The Best Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): The 2020 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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The Market

Customer data platforms, a relatively new category in the CRM space, are quickly being adopted by companies large and small. The reason is simple: IBM has estimated that bad data costs U.S. businesses $3 trillion each year.

And as the demand for data solutions increases, so does the vendor landscape. In fact, the CDP Institute noted recently that between 2016 and 2019, the number of CDP vendors increased from 23 to 96. The CDP Institute also estimated 2019 revenue for the CDP industry at $1 billion and projects 2020 industry revenue of at least $1.3 billion.

The rapid expansion of CDP as a category, however, hasn’t been without growing pains. In its annual hype cycle, Gartner recently placed CDPs in the “peak of inflated expectations,” meaning that buyer expectations are still exceeding system capabilities. Further compounding those pains is the fact that many vendors (up to 25 percent) that claim to offer CDPs don’t actually sell true CDPs, which many experts agree should provide a central location for complete data collection, processing, consolidation, activation, and execution.

As the technology matures, experts predict that the number of data sources and types of data brought into CDPs, the number of events being tracked, and the destinations to which CDPs will feed data will grow exponentially.

The Top Five

Adobe in mid-2019 introduced the Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform as part of its Adobe Experience Platform. Just a few weeks ago, it bolstered that offering with data governance capabilities, enabling companies to manage their customer experience data across the enterprise, from the point of collection to when it is syndicated to use cases outside of the platform. Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, hails the platform for its continuous intelligence and “strong real-time data streaming that ensures the latest information is updated.”

Microsoft’s offering in this area, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, was released in April 2019 with an aim to unify data from sales, service, and marketing tools into one customer record and to bring in data from both internal and external sources. It quickly became a favorite among analysts, particularly for its artificial intelligence capabilities. Wang calls it “a strong offering with a great user experience and ties to AI-driven insights.” He also notes that “Microsoft customers see this platform as the future for all CX activities.” Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and principal of Valoir, shares that sentiment, noting that Microsoft differentiates its CDP “by bringing the power of Azure, AI, and machine learning to deliver personalization at scale.”

Oracle’s CDP has at its heart Oracle’s CX Unity, launched in late 2018 to provide actionable insights in context, in motion, and in real time and to bring together online, offline, and third-party customer data sources. “Oracle’s richness of business data, combined with each customer’s unique data, brings strong customer understanding,” Wang says. “This CDP foundation is a source for Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligence, and the industry-specific capabilities have made this a top choice.”

Salesforce already had a pretty potent CDP offering that it launched in June 2019 as part of its Customer 360 solution, and it strengthened its capabilities with the acquisition of Evergage early this year. Wang calls the Salesforce-Evergage offering “part CDP, part personalization,” noting that its combination with Krux on the data management platform side “gives customers a closer path to Customer 360.” The Customer 360 platform, Wettemann says, “is bringing AI into play with Einstein and is focused on bringing data from multiple clouds—sales, marketing, service, and commerce—together.”

Segment is a lesser-known CDP vendor, but its offering is still drawing a lot of attention. Its product was already very capable, and in April the company added Visual Tagger, a point-and-click tool that allows users to collect data, without writing a single line of code, about how customers use their websites. “Segment is one of the top independent offerings in the market,” Wang observes. “Not only does it deliver a great CDP, it also is a great integration platform, great for companies in heterogenous environments.”

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