The Rise of Digital Experience Platforms


Consumer and business demands alike call for a transformation in the CMO’s approach to digital marketing: While consumers continuously and rapidly adopt new technologies and expect brands to keep up, businesses expect a stronger and faster return on investment from marketing. But in a world replete with new data sources—from mobile phones to connected cars and in-store beacons—managing the customer experience is more challenging than ever.

How, then, do you coordinate your marketing in this complex digital world? How do you plan and measure experiences? Leading companies are now realizing that they need to integrate their marketing systems into an overarching “operating system” that bridges and enables customer outreach at scale. They need what is called a Digital Experience Platform (DEP).

DEPs—also known as User Experience Platforms, Marketing Clouds, Marketing Operating Systems, and Marketing Technology Platforms—define a comprehensive, multichannel experience around the customer. They create, optimize, and orchestrate the multiple elements of modern marketing (like digital ads, mobile tools, e-commerce pricing, in-store signage), as well as help marketers streamline operations and manage creative assets.

 

What is changing with the platform?

DEPs in the last few years have evolved from centralized, command and control systems to more distributed, networked systems that support more data sources and flexibility – all while keeping the customer at the center.

 

DEPs can also help marketers initiate, execute and measure their activities. Once a cost center, today’s marketing departments (led by CMOs) are responsible for revenue generation, with a focus on achieving positive business outcomes like qualified leads, closed deals, and accurate measurements. The winners in this space will be the ones who can shift their thinking to making platform initiatives, such as the DEP, mission-critical.

Today, implementing a DEP solution is more about optimizing, rebuilding, and reconnecting than it is about deploying large, new chunks of software. Most organizations already have the individual pieces of technology they need, but are missing the connections and hand-offs between them. Knitting together software must be combined with alignment between the organization’s processes and technology roadmaps in order to succeed

 

 

To help close these gaps, we recommend beginning with the following five critical steps.

1. Identify an immediate opportunity for improvement and create a business case
Most organizations are usually aware of their most severe gaps. Addressing some of these gaps early with a couple of small to medium efforts can create momentum and contribute to developing a business case for the platform investment in parallel with the quick-win activities.

2. Define customer journeys and associated experiences
Brands should frame opportunities along the dimensions (acquire, engage, etc.) of the customer journey. Prioritizing these journeys is the first step in the optimization of a DEP investment. Content for each of these touchpoints must be developed and then managed over generations of marketing campaigns.

3. Plan how to support these experiences with data
Using the latest DEP technology to deliver a continuously updated customer profile is key, as it informs which content types are delivered through the data-driven personalization mechanism. All sources of data, whether online, offline, generated in-house, or acquired by a third party should be leveraged to build a rich customer profile that can be segmented for targeting.

 

The personalization and experimental dimension

Data-driven personalization is a key aspect of the latest DEP technology. Enriching a customer profile over time helps drive key business outcomes.

 

4. Define an architecture blueprint
Architecture patterns are simplified logical representations of a system that are used to drive discussions around the “what” and “how” of marketing strategy implementation. For instance, we use architecture patterns to describe how to implement multichannel user experiences for international markets, in-store digital experiences, or content management.

5. Develop a prioritization matrix and roadmap
We typically prioritize business scenarios and corresponding technology solutions as functions of strategic value, complexity, dependencies, and alignment with a company’s business objectives. The set of customer journeys and an architecture blueprint (defined as a collection of patterns) are the two key inputs.

Keys to success

Once you pass the planning stage, the implementation of a few notable best practices will ensure early and continuous delivery of value.

  • Start Fast: Deliver measurable value early by integrating an existing system with the DEP.
  • Buy vs. build: Reflect before building your own system in a world rich in third-party vendors who offer industry-specific solutions as SaaS or cloud configurations.
  • Invest in key infrastructure components, such as data tools and possibly a service layer, upfront.

Developing a map of business opportunities and a blueprint of the technology solution architecture is the most effective route to a strategic plan with executive support. A DEP can address many of the challenges CMOs face today while still leaving room for the strategies and challenges specific to each individual brand.

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Related Keywords
  • Retail
  • Consumer Products
  • Digital Experience
  • eCommerce
  • Platforms
  • eBusiness & Channel Strategy
  • Technology Implementation
  • Big Data
  • Lessons Learned
  • Personalization