How Does Your CDP Stack Up? The Real-Time Difference

Steve Zisk | November 18, 2019

The CDP Institute recently released its new CDP Vendor Comparison, a side-by-side look at CDP features and functionality offered by 33 vendors, including RedPoint. From assessing base features to analytics, engagement, and offline capabilities, RedPoint is the only vendor to receive a checkmark for all 27 capabilities across 10 distinct categories.

The CDP Institute cautions prospective CDP buyers that the comparison is not intended to rank solutions, or that more features are necessarily better. Rather, it suggests the comparison is meant to showcase features that support various use cases.

Because real-time functionality generates a great deal of interest as well as misconceptions among buyers, it’s worth exploring what two capabilities the CDP Institute lists in its comparison guide – “real-time interactions” and “multi-step campaigns” – mean from a use cases standpoint.

 “Real Time”, Uncovered

It is possible, of course, that a prospective CDP buyer has no use for real time. If the intention is for the CDP to create and use records of customer information for a traditional drip, outbound, or offline campaign, and all the business needs is basic transactional and behavioral information and the ability to make it available in a specific channel, there are plenty of vendors out there who don’t check the “real-time interaction” box.

In addition, a prospective buyer must be aware that there are different levels of “real-time interaction”. Even a base-level CDP will make customer information available directly in response to an API call from an external system, and it might even make the information available in what most would consider “real time”. The pertinent question, though, is whether the information it makes available is itself real time, or is it just producing a nightly flat file feed that’s 24 hours old? That might pass for a “real-time” record of a specific customer, but of course it’s not real time if the customer has purchased something or otherwise engaged with the brand in the last day – a visit to a store, an online search, or any other interaction.

Real-time access interface through an API, in other words, is not the same thing as a real-time update to an underlying record – which requires that information is pushed out, matched, merged, and made available in short order.

Start with Data Ingestion

If the business needs to interact at the cadence of the customer across digital touchpoints, then real-time constraints become a factor and bring into play another set of requirements, including gathering data in real time and responding with relevant content and offers in real time online. If the business also needs to recognize a customer across a broad range of devices, situations, and systems, then identity management becomes important. The business, in other words, may need to correlate and interpret an entire range of information about the customer – both online and offline information – from every enterprise system, including CRM, POS, and service systems, as well as every interaction or transaction within those systems.

A typical use case for digital interactivity and identity management would be for a company to recognize a customer and provide a consistent experience across various brands. One RedPoint customer, for example, uses the RedPoint platform to ingest, clean, sort, merge, and match customer data across seven different systems of record, each representing a unique brand. When a customer books a service online through one brand, the company knows not to offer the same service when the same customer makes an in-store visit to another brand, opening the door to a hyper-personalized customer experience that would not be possible if they were unable to recognize a customer’s journey across their brands, channels, and touchpoints.

The Real-Time Difference

A CDP that can keep pace with a non-sequential, non-linear customer journey helps an organization differentiate from its competition by demonstrating they understand and respond to the customers’ needs and expectations. Basic personalization is still possible if all a CDP does is push lists of customers into a channel – email, for example – to receive a relevant offer. But differentiation arises when the CDP can orchestrate individual offers based on a customer’s up-to-date history across every channel, online or offline, and has the power to suppress, extend, or change the offer based on a customer’s action in the moment irrespective of channel.

The multiple layers of real time surface in data acquisition, in the matching, merging, and updating of a customer record into a golden record, and in decisioning – being able to see and engage with the customer in real time across channels, and make a determination of a next-best offer or action accordingly. A broad range of real-time capabilities infuses a CDP with its ultimate value as the single source of truth for customer data and as a mission-critical enterprise system that provides a fast path to revenue with a hyper-personalized customer experience.

An investment in a CDP is a major decision. Like researching car models, a buyer must weigh a host of features in accordance with their purpose and goals. When real-time is under the hood of a CDP, a buyer will know that performance is guaranteed.

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Steve Zisk
Steve Zisk

Steve Zisk is a seasoned technology professional with more than 35 years of expertise in software engineering and product marketing. As senior product marketing manager at RedPoint Global, Steve is tasked with developing messaging and marketplace positioning for RedPoint’s customer engagement platforms. Connect with Steve on LinkedIn and Twitter.