What is a digital experience cloud?
You know what a digital experience platform is. But what is a digital experience cloud?
Written by Vegard Ottervig on
The history of CMS is a clear trend toward more advanced features and a more integrated user experience, which often manifests as comprehensive marketing suites or digital platforms. As Celerity points out, customers today expect more: They expect a smooth, consistent, and personalized experience across all platforms.
That is one of the main reasons why digital experience platforms—which manages user experience across different digital touchpoints in the customer journey—are now evolving into digital experience clouds.
But what exactly is this?
Here is our definition:
A digital experience cloud is a fully managed platform to build and run digital experiences.
With a cloud, traditional content management and platform services are offered in one solution. This allows you to create, scale, and deliver content and digital experiences to any digital channel and touchpoint in your customer journey.
Experience clouds are offered by vendors like Acquia, Adobe, Enonic, and Optimizely. Some vendors offer integrated marketing, advertising, and analytics suites, while others offer a managed experience platform together with best of breed integrations.
A digital experience cloud lets your organization build digital experiences like websites and web apps, or deliver headless content to support your customer journey. Where a traditional CMS can be compared to a manual car, a digital experience platform can be compared to an automatic car—and a digital experience cloud can be compared to a self-driving car.
With a cloud, the technical matters and operations are left to the experts. You can still drive the car as usual—you can still manage content and handle platform services—but now with the ease of automation and expert orchestration in the background.
The vendor will be responsible for taking care of traffic spikes, security issues, and smooth performance, while your organization can focus on all the fun stuff—like making engaging content or developing new features.
A digital experience cloud can help you save time and money by assigning cumbersome and demanding tasks like security, operations, deployment, back-ups, upgrades, and scaling to the experts. Cloud vendors have experience and specialization in specific cloud-related tasks and problems, and will have more in-depth knowledge of the matter than your inhouse DevOps.
Also, as Rackspace points out, a managed experience cloud allows your organization to focus on your core business—on building applications, products, services, or methods that can attract and retain customers. A digital experience cloud can in other words stay fast and lean, instead of inflating payrolls with additional DevOps and other professionals.
Even though there are many advantages with a digital experience cloud, there are of course disadvantages. One such pitfall includes much responsibility being put on the shoulders of one vendor. With everything from operations to scaling now being put into one basket, you should research and select a vendor carefully. Be sure to review or test security, and find out how well the platform will integrate with your internal systems.
Also make sure to build a convincing business case »
On the topic of integrations, a cloud platform does not necessarily have to offer every feature you require out of the box. In the same way your organization can’t be an expert in everything and must outsource certain tasks, the cloud platform itself can’t be an expert in everything.
A vendor promising an integrated suite of analytics, web and app experience management, advertising, audience management, testing, personalization, marketing automation, eCommerce, video, social, and campaign management might deliver all the tools available—but not the best tools.
One alternative strategy here is to check whether a potential cloud vendor offers integrations with third-party best of breed tools and solutions. In this way, your eggs may be smartly distributed in several robust baskets, instead of placing them all in one, vulnerable basket.
First published 8 January 2020, updated 22 September 2021.
Leaving security, operations, deployment, back-ups, upgrades, and scaling to cloud vendor experts means that you can focus on developing core business and save money.
A lot of responsibility falls upon the cloud vendor. Also make sure to understand the difference between full-suite vendors and vendors offering integrations with third-party best-of-breed tools.
Vegard Hovland Ottervig holds a Master's degree in film studies and has worked with journalism and marketing since 2010. He loves cycling, philosophy, gaming, and writing.
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