3 Steps to Take Before Deploying a Customer Data Platform

February 2, 2018

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are powerful solutions that break down functional and channel-specific data silos endemic to most organizations. Eliminating these silos can power improved business results through deeper visibility into the customer lifecycle and greater accessibility to data in the moment of need. As with most powerful solutions, customer data platforms are often viewed as a cure-all. When seeking one out, it’s likely you’ll hear advocates preaching the solution as the cure for what ails your customer data and the magic solution to streamline reaching customers in the right channel at the right time. And CDPs do those things.

But as with all powerful technologies, you can’t deploy such a solution without a fully fleshed-out strategic plan. The concept of a CDP must be evangelized at all levels of the enterprise and, as with any new software deployment, there must be preparation done internally before seeking out a solution. Before deploying a customer data platform, you should:

1. Gain organizational alignment from top to bottom – This sounds like a step that should occur well before a CDP is even selected, much less deployed. It’s included because there are often still organizational holdouts on the need for a CDP in the first place. Data silos are intractable, as my colleague Buck Webb explained in a recent post, and this means that organizational alignment is an important first step on your road to deploying a CDP. Disparate data sources contribute to a host of problems, and everyone – from top to bottom – must agree that a customer data platform is the solution. If you can’t gain the buy-in of business users and stakeholders in your company, you risk project delays or de-scoping very easily.

2. Identify which data to include – CDPs are powerful solutions that can ingest data of all varieties, velocities, and volumes. Because customer data platforms can handle all types of data, you need to identify which data are going to be included. Part of building a unified customer profile, which CDPs excel at, is choosing what will go into that profile. Do you want a physical address? Only an email address? Maybe you’re looking for only certain pieces of information in that profile. Deciding what a unified customer profile looks like is a key step in the equation.

3. Determine your business rules – Before deploying a CDP, you need to decide what rules to judge your data against. Business rules play as big a role in customer data platforms as actual data. Your business rules can include picking the most current record in one case, choosing to use a more trusted input source over others in case of a tie, choosing the most complete record in another, and so on. Determining these business rules is a foundational step because they should align with your organizational priorities and your intention for the unified customer data profile.

Customer data platforms are powerful solutions for the modern business user. By providing an always-on, always-processing unified customer profile, CDPs allow marketers and other business units to gain a centralized point of data visibility into the entire customer lifecycle. In a marketplace where consumers increasingly leverage multiple avenues to interact with brands, this visibility into their behaviors, preferences, and interaction history pays substantial dividends.