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Accelerate cognitive-driven marketing transformation with customer data platforms

By Stefano Fanfarillo and Rich Masi

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Published by IBM

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To create exceptional customer experiences, organizations need to be able to anticipate customer needs and identify opportunities to deliver on them. Today’s organizations have access to incredible amounts of data that can help them improve customer experience, yet most organizations still struggle to capitalize on their data.

It can be difficult to collate relevant data in a timely fashion, especially because customer data is often siloed in multiple, disconnected systems across the organization. Disparate, disorganized data impacts the organization’s ability to take quick action to deliver a desired experience. Some organizations have access to data insights, but still struggle to take proactive action based on those insights due to the scarcity of advanced analytics talent and capabilities.

The real value of data and analytics is realized at the point of interaction, which must be coordinated across multiple channels to truly deliver exceptional customer experiences. And even if an organization perseveres to work through disparate data, contextualizing the data sets, applying advanced analytics and navigating omnichannel activation challenges, there’s still another obstacle: how to continue to improve the program without overwhelming marketers with the sheer velocity of measurable results?

Customer data platforms (CDPs) have become an integral part of the marketing data and digital platform ecosystem, supporting customer data management processes across the organization.

Customer data management

While every organization performs some level of customer data management, CDPs can enhance what an organization is able to do on its own. The platform can take in data from any source and consolidate it to build and maintain a 360-degree view of the customer. With that consolidated view, the organization can then activate an individual or specified audience to support data-driven customer interactions across multiple channels and media. Throughout this process, the CDP continuously applies analytics to data for customer insights and predictions and enables personalization at scale.

Digital and data platform ecosystem integration

Designed to seamlessly integrate in the digital and data platform ecosystem, CDPs can simultaneously absorb and embed capabilities found in other tools. This integration supports a clear, consolidated view of performance across touchpoints—instead of relying on channel tools to piece together overall performance.

With this integration, the organization can create and send personalized messages directly through the CDP and extend journey orchestration capabilities to a wider range of channels than just the email, SMS messages and push options offered by most marketing automation platforms.

Marketing operating model impact

CDPs help reshape the digital and data platform ecosystem by moving capabilities upstream, which can have a fundamental impact on the organization’s marketing operating model. The responsibility of orchestrating customer experiences journeys goes from channel- or tool-specific to a broader omnichannel role. Marketing operation resources gain access to consolidated customer data to create complex, yet granular, audiences based on past behavior and triggers. However, this requires a data-driven, analytical, and highly skilled set of resources. Finally, operations teams can rethink redundant parts of the digital and data platform ecosystem to deliver omnichannel experiences while optimizing total cost of ownership.

Finding the right CDP for your business

CDPs and CDP vendors are not all alike, each offering different strengths in data, analytics and activation capabilities. To find the right vendor for your business you must evaluate this in the context of the existing data and digital platforms ecosystem. Think about any gaps in your current ecosystem and look for a vendor with complementary capabilities.

When looking to invest in a CDP, it’s good to start small to reduce complexity. Take an incremental, value-led approach to implement new capabilities. Start with few key use cases, deliver capabilities end-to-end and then iterate through incremental use cases and new data sources.

To make the most of any technology investment, it’s vital to embrace new, agile, cross-functional ways of working. Innovation is an opportunity to break down silos in your organization, and bring marketing, digital, analytics and technology skills together to drive impactful data-driven experiences across channels.

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