Forrester’s recent report on the state of the customer data platform (CDP) highlights how much the product and the market have evolved in the 18 months since its last report, in October of 2018. Buoyed by the entry of traditional marketing clouds, including Adobe and Salesforce, the CDP – according to Forrester – can no longer be shoehorned into its original definition as a solution that “centralizes customer data from multiple sources and makes it available to systems of insight and engagement.”
Calling the entry of martech cloud vendors a “seismic shift” in the market, the report’s authors state that it’s the end of the “participation trophy” era, where simply announcing your presence in the arena was enough to lay a credible claim to the CDP mantle.
Rather, with the increased competition along with a heightened urgency for marketers to deliver a hyper-personalized customer experience, a CDP today must clearly demonstrate a valuable purpose. It must, as the authors state, “justify its existence”.
No More “Shifting Buckets” of Manual Work
While the report lays out what is now expected of a CDP in the wake of marketing clouds entry into the market, a careful reading between the lines shows that there are, in fact, CDP vendors today – Redpoint among them – that satisfy the core functions required for inclusion into the CDP Institute’s RealCDP designation.
These functions include ingesting and storing data, data management, identity resolution, real-time access to a customer record, and omnichannel orchestration. The key point that takes the CDP out of the “participation trophy” realm is that it must do all these things not in isolation, but in service of a goal beyond data centralization and one that spans the entire customer journey. Further, it must include automation and intelligent capabilities that ensure a CDP is not just replacing one set of manual work with another.
I would extend the “functional competency” mandate to include requirements that a CDP must be enterprise-ready and cloud-first, meaning that to excel at the core functions those core competencies must be built and usable for the enterprise rather than cobbled together, or adapted from another piece of software or repurposed to fit a CDP label.
Shortcomings of Marketing Cloud Vendors
As the report ticks through the core competencies of a CDP, it details the elements that Redpoint included in a ground-up, purpose-built solution that provides marketers with a single point of control to orchestrate customer journeys across an omnichannel environment.
The contrast between what Redpoint provides versus what marketing cloud vendors offer becomes clear with a closer look at how marketing clouds justify their entry into the market. One key difference is that marketing clouds are often built by accretion, meaning that what they’re calling a CDP is actually a cobbling together of several cloud platforms, each with siloes of data, operations, and interactions. These siloes are a tremendous obstacle in terms of a marketer’s ability to bring together all the data needed to orchestrate a customer journey and manage those orchestrations. Cloud siloes also usually increase latency in the CDP process, contributing to stale data and decisions and impacting relevant engagement.
Second, another major issue for marketing cloud vendors is the problem of choice. There is a general recognition in the CDP market, and among martech buyers in general, that accepting whatever a marketing cloud offers in terms of personalization, ad management, social engagement, or even in terms of channels and ecommerce, doesn’t make sense. Marketers understand that they must retain the power to choose what best fits their business goals – and marketing clouds do not make this easy. By contrast, Redpoint’s open garden architecture is infrastructure agnostic. In an open garden environment, an organization is able to connect to any and all data sources and technologies, essentially future-proofing an infrastructure when business objectives pivot.
This is CDP’s Time in the Spotlight
The report’s authors also detail important must-haves prior to implementing a CDP to avoid future headaches. These include a unified omnichannel marketing strategy, organizational coordination, and a data management strategy. The caveat I would add to this sound advice is that an organization does not have to boil the ocean, if you will.
Rather, it is entirely possible to test the waters with one or two actionable use cases that deliver quick wins and a provable ROI. This strategy allows an organization to grow into its competencies, capabilities, and maturity as it slowly but surely centers its customer engagement strategies around the CDP as the core of its martech stack.
The bottom line when it comes to assessing a CDP’s capabilities is that the entry of marketing cloud vendors in the CDP market drives the point home that there is no market for a CDP for a CDP’s sake. Their entry signifies the increasing importance of a CDP as the default technology to understanding customer behavior across all channels and devices.
Download the Forrester report to learn more about its recommendations for how to evaluate a CDP for your business needs. Further, if you would like to see how Redpoint’s solutions provide a scalable, unified single point of control where all customer data is connected and every customer touchpoint is intelligently orchestrated, we invite you to include a Redpoint demo as part of your evaluation process.