Adobe and Salesforce both made a splash in the customer data platform (CDP) pool with recent announcements that they were bringing a product to market. Salesforce announced on March 25 that it was building a CDP as an “extension of Salesforce Customer 360”, which is scheduled for general release later in 2019. Adobe dipped its toe into the water the next day, announcing at Adobe Summit that it would also be rolling out a CDP in tandem with the general release of the Adobe Experience Platform.
With these announcements, it appears that the market is coming to the realization that a CDP is not, as one Salesforce executive said just last year, just a “passing fad” but instead is a core requirement to deliver a differentiated customer experience. Driving the evolving mindset is pressure from customers and prospects who are in the market for a marketing database and have come to the realization that a data management platform (DMP) integrated with a CRM system no longer suffice in the race to digitally transform marketing by knowing everything there is to know about a customer.
Competing in a Different Realm
Now we can finally dispense with the fairy tale that a CDP has ever been a fad or question its tremendous value to marketers. Underscoring the pivot from the traditional martech providers is their tacit acknowledgment that RedPoint and other pure CDP providers are ahead of the game in recognizing the transformative power of a CDP. It’s nice to have a fully deployed enterprise solution in the market rather than one tied up in design, but a head start alone would not be insurmountable for newcomers to overcome. In fact, an argument can be made they’re running a completely different race.
Native CDP providers are ahead for a reason – they have a maniacal focus on having correct, standardized, matched, and keyed data which differentiate the product from the cloud-based vendors. While these vendors come to the table with bona fides in cloud data management, that capability barely scratches the surface for dealing with the data complexity at a level worthy of being called an enterprise-grade CDP. A native CDP differentiates itself from other customer data systems such as a CRM or DMP by connecting all types and sources of customer data – batch, streaming, structured, and unstructured – from across the enterprise. The Customer Data Platform Institute defines a CDP as a “packaged software solution that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”
The Purpose of a CDP
To understand how important clean data is in the CDP construct, it helps to take a step back and look at the specific purpose of a CDP to produce a single customer view, and what separates a true CDP from a DMP in achieving this objective. Just over two years ago, when there was a lot of buzz around combining a DMP with a CRM to create a 360-degree customer view, I wrote a blog that defused this notion and explored why a native CDP stands apart. Suffice it to say the points are still valid, perhaps even more so now that marketers have more data and data sources to contend with and consumers are moving faster than ever in dynamic, omnichannel customer journeys.
To recap, the many virtues of a DMP notwithstanding, treating a CRM as a source and holding all the other non-CRM sources falls woefully short in unlocking cross-channel insights that a CDP makes possible by leveraging customer data in an always-on, omnichannel environment. As mentioned before, the key difference is that ingesting data is not the same thing as making it actionable everywhere.
Coping with the complexity of first-party data across various verticals is a core CDP competency; it’s not enough to aggregate data and call it a day, leaving it to customers to sort out joins and keys. The ability to impress data quality on incoming data no matter the source is critical. The alternative is a low-quality threshold of matched data, which warps a single customer view.
A Single View, a Single Point of Control
What makes a CDP-generated single customer view important for marketers is the fact that, unlike a solution cobbled together from a DMP and CRM, it is continuously updated in real time. There’s no latency. The golden record is an always-on, always up-to-date unified customer profile that lets a marketer know everything there is to know about a customer across anonymous-to-known journey states.
High-precision identity resolution is the foundation for marketers to have a single point of control over data, decisions, and interactions. Because a CDP takes that last, important step of cleaning and managing the data, marketers with a single view of the customer are not only making decisions in real time in the context and cadence of a customer journey, they’re making decisions based on real-time data for a segment of one. A marketing cloud solution may enable real-time decisioning, but the key difference is that the underlying data may itself be old; marketers may be pushing duplicate records to a third-party platform, for example, but won’t know that a program is compromised and will have little confidence in the results.
Don’t Sleep on Data Privacy
In addition, data privacy is now a top concern for marketers. Data curation, data quality, and persistent keys are prerequisites for a solution to be compliant with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A cloud-based solution may indicate they’re compliant with these and other privacy regulations, but those assurances put the onus of data cleansing on the customer; provide them with clean data with proper keys assigned, and they’ll collect opt-in, opt-out information. Despite assurances, an account or a customer ID are not – as some claim – sufficient to ensure GDPR or CCPA compliance. A native CDP ensures data compliance without additional manipulation that a cloud vendor may require.
If there remains confusion about what a true CDP is – and what it isn’t – I welcome readers to take a look at the CDP Institute directory and explore the shared traits from all the named vendors, which includes RedPoint Global. We welcome all newcomers to join the club, providing, of course, they meet the CDP Institute’s definition for what constitutes a real CDP. The overdue acknowledgment that a CDP is not a passing fad is a great start, but just saying you have a CDP shouldn’t be enough to warrant membership.