What is a Customer Data Platform?

It should not come as a surprise that Data, more specifically customer data, has gained a central place in most businesses over the past few years. When actionable and well-utilised, it has the power of pushing a company in an upward trajectory fairly quickly.  

Typically, we see brands store customer data in silos, depending on the team managing the work flows for instance. Call center data on one side, sales data on the other side, etc. Obviously, this makes it very hard for the organisation to leverage data to orchestrate the user’s experience properly.

This is where Customer Data Platform, namely CDP, comes at play. This platform promises the harmonisation of customer data in one single place, opening the golden door of a unified and relevant customer experience across touchpoints. 

But wait, let’s back track for a second: What is a CDP actually?

The CDP Institute defines it as follows:  

“A Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems

There are three fundamental aspects in this definition worth exploring to really understand how CDP differs from other technologies. 

  1. “A persistent and unified customer database”: CDP’s key characteristic is to create a single view of the customer. They capture and integrate individual-level data from several systems overtime.  
  2. “Packaged software”: CDPs most often come as an out-of-the-box software, where the level of engineering required to stand up the technology is drastically reduced vs. other systems. What does this mean for marketers? It puts them in the driver seat by increasing control and reducing the cost, time and risk associated with data lakes for instance.  
  3. “Accessible to other systems”: it is important that the software allows data out to any end points for reporting and analysis, but also and probably most importantly, to manage customer interactions.   

Ok I get it, but the promise of a unified customer view is not new 

Indeed. It’s been ages that some tools are claiming to function as a customer hub. CRM and DMP probably come to your mind. 

In fact, there are important differences between a CDP and those software platforms. On a very high level, let’s see how they differ.

In conclusion, we like to think of CRM as a data source for your CDP – unifying that data with ton of others to create a comprehensive customer profile. On the other end, we see DMPs as a destination to push your CDP audiences to in order to continue leveraging anonymous-based advertising platforms like DSPs.  

So, a CDP seems to be the Holy Grail for a customer-centric business? 

This is 100% right! With different level of data maturity, businesses can benefit from implementing a CDP on top of their current tech.  

CDPs have the ability to capture, unify and enrich customer data from all sources. When harmonised, that data creates individual-level records, forming one single view of the customer. This allows the organisation to know their prospects and existing customers much better and to interact with them in a relevant and timely manner.

Last but not least, CDP have the ability to access internal but also external systems, letting brands control their user’s experience across all touchpoints. As a result, customer data can be utilised for emailing purpose, paid advertising, tailoring customer service, inform sales representative, etc. In other words, data can be actioned upon by the entire organisation

About the Author: Elaine Lorent
Elaine is our Head of Data Strategy at NOBI. She spent 8+ years in Media and Digital Analytics, with focus on CDP, DMP and CRM strategies. Elaine has a Master of Science In Integrated Marketing & Analytics from the New York University. Her passion is to help brands leverage their 1st, 2nd & 3rd party data in a meaningful and responsible way, to become fully data-driven organisations.

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