Thought Leadership

Getting value out of a CDP: How to pick the right one

Recently NGDATA was the CDP Institute’s guest for a webinar on how to get the most out of your Customer Data Platform (CDP). How do you pick the right one? And what do you need to consider once you have chosen a CDP? This pre-phase merits some reflection to make sure your customer-centric program generates momentum from the start and maintains it. Here are some requirements to take into consideration in order to gain value from your CDP.

In the two other parts of this series, ‘The first use case‘ and ‘Engaging in real-time, you could already read how to get started with a CDP, what to consider when picking your first use case, and how to add more complex use cases with the potential for greater impact. Now it’s time to choose the right CDP that fits your organization’s needs and goals. Here are some selection criteria to consider when comparing CDP vendors.

Selecting the right long-term CDP

When you’re past determining the first couple of use cases, it’s time to look ahead and choose the right CDP that supports the long-term growth your company is aiming for. Here’s a list with 8 advanced selection criteria that are relevant for long-term deployment and activation:

Infrastructure scalability.

Make sure the data platform you choose supports the infrastructure scalability. Big data requires a distributed architecture. And it’s not just about storing data, but also about accessing, integrating, processing, and performing calculations on data. And then there’s also the duality between on-prem software and cloud storage. The first option comes with physical restrictions, while the cloud comes with the distinction of shared versus private storage. With a private cloud, we set up one instance for one client so it can never get mixed up with other companies’ data.

Financial services and banks are of course very reluctant to share cloud space with other instances. Determine upfront what on-prem capacity you’ll need for the types of activities you’ll want to deploy, as on-prem software is not scalable at all.

Real-time capabilities.

In the other part of this blog series, ‘Getting value out of a CDP: Engaging in real-time’, we already went into detail about real-time capabilities. If you want to interact in real-time with your customer in a personalized way, you’ll need real-time updates of CDP data, real-time access by other systems to customer profiles in the CDP, and real-time calculations including data captured during a current interaction.

Understanding what should be real-time, near-time, or maybe just batch, helps you prioritize the efforts so without doing that, you might be prioritizing sources that don’t need to be real-time. For example, spending a lot of time trying to enable segmentation data may not be meaningful in real-time because those attributes might not even be updated continuously, but only weekly or monthly and it might not even be significant even if it is updated.

Having pre-built connectors is a time-saver but some custom configuration is nearly always needed for big organizations.

Scalability of data integration.

Building new integrations doesn’t always happen smoothly. After integrating the first few data sources, you’ll need to add other channels over time. Find a solution that helps you connect with new data sources very quickly and easily. Assess how difficult it is to add other connections after adding those first – easier – sources, such as a CRM system. Make sure your system is able to handle all sources the moment you’re loading more data.

While incoming channel sources are critical to building a CDP, execution channels are also vital to staying in touch and contacting your customers when the time is right. Having pre-built connectors is a time-saver but some custom configuration is nearly always needed for big organizations. Ensure for each connector that you don’t underestimate the effort to customize it to the requirements of the business.

For more on the scalability of your platform and your customer experience, check out this blog post.

Combining behavioral trend analysis with a complex understanding of a customer’s channel preference allows you to anticipate your customers’ needs and contact them when and how they will be most receptive to having a conversation.

Cross-channel analytics.

With cross-channel analytics, multiple sources of data are connected to each other and automatically analyzed to generate customer intelligence. Being able to perform more advanced calculations on data is a trait that makes NGDATA’s Customer DNA™ as part of the customer data platform stand out from others. Individual behavioral profiles are created for each customer in order to quickly surface changes in a given customer’s propensities or aberration from their typical actions.

Additionally, models are constantly running in order to understand which channels a customer prefers for different actions. For instance, a retail banking customer might prefer making payments in the mobile app, contacting the call center when he has multiple service needs (e.g., change of address and ordering checks), and prefer in-person appointments when seeking investment advice. Combining behavioral trend analysis with a complex understanding of a customer’s channel preference allows businesses to anticipate their customers’ needs and contact them when and how they will be most receptive to having a conversation.

