The Missing Piece: A New Vision for Digital Experience Platforms

Doug Heise, VP Marketing

Doug Heise

It’s All About the Experience

Most savvy brands and retailers recognize that great content is at the core of every great online experience. That’s true today and it will remain true in the future. But building and delivering consistent, compelling omni-channel experiences to consumers across multiple devices is more complicated than ever.

For years, brands and retailers have had to cobble together a digital experience for customers that ended up being incomplete and inconsistent. This is because every new digital channel – from desktop to mobile, wearables to voice – has required its own set of tools, often based on unique and sometimes incompatible standards.

Online customer interactions have been further fragmented by self-contained and narrowly-focused point solutions that provide limited functionality and aren’t well integrated. For example, eCommerce platforms are good at handling transactions, but terrible at content management. Web content management systems can deliver beautiful brand experiences, but can’t handle purchases or deliver content to mobile apps.

Furthermore, this complexity has been magnified as companies expand into global markets – each with its own language, marketing demands, and regulatory climate.

The resulting patchwork of technologies and experiences is frustrating for consumers and expensive for companies. It’s been clear for a while now that we need something new.

That something now has a name: the Digital Experience Platform (DXP).

DXP Insight: Skepticism and Complexity

The research firm  Digital Clarity Group (DCG) defines a DXP as a “collection of technologies for creating, orchestrating, and managing the digital experience delivered to customers, prospects, employees, and other stakeholders… across the lifecycle of the customer relationship, from marketing to sales through service.”[1]

This sounds like just what the doctor ordered. But before we get carried away, let’s keep in mind that deploying an enterprise-wide DXP is a complex undertaking. And while a handful of companies claim to provide an out-of-the-box DXP solution, they face real skepticism from potential buyers.

In its survey of 300 global business and IT leaders, DCG noted that a solid majority (66%) of respondents prefer a heterogeneous approach toward implementing DXPs. They also found that 56% identified ease of integration as an important factor influencing their choice.[2]

An Incomplete Vision

What this means is that a best-of-breed approach is clearly the preferred strategy. At the moment, there’s no real consensus on what the exact components should be, but most software vendors and analyst firms agree that the following technologies are a minimal requirement:

Diagram DXP

Diagram DXP

This graphic captures the critical components required for most DXP solutions, but we at CoreMedia think this vision is incomplete – and many of the world’s top brands agree with us. What’s missing in this framework is what could be called the “Experience Composition and Preview” layer; that is, the ability to instantly preview the customer experiences in any permutation.

Here’s what the revised diagram looks like when we inject this critical piece:

Diagram Missing Piece

Diagram Missing Piece

What is Experience Composition and Preview?

Before brands and retailers can begin rolling out new online customer experiences across all channels, content creators need the ability to build, test, and preview them via an experience composition layer, along with the appropriate toolsets, workflows, and collaboration capabilities.

The key functional elements of this solution layer include the ability to:

  •     Access content, products, and assets from any repository, including an eCommerce system or a headless CMS, via a single, intuitive UI
  •     Integrate content in real time to ensure everything is always instantly up-to-date
  •     Collaborate across global, multi-disciplinary teams in content research and creation
  •     Preview any digital experience for mobile, tablet, desktop, digital signage, social networks, and more
  •     Quickly translate copy into multiple languages for global campaigns without modifying the base assets
  •     Leverage customer data from numerous systems in order to test and optimize the digital customer journey

In the future, the real competition among DXP players will be who can deliver the best composition and content management suite at the most attractive price point. This is welcome news for us here at CoreMedia because our solution does exactly that. The image below shows CoreMedia Studio, our state-of-art interface for experience composition and preview.

Experience Preview

Experience Preview


In the future, the real competition among DXP players will be who can deliver the best composition and content management suite at the most attractive price point. This is welcome news for us here at CoreMedia because our solution does exactly that. The image below shows CoreMedia Studio, our state-of-art interface for experience composition and preview.The preview layer is a big area of focus for some of our customers, particularly those in the luxury retail space, because customer experience is such a competitive advantage in this sector. A better experience on a high-end shopping site often means more revenue and more market share.

