Build vs Buy is Dead: A Eulogy

Build vs Buy CDP

Dearly beloved, we gather here today to acknowledge the passing of a staple of the CDP vocabulary: Build vs Buy.

As marketers that think about technology, Build vs Buy was always there for us. Whether it was starting a debate with the IT team about their seemingly years-long mission to build their own customer data platform (CDP), or jockeying for budget from your CFO to buy from that exciting new CDP vendor you kept hearing about. Build vs Buy was in blogs, LinkedIn posts, podcasts, and even in our Twitter feeds. And now Build vs Buy is Dead.

In the heat of the discussion, Build vs Buy felt like Plato’s Symposium. The IT and Data Teams would fire off: “How could we justify buying a technology that our team can build on our own? Don’t we already have a data warehouse? After years of this data consolidation project, you want us to make copies of our customer data to send off to some CDP? What if there’s a breach? What if it gets out of sync again and this whole project comes to waste? Why can’t your marketing team just learn SQL?”

And the marketing team would respond: “Sure, let me go train my PR team on SQL. You may have all of the data, but none of us can access it or use it in our campaigns! We need a way to self-serve this customer data so the business actually adopts the fruits of this multi-million dollar project you’ve spent the last two years on! If I have to keep asking Carla from Data Engineering to keep writing me shadow SQL queries so we can do actual segmentation in our email campaigns, she’s going to quit because that’s not her job!”

But, my friends, rather than dwell for too long about the death of something as ubiquitous as Build vs Buy, let us turn our attention to what is now before us: a new dawn where Marketing and IT can not only co-exist, but actively collaborate and drive the business forward. A new dawn where building or buying isn’t a choice about how to deploy a CDP, but two parts of the same project.

I am referring to, of course, the dawn of composable CDPs.

Composable CDPs are a kind of CDP that keeps the data where it is, letting business users access the data in the data warehouse, but in a friendly UI — no code required. To marketers, it just feels like a regular, marketer-friendly CDP.

And for the IT folks, composable CDPs don’t make data copies — they natively push down queries to the data warehouse, keeping it safe and secure exactly where it is. There are great developer tools and APIs that help them use their existing infrastructure. And when both sides worry about vendor lock-in, composable CDPs are warehouse-agnostic, which means you have the flexibility to switch at any time.

Composability is nothing new to IT teams: they’ve been composing data stacks for years. It’s part of the reason why they don’t want Marketing to go out and buy a packaged CDP; they believe that it flies in the face of the ideal modern data stack that they build precisely for the needs of this enterprise. They’re not wrong.

There is now an option for these more sophisticated Data Teams to add a CDP as a component to their data stack, all while giving marketers access to the data and connection to their business applications that they’ll actually use.

Of course, parting with any friend — especially one as omnipresent as Build vs. Buy — can be sad. But if Build vs. Buy were still here with us, they would want us to look forward. Forward towards a future where technology debates in the conference room are replaced by philosophical debates over a beer, where wasted budget becomes return on investment, where two critical teams at odds set on a path to make each other better. A future with composable CDP.

Learn More About How the CDP Conversation is Changing

To learn more about composable CDPs and how marketing and IT teams can work together to build this brighter future, check out our new guide: Build vs Buy is Dead. We also invite you to contact our experts.

Michael Trapani
Michael Trapani
Head of Product Marketing
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