Decision-making and orchestration.

Your customers can have different needs at the same time, so explore how your CDP will service a customer who is active in several product- or servicing journeys at the same time. Someone’s geographical location and what channel they use is important data to take into account. Someone interested in a car loan, won’t be looking for that when he visits your website while on vacation. It’s more likely he’s looking for info about his credit card or travel insurance. Being able to communicate the right info at the right time, is thus an important feature to take into account when choosing a CDP.


Marketer self-service.

Take a moment to think about how long it currently takes to set up a new audience for a campaign in which you: want to engage with high propensity customers, within a certain age category, that use your app for transactional purposes?

In order to define audience groups from your customers in the past, the marketers needed the help of data analysts. This was always a very time-consuming process and it took a while to get the results you asked for. Give your marketers the right tools to maximize autonomy from scarce CRM or IT specialists when building out offers and experiences to engage with customers. You want your marketers to be able to create their own segmentation, set up personalized experiences for customers, build their own predictive models in the system, and add new data sources. Especially when adding more use cases, this autonomy becomes really necessary. They need to be able to define their own targets and have the ability to access metrics to obtain new insights, discover opportunities and audiences, and act on them swiftly.

Moreover, marketers should also be able to use the tool to gain insights on how they are successful in providing meaningful interactions that deliver value to the customer and where not. This is an ongoing process of fine-tuning and continuously improving to make sure the customer expectations are met or even exceeded when it comes to the products and services provided.

This is the concept of citizen development, referring to a non-programmer who builds business applications in dashboards in which they use low-code – or sometimes even no-code – drag-and-drop application components to generate new types of applications or workflows.

NGDATA’s intuitive platform UI with role-based access makes it easy for business users to operate, allowing IT and analytics teams to retain control. The no to low-code development and pre-designed models and formulas ensure quick setup, giving your marketers the freedom to manage the campaigns on their own and giving your IT department control over all the data that comes in. The real-time dashboards provide instant reporting and the AI capabilities generate automated omnichannel communications. The user-friendly UI will consequently limit the need for user training.

Read here how to get the most out of citizen development.

Product origin and direction.

When comparing vendors, find out what direction the CDPs are developing into. The various vendors have come out of different spaces and generally, their R&D follows the space they came out of. So choose one according to your company’s KPIs. For example, when unifying customer profiles from disparate systems in the case of multiple mergers and acquisitions where customers likely had accounts across the various companies, a vendor coming from the MDM space might be what your company needs. If understanding the intent of your customer’s web behavior is most important, then the tag management space might be best for you. If achieving customer-centricity and truly personalized messaging is your main focus, a CDP in the analytics space would likely be the best fit.

Industry expertise to start quickly.

Do the vendors have a deep technical understanding of your clients and do they know what data would power and propel your use cases? Where’s their roadmap going? The CDP space is still pretty nascent so every software platform is constantly developing. Make sure that the direction of the vendor is aligned with your company’s own long-term goals and find out what specific solutions they created for your business’s challenges. The vendor’s industry expertise will only make it easier to start quickly.

Discover NGDATA’s industry-specific solutions here.

CDPs are becoming so meaningful because they break down silos. But if they don’t have a solid integration layer, then the CDP actually becomes a silo itself.

No more silos

One of the reasons why CDPs are becoming so meaningful is because they break down silos. But if they don’t have a solid integration layer, then the CDP could actually become a silo itself. So the CDP needs to be fully integrated to a point where adding one source is relatively cheap from an IT and business perspective. Then, you need both your basic and advanced marketer users’ advocacy of the platform so that the user adoption takes place across all departments.


Determine what CDP use cases you’ll be focusing on in advance, as this helps you to pick the right CDP. It will then allow a productive implementation leading to a solid return on your CDP investment. When you decide on which CDP to use, it is important to deploy the use cases in such a sequence that creates new value with minimal incremental investment at each step across the entire customer lifecycle.

At NGDATA, we make it our mission to create tailored solutions for the customer and the specific sector they’re in.

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