• Data fuels the marketing engine, but most B2B marketers have low confidence in the quality and reach of their data and data management skills
  • Customer data platforms (CDPs) promise a packaged solution for these critical challenges
  • All data system acquisition decisions must adopt a rigorous evaluation process to ensure investment is justified and will add business value to the overall tech stack

We data folks often speak of data being the fuel that drives marketing strategy, plans and actions. The sad truth is that, according to Forrester’s Q1 2017 Global B2B Marketing Panel Survey, only 12% of marketers report high confidence in the accuracy of the data they manage. We data professionals face a dilemma. We have at our disposal tools to access, unify and analyze more data, but if we cannot even confidently manage the data we already have, how can we successfully argue for more investment to expand the volume of data within our control?

connected data points

One option is to introduce a tried and tested approach to data management, as per my recent blog Seven Steps to Data Confidence, and also investigate the relatively new arrival of stand-alone customer data platforms (CDPs). My colleague Steve Casey — author of the latest Forrester New WaveTM: B2B Customer Data Platforms, Q2 2019 research paper — and I are combining our respective areas of research to present a perspective on the issue at this year’s TechX. If the evaluation of a CDP solution is something you are contemplating, our session “CDPs: Data Management Panacea or Over-Hyped Pretender?” is for you. 

Combining Steve’s research into the system aspects of CDP technology and the SiriusDecisions research into implementing a successful data management strategy, our session highlights the promised benefits of CDPs and the place of these systems within the context of wider data unification approaches. We will offer a perspective on the broader CDP solution landscape. B2B CDPs typically come as a standalone solution (for individual purchase) or a data management feature or module of a larger solution that includes engagement/activation functionality such as an account-based marketing (ABM) or advertising platform. It’s important to understand the nuances.

Standalone systems offer organizations the promise of a structured, comprehensive and credible single source of prospect and customer data. Better control of more accurate data may be within our grasp. In addition, these solutions provide the ability to support the business with dynamic omnichannel activation, enhanced segmentation capability, and the ability to develop unified profiles at the account, buying center and group levels. Be sure to join us as we discuss the key selection criteria.  

A decision to deploy a CDP necessitates a review and evaluation of associated factors affecting people, process and technology and underpinned by compliance with privacy regulations. To support the business case for an enhanced unification policy, data stewards must collate detailed voice-of-the-customer needs and ensure that the system implementation budget fully considers ongoing employee data literacy training. All system deployment must consider the wider tech stack into which it will be placed; implementing a CDP is no exception.

Organizations continue to grapple with creating a solid data layer that drives analysis, orchestration and delivery of messages and content to drive prospect and customer engagement. During customer inquiries and speaking engagements, we often encounter data teams that are struggling to find the path to solving their data issues. We owe it to the business to investigate the opportunity afforded by CDPs, but we must do so within the scope of a solid evaluation process.