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Top 5 digital experience platforms of 2021

Digital experience platforms are the next generation of web content management systems. Here are five top examples of DXPs for businesses to consider.

In today's workplace, digital experiences depend on content delivered in business-relevant contexts. A digital experience platform provides the technologies and tools to produce these interactions across multiple devices and different delivery channels.

A DXP delivers a collection of content-related capabilities for doing work and is the next generation web content management system. A DXP includes:

  • features and functions of a content management system (CMS) to capture, organize and store multiple types of digital content;
  • the ability to produce many types of content -- such as written documents, images, videos, sounds and haptics;
  • intelligence and insights to personalize content delivery to different individuals and audience segments using rules, machine learning and other AI technologies;
  • content delivery to multiple digital channels -- such as websites, mobile devices, kiosks, digital signs and smart speakers; and
  • capabilities for segmenting customer information by capturing and organizing customer data maintained in different repositories.

A DXP runs as a cloud-native platform and relies on collections of cloud services. It has the ability to connect to disparate applications within public, private or hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Organizations can apply DXPs to produce engaging and personalized experiences across multiple channels and devices. When deployed as a headless repository, a DXP can become the source for the words and images flowing through interactive digital experiences.

The DXP marketplace is rapidly emerging and it is important to understand the breadth of vendor offerings. Here is a comparison of five DXPs from different enterprise software vendors.

Acquia

Acquia provides a DXP targeting marketers in mid-sized organizations. The Acquia Open Digital Experience Platform weaves together the capabilities of the company's Drupal Cloud for managing content with its Marketing Cloud for managing customer information.

The Acquia DXP blends structured content with extensive data that can signal customer intent. This platform generates digital experiences across multiple channels and devices.

The Drupal Cloud within the Acquia DXP features core capabilities for designing, building and running content-powered applications. Acquia assembles a tailored version of Drupal from open source modules into a branded offering, the Acquia Cloud Platform. The company also provides developers with platform migration tools for upgrading from earlier versions of Drupal to the latest release -- Drupal 9.0 -- and an integrated development environment for building customized applications in Drupal.

Acquia provides marketers, experience designers and other line-of-business workers with easy-to-use tools for updating content, maintaining categories and generating websites, all without technical assistance. It supports auto-tagging content, based on predefined criteria or machine learning tools. Acquia Site Studio includes a front-end page builder with WYSIWYG page editing capabilities.

Acquia supports headless content delivery through its Content Hub. Non-technical users can continue to rely on familiar content management tools to produce digital experiences across multiple channels and devices.

The Marketing Cloud within the Acquia DXP accelerates information management activities for understanding, personalizing and engaging customers at multiple endpoints. Acquia delivers its own Customer Data Platform (CDP) that combines, deduplicates and cleanses the customer data that companies capture through multiple enterprise applications and third-party sources. The CDP restructures these data elements into unified customer profiles, which marketers can further categorize into customer segments. The CDP also supports real-time profile updates from any operational system.

Marketers rely on customer segments from the CDP to signal customer intent and generate digital experiences. Acquia Personalization provides tools to target content delivery based on many explicit and implicit criteria, and machine learning and AI algorithms can infer personalization criteria.

Acquia Campaign Studio enables marketers to script customer journeys and identify the steps of multi-channel promotional campaigns.

Acquia Campaign Factory enables marketers to launch and manage these campaigns -- and monitor results -- and includes capabilities for tailoring prebuilt reports into an interactive dashboard.

Adobe

Adobe Experience Cloud (AEC) weaves together the capabilities of a CMS to capture, organize, store and deliver content, with the capabilities of a customer data platform to manage both first- and third-party customer data. AEC serves large corporations but is also expanding into mid-market sectors by delivering prepackaged applications for advertising, email marketing and other kinds of customer-facing activities.

Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) provides a cloud-native service and the foundations for businesses to manage content and store customer data. AEP maintains multiple repositories, optimized for various content and data types. It includes the core components for supporting real-time customer profiles and storing AI and machine learning algorithms.

Access to the content and data maintained within AEP depend on two sets of services:

1. Application services. This includes capabilities for structuring customer data into a customer data platform as well as services for charting and tracking content flows to support customer journey analytics and journey orchestration.

2. Intelligent services. This provides the methods and protocols for running six predefined services:

  • Attribution AI -- helps optimize CX across the customer journey using executive reporting, budget allocation and campaign optimization.
  • Content and Commerce AI -- organizes and streamlines content flow and helps deliver more personalized experiences to customers.
  • Customer AI -- uncovers the reasoning behind customer behaviors and delivers high accuracy models for segmentation and targeting.
  • Journey AI -- shows the best time of day to send emails and on which channels, as well as how customers want to engage with a business.
  • Leads AI -- uses real-time behavioral signals to help turn prospects into leads.

To simplify the management of these services, Adobe has standardized both content- and customer-related metadata into an Experience Data Model. At runtime, applications rely on standardized sets of metadata -- accessed from disparate sources -- to generate digital experiences.

OpenText

OpenText is a cloud-native platform that focuses on large enterprises -- such as utility companies, financial services firms and government agencies -- targeting both marketing- and customer service-related experiences to attract, acquire, engage and retain customers.

