Debunking the Top 3 Myths About Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

With all the recent news surrounding CDPs in the past few months, we thought it was about time to put to bed some of the myths about them.
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Aaron Landgraf
November 11, 2021 . 4 min read

Myth #1: CDPs will build a single view of your customer

Perhaps the most widely-spread claim of CDPs is that they enable businesses to build the all-important single view of customers. Even the CDP Institute defines a CDP as a “software that aggregates and organizes customer data across a variety of touchpoints.” And on the surface, it seems like the right thing to do.

But the actual likelihood that you will ever achieve that result is slim to none. CDPs only do their job by integrating with all the other platforms that actually collect the first-, second-, and third-party data. From your CRM to your data warehouse, from Google Analytics to Marketo and beyond, CDPs have to connect to everything to even attempt to build the single view of your customer.

And the fact is, they can’t. More often than not, trying to implement a CDP also means you have to implement one (or more) platforms that handle the data transfer among your tech stack. Or, even more costly (both in terms of time and money), you have to build your own native integrations to capture all that data. Bottom line: be prepared to spend months or years in implementation.

The cherry on top? CDPs do nothing to clean or normalize data. (More on this in a bit.) So, even if you do manage to connect all your systems (including the new ones you had to purchase to implement the CDP), the data you end up seeing in the platform could be — and often is — complete garbage.

Myth #2: CDPs democratize data

Part of the appeal of CDPs is the claim that they will make customer data available to the entire organization. It’s the entire reason to create a single view of your customer: bringing all customer data together to create a full profile is something any business should be striving to do. But the problem is: CDPs actually end up creating a data silo.

Many of the CDPs today sell the idea of a “single source of truth” (SSOT). While we’ve tackled this particular topic before, it’s important to keep reiterating the conclusion: a single source of truth should not be your end goal. Instead of creating one place where maybe a quarter of your organization will use your data, you should instead be focusing on distributing your good, clean data out to where 100% of the organization will use it: in their own systems.

Since CDPs cannot distribute the data they collect — even if the data within them is somehow clean — they have no way of ensuring the entire organization can use that data, creating yet another data silo.

Myth #3: The data in CDPs is usable

I touched on this earlier, but the most damning myth about CDPs is that the data is inherently usable. But the reality is, in fact, almost a complete 180-degree shift. CDPs do absolutely nothing to govern or validate data. Their entire purpose is to simply collect it from all the various sources you have in your tech stack. Here’s a classic example of what sending a simple email campaign looks like with a CDP:

  1. First, you have to build the audience in your CDP. Filtering based on industry, organization size, intent, etc. is all something done fairly easily. (That is, if you have all your customer data in the CDP to begin with.)
  2. Once you have your audience built, it’s time to import it into your MAP of choice.
  3. Now you need to validate it. More often than not, though, there will be a few errors.
  4. So, it’s time to go through the list and figure out where the breakdown was.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 until the list validates.
  6. Finally, send the email!

Now imagine doing an integrated campaign. Anything more than a single email or activity becomes incredibly complex because of all the places where your tech stack may or may not be integrated or have similar data. And, every time you look at a piece of data, the question will always be “Is this data actually good?”

Fact: CDPs won’t get you where you want to be

At the end of the day, the goal of CDPs is admirable. Creating a single view of your customer should be one of your organization’s goals. But CDPs today are confused; most are nothing more than tagged event routers, completely ignoring their original goal of creating an SSOT. Plus, the tactics CDPs use are the same as why master data management failed. And so, companies are misled to pursue a platform that cannot do what it claims, and businesses continue to face the same data issues year after year. A saying that makes particular sense here is:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

So the only conclusion to make is the way companies work with data needs to change. And Syncari is on a mission to do just that. Our data automation platform enables anyone to clean, normalize, and distribute good, clean data to all the systems in an organization’s tech stack. We don’t help you create a “single source of truth” that turns into 18 data silos in each of the platforms where data doesn’t match. Syncari instead ensures 100% of the organization has access to all the same good data in any system they use.

Want to learn how? Let us show you.

Written by Aaron Landgraf
Aaron is Syncari’s Head of Marketing. He brings 8+ years of product marketing experience at MuleSoft where he worked with CIOs on building the "Application Network" and built it into the market leader that it is today.

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