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Digital Experience Platform (DXP) software providers come in many different flavors. 

A DXP is defined as an integrated set of core technologies whose goal is to support the creation, management, delivery and optimization of customized digital customer experiences (DCXs). At the core of every cohesive DXP is a web content management (WCM) system or content management system (CMS). In fact, many DXPs derive from portals and WCM systems.

How do practitioners use these systems? We caught up last year with some users of DXPs and today continue our look into what users of DXP providers Liferay, Jahia and Magnolia expect out of these software systems that provide digital customer experiences.

DXPs and Customization

But first, some context around these three vendors. Tony White, founder of Ars Logica, a digital customer experience consultancy that analyzes web content management systems, said these three vendors belong together because they are "best-of-breed integration platforms" that come from different backgrounds.

Buyers need to understand the integration and customization efforts that will come with implementing DXPs, according to White. In its 2019 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, Gartner found that through 2021, 85% of effort and cost in a DXP program will be spent on integrations with internal and external systems, including the DXP’s own, built-in capabilities. Also, 90% of global organizations will rely on system integrators (SIs), agencies and channel partners to design, build and implement their digital experience strategies.

White said DXP buyers need to have comprehensive development methodologies and the right skill sets to customize and connect multiple systems. He estimated that DXPs are about 60% customization on behalf of the brands. "You start to build an idea of what your DXP is," White said. "It's always your DXP. It's going to be a personal thing. It's going to be unique, just because of the amount of customization, and not just customization but flat-out building entire modules and extending functionality... So the big mistake companies tend to make is they overestimate how much of the DXP is already going to be there when they buy the foundation."

Jahia User: Scott Reed, Global Digital Services Manager, Ben & Jerry’s

(Editor's note: Travis Warholic of Jahia implementations partner Avantia collaborated with Ben & Jerry's on these responses).

Tell us a little about your role and your company.

At Ben & Jerry’s, we consider ourselves an aspiring social justice company that happens to make ice cream. We try to use the power of business to create progressive social change and make some incredible desserts. I currently lead our internal development team and key agency partnerships that help bring this vision to life across our global web presence.

When did you become a customer of Jahia?

Our relationship with Jahia began in 2009, when we decided to consolidate all of our websites and platforms.

What are some challenges in working with DXP technology as it relates to executing digital customer experiences?

Providing a real solid digital customer experience takes the whole company. It's not just just an IT focus or a marketing focus. Even though these might be major players in standing up and executing on a DXP, it takes many more than that to make sure you can create the appropriate content, target your customers most efficiently, have the proper governance and so many other things that go into being successful with a DXP. It takes leadership, vision and input from many others. Being at the head of that effort is challenging; rewarding, but challenging.

What was the integration/implementation like — timeline, resources needed, integration work with existing technologies, team that worked on it, etc.

The initial implementation was to launch the first site in Australia followed by a continued rollout of 30 language sites. The initial timeline spanned around 18 months for development and launch of all sites in a rolling fashion. The team consisted of approximately 10 resources. This included Ben & Jerry's marketing and IT resources and Avantia's development, quality assurance and project management resources. Initial integrations were minimal. 

The second generation of sites started to take advantage of Jahia's DXP capabilities and was able to consolidate the existing site count in half, while integrating a number of technologies such as a custom product and flavor database. Technology solutions around finding your favorite flavors in both Scoop Shops and retail locations were added to the sites as well. Along the way, new sites continued to be added to the platform as new markets were entered.

Since then, the platform continues to support marketing and all of their campaigns, with one of the biggest being the yearly worldwide Free Cone Day promotion. Increased social engagement and user engagement through the promotion of user generated content on site have also been large focuses that have been successful in no small part because of the features of the Jahia platform. More recently, as the world has changed during the pandemic, making it easier to get ice cream in consumers' hands from the sites has been a major accomplishment. Technology integrations easily number in the double digits now.

What was the original pain point/needs that led you to the Jahia DXP?

At the time, we were concerned about becoming overly reliant on a single platform that tried to do everything. We wanted the flexibility to easily integrate other technologies into the stack.

In which specific areas have you seen the most success and how so?

We’ve been able to keep our code base lean and flexible without the overhead of functionality that is not relevant to us. The flexible architecture has also allowed us to continually integrate other technologies over the years as we've needed to evolve and further build out our digital experience from a customer perspective.  An advantage of that lean codebase and flexible architecture is that it has allowed us to scale. Over the years we've added multiple sites and new experiences to the platform. Jahia's DXP has always been able to scale to our needs.

What projects within the DXP are you excited about for the future?

Mostly, just excited to continue to support the company focusing on the customer with our digital experience and being able to provide a DXP that can be used to drive Ben & Jerry's social mission and amazing new products. From more of an IT perspective, the excitement is around being able to utilize new features and offerings from Jahia to become more operationally efficient and reduce the maintenance cost long-term. 

Screenshot of the Jahia Digital Experience Platform

Related Article: 5 Digital Experience Case Studies: Acquia, Adobe, Bloomreach, Episerver, Sitecore

Liferay User: Neil Adamson, CIO, Vitality Group

Tell us a little about your role and your company.

The Vitality Group is a health and wellness solutions provider dedicated to producing tangible and lasting results for both companies and individuals. As CIO my role has been to lead the team responsible for building, implementing and now operating our behavioral change platform: Vitality One.

The Vitality One platform is a tool designed for employers, insurance providers, brokers and consultants to encourage healthy behavioral changes in their users by rewarding healthy habits. 

When did you become a customer of Liferay?

We first integrated Liferay DXP into the Vitality One platform in 2016.

What are some challenges in working with DXP technology as it relates to executing digital customer experiences?

