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What Is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

11 minute read
Brian Carlson avatar
We cover what a CDP is, what it isn't, to help understand how these marketing managed platforms can help create a unified customer experience

The pandemic has served to both accelerate digital transformations and refocus many organizations attention on their customers overall digital experience. While during the early days of the pandemic marketing budgets were either on pause or reduced, many companies have reinvested and prioritized the digital experience as they realized a customer data platform (CDP) is a critical key piece of infrastructure technology for affecting the overall digital experience.

According to the Customer Data Platform Institute July 2021 Industry Report, “the first half of 2021 saw a flurry of growth, funding and acquisitions as the CDP industry reconfigured itself during the COVID pandemic.” They found that the leading CDP companies added funding and grew significantly in 2021, while many smaller firms were purchased as companies built cross-channel engagement systems. The report estimates CDP Industry revenue for 2021 at $1.6 billion. 

A CDP will enable companies to understand their customers across all touchpoints, and while working in unison with other technology solutions, can modify and tailor that digital experience based on user behaviors for relevant and useful interactions.

Marketing leaders need to keep CDPs in view as a potential area of investment to address their customer-centric communication needs. According to MarketWatch, the CDP Market size is projected to reach $5.17 billion by 2026, from $1.01 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 31.2% during 2021-2026.

What Is a CDP

A customer data platform (CDP) is a data management system that has a unified and persistent database which can be accessed by other martech systems. CDPs consolidate and integrate customer data from multiple channels into a single database which allows an organization to build a unified profile around an individual customer. The structured data from a CDP can then be delivered to other martech systems to enable customer-centric features like personalized messaging campaigns.

Why Use a CDP?

By aggregating and unifying data from all the places customers interact with your company, CDPs can help organizations get a more complete understanding of their customer's behavior in order to deliver them a consistent messaging and transactional experience across all digital channels.

Related Download: CDP Trends: The Market Bounces Back After a Slow 2020

What Are the Core Elements of a CDP?

CDPs need to have three key elements in order to be called a CDP. Be wary martech shopper since many companies are repackaging various legacy solutions and calling them a CDP, so make sure any software you are considering meets the following criteria, as defined by the CDP Institute.

1. CDPs need to be managed and controlled by marketers, with limited ongoing technical support from their IT departments of external vendors. While it's understood CDPs may need extensive technical support to set them up, marketers should be able to run daily without tech support.

2. A customer data platform at its core need to be a persistent, unified database that collects data from multiple sources and associates that data with an individual customer profile.

3. CDPs need to be accessible by external systems and deliver data to them.

Related Article: What's the Road Ahead Look Like for CDPs?

What Are the Key Features of a CDP?

A CDP needs to have an easy-to-use, web-based UI with certain built-in functionality to be called a CDP, according to Gartner and The CDP Institute. Look for the flowing features from any vendor calling their software a CDP.

  • Data Collection - A CDP needs to be able to load in data from multiple customer data sources (websites, server data, CRM, email, etc.) in real-time.
  • Unification - A CDP should have the ability to consolidate and unify customer profiles of a single person.
  • Segmentation - CDPs should have a web-based UI that gives marketers the ability to segment customers into custom audiences.
  • Activation - A CDP needs to be able to push segmented data back out to other platforms and external systems like email, mobile, social media, and web.

Related Article: Customer Data Platforms Market Guide

Customer Data Platform Providers

This public guide of customer data platform companies is intended to give you a brief overview and contact information for each of the leading CDP companies in the market, and acts as a supplement to the CMSWire 2021 CDP Market Guide, which offers much more complete listings with detailed company descriptions and backgrounds. 

No CDP is a fit for all organization sizes. Review your primary use cases and look for vendors that specializes in your industry and can show other related clients and successful executions in your space.

ActionIQ

ActionIQ is a Smart-Hub B2C CDP platform that connects first-party customer data, orchestrates cross-channel campaigns, and measures incremental lift across all digital and offline channels. ActionIQ integrates directly with your existing IT and business systems to remove fragmented customer data and siloed systems, while increasing security and governance.

Website: https://www.actioniq.com/

Address: 11 Madison Ave Floor 17, New York, NY 10010

Phone: (646) 780-1065

Acquia

The Acquia CDP is an enterprise-level platform that uses machine learning to improve customer lifetime value. Using APIs the platform integrates with a multitude of systems to more fully leverage business customer data. Features include personalization, analytics, customer journey builder, identity resolution and snowflake data sharing.

