Katz's Deli lit up at night
PHOTO: Alan Turkus

At this point in time, the digital experience of a brand is pretty much the brand experience. That is, until someone unboxes your product, meets your people, visits your store, visits your restaurant or experiences your service. Until then, you are defined by how you can be better than the next brand at not looking stupid in your Facebook ads.

I’m kidding. It’s not just Facebook ads: It's not looking stupid across the entire customer journey, as the consumer dances across channels, social platforms, your website and the physical experience, blissfully unaware of the shackles of the industry age thinking of marketing, sales and service.

Whether you are a B2B or B2C organization, you need to be omni-present, available 24/7 and consistently serving this consumer with a brand experience that defines you. But you knew that already. After all, it is the mantra of the modern age of customer experience management (CXM) or Digital Experience (DX) programs — and there is a whole industry of services and technology to support them.

Digital Experience Platform Makes it Sound So ... Easy

For many, the technology landscape is confusing, as my industry chum Theresa Regli shared recently:

"The term 'digital experience platform' (DXP) sounds like a panacea for marketers, an easy way out and one-stop shop for delivering the digital experience. Alas, it’s not so easy. With over 8,000 technologies on the market claiming to facilitate digital marketing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options."

The term Digital Experience Platform seems to be ridiculously vague. Web content management technology providers that would have been discussed in this very publication at its inception in 2003, now fancy themselves DXPs, the analyst community has been seduced and I'm starting to wonder if we should be reading DXPWire?

I don’t blame anyone for doing this, if you are marketing a platform that can edit, store, manage content that can be published to any digital channel, you have to tag along with the bull---- or get left behind. 

Related Article: Making Sense of Your MarTech Stack

The Rise of the DXP Monolith

But it goes beyond that. Monolithic stacks are appearing that think they will do to the marketing technology market what SAP did to ERP, as if out of this primordial soup of 8000 vendors one champion will rise.

Maybe you don’t get that reference to SAP and ERP: it's about a monolith dominating an industry. Back in the day, web content management grand dames Vignette and Interwoven were betting this bet. You may never have heard of them either, which tells you a) how successful they were and b) I need to update my analogies that you cool kids can dig.

Pre-dating even my reference to SAP (I’m really not helping myself here), there was a phrase “nobody got fired for buying IBM.” That is the very sentiment that today’s modern monolith would like to prey on. That it is safer to bet your career on a slide deck of a monolith, than the actual software of a specialist provider.

Related Article: Happy 21st Birthday Web CMS

One Size Cannot Fit All With DXPs

Though this industry might be 20-years-old, it is still charging around like a toddler refusing to be defined. When SAP became “the SAP of ERP,” the business processes of managing stuff in your business was well defined and pretty similar for everyone. Our EBITDA financial forecasting is pretty much the same as yours. The challenge of managing a warehouse full of pots of paint is no different to those of someone that sells car parts. Etc., etc., etc.

The industrial tectonic plates had formed.

But that isn't true of the digital experience. Granted, there are some solid bits — we need a website (we’ve known that for a while), we need to publish to small screens and we can leverage a bit of data from what these devices can share — but some bits of this world are still squidgy and a bit hot, such as the debate about privacy, the rise and fall of social platforms, the adoption of channels by certain demographics, the kinds of content that are needed for different industries and buyers, the different customer journeys, the marketing objectives of your company. A list of variables that mean that one size really does not fit all.

Related Article: Digital Experience Stacks Evolve Once Again

Your Digital Experience Menu Options

This fluidity in the market is driving innovation. So though it is perhaps safer from a career perspective to pick a monolith, you risk missing something. It wasn’t long ago that today’s monolith was a project in someone’s dorm room, or more precisely, a fraternity of dorm rooms. Which brings us to the fact that the monolith is not a single product. At times it's called a “frankenstack” — a basket of body parts that have been stitched together through acquisition, the argument being that the acquiring company can stitch together this monster better than you can.

While this argument is very compelling, it’s kind of like eating a shrink-wrapped chicken sandwich, when you really wanted pastrami on rye from the deli counter. You can grab and go with the chicken, but the pastrami requires you talk to the guy behind the counter and maybe do some work.

Which is a dramatic simplification, because implementing a DXP is not going to be “grab and go” whichever option you choose.

While I could continue with the lunch analogies, the question comes down to this: where do you start? The answer is take a look at three things: your consumer’s needs, your business needs and what is important right now.

  1. Take a walk in your customers shoes and see what the journey is like to engage with you.
  2. Decide what your objectives are for this engagement and ensure you are measuring stuff that’s important and not just vanity metrics (like web hits). Be sure you have a clear view of the consumer's path to your objectives.
  3. Decide what is important now, what will make the most impact. Not just tactical projects, or pretty stuff on the front end, but what are the primary impediments to a providing a truly connected experience?

On number three, as a content management professional writing for CMSWire, I’d recommend a little noodle around your content operations, but in any case, it should be whatever solution is right for your business.

Just remember: if you want pastrami on rye, don’t settle for shrink-wrapped chicken.