Woman Soap Bubbles DXP digital experience platform

The history of the content management system (CMS) is a colorful one, with many different technologies, a whole lot of development, and last, but not least, a whole score of different terms introduced over the years.

One of these terms to emerge in the last decade is “digital experience platform”—or “DXP” for short. After an increasing professionalization of content management systems in the 2000s, the further development into complete marketing suites prompted the new term DXP to differentiate it from any “standard” CMS.

With this very brief background in mind, let us provide a clear definition of a DXP and explore why companies need it, and how it differentiates from CMS and experience clouds.

Definition of Digital Experience Platform

Our definition is as follows:

A digital experience platform (DXP) is software enabling an organization to consistently create, manage, deliver, and optimize experiences across every digital touchpoint of their customer journey.

This clearly resonates with Gartner’s definition, which identifies a DXP as “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”

A DXP is thus more focused on providing an organization with a complete toolbox to—not only produce, distribute, and manage content and products to its audience in all phases of the customer journey—but also to personalize, experiment, and optimize.

See also: The future of CMS »

Why companies need a digital experience platform

Consumer behavior has changed drastically. Technological innovation has made content and services more available on more devices and channels, which in turn has led to more critical and demanding customers, which again fuels further technological development for companies who want to win hearts and minds.

This self-generating upward spiral is one of the reasons why a complete marketing suite in the form of a digital experience platform seems so alluring. When your prospective customers expect high standards by your brand in any stage of the customer journey on any possible touchpoint, the consistency from our definition comes into play.

Whether your customers interact with your brand via search engines, social media, email marketing, or plain website browsing in the consideration phase. Whether your customers shop in your store, self-service themselves into their goals, chat with your bots, or engage in the community in the purchase phase. Or whether your customers constantly get the right content at the right time via promotions, newsletters, surveys, and loyalty programs—a DXP is the engine behind it all.

Difference between DXP and CMS

While the term “digital experiences” describes all the ways your customers and team engage with the digital content of your organization—in the form of websites, intranets, apps, chatbots, e-commerce, beacons, IoT, and social media—the term “digital experience platform” accurately describes the software system powering this omnipresence.

In this way, a DXP is both a narrowing and an expansion of the concept of “CMS.” A CMS is “software that manages and organises the creation, modification, and publication of digital content, often in a collaborative environment, for presenting to a website.”

A traditional content management system is usually meant to manage content for only a single website or an app. Multiple traditional CMSs would be necessary to maintain a presence on various digital touchpoints, leading to inconsistency, as well as silos and more cumbersome management.

So, a DXP is a sub-concept of “CMS,” while at the same time incorporating several other broadening features—like structured, extensible, and machine-readable data—that enable organizations to expand their digital touchpoints by building chatbots, beacons, IoT, and AR/VR. Other features include asset management, search, commerce, CRM, analytics, personalization, and experimentation. In other words: an enrichment of the traditional CMS.

Read more: How a digital experience cloud can lift your business »

Difference between DXP and experience cloud

With systems and platforms finally put in their right places, yet another term comes into the fray: “experience cloud.” How does an experience cloud relate to a digital experience platform?

Let us start with a definition here too:

An experience cloud is a fully managed platform to build and run digital experiences.

An experience cloud can in other words be much the same as a DXP, but with one crucial difference. A digital experience platform can be hosted and operated on premise or through a third-party cloud, while an experience cloud offers a fully managed platform.

This means that the responsibility of operations, deployment, back-ups, upgrades, scaling, and certain security aspects are handed over to cloud vendor experts, while your organization can focus on developing your core business.

An experience cloud can be a mirror of a DXP—complete with a full marketing suite—with the added bonus of a fully managed platform. But it can also be far more flexible and slim—offering platform capabilities and a managed cloud, but with more freedom in regard to best of breed integrations and content modelling with headless CMS.

Be sure to investigate such matters thoroughly when you’re looking for the next-level digital experience for your organization.

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