Website: https://www.acquia.com/

Address: 53 State Street, 10th Floor, Boston MA 02109

Phone: (888) 922-7842

Adobe

Adobe’s Real-Time CDP is built on top of the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP). The CDP combines known and unknown customer data into a single unified profile. Other features include privacy controls, data governance, and real-time data activation.

Website: https://www.adobe.com

Address: 345 Park Avenue San Jose, CA 95110

Phone: (800) 833-6687

Amperity

The Amperity CDP is based on the SQL engine and ingests raw customer data from multiple systems through APIs. The CDP leverages AI/machine learning to resolve customer identities and deliver actionable insights.

Website: https://amperity.com/

Address: 701 5th Ave 26th floor, Seattle, WA 98104

Phone: (206) 432-8302

Ascent360

The Ascent360 CDP platform is tailored for B2C companies and integrates customer and transaction data from any touchpoint. The CDP enables targeted, omnichannel communications direct to prospects and customers.

Website: https://ascent360.com/

Address: 53 State Street, 10th Floor, Boston MA, 02109

Phone: (800) 581-4017

BlueConic

The BlueConic CDP platform is built on an open-source Apache Cassandra NoSQL database, a technology noted for scalability, responsiveness, flexibility and read/write speed. Platform functionality includes unified customer profiles, multi-dimensional segmentation and cross-channel lifecycle activation with built-in personalization.

Website: https://www.blueconic.com/

Address: 179 Lincoln St, Boston, MA 02111

Phone: (888) 440-2583

Blueshift

Blueshift’s platform is targeted at the larger-scale B2C market and is more focused on the business application side, versus the data infrastructure side of CDP functionality. The CDP combines data aggregation, cross-device identity resolution, AI recommendations and decisioning, and cross-channel journey orchestration.

Website: https://blueshift.com/

Address: 433 California St, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone: (844) 258-3738

BlueVenn

The BlueVenn CDP platform is designed to deliver customer analytics, omnichannel journey management, modeling and campaign execution for B2B and B2C customers. BlueVenn can be deployed in the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid environment.

Website: https://uplandsoftware.com/

Address: 401 Congress Avenue, Suite 1850 Austin, TX 78701-3788

Phone: (833) 875-2631

CaliberMind

CaliberMind’s B2B CDP platform brings together analytics, attribution and workflow automation. The company’s ABM Converter & Revenue Analytics solution, built on top of its CDP, intends to let marketers repurpose existing CRM and marketing automation systems to manage, measure and report on Demand Generation and ABM initiatives.

Website: https://www.calibermind.com/

Address: 2000 Central Ave. Boulder, CO 80301

Phone: (720) 476-5653

Dun & Bradstreet

D&B DataVision is a cloud-based CDP solution that helps B2B marketers profile, visualize and segment their global customer and prospect data to identify the right areas for growth.

Website: https://www.dnb.com/

Address: 101 JFK Parkway, Short Hills, NJ 07078

Phone: (973) 921-5500

Ensighten

Ensighten’s CDP includes tools for enterprise tag management, omnichannel data collection, first-party customer profile creation and activation and data privacy and security.

Website: https://www.ensighten.com/

Address: 887 Oak Grove Avenue, Suite 203 Menlo Park, CA 94025

Phone: (650) 249-4712

Informatica

Informatica’s Customer 360 Insights CDP combines customer data from multiple sources, creates relationships using machine learning, uses natural language processing to infer additional customer attributes, and provides a visualization of complex relationships using a graph data store.

Website: https://www.informatica.com/

Address: 2100 Seaport Blvd Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: (888) 345-4639

Leadspace

Leadspace is a B2B customer data platform with predictive modeling and persona modeling. It is focused on enterprise-level scaling and flexibility.

Website: https://www.leadspace.com/

Address: 445 Bush Street, Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: (855) 532-3772

Lytics

The Lytics CDP connects marketing data about customers and users from multiple sources, including structured and unstructured data and anonymous and known profiles. The platform creates behavior-based user segments that sync with other marketing tools to help improve marketing campaign results and reduce inefficiencies.

Website: https://www.lytics.com/

Address: 920 Southwest 6th Avenue, Suite 700, Portland, OR 97204

Phone: (503) 479-5880

Microsoft

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is Microsoft’s CDP built on the Microsoft Azure and Power platform. It unifies customer data across multiple sources, and includes AI-driven insights such as churn risk, customer LTV and actionable suggestions to improve performance and long-term relationship development. Since it is built on Azure, it is possible to bring existing Azure data into the CDP. The system also has data privacy, regulation compliance and governance tools.

