As the portfolio of customer experience solutions keeps expanding, one cannot but wonder about what truly distinguishes one solution from the other – and this seems to be especially true for Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) versus Customer Relationship Systems (CRMs).
One of the main selling points of a CRM has always been the benefits of having a 360-degree view of data available about each individual customer. A key advantage has always been the notion of having all information about customers and your interactions with them available in just a matter of clicks. However, as new data sources keep emerging, the job of consolidating all data keeps expanding and it easily becomes rather complex to leverage all data in just the right way. It cannot be considered efficient to build lots of “local” customer overviews in different applications – the true value lies in the entire organization having access to the same customer overview regardless of business area. This is where a CDP comes in. A CDP takes all available data your entire portfolio of enterprise applications and unifies it in order to be able to generate insights about customers and to display a consolidated and unified customer overview. On top of that, CDP is able to trigger activities in one enterprise application, based on events in another. For example, if the classification of a customer changes in one application, it triggers an update of the customer classification in another. This ensures that every interaction with the customer is in sync with a fully updated customer profile.
If I would be asked to explain the difference between a CDP and a CRM in one sentence, I would say the following: A CRM can be considered an engagement platform towards your customers, whereas a CDP can be considered a customer-centred engagement platform towards your enterprise applications thereby covering the customer journey end to end.
That is at least the general notion behind it. A CDP is not a replacement for a CRM, but a supplement. I also find it noteworthy to mention that applications can include CDP functionality, without being a CDP in the traditional sense. This might sound a little contradicting, but there are plenty of solutions in the market, which are able to consume data from basically any data source, derive insights based upon it and provide a corresponding customer overview. However, most often these applications are not able to share their data with other enterprise applications and they are also not able to trigger a change in data in one application based on a change of data in another. To me, this defines a true CDP – an application which can consume any data, derive relevant insights as well as being able to navigate a rather complex landscape of enterprise applications by triggering events in one application based on events in another. To me, this is the true power and value of a CDP, which should not be underestimated in a world, where the portfolio of enterprise applications in organizations keeps expanding and where there is a tendency to invest in best of breed over leveraging one single platform for various areas of business.