An Iguana peers though a magnifying glass

Selecting the right digital experience platform (DXP) is often a critical decision for CX and marketing leaders — but defining exactly what a DXP is (and if even exists) often depends on who you ask.

During the pandemic, the organizational exploration and investment aimed at finding new digital channels for delivery, service, brand awareness, loyalty, etc. was a priority — and the impact of that remains today as digital customer experience (DCX) continues to be a critical focus in 2022.

As a hub of tech focused on delivering quality CX by enabling a cohesive customer experience across multiple channels — a DXP is a place where organizations seek to establish an edge against their competitors — and a growing vendor marketplace is poised to assist.

According to CMSWire’s 2022 DXP Market Guide, analysts at Grand View Research said the global DXP sector is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.3% between 2022 and 2030, and will eventually be worth a staggering $30.41 billion.

Defining DXP: Does It Really Exist?

Since the specific needs, goals and mission of each organization plays deeply into the type of DXP they select — the term “DXP” can elicit many definitions — and some denials. So, we decided to ask five professional sources how they define DXP — and we’ll even go first.

Here at CMSWire, 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).

In our opinion, the best DXP systems are ones that can serve as a foundational platform, allowing organizations to use that foundation and extend it by integrating with other internal and external systems.

Here’s what others had to say…

Tony Byrne, Founder, Real Story Group

For Portal and Web Content Management (WCM) vendors, “DXP” has become their Shangri-la: a place everyone quietly acknowledges doesn’t really exist but is nice to talk about.

First a little history: Sometime in the 2010s “portal” became an anathema term, so portal vendors needed a new moniker. Along with their paid industry analysts, they concocted “DXP.” Major WCM vendors struggling to maintain relevance in the emerging world of martech stacks took note and also adopted the term. In their sober moments, everyone would concede that DXP was really more a concept than a technology, but then major vendors labeled their own platforms DXPs anyways and promptly raised their license fees.

Of course, this contradiction wouldn’t last long in the face of reality, particularly the viewpoint of buyers — who tend to be very sober, as they are writing checks after all. Most enterprises do not want to put all their customer engagement eggs in one basket, thank you very much, especially giving the kludgey nature of WCM and portal suites.

Now that Sitecore, a leading advocate of the concept who even renamed their flagship suite offering “XP,” made a complete about face on the topic, can we all just give up the ghost on this three-letter acronym?

WCM tooling plays a critical role in your martech stacks, but in "relative" terms, the role of these platforms is declining. Vendors will have to adapt. More importantly for you the buyer, now is a good time to right-size your investment.

Related Article: 8 Things to Know About Composable DXP

Irina Guseva, Senior Director & Analyst, Gartner

The definition hasn’t (yet) changed since April 2022. A digital experience platform is a well-integrated and cohesive set of technologies designed to enable the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences across multi-experience customer journeys.

Joe Cicman, Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, Forrester

The definition is the same as it was published in Now Tech: Digital Experience Platforms, Q2 2021, and it comes from the new twist that my research uncovered — digital experience platforms exist, but they’re built by enterprises, not bought from vendors.

The definition is — a platform that provides the architectural foundation and modular services for developers and practitioners to create, orchestrate and optimize digital journeys at scale — to drive loyalty and new commerce outcomes across owned and third-party channels.

Related Article: What You Need to Know About Digital Experience Platforms

Ryan Bennett, Technical Architect & Co-Founder, Cylogy

A DXP is an integrated, cohesive (with an emphasis on cohesive) software platform for the creation, management and delivery of digital experiences.

Related Article: Have You Recognized the Potential of the Composable Digital Experience Stack?

Matthew McQueeny, Relationships and Community Lead, Konabos Consulting

In industry life, I define DXP as the platform on which enterprise organizations manage, market, connect (with customers) and promote their businesses digitally. Because of the fact that there are very few "non-digital" interactions in business anymore, the Digital Experience Platform ends up essentially being the source of truth for the enterprise business.

The DXP often encompasses all manner of tools, products and software that service content, commerce, relationships, email, analytics, contacts, personalization, orchestration, delivery, social media, search and more. The DXP is also experiencing its own digital transformation, as it moves from a more monolithic framework — where all parts of the DXP were provided within one platform and often by one company — to a "composable DXP," where a common framework and understanding based on APIs, microservices and cloud-native technologies allows customers to choose the "best-of-breed" solutions from across the DXP spectrum. These solutions are developed to plug-and-play seamlessly across the entire stack. This transformation has made the job of assembling and architecting the DXP potentially more complex in some ways (more decisions!) but has put the power dynamic firmly in the hands of the customer. 

Outside of industry life, say at a neighborhood holiday party, I am often editing and re-editing my pitch about what my day job is. The acronym DXP often does not resonate. It sounds more like the metaverse or something. I tell those neighbors — who are often enterprise decision makers within their companies and a good proxy audience — that the DXP is like the big business, Fortune 500, enterprise version of the WordPress site you might maintain for your hobbies. Or, an enterprise system that allows you to manage content, people and assets much like you might manage your social media profiles.

Lastly, when defining DXP and many of the heady terms of the industry, it is important to always think about analogy. Connect what it is with the paradigms that the audience knows, by making potential connections with sports, consumer electronics, cord-cutting and more. These novel connections often provide the "a-ha, I get it" moment.