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Is a Customer Data Platform too important to be left to marketing?

Published: Tuesday, 14th August 2018 by Matthew Tod, Head of Analytics, D4t4 Solutions Plc

Gartner, in its March 2018 report, A Marketer’s Guide to What is – and Isn’t –a Customer Data Platform, defines customer data platforms as follows: “A CDP is a marketing system that unifies a company's customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modelling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers” which is a fine definition I almost totally agree with.

But the phrase “marketing system” troubles me, because in my experience high quality customer data from our CDP, Celebrus, powers many more aspects of the business than just marketing.

Now don’t get me wrong, marketing teams are innovating the most and are primary driver of CDP adoption, but what I see is that the data created by a CDP finds other uses across an organisation. For example, CDP uses beyond 1-to-1 marketing include:

  • Customer service effectiveness (contact centres, chatbot optimisation) can be improved if the total service journey is mapped. A Chatbot that suggests I look at the FAQ section that I had just spent twenty minutes looking at would be far smarter if it took into consideration that information, information that a CDP should hold.
  • Fraud detection is improved by more data, and rich behavioural from all digital channels provides a rich new data set to enhance existing models and alerting systems. One client recently spotted very strange digital activity at 3am with a user downloading over 200 pages; it was a clear signal that helped the fraud algorithm.
  • Credit scoring can be improved by adding more data. One client I work with has found that the way you behave on their website is a valuable signal that improves their existing models significantly. It turns out that the way you interact with a borrowing tool is a useful additional predictive variable.
  • Vulnerable customer monitoring is an area of increasing interest, and a CDP can provide additional data, such as interaction with content aimed at vulnerable customers. Right now, the focus is on detecting and reporting on vulnerable customers but a CDP could also power intervention.
  • Commercial decision making around pricing, demand forecasting and promotion analysis can all be improved when taken down to the customer segment level or even the individual. I have seen a client explain the success of a promotion by analysing which segments interacted with the promotion on digital channels and discovering that the initial response came from different segments to the target customer, which explained high offer engagement and low take up.
  • Compliance with GDPR, the new California Consumer Data Privacy Act and other local regulations, as well as keeping a single record of which promotions a consumer was exposed to are all functions of a mature enterprise CDP.

So, given all these uses, should a CDP really be something on the IT agenda not just marketing technology teams?

Forward looking IT teams that are creating a technical environment in which innovation can flourish already do take the lead in providing customer data for multiple purposes, and this is a trend I expect to see accelerate in the coming months. The idea that customer data powers customer obsessed organisations is gaining traction, and the logical conclusion is that customer data will be needed in every part of the organisation. A CDP is a means to facilitate this, and I believe will become like a ‘data utility’ that systems across the organisation plug into to get the customer data they need; it will become the electricity that powers the customer centric business.

Meanwhile marketing departments and customer experience teams please keep up the good work of getting CDPs deployed!

It would be remiss of me not to point out that these use cases are only possible because of the very rich data Celebrus collects, the processing it does to create the signals needed and the connections to the right systems in true real-time. More information can be found here.

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