Real-Time CDP, Real-Time Customer Experience
The market for customer data platforms (CDPs) is growing rapidly. By the end of this year, the CDP Institute estimates the market will exceed $1 billion in revenue. This growth is in large part fueled by the desire of organizations to provide improved customer experiences. CDPs promise to meet this desire by unifying customer data from across the organization so that it’s easy to provide personalized, multichannel experiences.
In March, we announced the release of our real-time CDP. As a leader in customer experience management, our entry into this category is a natural evolution of our current capabilities. Mature enterprises focused on customer experience management already use Adobe Experience Cloud solutions to pull in data from offline and online systems. They also use our identity management tools to achieve a single view of the customer so they can deliver personalized experiences to web, mobile, and people-based environments like call centers.
As a key component of customer experience management, our real-time CDP supercharges modern marketing use cases. It also provides a unique offering in the market for both IT and marketing teams who want to provide more profound and meaningful customer experiences.
This article provides a look at our perspective on the CDP landscape and how our real-time CDP offering can add value to marketers and IT, whether used as a stand-alone solution or integrated into other Adobe solutions.
DMPs vs. CDPs
Although both data management platforms (DMPs) and CDPs aim to solve the challenges of bringing data together from various sources and silos within an organization, there are distinct differences. Most DMPs are built to bring together and manage unknown pseudonymous user data and known hashed user data. CDPs, on the other hand, traditionally focus on known user data, including sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII) like a customer’s email address, street address, and phone number.
Based on these differences, many organizations use DMPs for new user acquisition, audience prospecting, and audience reach use cases. Many of our customers, for example, currently use our DMP, Adobe Audience Manager, to find similar audiences through look-alike modeling. They also use our DMP’s unique ability to activate audiences in people-based channels like social networks, email, and mobile messaging using hashed identifiers to segment and reach customers with targeted content.
In contrast, a CDP builds individual profiles from sensitive existing customer data to create a unified and persistent profile that can be used to provide one-to-one personalized customer experiences across all known channels and devices. Because of this capability, CDPs are excellent for known user personalization use cases that can grow customer or account lifetime value, like retargeting email campaigns or personalized web experiences.
DMPs and CDPs are not mutually exclusive. The decision between whether your organization should invest in a DMP, CDP, or both should be made based on your organization’s access to customer data and business needs.
The value of CDPs for marketing and IT
Marketing teams want to deliver great customer experiences that will attract new customers, grow the value of current customers, and improve marketing ROI. And the best way to achieve those goals is by gaining access to rich customer data. However, it’s often difficult for marketers to access data sets from disparate technologies and organizational silos.
IT understands the challenge marketing teams face, and want to make data widely accessible to marketers so they can have a more unified view of their customers and achieve their marketing goals. But they also know that marketing is only one use case for unified customer data, and are wary of integrating new technologies into their technology environment that only have a narrow application. From their perspective, any new data solution would serve the whole enterprise, not just marketing. And it must integrate and work together without adversely impacting page load times, introducing latency between systems, or complicating their tech stack.
Existing CDPs claim to solve some of these challenges by delivering a marketer-friendly user interface that requires little or no IT support and simple integrations. In fact, the efficiency and time savings CDPs can deliver — by making the front-end operations easier for marketing and the back-end operations easier for IT — are a big reason for the skyrocketing popularity of CDPs. But these point solutions also add complexity to the tech stack and may not meet the enterprise-wide data needs that the IT team supports.
Continuous data insights benefit everyone
The ideal CDP would solve specific use cases for marketers and IT. For instance, one appealing aspect of a real-time CDP for both parties is its ability to provide continuous data refreshes that keep customer profiles updated. For IT, having all customer information in a unified view makes it possible to resolve customer identity issues so that any system can access a consistent customer profile in real time. Call-center teams, for example, have access to richer customer profiles, such as what a customer was looking at online before calling. This data enables customer service representatives to deliver a better experience for the customer.
