Scenario Based Architectural Patterns For Implementing Digital Experience Platforms(DXP)
The big picture
Critical challenge for architects is to establish a platform architecture that integrates variety of independent and best-of-breed technologies together that can deliver modern customer experience and also empowers business users. At the same time ensuring platform renders a high degree of agility and scalability is an equal contender.
Experience in architecting complex, omnichannel, digital experience platforms for global clients working alongside technology partners - I’ve observed that digital experience platforms can be adopted to work in different fashions based on contextual business drivers. This inherently necessitates a wholistic analysis of organization’s current technology landscape to identify the what, where and how of the platform integration.
My point is,
While there is no “one size fits all” solution pattern that works for every business drivers, the business drivers themselves are not so radically different. Typical business drivers can be easily grouped uniquely and its witnessed over the years that a specific architectural pattern has proven to be successful in achieving the wider business driver and inherently the big picture.
Simply put “DXPs are unified software systems to manage and deliver consistent customer experiences across every stage of the customer journey”
DXPs are designed to deliver digital experiences allowing seamless journey from awareness to engagement and discovery, purchase and transactions and even customer service and support. Unfortunately, that expectation cannot be easily achieved unless it is architected keeping the key business driver in picture.
· Cross-channel consumer journey is the key construct against which a digital experience platform is built.
· Each techno-functional layer within the overall digital ecosystem is designed to solve a particular need - e.g., User experience vs. backend business admin tools.
· Streamlined backend business operations.
· Business user agility leveraging OOTB platform capabilities.
Let’s get into the common business drivers & relatively suitable architectural patterns.
Again, as opposed to advocating a unitary pattern that works for every business scenario, there are still certain standard architectural models that have proved successful in meeting the business use cases.
To demonstrate how different architectures play out in meeting business driver, let’s take an example of an experience management platform implementation. An experience management solution is a blended DXP solution with capabilities of CMS, eCommerce, Analytics and others through a breed of tightly integrated solutions.
# Business Driver 1: Experience-Led Marketing Platform
Organizations heavily relying on marketing for their business growth desire to be an all-out brand marketing powerhouse. Consequently their expectations from a digital platform revolves around building and managing
· Brand Marketing site
· One off campaign sites
· Corporate website
Recommended Architecture Pattern: Standard Deployment
The deployment of a standard solution is ideal for a wide spectrum of brand marketing experiences, including corporate websites and microsites, global and local brand coordination, and multi-brand/channel/ regional marketing. With this pattern, IT teams separate concerns and responsibilities by decoupling front-end activities from those of the back end.
Even with a decoupled front end, the application of this pattern retains all the power of the authoring and marketer capabilities available out-of-the-box with the DXP solution. The benefit is given by the seamless integration of the front-end experience and modules with back-end platform components.
# Business Driver 2: Experience-Led Transactional Platform
For most organization with a digital customer touchpoint, the key business driver is to stay relevant to their customer base by providing an integrated digital platform to handle key business functions such as
· Unified content & commerce experience
· Rich catalogue merchandising
· Cross channel commerce experiences
· Omni channel consumer experience
· Manage B2B/B2C/B2B2C segments
· Order management & fulfilment operations
Recommended Architecture Pattern: Experience-Led Solution Deployment
If unifying browsing and shopping experiences or driving content-oriented commerce, adopting an experience-driven pattern is preferred. In this deployment, there are three factors at play:
1. The front end team defining UI templates and designing user-facing elements
2. The platform team creating editable content components and
3. The integration developers building scalable integration services and application programming interfaces (APIs) with the backend enterprise applications such as ERPs, OMS and fulfilment operations
Together, they combine marketing, content and editorial capabilities with the data and business applications of underlying transactional systems to enable a unified consumer experience characterized by integrated experience management (the authoring) and delivery (the rendering).
# Business Driver 3: Transactional-Led Marketing Platform
This is really a combination of 1 & 2 where large enterprises require end to end platform capabilities to manage all aspects of their digital outlook ranging from marketing to merchandising to operations.
Architectural Pattern: Microservices Architecture
Micoservices is a game changer in the world of architectural patterns in terms of platform agnostic.
This is due to two critical, differentiating factors:
1. Extreme scalability for business-critical transactions
The scalability and agility of this pattern stretches far beyond the simple delivery of content and marketing experiences to enable business transactions, digital commerce, and online customer conversion at incomparable scale.
2. Build the entire ecosystem for change
This pattern can rapidly - and independently - evolve both your cross-channel consumer experience and its underlying integrations/transactional systems without needing to “rip and replace” with every major change.
The ultimate advantage this pattern offers is empowering marketers with the toolsets to create and deliver outstanding experiences and at the same time enable the IT teams with an architecture that let’s them rapidly scale and manage the solution efficiently.
Microservices are typically the core of the digital experience platform and ideal for the heavy orchestration involved in architecting omnichannel consumer experiences at web scale. Similar to the experience-driven pattern, the microservices architecture also leverages an API-first model when interfacing with all underlying systems and services. These systems can include cross-channel business-to-consumer or business-to-business commerce, multi-brand or multi-store product catalogs with high counts, and high-volume order or transaction processing.
The API first model establishes the highly scalable, non-blocking service orchestration and integration layer within the architecture. This layer is separated from the actual microservices. The service orchestration layer is highly optimized for a channel (typically delivering a single, composite, and optimized response for each one), but that channel can spread across several underlying microservices. It is the architecture that combines the responses from several underlying API calls into one unified response: the customer experience.
To sum it up
The fact is, no matter how unique your business drivers are, it can still be mapped to either of the 3 common ones highlighted above. Once your key business driver is established, a catalog of solution patterns can be evaluated to identify the right one that can give maximum returns in the long term.
The business drivers and solution patterns outlined are meant to guide the process, helping IT architects and application development teams determine which architecture makes the most sense for any given business situation.
Of course, these patterns can be further extended, modified, and tweaked as necessary. In fact, leading companies are taking steps to plan for these types of flexible digital experience platforms and then rapidly implement them with partners to achieve business goals.