and integration aspects that are the heart of your DXP architecture—we have helped countless organizations deliver great connected experiences. Our Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Strategy Kickstart and Customer 360 Kickstart help you rapidly devise a strategy and roadmap, guide you towards the right Digital Experience platform, and ensure a successful delivery.