The Salesforce Lawsuit Is an Important Lesson for CDP Buyers

The Salesforce Lawsuit Is an Important Lesson for CDP Buyers

For enterprise brands navigating the rapidly changing terrain of customer data platforms (CDPs), making the right choice in a technology partner is a daunting task. Recent controversy surrounding Salesforce’s CDP, ‘Genie’, has highlighted how vendor marketing can significantly distort reality. If you missed it, Salesforce is embroiled in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by their former VP of Product Management, Karl Wirth. The suit casts a concerning shadow on the integrity of Salesforce’s claims about their CDP’s capabilities.

The issue at the heart of the lawsuit is the disparity between the promised and actual capabilities of ‘Genie.’ Presented as a cutting-edge platform with real-time abilities, Wirth alleges it lacks such features. His attempt to bring this issue to light resulted in a campaign to discredit him, and ultimately, his termination. This lawsuit, if proven, could expose Salesforce to charges of federal law violations related to shareholder fraud and certain U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.

The legal turmoil engulfing Salesforce and ‘Genie’ is a wake-up call for those seeking a reliable CDP. Salesforce’s past record—launching four different “CDPs” in four years—does little to inspire confidence. This track record, coupled with the ongoing lawsuit, brings their commitment to in-house product development and truthfulness into question.

While the situation continues to unfold, it serves as a timely reminder of the importance of a careful, discerning selection process when it comes to choosing a CDP. Cutting through the smoke and mirrors is crucial when it comes to investing in a CDP, ensuring that your chosen platform lives up to its promises and delivers the value you expect.

Look for an Authentic CDP Partner

In your search for a credible and effective CDP, thoroughly vetting potential vendors is crucial. The Salesforce ‘Genie’ controversy underscores the importance of due diligence. It’s not enough to know basic details about your potential tech stack partner; you need to dig deeper.

Gain insights into their track record, clientele, leadership, and most importantly, their product. You need to understand their vision and core capabilities beyond their marketing buzzwords. The more you understand upfront, the better you can avoid misaligned partnerships.

You might consider the following questions:

  • When did your company develop its first CDP?
  • Who leads your CDP division, and what is their background?
  • How do you articulate your CDP’s value proposition?
  • What are your primary differentiators within the crowded CDP market?
  • Can you elaborate on the critical partnerships in your ecosystem and why they matter?

In light of recent events, it’s more important than ever to find a customer with a profile similar to yours who uses the potential vendor’s CDP. Ask for customer stories and references.

Understanding their experience will give you a tangible perspective on how well the CDP could meet your specific needs. By cutting through the smoke and mirrors, you can find a CDP partner who delivers on their promises and aligns with your business objectives.

Dig Into Real-Time Claims

One of the most pivotal CDP features to scrutinize is the touted “real-time” experiences capability. This attribute is integral to effective, timely decision-making and personalized customer interactions. However, don’t accept real-time claims at face value. Dig deeper to understand the true nature and extent of the real-time functionality a potential CDP vendor offers.

Some probing questions can help unveil the real-world performance of a platform:

  • How do you define “real-time” in the context of your CDP?
  • What specific operations within your platform operate in real-time? What infrastructure supports this?
  • Can audience membership be updated with incoming data in real-time?
  • Are you able to support triggered activations based upon real-time events?
  • What customer profile attributes or behaviors can be used to trigger an activation?
  • What historical information can be used in a triggered activation?
  • Give two examples of triggered activations you currently support for a client like us.
  • Do you provide an API for real-time profile lookups by tools such as site personalization engines and customer service software?
  • Can you provide examples of how your real-time capabilities have benefited clients in terms of customer interaction and decision-making?

Don’t hesitate to ask for a live demonstration of the platform’s real-time capabilities. Seeing the platform in action can provide valuable insight into its performance and responsiveness. Moreover, consider asking for references from existing customers who heavily rely on real-time features. Their experiences can provide a more nuanced understanding of the platform’s strengths and limitations in a real-world setting.

Remember, a careful evaluation of a CDP vendor’s real-time functionality can spare you from falling for baseless claims and investing in a platform that doesn’t deliver on its promises. A deep dive into this critical aspect will ensure that your chosen CDP can truly cater to your real-time data processing needs.

For more guidance on selecting a CDP, check out our RFP guide and template for a breakdown of key categories to dig into, and a word from the CDP experts at Merkle.

George Phipps
George Phipps
Director of Product Marketing
George is dedicated to educating enterprise businesses about the impact on customer experience and organizational performance enabled by centralizing customer data. He works closely with creative and prolific engineers, UX designers, marketers to help design and enhance technologies that improve access to customers' data.
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