Customer Data Platforms

What are CDPs? (from Gartner)

CDPs seek to provide an effective way to efficiently collect, manage and use an organisation’s first-party customer data to provide a unified view of the customer.

A CDP is a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.

Offerings have evolved from a variety of mature markets, including multichannel campaign management, tag management and data integration. At the same time, pure-play, purpose-built CDPs have launched to capitalize on investor fervor and martech spending. Rather than a new technology, CDPs can be understood as a repackaging of already existing features that are inconveniently distributed and thus untapped across various alternatives.

It’s important that CDPs have the ability to consolidate profiles at the person level and connect attributes to identities

The new and novel aspect of a CDP is the productization of these features and acknowledgment that marketers are still struggling to get value out of their enormous investments in both customer data and technology.

To fit Gartner’s definition of a CDP, the technology product must feature a marketer-friendly, web-based interface that enables data collection, profile unification, segmentation and activation.

1. Data collection

A central feature required of CDPs is the ability to ingest first-party, individual-level customer data from multiple sources in real time, without storage limitations. Data persists as long as it is needed for processing. CDP data collection must include first-party identifiers such as emails or device IDs and attributes such as demographic information.

2. Profile unification

It’s important that CDPs have the ability to consolidate profiles at the person level and connect attributes to identities. This must include linking multiple devices to a single individual once they’ve been personally identified and deduplicating customer records.

3. Segmentation

At a minimum, CDPs must contain the ability to create and manage rule-based segments. Advanced segmentation features may include automated segment discovery or propensity models.

4. Activation

CDPs need the ability to send segments (and instructions for those segments) to specific tools for execution of email campaigns, mobile messaging, advertising, and other campaign or channel activity. Marketers still need execution tools for the final mile. CDPs may include activation features such as next-best recommendations, dynamic creative optimization, and testing and self-optimization capabilities.

Next Steps

Examine the goals of your marketing program to identify the most appealing features of the CDP market, such as marketer-friendly data access or a unified customer view, and assess the ability of your technology systems to help you achieve those goals.

Audit your customer data management and analytics ecosystem. Analyze the root cause of your marketing inefficiencies against the core CDP features of data collection, profile unification, segmentation and activation. Identify a solution to each inefficiency by discussing the technologies and systems your organization already has in place as well as the 10 detailed above.

Going Agile

When clients talk about delivering in an Agile approach, it’s often a case of assessing where to place their appetite and organisational maturity along an ‘Agile spectrum’.  More often that not it typically ends up being an interative waterfall approach.  But here’s my Agile diagram that’s done its fair share of rounds in our organisation.


To me, Agile is less about methodology and more about organisational culture in how they think about and approach delivery.