The Key to Enterprise Headless CMS

But this functionality is not just critical for luxury brands – it’s also becoming a prerequisite for anyone looking to take advantage of so-called “headless” technology and deploy it at scale.

A headless CMS provides the ability to separate product pages and other content from the actual presentation and layout. This means content providers and retailers are no longer required to render every single end-user experience. Instead, this can be left to the individual user agent, which delivers the best possible cross-channel experience, allowing companies to focus more resources on creating better user experiences.

There are lots of headless CMS vendors out there, but in fact none of them can provide the full range of enterprise-grade capabilities that CoreMedia can. Nor can most eCommerce platforms provide the robust headless CMS capabilities that customers need. This includes advanced APIs and easy integration, customizability, support for different integration scenarios, the ability to manage and dynamically deliver the customer experience across different digital touchpoints – and the ability to preview all of it.

To paraphrase an old proverb, companies want to look before they leap.

And so, to sum up:

  •     In order to compete, companies need to provide a stellar customer experience across all touchpoints.
  •     Increasingly, companies need a sophisticated digital experience platform, but they want to keep their options open.
  •     IT departments prefer flexible architectures, but these are often cumbersome for customer-facing professionals.
  •     The right CMS gives companies the ability to preview the customer experience before build and deployment.
  •     The DXP that does this best is CoreMedia Content Cloud.
Stage 1: Fragmented: Multiple Channels

You’re a digital dinosaur!

You have a beautiful website, but with fragmented digital experiences, you run the risk of extinction.

It’s time to evolve.

Your audiences want a seamless experience, no matter what's happening behind the scenes. When your experience is different or difficult, it’s important to start with the basics, such as cultivating a holistic approach to online digital experiences. Realign your teams, platforms, processes, goals, and metrics around a comprehensive view of the online experience. Focus on the end-to-end customer journey cutting across channels, desktop and mobile.

separate channels animation circle t-rex dinosaur square
Stage 2: Integrated: Multiple channels

You’re a fish!

Signs of exciting life are starting to form. Your DX is responsive and adaptive but it’s not quite personalized yet.

Keep swimming!

The integration of your brand content across every touchpoint (website, online store, social media, emails, apps, point of sale) creates immersive experiences. These flagship sites combine content-rich brand experiences with immediate conversion capabilities. Business teams and marketing are closely aligned. However, while the digital experience is responsive and adaptive, it’s not yet personalized.

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Stage 3: Instant: Global expansion

You’re a crocodile!

You’re taking it global. Speed and scalability are key and just like a crocodile, you’re fast…but you’re clumsy.

Oh snap!

In this stage, the online digital experience becomes completely dynamic. You need content that is global, yet relevant, with plenty of local insights: Who is the user? Are they using a mobile phone? Is it raining where they are? Is it snowing? If it is, maybe they need warm, waterproof boots. All of this contextualized information creates a better user experience. With one global orchestration, you’re able to adapt everything, in whatever country or language you choose – while keeping turnaround times low. So keep evolving.

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Stage 4: Dynamic: Real time personalization

You’re a lion!

You’re reaching more customers in more countries and languages than ever before, and now you’re finally hunting and collecting info with precision.

But you can do more to keep your brand roaring!

As you graduate to the Instant level, you’re able to rapidly update everything - not just in one language and for one country, but in 20 languages and for 100 countries. Speed and scalability are key, driven by the need to roll out global campaigns in all languages and all touchpoints and make updates in minutes or hours, not weeks. But there’s still more to do to reach nirvana.

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Stage 5: Immersive: Elevated experiences

You’re Captain Content!

You’ve done it! You have opposable thumbs AND you’re saving the world with your seamless, elevated customer experiences.

You're a superhero in the digital space.

Your digital world and your physical world are blending together in the most complementary way possible. When shoppers visit your store, they’ll be greeted with their pre-selected products. Language changes dynamically depending on country of origin – it's like the whole store was set up just for your one specific customer.

In this final stage, your customer experience is truly immersive and superior, and your flagship store merges your physical and digital world into one, with a truly personalized individual experience.

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