A Beginner's Guide to Digital Experience: Throwback Thursday


Gartner believes companies now compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver. PHOTO: Viktor Hanacek

(As part of our Throwback Thursday series, we’re resharing some essential information about digital experience (DX). A broad and evolving term, DX spans the range of experiences that people have with an organization’s communications, products and processes on every digital touchpoint, from the web and mobile devices through wearables, beacons and facial recognition. Here’s what you need to know.)

Few things are more unsettling than falling asleep at a party and waking to discover you’re all alone.

Where did everyone go? Have I been left behind?

Now extrapolate the issue to business and consider a practical but profound reality: If you’ve cobbled together your company’s digital experience (DX) from content management practices and technologies that were established 20 years ago, it’s time to wake up.

3 Key Points

As Gartner Research Vice President Mick MacComascaigh candidly told CMSWire, the web isn’t the place it used to be. Your website doesn’t constitute your web presence — much less your digital presence — and your home page is increasingly irrelevant.

In this evolving world of digital experience, every customer touchpoint is a potential home page: “a highly individualized home page centered on the task that the customer wants to perform,” MacComascaigh said.

When asked about DX, MacComascaigh and his colleague Jim Murphy make three important points:

  1. Unless you want to be left behind, start diversifying your content “at a high level of granularity, from a broad range of sources”
  2. Your home page isn’t your digital holy grail, so “digital content leaders must rethink their principles, processes and technologies”
  3. Wake up and innovate: Take advantage of new technologies to guide customer behavior and drive ongoing digital engagement

The Best Next Thing

Smart organizations are presenting the right set of content, services, products, actions and interfaces required to perform the task — creating what Gartner describes as Best Next Customer Experience (CX).

The Best Next Customer Experience is a clever play on the next-best-action marketing concept, a customer-centric marketing paradigm that requires you to view process as “emergent.” The best next action emerges when we have sufficient data and information to take the next step.

“The ‘best next customer experience’ extends the concept beyond marketing scenarios and considers a wide range of content, services, application and design elements. ‘Best next’ also aptly suggests the real time, dynamic, self-learning decision making required for digital business,” MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy explain.

“The best next customer experience requires a new anatomy for content management. Engaging and satisfying customers requires richer and more personalized experiences delivered dynamically. Leaders must break down and rebuild their content components; identify and deploy content from a wider range of sources; and assemble the technology components required to deliver a relevant, valuable and delightful experience for each customer.”

The best next customer experience will be the competitive battleground for digital business — and an important foundation for memorable DX.

Intersecting Acronyms

DX. CX. WCM. And on and on it goes.

At CMSWire, we’ve been talking a lot about digital experience. 

In fact, we’re so convinced you need to deliver smarter, personalized digital customer experiences — and you need to deliver them consistently across touch points — that we’re sponsoring a two-day Digital Experience (DX) Summit in Chicago this November to give you an opportunity to discuss strategies and technologies.

A broad and evolving term, DX spans the range of experiences that people have with an organization’s communications, products and processes on every digital touchpoint, from the web and mobile devices through wearables, beacons and facial recognition.

All that information can be analyzed to give organizations a more complete sense of the customer’s identity, relationships, intentions and sentiments as they interact with businesses — and either analyzed or acted on in real time, Gartner notes.

How companies deliver digital experience and customer experience are essential elements of future success — and will propel the best-in-class businesses. 

By as early as next year, Gartner believes companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver.

But how does DX relate to CX? And where do things like WCM fit in? To cut through the fog of acronyms, we asked MacComascaigh for help.

One is Not (Exactly) Like the Other

Digital experience is not a new term for customer experience. Nor is it an umbrella term that includes CX. Rather, MacComascaigh explained, DX and CX co-exist and overlap.

the intersection of DX and CX

MacComascaigh defines the Best Next Digital Experience as “a composite set of experiential elements — including content, design and functional elements — delivered over a digital channel that has the highest probability of prompting any of a desired set of predefined behaviors.”

Web Content Management (WCM) plays an important role in delivering digital experience. But it’s not longer enough to just think of web content as something to “be managed,” he explained. It has to be part of something bigger and broader.

wcm compared to digital experience

Consequently, WCM vendors are “chasing the idea of digital experience and better engagement,” MacComascaigh said.

This allows us to better understand the context of customer interactions with a company, he explained.

The digital experiences going forward need to be in the context of a specific aim, he said.

“The best next experience requires new ways of accommodating channels that entail different audiences in disparate contexts. Each digital channel has unique characteristics that call for unique content,” MacComascaigh and Murphy note.


context is more than personalization


experience is more than content

Like Life, But Digital

Perhaps the best way to think about digital experience is to put it in the context of real life. MacComascaigh puts it like this: “Say you and I are having a conversation on our mobile phones. We’re walking and talking and then we turn a corner and we literally bump into each other. We say ‘hey, how are you!’ And we hang up the phones and we continue the conversation.

“We don’t start the conversation all over again.”

The best digital experiences should be like that, too. Natural. Seamless. Intuitive — regardless of which channel they originated or which one they continue on minutes, hours or days later.

“Organizations will want to ensure the integrity of their brand across channels, but publishing identical content and experiences across channels may only alienate customers, rather than engage them,” MacComascaigh and Murphy note.

There’s a lot to take in, a lot to learn. Better stay awake.

Join CMSWire at DXS16

This Nov. 14 to 16, at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago, CMSWire will sponsor three solid days of all-out discussion and introspection on the topics related to digital customer experience delivery.

DX Summit 2016 will feature Forrester’s Mark Grannan, plus numerous other industry leaders in the DX space including: Tony Byrne, founder and CEO of Real Story Group; Bruno Herrmann, director of Globalization at The Nielsen Company; Deb Lavoy, founder and CEO of Narrative Builders; Meghan Walsh, senior director, Global Marketing at Hilton Worldwide; and Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet company.

We hope to see you there.

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