APAC organisations are pursuing digital transformation and leveraging the latest technology as passionately as companies in the more developed markets; however, there are some notable highlights in relation to Digital Experience Platform, says John Yang, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress, in this interview.
APAC enterprises who are leaders in their local market are usually much more nimble, and their DXP approach is usually more composable. Going for a monolithic approach following the example of the other market would see them falling into the trap of getting overcharged for features they don’t need, in addition to the cost of customisation.
The composable Digital Experience Platform deliver faster ROI because it’s incremental, and users can go with the best of breed, easiest to use option for their modules, meaning time to market is not an issue, advises John Yang, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress, in this interview.
What is DXP and why has it become so necessary for businesses?
Gartner describes DXP (Digital Experience Platforms) as “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.” A DXP can provide optimal digital experiences to multiple stakeholders and helps ensure continuity across the full customer lifetime journey.
Digital transformation offers organisations of every size the promise of a new way of doing business, delivering efficiency, cost savings and the opportunity to enhance customer relations. DXP has become an essential tool for progressive companies.
Digital Experience Platform links the IT function, business processes and marketing, but its most critical role is to enable brands to create personalised digital journeys for their customers.
Globally, the DXP market is anticipated to register a CAGR of 12.07% over the forecast period 2021 to 2026, driven by companies seeking strategies to deliver superior customer interaction and the rapid growth of e-commerce.
The Asia Pacific region is projected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period due to the widespread adoption of emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and analytics.
Digital Experience Platform also helps elevate the Web Content Management System (CMS) arena to a new level which in turn also raises the bar for the web-CMS field tremendously, because there is so much more technology and engineering know-how needed in this field. This makes DXP an important element for organisations who are spearheading their digital transformation journey.
How would you rate organisations in APAC in terms of their level of Digital Experience Platform compared to other developed markets?
APAC organisations are pursuing digital transformation and leveraging the latest technology as passionately as companies in the more developed markets. But there are some notable highlights in relation to DXP.
First, Digital Experience Platform is about business transformation, but business operations in APAC, in terms of organisation and workflow, could be very different in comparison to say, North America. Over there, if you look at the top hundred enterprises, they are serving a single large market with a huge work force – sometimes more than 10,000 staff. So they may go with a big monolithic platform that is built for deep customisation to fit their comprehensive workflow.
In contrast, APAC enterprises who are leaders in their local market are usually much more nimble, and their DXP approach is usually more composable. Going for a monolithic approach following the example of the other market would see them falling into the trap of getting overcharged for features they don’t need, in addition to the cost of customisation.
Moreover, a marketing workflow that always needs a team of IT developers involved is probably what it takes for a corporation with 10,000 people, but would definitely be overkill for most APAC businesses. On the other hand, the marketing department of a leading APAC enterprise would put managing multi-language plus self-serving content publishing as top requirements.
What are the common mistakes businesses make in terms of crafting the right Digital Experience Platform?
There are a number of errors to be avoided. One mistake is going for one-stop-shop product suites. As you comparison-shop for your DXP, avoid vendors that insist on their own suite of products, with no ability to integrate your preferred third-party tools. One-stop-shop platforms may look like a hassle-free solution but in fact a lack of customisation options can limit the effectiveness of the platform and lead to more difficult and expensive maintenance longer term.
Asian companies are learning that it is better to choose a best of breed/composable DXP, rather than being seduced by the one-size-fits-all big suite. It is crucial to ensure that the DXP aligns with the way the business operates. DXPs typically start with a few anchor functions – like CRM, CMS, e-commerce or marketing automation – that align closely with the way the customer’s digital marketing operates. But digital business today is quite different from the ERP era; constant change is the norm. For example, many Asian companies are finding their e-commerce function has new requirements post-pandemic, so updates or changes to the system are in the pipeline. The single suite DXP options typically have one function aligned well with the business, but need users of the other functions to squeeze their requirements to fit the software, which affects productivity. At the end of the day, the software must support the people and the business, not the other way around. Composable Digital Experience Platform is the solution.
Think too about time-to-market. There are customers who have learned a painful lesson, taking years to implement a complicated system only to find the business requirement and operation have already changed. The composable Digital Experience Platform approach deliver faster ROI because it’s incremental, and users can go with the best of breed, easiest to use option for their modules, meaning time to market is not an issue.
It is really a warning sign when the package on offer is too complex. The digital transformation journey for most companies is a gradual one, mastering each phase before moving on to the next. This calls for a DXP that can scale as the digital strategy evolves. Teams should beware of investing too much in over-complex solutions, with capabilities beyond what is needed right now. It is better to look for offerings that support businesses step-by-step as they reach each stage of digital maturity.
You can find yourself locked in to high costs with a one-stop-shop package. To start with you’ll be paying for a lot of functions you may never use, and then you face hefty implementation costs because of the need to customise, the high cost of the resources (developers and consultants) to support and operate the software because the business need keeps changing, and because the sunk cost makes it too difficult to extract yourself from the tangled situation your Digital Experience Platform choice has put you in.
In summary, today’s digital business is too dynamic. New challenges, demands, opportunities and technologies are emerging constantly. The best bet is to stay nimble, and go with composable DXP.
