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Five digital customer experience and Digital Experience Platform (DXP) trends for 2023

  • By Bryan Archer (CTO)
Bryan Archer (CTO)

Well, that went quickly! It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly at the end of the year. 2022 was another year which saw growth and evolution in the digital customer experience space; since the pandemic, the touchpoints between brands and customers (both B2C and B2B) have been increasingly digital. The need to be agile and flexible in a complex, multi-channel environment has also proved to be important to remain ahead of the competition. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Content Management System (CMS) and Digital Experience Platform (DXP) vendors have moved their offerings in directions that support marketing and digital agility.

It will be fascinating to see what 2023 holds. Here’s our view of five digital customer experience and DXP trends we think we’ll see in 2023.

  1. Headless stays in the headlines with more adoption
  2. One of the digital customer experience themes of 2022 has been more support for headless publishing, with the decoupling of the back-end CMS which houses content and the frontend technology that delivers the experience. This has received a lot of attention in marketing content and the media. The advantages of headless publishing are numerous and include the ability to be more agile and flexible, as well as publish more easily across multiple channels using the same base content. However, headless is not for everybody and can be a learning curve.

    In 2023 we can expect headless to stay in the headlines with more teams choosing to dip their toe in the water. This is partly being supported by CMS and DXP providers such as Sitecore and Umbraco enhancing and promoting support for headless publishing, as well as increasing visibility for existing headless CMS providers like Contentful. Although we do expect to see more headless during 2023, there are a still a lot of digital teams who lack awareness and knowledge about its benefits, and this may mean there is likely to be less progress than vendors would like to see.

  3. Some teams start their journey to the composable DXP
  4. Along with headless, another concept that has featured throughout 2022 is the idea of the “composable DXP” – essentially a best-of-breed DXP ecosystem made out of disparate content and digital marketing tools, all stitched together via APIs that exchange data and work together. Expanding on the headless publishing model, the composable DXP envisages a number of independent cloud-based solutions all working together. Again, this gives digital marketing teams far more flexibility and control over their marketing tools, avoids the inflexibility associated with monolithic all-in-one DXPs, reduces costs and more.

    DXP and CMS vendors are banking on a composable future and have pivoted their offerings accordingly. During 2022 we’ve written about how Umbraco supports a composable DXP as well as Sitecore products announcements such as Sitecore Connect and Sitecore XM Cloud, both of which support a composable DXP. Like advances in headless, we think more teams are likely to start their journey to the composable DXP – indeed introducing headless publishing may actually be the first step – but we also think that many marketing teams are simply not ready for the challenge and will want to remain with their existing, integrated solution. An emergent theme may also be how and when to transition, particularly if vendors start to force existing customers to move to SaaS-based, cloud-native offerings that offer the starting point of a composable future.

  5. Empowering digital marketers continues at pace
  6. In recent years, one highly positive direction of travel for solution design has been “low code no code” approaches which allow users to achieve more without having to rely on development resources in IT. This has certainly been happening in the CMS and DXP space, with digital marketers given more power to configure software to enable style changes, create content and marketing workflows, enable reporting and personalisation, and deliver more sophisticated experiences. This is being driven by more intuitive and easy-to use interfaces to create content and orchestrate campaigns, expanding libraries of connectors and templates that provide ready-made effective configurations, and even AI-powered approaches.

    In 2023 we can expect the enablement of digital marketers to continue, especially relying less on front end developers. We think this “enablement” may even start to trickle down to content owners who are not marketing professionals, and who will have more autonomy to create their own content directly into a CMS.

    One of the drivers for empowering marketing and content teams is the increasing role of AI and automation in digital marketing and content management processes – for example in driving personalisation and adding tagging to content – lowering the barriers to get more out of a CMS or a DXP. We can also expect to see more support for marketing teams to enable headless publishing and even “composable” systems, with the ability to link two disparate applications together through connectors, again with less support from IT colleagues required. A growing number of accelerator products which come with existing site and page templates is also enabling marketers to be more self-sufficient, and launch sophisticated sites more quickly and with less involvement from the IT function.

  7. DXP providers will continue to make niche acquisitions
  8. In the past three years or so, leading DXPs such as Sitecore, Optimizely and Adobe have been vying to lead in the sector and competing for market share. Fuelled by healthy levels of investment, they have been developing and extending their own platforms while also expanding with a wider set of capabilities right across the digital marketing stack. Some growth has been enabled through buying up niche providers of different SaaS services that can then be assimilated into their wider platform, plugging in gaps such as a Digital Asset Management (DAM) capability or a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

    We think this pattern is likely to continue in 2023 with larger DXP providers on the look out to buy effective SaaS providers in order to continue to expand their platforms; we expect to see a number of acquisitions across the sector. Overall, we think this is good news for digital marketing teams as it brings more choice and capability to existing DXPs, and opens up opportunities for a more complete and effective approach to digital customer experience.

  9. Brands start to think about the metaverse but chose to wait and see
  10. One of the challenges for digital marketing teams is that not only do they focus on delivering experience for the present, but they also need to consider what the future looks like and where customers are going to be engaging with brands tomorrow. In 2023 we can expect there to be a spotlight on the metaverse, partly because of Meta’s investment in that area. There is quite widespread disagreement about what the metaverse actually is, but most commentators agree that it is wider than Meta’s project, and refers to virtual worlds where individuals can interact as avatars and where it may be possible to have virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) experiences.

    This is likely to be an area where we’re going to see a lot of media attention, but there will be much more thinking and talking than actual doing from digital marketing teams. The future promise and value of the metaverse is still a long way off and has many dependencies; while there may be some high-profile brands who do a little experimentation, most digital teams are likely to adopt a “wait and see” attitude for quite some time.

Have a happy 2023!

Whatever happens next year, we hope you have a very healthy and highly successful 2023! Happy new year from everyone at 3Chillies.

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