At the same time, marketing teams benefit because they gain insights into what actions customers have recently taken online or offline. This additional knowledge gives marketers the ability to run retargeting campaigns that are timely and relevant or to serve up a compelling offer in real time based on that data.
These types of use cases help retain customers, advance existing customers, and build higher loyalty. And, fundamentally, this is what both marketers and IT are looking for a CDP to deliver.
Navigating a complex CDP marketplace
With close to 100 vendors that now go to market as customer data platforms, the CDP market landscape can be difficult to navigate. Many CDP point solutions are in fact existing software, repurposed to be positioned as customer data platforms. Because of this, there are also considerable differences among CDP products, including the way they unify customer identities, the types of data they ingest, or their ability to power the multichannel personalization use cases marketers are ultimately trying to achieve.
Most point CDPs, which tend to focus on specific capabilities at the expense of broader features, can’t meet the more critical customer experience use cases, like these:
- Robust audience segmentation
- Cross-channel campaign orchestration
- Activation of real-time audience profiles
Instead, they often offer little more than connectivity between systems via APIs.
Point CDPs also promise to connect disparate systems but can create further complexity for IT and marketing teams tasked with building entirely separate known and unknown customer personas in two different systems. As a result, marketers can be left with inaccurate data sets, manual work to reconcile, and a slowdown of campaign execution, while IT ends up with another new system they need to implement and manage.
Given the nascency of many CDP vendors entering the market, another concern we’ve heard is the risk of giving first-party customer data — one of the most valuable assets for any organization — to a startup or independent entity with uncertain prospects. Trusting your data to a startup that may go under due to lack of funding is a serious risk.
Some enterprises may also have homegrown CDPs or CDP-like systems that have been built by their IT teams to bring internal data sources together for insights and activation. These systems may assist with low hanging use cases, but they can fall short of real-time CDP capabilities. It can also be difficult and expensive for internal teams to maintain integrations and develop new features. A real-time CDP can help augment homegrown systems to open up new use cases for the mutual benefit of IT and marketing teams.
Additionally, many emerging or homegrown CDPs also lack the robust governance controls required to responsibly manage sensitive customer data in today’s privacy-sensitive environment.
This confusion and these risks have led many enterprises to ask for a better approach.
How the Adobe real-time CDP stands out
Our real-time CDP offering is unique compared with both CDP point solutions and offerings from large marketing clouds. For starters, it’s flexible and open in the way it integrates with data sources and activation touchpoints, so it can be used effectively with all external adtech and martech solutions. Our platform architecture also accommodates both real-time streaming data and petascale data analytics in data lakes, making it possible to create a customer data model representing all your customer data, no matter which data sources you use. Plus, our offering not only provides a “golden record” of the customer — it allows enterprises to solve the greater issue of delivering seamless multichannel, personalized experiences at scale.
Large marketing clouds with CDP offerings are often attempting to tie legacy solutions together using recently developed or acquired integration technology that lacks a single data profile or data store. In contrast, our real-time CDP is powered by Adobe Experience Platform — the first purpose-built customer experience management platform in the market. This allows us to offer the following benefits across the enterprise:
- Real-time customer profiles
- Continuous intelligence
- Open and extensible architecture
- Machine learning and AI through Adobe Sensei
- Access to a data science framework
- Data privacy and governance
Being able to tap into these additional functionalities makes delivering personalized experiences at scale possible in a way that point CDPs or even other large marketing clouds don’t come close to achieving.
And with a shared identifier and storage powered by Adobe Experience Platform, our track record of integrating across Adobe Experience Cloud is unmatched. At the same time, customers can also make their data available to external systems that are beyond the Adobe ecosystem. This provides unprecedented connectivity when compared to what is possible via a partnership or an API-based integration.
While there are CDPs that can achieve components of delivering dynamic, personalized experiences on any channel, we remain the leader in providing digital experiences. And ultimately, what sets our real-time CDP offering apart from the competition is the fact that it was built to drive world-class customer experience management by a company that understands deeply what’s required to deliver seamless personalized experiences across every channel.