Website: https://www.microsoft.com/

Address: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA

Phone: (800) 642-7676

mParticle

mParticle CDP allows for the integration of customer and event data from a broad variety of sources. The product feeds other analytics, visualization and orchestration tools in the customer experience ecosystem.

Website: https://www.mparticle.com/

Address: 257 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010

Phone: (917) 692-2868

Oracle

The Oracle CX Unity CDP has an open and extensible architecture that integrates all types of data sources to create a unified view of the customer. Its features include built-in AI and machine learning capabilities. The CDP is pre-integrated with Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud to enable intelligence to be applied across every customer touchpoint.

Learning Opportunities

Website: https://www.oracle.com/

Address: 2300 Oracle Way, Austin, TX 78741

Phone: (800) 392-2999

QuickPivot

The QuickPivot platform combines big data analytics, customer insights, visual segmentation and customer journey mapping. QuickPivot enables marketers to deliver coordinated customer experiences across all channels, measure results in real-time and refine marketing programs to improve results.

Website: https://quickpivot.com/

Address: 2400 District Ave, Burlington, MA 01803

Phone: (617) 880-4000

Redpoint Global

Redpoint Global’s rgOne provides enterprises with data management and customer engagement technology designed to help organizations optimize customer value across all touchpoints. Its algorithms enable marketers to create a unified, continuously updated view of each customer.

Website: https://www.redpointglobal.com/

Address: 888 Worcester St Suite 200, Wellesley, MA 02482

Phone: (781) 725-0250

Rudderstack

Rudderstack offer an open-source, developer-first CDP that is built to integrate with an existing martech stack elements. The CDP is developer-focused and is designed to handle an extremely high volume of data.

Website: https://rudderstack.com/

Address: 96 S Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Phone: (773) 887-3178

Salesforce

Customer 360 Audiences is the CDP within Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud offerings. Features include the power to unify customer data across customer lines, segmentation, personalization, and analytics insights that can translate to actionable campaigns.

Website: https://www.salesforce.com/

Address: 415 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Phone: (800) 720-0371

Segment

With the Segment CDP marketers can collect, unify and connect first-party data to over 200 marketing, analytics and data warehouse tools.

Website: https://segment.com/

Address: 100 California St #700, San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: (415) 603-6900

SessionM

SessionM is a customer engagement platform that integrates machine learning, real-time decisioning and the ability to deliver messages, offers and loyalty tactics across all channels.

Website: https://www.sessionm.com/

Address: 225 Franklin St. Floor 9 Boston, MA 02110

Phone: (617) 963-8993

Simon Data

Simon Data is the first enterprise CDP with a fully integrated marketing cloud. It allows for data collection, unification, and customer segmentation and analysis.

Website: https://www.simondata.com/

Address: 199 Water Street, 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10038

Sitecore

Sitecore’s CDP division Boxever features the Boxever OneView, a CDP that connects all customer data in real-time and powers Boxever Engage, a personalization engine; and Boxever Explore, a fully managed analytics platform.

Website: https://www.sitecore.com/

Address: 101 California Street, Floor 16, San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: (855) 748-3267

Snowflake

Snowflake’s CDP offers cloud elasticity and secure data sharing..

Website: https://www.snowflake.com/

Address: 450 Concar Drive, San Mateo, CA 94402

Phone: (844) 766-9355

Tealium

The Tealium Customer Data Hub encompasses tag management, API hub, CDP with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and data management solutions that leverage real-time data to create personalized digital experiences.

Website: https://tealium.com/

Address: 11095 Torreyana Road, San Diego, CA 92121

Phone: (858) 779-1344

Treasure Data

The Treasure Data enterprise CDP unifies data from multiple sources — online, offline, IoT and device generated data — enabling an actionable view of customers and personalized engagement across touchpoints.

Website: https://www.treasuredata.com/

Address: 800 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

Phone: (866) 899-5386

Zeta Global

The Zeta Marketing Platform uses AI to create custom omnichannel customer experiences. Its insights provide real-time customer visualization and optimization.

Website: https://zetaglobal.com/

Address: 3 Park Ave, 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10016

Phone: (212) 967-5055

Zylotech

The Zylo CDP enables marketers to unify and enrich internal and external data and perform ongoing micro-segmentation, pattern discovery and recommendations while integrating with a variety of marketing tools.

Website: https://zylotech.com/

Address: 6 Liberty Square, PMB #511, Boston, MA 02109

Phone: (617) 460-6316

For more companies, deeper detail and an expanded understanding of the history and future of the CDP market, check out the 2021 Customer Data Platforms Market Guide.