What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

Many marketers, CX professionals and technology leaders are seeking smart ways to unify their customer data. The customer data platform, also known as a CDP, entered the market to try to answer this challenge. In general, customer data platforms are a type of software that unifies customer data in a single database. Other systems can then pull from this central database and use the data as needed. When business leaders try to figure out how to organize their data to deliver better customer experiences, the solution can sometimes be a CDP.

Often, the data companies need to build better experiences already exists. Customer journey orchestration allows you to connect tools like CDPs with other parts of your tech stack and make it possible to get results from those data efforts. And this is crucial. What businesses need isn’t just to have data, or even have data in one place. Instead, it’s what you do with that data that matters.

Building Great Experiences Starts With Data Organization and Data Fusion

Data fusion is one of the most basic parts of building a great customer journey. What a customer data platform can do is connect all of your data in a single place for other channels, or a central decisioning hub, to influence the customer experience. Customer data platforms also have an advantage for CX leaders and marketers. This is because they’re often easy to pick up and use, where data warehousing projects require intensive IT support.

Is it possible to do data fusion without a CDP? While CDPs make the process much easier, it is possible to do data fusion without one, especially if you have already done a larger data project, or if you’re working with a customer journey management platform. Whatever way you get your data connected, having a data fusion capability is a powerful starting point for future journey delivery.

How CDPs Can Be the First Step To Full Journey Orchestration

Before analytics, orchestration and automation, brands need to connect their data. Customer data platforms makes this easy for marketing teams to do because they’re pre-packaged offerings that are designed from the ground up for data fusion. If you have a CDP and it’s working for you, that’s an excellent start to journey orchestration. Businesses can use the CDP-collected data in a journey analytics tool to understand all customer activities, regardless of channel. Companies can even plug that data into an orchestration engine to make personalized, one-to-one decisions for their customers.

Ultimately, a customer data platform is as good as the tools that you use it with. If you already have many channel tools, you can use multi-dimensional segmentation to target specific individuals so long as those tools can make decisions themselves. A CDP enables every other tool in your stack to do its job better. That’s nothing to scoff at. Many projects greatly benefited from having a CDP in place or bringing a CDP into play as part of a digital transformation. But where many brands have struggled is when they bring on a customer data platform expecting it to be enough to perfect their customer experience.

The Hype Around Customer Data Platforms

With any emerging technology, interest and excitement naturally ebbs and flows with time. According to Gartner, the hype around CDPs is heading for what they call the Trough of Disillusionment. Many customer data platforms are going to face more questions about how they deliver value going forward. As we’ve explained, CDPs are powerful tools for getting data organized and delivering that data to other systems for decisioning, message delivery, and more.

This should not be cause for alarm. As industries and technologies mature, they naturally flow through the hype cycle. When you explore your options for a customer data platform, be certain to think of why you want it. If the end goal is journey orchestration or personalized experiences, a CDP may still be one place to begin. Once you have your data in a centralized database, or when you’ve created a single customer view, you may be able to more easily begin journey implementation.

The Power of Customer Data

If you’re interested in getting a customer data platform to solve your data fusion challenges, we encourage you to do so. Just be sure that journey decisioning and orchestration are part of the conversation as well. That’s where CSG Xponent™ comes in. By connecting the power of a CDP, journey analytics and journey management, you can engage with customers wherever they interact.

If you’re interested in finding new ways to connect with your customers across every channel, check out our recent eBook, Don’t Let Your Customers Ghost Your Brand.