The CDP Institute has released its long-promised vendor comparison report (download here), capping a project we started last September. The final version closely resembles the approach I described in January . We did drop the entry for incremental attribution (too complicated) and add one for on-premises deployment (important and simple).
This is a good moment to circle back and compare the final result against the original project objective. That was to help buyers understand the differences between different types of CDPs. The original blog on this topic proposed defining clusters such as “digital-only” and “messaging” CDPs. We ended up defining more specific use cases, such as supporting Web data or providing probabilistic identity resolution. This abandoned the idea of vendor clusters and attempted instead to guide buyers directly towards systems that could meet their specific needs. We still do conceive of three very broad CDP system types: those that focus on building the database, those that offer database plus analytics, and those that offer database plus customer engagement (with analytics usually included too). Those categories don’t add much value to granular information about use cases, but they do allow some broader analysis of industry trends in our other reports.
As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, the final report gives Yes/No answers to the question of whether each vendor provides each feature. We’ve tried to define the features in ways that Yes/No answers are meaningful but readers still need to understand that this still hides a great deal of complexity.
To take a random example, one item is “SDK load”, which says a system has an SDK to load customer-linked data from a mobile app but doesn’t specify what functions the SDK should provide. This doesn’t tell buyers whether the system meets their needs, but it does identify systems that lack any mobile app integration whatsoever. This lets buyers exclude those systems from further consideration and then dig into the remaining products in more detail. We fully expect each buyer will find many of those systems are inadequate, but that’s something they can only decide for themselves. Buyer needs are simply too different and the issues are too subtle to hope to capture them in a general purpose document such as this report. The brutal simplicity of the Yes/No approach is intended to make clear that we’re not providing this more detailed information.
The other big limit to this report is it only covers Sponsors of the CDP Institute. This was a painful choice but I think a fair one. Putting together the report and running the Institute are expensive projects that are only made possible by Sponsor fees. Yet our efforts benefit the entire industry, including non-Sponsors. Including only Sponsors in this report gives them an exclusive benefit that helps to justify their investment. Fortunately, the Sponsor list includes almost all the major industry vendors so we’ve only left out a couple I would have otherwise included. And I like to think that it will be easy for buyers to ask our standard questions to non-Sponsors, making it fairly easy to to extend the comparison.
We’ll be updating the report as new Sponsors join and as vendors revise their systems. We’ll also be linking to more detailed explanations of the items provided by the vendors themselves. So feel free to download the current edition of the report but do check back for the latest information when you’re making a specific decision.
As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!