Customers today display increasingly complex behavior and high expectations for impeccable product and service delivery in a competitive market landscape. Marketers require a first-hand comprehensive view of customer behavior to convey targeted marketing messages.
To address marketing-specific concerns about customer data due to the disconnected and unorganized nature of customer profile data, technology analyst David Rabb proposed a framework in the form of Customer Data Platforms1. CDPs surpass the limitations of traditional customer support systems, such as data warehouses by shifting control to marketers rather than IT staff in typical organizational settings. The success of CDPs lies in the unified, persistent, and accessible nature of customer data as the chief marketing component.
As Gartner puts it in its Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising2, CDPs are emerging as innovation triggers to serve as true data hubs. CDPs will evolve to disseminate customer data through a holistic approach. This data will be highly accessible, usable, and meaningful to analyze customer journeys and underlying customer needs.
What CDPs are: How CDPs Uncover Customer Behavior for Business Profitability
CDPs are designed to offer capabilities to help marketers take advantage of integrated and actionable customer data. The marketing landscape available in the present day makes use of a range of execution tools to disseminate messages over the web, mobile, and social media.
CDPs are smart systems in many respects. They offer single customer view to marketers, track customer journeys and maintain customer profiles to enable cross-device data collection. CDP systems use central databases for high data availability to all other business systems. They allow marketing optimization and a targeted conversion funnel through real-time decision making. Further, they enforce the most contemporary practices in data governance and customer privacy.
Unifying customer data in a sprawling digital eco-system is one of the primary goals of Customer Data Platforms. CDP systems are already showing promise in terms of business profitability, with as much as $300 million in revenue among two dozen vendors, which is expected to touch the $1 billion revenue target by the year 2019.3
What CDPs are Not: How They Differ from Traditional Business Support Systems
CDP Institute mandates that CDP systems must possess three distinct features. They must be controlled by marketers, work with a persistent database, and be accessible by other systems. CDPs are therefore different from the traditional business support systems including data warehouses and data lakes which do not exclusively serve marketing. They differ from CRM systems and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) in the type of data handled. Further, the purpose of CDPs is to retain control in the hands of marketers, and hence, IT involvement is restricted to specific technical maintenance scenarios.
In effect, CDPs serve as real marketer-managed solutions to alleviate painstaking navigation across internal and external customer and marketing data silos. In a technology-driven world with high data growth from mobile, web, and IOT-reliant smart devices, CDPs are the single most comprehensive and flexible choice for marketing-centric critical decision-making across customer journeys.
1. David Raab, CDP Institute, Frequently Asked CDP Questions, blog, March 2017, CDPInstitute.org, accessed April 2017
2. Eubanks, Christi. "Innovation Insight For Understanding Customer Data Platforms", Gartner.com , N.p., 2017, April 2017.
3. News and Events, Raab Associates( as cited in CMSWire , accessed 2017)