How Marketers Should Assess the New Salesforce Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Authored by James Meyers

It’s a fascinating time for data-driven marketing. Vendors have been head-down, releasing ever-valuable features towards personalization, and Salesforce is about to reveal its much-anticipated customer data platform (CDP). Christmas may be coming early.

There’s one problem though.

If there’s anything we learned from Adobe’s CDP reveal in March, it’s that building a CDP from scratch takes an incredible amount of time.

Given three years of development (per their product experts), Adobe’s platform appeared great on the surface with a rousing keynote reveal at their March 2019 Summit, including a purported 14 enterprises already piloting it in beta.

But as often the case with large marketing cloud providers, their marketing team’s ability to tell a good story far exceeds their ability to deliver a product that meets its promises. And a closer conversation with Adobe’s product experts revealed their CDP lacks numerous must-have features. In fact, organizations are required an additional license of their data management platform (DMP) in order to fulfill the basic use cases of a CDP. That’s because their CDP lacks features like advanced analytics modeling, profile orchestration, algorithmic identity resolution, and journey analytics. And even if an organization wanted their DMP, only two of those features are provided in it– analytics modeling and profile orchestration. The result is another cobbled together, incomplete solution that fails to deliver on the promise of personalized customer experiences.

So how can you, the curious marketer, expect anything different from Salesforce on June 17th?

After all, Salesforce is similar to Adobe in demonstrating sparse proof of developing solutions from the ground up (trivia: can you name the last product Salesforce or Adobe developed from scratch?). Development time is not on their side either. Remember Salesforce’s claim that CDPs were a fad in June 2018? It signals they have not been developing their CDP for anywhere near the three years that Adobe did.

On Monday, June 17th, marketers need a rubric to assess the new Salesforce CDP. Not against Adobe’s CDP (far from the benchmark), but against the premier CDPs in the market. Those that have masses of successful implementations at the enterprise level.

As a former industry analyst covering this technology, premier CDPs are distinguished by their ability to provide every ‘must-have’ feature and a significant number of ‘nice-to-have’ features too. So to make it easier for you to assess Salesforce’s CDP (and other CDPs) going forward, I encourage you to use the below rubric of must-have vs. nice-to-have CDP features.

I did my best to craft it in business-friendly terms, but should you have any questions about your assessment, or are curious how to organize your marketing technology stack, I’m only an email away. I love helping organizations make the best decisions for their personalization needs; it’s why I enjoyed Gartner so much and what continues to be my focus here at ActionIQ.

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