I cannot really pinpoint any specific challenges with the DXP product itself. I think DXP is reliable, robust and allows us to easily set up new user journeys with the flexibility of allowing custom components to be built in cases whereby DXP does not offer a specific capability. Furthermore, in terms of security and patching, I think the Liferay team is very much on the ball, and always proactively informs us of identified vulnerabilities and provides fix packs.

The challenges we have faced with DXP stem more from the way we utilize DXP and our software pipeline. Our cookie-cutter approach using shared environments for partner markets comes with challenges such as having many different teams working in the same configuration files (resulting in config clutter or incorrect configs being changed), as well as having previously impacted some partner markets when we couldn’t promote content for that partner market during our DXP v7.2 upgrade (upper environments were on v7.2 whereas lower were on v7.1).

What was the integration/implementation like — timeline, resources needed, integration work with existing technologies, team that worked on it, etc.

From what I recall, the integration itself took somewhere between six to 12 months.

Apart from business folk defining the requirements for the various portals, we had project managers, business analysts (defining portal requirements), UX experts (to ensure screen designs and user journeys were optimal), translators (for content translations), Liferay engineers, system architects (more from a governance /oversight/steering perspective) and testers.

In terms of integration, any back-end services that DXP requires are exposed via WSO2 API Manager, and authentication is federated using WSO2 Identity Server. This provides a great level of abstraction, as almost all functional changes being made to our services can be made without the need to make changes in Liferay DXP; never mind the fact that it takes little time to integrate new services. For certain partner markets, they provide their own identity provider (IDP) for authentication federation, and do have cases whereby Liferay DXP has direct SSO integrations with these IDPs.

What was the original pain point/needs that led you to the Liferay DXP?

Our legacy solution made development difficult because it took so long to push changes in the system. As a result, time-to-market was slow; it could take as long as 18 months to go live in a single country. In addition, translating content was labor intensive and required multiple revision cycles, increasing the possibility of error.

In which specific areas have you seen the most success and how so?

Leveraging Liferay DXP’s self-service capabilities, which empower business users to do more without IT through a drag-and-drop interface, has been a major benefit to us. Furthermore, the breadth of localization options with Liferay DXP, which supports 12 languages out of the box, makes it much faster for us to release in new markets. Taken together, we can now expand to new countries in just six to 12 weeks, with a total go-live time of six months for eight to 10 simultaneous country rollouts.

What projects within the DXP are you excited about for the future?

Our goal is to begin leveraging more of Liferay DXP’s out of the box functionality, specifically forms, workflows and auto-scaling in order to continue building Vitality One into an even more flexible, extensible platform. Ultimately, Liferay DXP will play a key role in our plans to expand into several new markets with the goal of reaching 50 million Vitality One users worldwide by 2023.

Screenshot of the Liferay Digital Experience Platform

Related Article: Were Digital Experience Platforms Ready for the Digital Onslaught in 2020?

Magnolia User: Paulette Haedo, Senior Director, Sales and Marketing Technology Platforms & Analytics, Virgin Voyages 

Tell us a little about your role and your company.

I am senior director of sales & marketing technology platforms & analytics at Virgin Voyages, a new adults-only and Rebellious Luxe cruise experience based in Miami. I am responsible for setting the vision and strategy of the marketing technology stack and overseeing all facets of sales and marketing analytics strategy execution.

When did you become a customer of Magnolia?

2017.

What are some challenges in working with DXP technology as it relates to executing digital customer experiences?

From implementing complex API-driven integrations with multiple sources of records and third-party systems to driving enterprise-wide adoption of single-source content and omnichannel distribution, Virgin Voyages team was tasked with a no-easy task.

It's very different from building one-off, static web pages — you have to think in terms of components, content modeling and reusability across channels, platforms and scalability over time. Product owners and content creators are used to the disparate systems and siloed experiences common in the industry. At VV, it is especially challenging when customer journey and experience is the pinnacle of our brand where the teams have to constantly balance between reusability versus speed to market.

What was the integration/implementation like — timeline, resources needed, integration work with existing technologies, team that worked on it, etc.

Our B2C and B2B sites took about two years from platform enablement to launch, while our "Sailors" mobile app followed suit shortly after. Magnolia is woven into all aspects of our content touchpoints, from the marketing site, booking engine, cruise inventory management system, B2B sales channel, to social and customer service portal. Every integration was considered carefully for reusability and scalability. Bringing great minds from around the world and various industries gives us fresh perspectives and inspirations. We worked with some of the best digital agencies around the world, as well as DXP partners like Capgemini and Productive Edge here in the US.

What was the original pain point/needs that led you to the Magnolia DXP?

We needed a custom, flexible, lightweight DXP that would integrate with all of our channels. Our business is, by its nature, multi-channel and multi-platform. We wanted to be ready for the future, which for us means new ships, new voyages and new digital experiences launching at a moment's notice all over the world. That's the modern digital experience we're pioneering for our "Sailors," and we wanted a technology that would dream as big as us.

Screenshot of the Magnolia Digital Experience Platform

In which specific areas have you seen the most success and how so?

We've established a single source of truth that unifies all our global systems. We've built a sophisticated global content model that integrates with multiple sources of record and delivers all types of content across channels. And through it all, the experience for our Sailors is seamless. They simply see the right content at the right time, wherever they are.

What projects within the DXP are you excited about for the future?

Design sets us apart, and our digital experiences extend well beyond websites and apps. As those experiences evolve, we're making sure we're ready at a moment's notice to launch exciting pop-up productions never before seen at sea.

Personalization is huge for us. We're not just serving content, we're serving a vibe that's unique to each of our Sailors. It means understanding where our Sailors are in their journey and what we can do to take it to the next level. Helping them navigate that journey and discover the moments most valuable to them is a major focus of ours right now.