In the 1990s, SAP campaigned for businesses to embrace enterprise resource planning systems to integrate and automate essential business processes. Two decades later, Forrester took this idea even further with a push for the digital experience platform (DXP) — a new “box” of software solutions designed to power the customer experience and feed customer insights back into the enterprise.
The reason behind the crusade for DXPs makes sense. As the internet evolved, people wanted to make purchases and conduct business online. In turn, companies across all industries needed to offer customers simple digital experiences or risk losing business to competitors.
Retailers were the first companies to embrace the DXP, and have been at the forefront of many digital shifts over the past decades. The retail business model necessitates the use of cutting-edge tech, as consumers can easily shift loyalties to retailers that offer the digital experiences they want.
But how does DXP work in the B2B world? Quality digital experiences are easier to provide in a consumer-facing setting. The process of adding a commoditized item to a cart and completing the transactions is simple. When it comes to B2B, the products sold are far too complex for basic e-commerce experiences — in many cases, B2B goods require dozens of customized features. To provide a quality online experience for business buyers, B2B companies need more complex systems in place.
That’s why configure, price, quote (CPQ) technology has become a mission critical system for all B2B companies making moves to embrace DXP. To provide business buyers with quality digital experiences, businesses need technology to improve price quoting processes.
So, what exactly is a DXP?
A DXP is an enterprise software solution designed for companies seeking a way to provide better customer experiences. DXPs can be a single product or a suite of products that work together. While Forrester introduced this concept, it is an approach that rings true across all industries today.
One might assume it’s similar to an advanced content management system. While this comparison is accurate to an extent, the typical CMS is designed to build a public website and lacks support for an account-based user experience with access control as is needed in a B2B environment.
A DXP also differs from a portal, a digital buying offering typically found in a B2B setting, in that it offers a much better user experience. A standard portal enables self-service and role-based access that a CMS does not, but lacks the infrastructure and technical capabilities to adopt cutting-edge features.
A DXP combines functionality from both portals and content management systems while adding modern digital buying features to the mix. According to the Q4 2015 Forrester Wave report, a true DXP meets these six themes:
- Bring content, customer data and core services under one location.
- Consolidate marketing, commerce, and services to improve the user experience.
- Generate contextually relevant content.
- Deliver a consistent front-end interface across digital touchpoints.
- Leverage data and analytics to gain insights into user behavior.
- Avoid over-customization by managing and reusing code and extensions.
CPQ is a Foundational Component of a DXP
The challenge for businesses that want to embrace DXP is finding the right software products. Many different individual tools or suites can help businesses drastically improve their customer experience offerings. But for B2B businesses that sell complex products, the most crucial technology to incorporate is a CPQ tool.
CPQ software helps businesses selling complex products and services generate accurate price quotes for customized products through any delivery channel in near real time. This is important for B2B organizations looking to gain a competitive edge as current quoting processes can take days or even weeks, and have margins of error that aren’t always the best.
To provide a fast and accurate quoting process, CPQ technology brings all of a company’s data, including product catalogs, transaction history, customer information and price books, into one central location. The tool then makes the data accessible and actionable across all engagement points, including e-commerce and partner channels.
Another benefit of CPQ systems is their flexibility. As emerging technologies grow and evolve, CPQ tools can integrate with and adapt alongside them. In fact, technologies such as 3D modeling, drag-and-drop functionality, interactive demos, video and AI, will only increase the effectiveness of CPQ tools. For example, AI can help buyers more easily visualize customized products and better communicate their needs to sellers.
For B2B businesses to truly embrace DXP, they must streamline the quoting process. That’s what makes CPQ so important. With fast and accurate quoting capabilities, businesses can provide the seamless e-commerce experience B2B buyers crave and stand out in competitive markets.