Finally, look carefully at your potential vendor – do they have the necessary strategic expertise? Many organisations lack the in-house resources to create and manage consistently innovative and successful digital experiences. Make sure your DXP vendor has the strategic expertise and project management skills necessary to bring your vision to life and deliver the business value you expect.
Your investment in a digital experience platform must be based on a long-term vision. Choose a vendor who offers a Digital Experience Platform that supports your unique business needs, rather than forcing your organisation to fit the mould of a complex, one-stop shop solution. Aim for a partnership that will enable you to save costs, enhance efficiency and deliver digital experiences that will continuously delight your customers.
How can businesses find the right Digital Platform fit for their organisation?
The first thing they should do is look for a platform that is not overly complex or costly but which offers the right set of capabilities to maximise long-term success in a constantly changing business environment.
Secondly, the platform should offer ease of use, ease of implementation and flexibility. Extensibility, hybrid content management and cloud support should be at the top of organisations’ list of priorities.
The third factor in ensuring the best fit for the organisation is the availability of key features. These will include usability, being cloud enabled, flexibility, scalability, analytics, optimisation, personalisation, multi-language support and security.
Actually, many Asian companies typically already have some martech stack. What DXP could tangibly bring them is really a more engaging customer experience, and a more efficient, automated marketing and IT operation.
We are finding recently that many customers are updating their e-commerce platform. Whether they’re in the B2B or B2C sectors, online transactions are on the rise. The e-commerce environment itself could be also evolving and dynamic. On one hand, it could make perfect sense for customer A to start subscribing to a popular shopping platform, whereas for customer B, the project is unsubscribing from the PaaS in favour of setting up their own e-commerce site.
At the heart of DXP and digital marketing is the CMS system. We see many customers updating their CMS to be DXP compliant or “future-ready”. It is usually centered around “headless” or omni-channel support and is self-serve, easy for the marketing team to use and operate. It will offer built-in integration with the rest of the martech stack, along with advanced features like personalisation, analytics and many other basic DXP table stakes features. It goes without saying that the upgrade must be cost effective and truly cloud-based.
What are the challenges in implementing DXP’s? Is it a lack of awareness and understanding of budget or finding the most suitable platforms for their business?
Choosing and implementing a DXP is always going to be a major step for any business to take. We can identify three major issues.
Firstly, don’t be seduced into choosing one-stop-shop product suites. This kind of platform may look as though it will answer all the company’s problems, but the fact that they can’t be customised to meet new challenges as the company scales or chooses a new direction, can not only limit the effectiveness of the platform but lead to more difficult and expensive maintenance longer term.
The second point companies should bear in mind is that the digital transformation journey is a gradual, step-by-step process. Many organisations charge into the process much too fast, which just stacks up problems. Don’t over-invest in complex systems that have capabilities beyond the immediate need. Look instead fora platform that will support the business incrementally as it reaches each stage of digital maturity.
When an organisation invests in a DXP, it is buying more than just a solution-in-a-box, so to speak. It is also investing in access to the strategic expertise and project management skills of the vendor – resources that many organisations do not have on their own payroll. Make sure the vendor has what it takes to deliver consistently innovative and successful digital experiences, to bring your vision to life and deliver the business value you expect.
The third challenge is the fact that many businesses lack education and understanding of DXP, including the associated costs. They may have heard of DXPs but don’t fully understand the benefits the platform can bring to the company. Many businesses feel they are only for large organisations, but this is not the case today. Businesses of all sizes can implement DXPs that suit their needs, customising the platform to meet their particular requirements. Once businesses realise the true value DXP platforms bring they would be more open to implementing them.
What benefits organisations can reap from using a robust DXP platform?
It is important for organisations to understand that investing in the right digital experience platform is a long-term vision. It is not a static solution to a one-off problem – once an organisation has a platform that can support their unique business needs, it will continue to grow with them as they evolve, helping to save cost and enhance efficiency while delivering digital experiences that will constantly delight their customers.
DXPs can benefit organisations from most industries. However, companies that are still on their digital transformation journey such as those in the mid-market and in industries such as education, healthcare, manufacturing and financial services will benefit significantly by adopting DXPs.
Just to highlight some of the benefits, a DXP provides for example oversight into all sources. Even in the most technologically advanced organisation, data often exists in disparate silos. There might be incredibly important information held in file-shares, in CRM and ERP systems, in creative departments’ databases, in martech apps, and in different, incompatible systems across the enterprise. This data may well be useful for the department concerned, but the true, deeper value is being missed. That is where a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) from Progress comes in. It allows organisations to get full oversight into multiple collateral sources: what is available, what formats, and especially important, what any missing elements might be.
Another primary benefit of a DXP is to help companies map out the customer journey and identify gaps in that journey. It provides the tools required to fill missing areas and deliver seamless interactions with every customer in the right format, the right message, on the most relevant channel.
At the highest level, DXP enables businesses to provide rich media – highly personalised, relevant and seamless interactions that actively drive brand loyalty and encourage repeat business. The ability for an organisation to have continuous interactions with the customer that never break the experience is fundamental to an effective DXP.