Customer data platforming. How do you do it?

Once upon a time, sister site CDP Resource split the customer data platform software category into twenty-some groups. The point was: do your own research. There are many areas for these platforms to differ in.

The problems still exist. It is difficult to evaluate and select customer data platform technologies, and even once complete there are three additional hills to climb:

1. Deployment,
2. Change management, and
3. Extending capabilities

Deployment starts when the CDP technology configuration first gets off the ground, and continues until you’re able to make good use of the system. 

Once value is realized, deployment ends and you are immediately forced into a phase of change management and extending capabilities. Two hills at once.

Change happens. 

Technologies change. Regulations change. People change. 

One of the ways change happens is in requirements, and that takes us down the path of extending capabilities. 

“Done” is not really a thing in customer data land.

These climbing hills look quite different depending on which technology type is being considered. 

To make matters worse, you end up on a different hill based on a combination of requirements, technology capabilities, and organizational structure.

These are the real reasons the “CDP space” is a confusing one.

As an example: most CDP technologies will interface with Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Several composable systems, activation systems, and management systems all “do the same thing” here. Even if this is the only use case, we may be at impasse.

A logic trail can be followed to lead us in the right direction: 

1. If customer data is already in a compliance-and-IT-blessed and marketing-controlled warehouse

Good for you! Enhance that customer data with additional sources and transformations and go to work with a composable system like Hightouch or Rudderstack.

2. If there’s nothing in place at all. Customer data is strewn about, unwarehoused, OR (ironically) if there is a well-established and/or highly controlled warehouse in place

The irony is that these very different situations may both call for an activation system like Amplitude or Bloomreach. These systems are good at activating and orchestrating customer data. 

As long as the warehouse sends signals or makes information available to the system, all is well

No warehouse yet? Utilize customer profile, session, and event data to your advantage in the meantime.

3. A compliance-and-IT-blessed warehouse exists without customer focus or marketing control

Womp womp! Composable might seem like a good option here, but if there is truly a lack of customer focus within and around the warehouse we might want to consider augmenting the warehouse and making use of components that can be controlled within a management system like Amperity or Treasure Data.

No, it is not easy as 1 2 3.

Conflicts and contradictions abound, where one system won’t work at all it might work just fine for someone else because of that combination of requirements, capabilities, and organizational structure.

The best way to deploy customer data platform technology is to first build understanding internally of who is going to be needed and what is going to be touched. This surfaces opportunities, needs, and requirements that otherwise go unknown.

The same can be said for each group within this complex set of customer data platform technologies (composableactivation, and management). 

YOU are in the middle of all of it, because only the business can bring all of them together to deliver the right experience.

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Todd Belcher Consulting Partner
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