Survey: Structured Management is Critical to Database Success

November 28, 2016

Structured technology management tools such as long term planning and technology standards all contribute to success in building a unified customer database, according to a survey released today by the Customer Data Platform Institute.

We asked marketers and martech experts about their current and planned customer databases and several key management tactics, including long term planning, agile development, technology standards, and value measures.  The results confirmed the obvious — it pays to be organized — but also added some nuance to understanding what’s important.

Some of the key findings are summarized below.  You can download the full report for free from the CDP Institute Library at

  • Long term planning. This is the foundation of traditional IT management and a strong indicator of a structured approach.  It is the most common technique over-all, used by 31% of companies.  It was also the most powerful predictor of having a database, used by nearly half of companies with a database in place, compared with just 25% of companies planning a database and 19% of those with no current or planned database.  Other analysis found that long term planning was equally common whether martech responsibility was shared, held by IT or held central marketing, but less common among marketing departments or companies with no clear martech leader.  It was also more common among people who rated single customer view as extremely important for marketing success.  Taken together, these all indicate that long term planning is very important for success, both as an indicator of commitment and a sign of a systematic process.
  • Value metrics for martech.  Formal metrics to measure the value of marketing technology were less common than long-term plans, used by just 20% of all companies.  They were substantially more common than average at firms with a database in place, less common at firms with plans to build a database, and almost never used at firms with no plans.  They were used slightly more than average at firms where marketing and IT share responsibility for martech and were less common when marketing departments ran their own martech or responsibility was unknown.  They were substantially more common among people who considered the single customer view extremely important.  These results suggest that value metrics, as another part of structured process, contribute significantly to successful database deployment.  Although the value of a central database can be difficult to measure because the database does not generate revenue directly, this does not appear to have hindered deployment at firms in the sample.
  • Agile selection process.  Agile processes are slightly less common than value metrics (18% of companies) but they show a proportionately similar pattern of being more common among companies with a database than those planning one.  They are particularly common when martech responsibility is shared or owned by departments, but uncommon when IT or marketing run martech alone.  (These figures may not be statistically significant.)  They are more common among people who consider the single customer view extremely important.  This pattern suggests that agile is a useful tool but does not speed database development more than other techniques.  Companies using both agile and long term planning are much more likely to have a database than companies using either technique without the other. 
  • Center of Excellence (COE) for martech.  Centers of Excellence help to spread skills in using martech tools throughout an organization.  As such, they have less to do with building the central marketing database than with using it once deployed.  Perhaps for this reason, there is little correlation between having a COE and having a database in place.  In fact, firms planning a database are more likely to have a COE than firms with a database already built.  This may indicate that those firms are moving ahead with martech tools without waiting to develop a central database.  Like all other tools, COEs were more common where the single customer view was considered extremely important.  There was little difference in use of COE based on who managed martech.
  • Technology standards for martech.  Technical standards to guide selection of marketing technology were slightly more common than average at firms with a database in place and slightly less common where a database was planned.  This suggests they may slow deployment slightly but any effect is minor.  Standards are exceptionally common at companies with shared responsibility for martech and where departments are in charge of their own martech.  This is similar to the pattern for agile.   It may be that technology standards provide a framework needed for agile to function.