OpenText offers capabilities for omni-channel content delivery across multiple customer touchpoints. For example, utility customers contacting a call center should receive the same content and experience speaking with a customer support representative as they do when surfing the utility's website or connecting remotely from a mobile app. These experiences rely on an integrated content ecosystem where updates are immediately sent to all channels.

OpenText weaves various products together into enterprise-specific DXPs, tailored to the needs of individual organizations. Individual products maintain their own repositories and methods for capturing content while sharing consistent sets of metadata about content elements and business processes.

  • TeamSite. This tool provides extensive web content management capabilities, organizing, storing and delivering content to webpages and mobile apps using predefined templates.
  • OpenText Media Management. This tool provides digital asset management (DAM) capabilities for managing images, videos, 3D renderings and other types of rich media.
  • Customer communications management. This tool uses content collected from multiple sources to automatically produce personalized business documents such as contracts, invoices and other types of customer correspondence.

OpenText also provides cloud services for personalization, speech recognition, real-time text analytics, sentiment analysis and automatic notifications. OpenText embeds several different machine learning technologies for automatic content analysis and image recognition, relying both on its own machine learning engine, Magellan, and on various third-party services --depending on the tasks at hand.

The OpenText DXP can also readily run as a headless CMS back end, enabling developers to produce their own front-end experiences. OpenText provides tailorable templates that developers can incorporate into these experiences, enabling nontechnical workers to manage and modify text and images within predefined parameters.

Oracle

Oracle Content and Experience (CX Content) is a DX platform that transforms content into experiences, particularly those that rely on rich media. This platform stores and manages all types of content -- including text, semistructured forms, images, videos, soundtracks -- and other kinds of snackable content components -- within a unified repository.

CX Content blends DAM with CMS capabilities, enabling business teams to collaboratively update, organize and deliver needed content for experiences. CX Content also includes a collaborative video editing environment, where line-of-business workers can produce their own videos.

CX Content supports automatic tagging, auto-classification and image recognition capabilities, using multiple machine learning technologies embedded within the platform. The platform also enriches content with terms derived from both industry- and company-specific taxonomies. Moreover, the platform features visual search capabilities, based on pixel-level analysis of the frames themselves, to assemble collections of visually similar images without relying on predefined tags or metadata definitions.

CX Content fits into the Oracle enterprise application software environment and draws on other Oracle services as needed. For example, CX Content relies on Oracle Process Cloud products for editorial review and approvals as well as Oracle Unity for managing the customer data needed to personalize content delivery.

Marketers and brand managers can continue to use familiar marketing automation and e-commerce platforms from Oracle, while enhancing their results with images, videos and other types of content maintained within CX Content. Websites, social media feeds and email marketing campaigns all derive their content from a single approved source, accessible to all customer-facing experiences.

Furthermore, developers building chatbots, kiosks, augmented reality experiences and other front-end applications can easily source the content they need to power these digital experiences. And to coordinate teamwork among line-of-business managers, DX designers and front-end developers, CX Content offers experience orchestration capabilities, where the content sourced from multiple processes generates a particular digital experience. Although they are working in different roles and focusing on different tasks, team members can easily collaborate with one another to jointly test and verify new or updated digital experiences before launching them.

Sitecore

Sitecore focuses on marketing departments within large to mid-sized firms -- particularly those that rely on Microsoft applications and Azure.

Sitecore provides the underlying technologies and integration services for managing content, personalizing results, facilitating e-commerce and tracking results. It delivers experiences through multiple channels and to different customer endpoints -- including websites, mobile apps, kiosks and other digital devices.

Sitecore produces two digital experience platforms that combine people, processes and technologies -- each with different strengths. Both platforms are based on Microsoft .NET for the underlying tooling and application development environment.

Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) is the classic fully featured WCM system, deployed on-premises or as a self-contained, platform as a service (PaaS) offering in the cloud. It decouples content management from presentation, features WYSIWYG template editing and can quickly generate multiple micro-sites.

Sitecore XM maintains digital assets within a media library that is associated with an underlying repository. Sitecore XM also provides workflow tools to support editorial reviews and approvals. Once an IT team develops the templates and structures the content architecture, marketers can easily publish updated content on websites and mobile apps. But Sitecore XM provides publishing experience, where static content is displayed in predefined templates.

Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) integrates with technology acquired from the Stylelabs acquisition. This DXP is a cloud-native content hub designed to control the flow of content across various departments within an enterprise. Sitecore XP features an integrated DAM within its underlying content repository. It provides extensible services to create, manage and store all types of rich media components through a consistent framework. It includes machine learning capabilities to automatically tag both text-based chunks and images when adding them to the repository.

Sitecore can apply both predefined rules and AI algorithms to personalize content delivery based on customers, contexts and devices. Rather than pulling content elements from a central repository and assembling the results within a template, Sitecore XP pushes the items directly to various devices.

Sitecore relies on .NET development tools -- and therefore developers with .NET experience -- to integrate the static content from Sitecore XM into the dynamic delivery environment of Sitecore XP. Sitecore includes two different headless deployment offerings -- Sitecore for JavaScript and ASP.NET Core for the .NET programming environment.

Using its multiple deployment options, Sitecore has the flexibility to integrate with related applications and platforms running within a marketing organization. Rather than delivering its own customer data platform, Sitecore relies on customer-tracking activities that a marketing group has already deployed. Sitecore provides prebuilt connectors for accessing customer data stored within Salesforce Marketing Cloud or other marketing platforms.

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