Successful companies have always been customer obsessed. How to get them, how to keep them, how to make them advocates are all questions that have kept CEOs awake at night since commerce began. Today’s sophisticated data management platforms offer marketers the digital tools to aggregate and mine their data to answer those questions.

The core capability that every DMP offers is the identification of the characteristics of a company’s customers and prospects, addressing the “how to get them” question. Armed with that information, marketers allocate advertising resources and buy media based on those audience characteristics. It’s the very essence of programmatic buying.

But there’s more to marketing than media buying. The most effective marketing operations exercise control over every customer interaction, including email, website, social, call centers… every customer touchpoint, making sure they are relevant and delivering value because that’s how you keep customers. DMP leaders know that and are building, buying, and integrating to collect data from and deliver insights to every digital channel the CMO cares to include.

Evolving a customer into an advocate requires that a product engender a commitment, and even the most sophisticated marketing can only go so far. Creating great products and continuously improving them in step with consumer expectations requires that marketers share their DMP-derived knowledge with their product teams. While that kind of corporate cooperation remains rare, it is the way of the future. And it all starts with data.

If you’re curious about how to grow your company into a data-informed customer-centric operation, look at the Forrester Wave™: Data Management Platforms, Q3 2017. It offers Forrester’s evaluation of 11 companies offering data management as a standalone product, including The ADEX, Adform, Adobe, KBM Group, Lotame, MediaMath, Neustar, Nielsen, Oracle, Salesforce, and Turn. Several of them are in the vanguard, buying, building, and integrating to meet marketer expectations today and tomorrow.