You Ask, I Answer: Customer Data Platforms and Personalization?

Deborah asks, “Are you using or scoping out a Customer Data Platform (CDP) with the intent to implement personalization? Which tools?”

Customer Data Platforms – CDPs – are something of a symptom of bad data management and governance at a company. If your data infrastructure and architecture is sound, you shouldn’t need a CDP. And if you need a CDP, you’re putting a bandage over the real problem. Fix the real problem – poor data management – as your main strategy. That said, if you’re looking to evaluate, take a look at Snowplow Analytics open source edition and Apache Unomi.

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In today’s episode Deborah asks, Are you using or scoping out a customer data platform with the intent to implement personalization, which tools? So customer data platforms, also known as cdp’s. Are there a software category that has popped up? pretty substantially in the last 18 months, David Rob, over at the CDP Institute, has done a great job of sort of spearheading the category. Fundamentally, the promise of these technologies is that when all of your data lives in silos, and you have all these multiple different vendors, you need a system that will talk to each of the systems and glue all of your data together so that you can process it, run analytics on it, and then send that data to other systems to take action on. So most often, it’s a marketing use case for this technology. And the idea being that you would go and do this and then send your data to add systems to email systems, and so on and so forth. That said, customer data platforms are kind of a symptom and their symptom of bad data management and bad data governance at a company. If your data infrastructure and your architecture is sound, you shouldn’t need a CDP. If you have really good integration. If you have a database of record like a CRM, if you have good Master Data Management cdp’s would a CDP would be a redundant. If you need a CDP, because your data is such a hot mess, you’re really putting a bandage over the real problem, the true problem where your efforts should go your time, your your effort, your resources, your budget, should be towards fixing the real problem, which is bad data management as your main strategy. Now, if you absolutely positively can’t for corporate governance reasons or because your company itself is just a mess inside, then yes, you can get a CDP and use that to put a bandaid on the problem. But with the understanding that you’re putting a bandaid over a bullet wound, right. There is no substitute for great data management internally for good data governance. So are there good cdp’s on the market, there are there are a number of good companies, there are a number of really good open source tools. Personally, if you’re going to go the that route, and you have the technical talent internally, I would go for an open source solution first, not because it’s cheaper. But because when you’re looking at a system like a CDP, as sort of a bad day from Master Data Management issues, you need a system that can scale with your company. But that you own, because the last thing in the world you want is for your data to be held hostage by a company that once they have all your data, and it’s all together and you become reliant on the system. They can charge you whatever you want, whatever they want. And you will have to pay it. If you use a CDP system, software that is open source that you run the system, you own the software, you own the code, you own the deployment. Yes, there are maintenance costs, there will be updates, they will be all the fun that comes with running an application in your own data center or your own cloud instance. But fundamentally, nobody can say Oh, hey, last month it cost you $5,000 to access your data this month is going to cost you 10. What are you going to do about it?

Right, that’s the situation you do not want to have. So the two systems that I think are worth looking at the two projects that are worth examining. One is called snowplough. This is an open source project, there’s a commercial edition, of course, the open source edition is worth looking at. And you run that on its own cloud instance. And it connects to a whole bunch of backend services, AWS, Google Cloud, and so on and so forth. And it will take the time to set that up. But it is very robust. It can be very effective if you do it. Well. It requires, while all these packages, commercial or open source require a lot of training and a lot of rewiring of your systems. So again, one of the reasons why I’m hesitant on the CDB category is that if you are have the the money and the time to integrate across all your systems, you also could just do that with your own systems, your own databases. The other one that is very promising. And I would say if you’re going to place a bet, place a bet on it would be the Apache, I think it’s pronounced you know me. Apache, you know, me is it open source product project run by the Apache Foundation, which is the most credible name in open source period there, the Apache project runs, like three quarters of the web, in some in some fashion or form and some projects and their CDP project and you know, me, was just promoted to a top level project this year, which means that the foundation gives it a lot of money to build its code to maintain its code. It has integrations for all of your major systems. It has integrations for your website, and so on and so forth. You run it inside of a cloud instance, or you run it on your own server, which by the way, if you are in a highly regulated industry, being able to run this kind of system behind your firewall in your data center on servers and hardware that you own, he is really, really powerful. And so I would say if you want to go that route, that’s the system to look at. There is a tremendous amount of work that you need to do on governance, in order to make the systems work well. There is a tremendous amount of work you need to do on compliance. At trust insights, we were helping repair a CDP system for a client late last year and they just made a hot mess of it, it was it was not in good condition. No one had been trained on the administration of the system, no one had been trained on sort of the overall strategy of the system. And so, it became ironically it became a system that needed more maintenance than the systems It was supposed to connect to to solve the problem. So fix that real problem focus on that real problem with poor data management poor data infrastructure report, data governance, first and foremost, deploys CDP only if there was no realistic chance of getting your overall corporate governance or whatever to fix the problems that are causing the need for a CDP. And then I would say look at Apache you know me as your place to start. Because again, you do not want to be held hostage and an end up having to spend you know, ever increasing amounts of budget on a system that you don’t own, you fundamentally don’t have control over and that is likely to become a core part of your overall business. If you have an opposing opinion about the necessity of cdp’s I would love to hear it leave it in the comments below. Because change my mind. I would say if you have questions, leave them in the comments below. And of course, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter and I’ll

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