Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) play a vital part in your business architecture to help you deliver data-driven customer experiences. We’ve asked one of our in-house experts to outline specific keys to consider when implementing a CDP to ensure the most successful setup.

The market for CDPs continues to grow at an impressive speed – in fact, 9 out of 10 companies are competing in their market, solely focusing on customer experience. The CDP is seen as the competitive edge for any business. However, the CDP space may be complicated to apprehend fully.

According to a CDP Institute report, we saw more than 170 different vendors calling themselves a CDP back in January 2022. Each of them with a slight variation in the overall definition. This makes it almost impossible to separate without extensive research connected to overall objectives and requirements. 

But alright, here we are, you have selected the CDP that you believe will fit as a vital architectural part to enable your business to deliver data-driven customer experiences. However, often times we see customers hit the wall when it comes to the actual implementation of the CDP and more importantly the adaption of these new ways of working. 

Trying to detangle the wilderness of CDPs we’ve outlined these 5 keys to consider when realising a CDP with expertise from Casper Andersen, Principal consultant Data & Analytics, Copenhagen Office. This way you can ensure a successful setup for your business.


Define your business objectives

The first task in any successful CDP implementation is to define your business objectives. You may think we’re starting with the low-hanging fruits here, yet, according to a Forrester Consulting survey, only 10% of CDP users feel that the platform meets their needs. 

So, before you get started, make sure to outline your goals: 
- What do you hope to achieve by implementing a CDP? 
- Which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are you measuring up against?

One essential exercise is creating a KPI framework to clarify what a successful CDP implementation looks like to you, and what impact it might have on your customer experience. This will help you define the requirements most important for your business ensuring that you are getting the most out of your investment. The KPI framework should include dual measurements for both IT and the business (e.g. data accuracy, resource efficiency, customer satisfaction, and ROI). Remember that a KPI framework is not a do-and-forget exercise – it's important to evaluate continuously to ensure that your CDP is meeting your business objectives whilst your investment is delivering the expected returns.


Build and prioritise your use cases

Once you've defined your business objectives, you have to know how to use the CDP to achieve your objectives. Make sure to identify use cases that will help you achieve your goals. It’s okay to think big, go beyond your traditional marketing use cases, and consider how the CDP can optimise every touchpoint engaging with your customers. Get inputs from people around the organisation – from sales to service and online vs. offline channels. You may already have this covered earlier on, however, once you implement, make sure you’re aware of how to deliver corresponding your vision. Think big but begin small. Scale fast on a strong foundation improving areas such as customer segmentation, personalisation, targeted campaigns, service engagement, etc. Once you have your detailed list of use cases, align the KPIs created in the beginning.


Be data prepared

It’s a true data project – the better understanding you have of the data needed the smoother your implementation will become. This demands preparation to shun delays in the kick-off phase. 

Unfortunately, too many CDP projects are delayed because a step has been overlooked or stays unaligned. Many CDP vendors will support the integrations with out-of-the-box connectors, but you may still need to ensure that your data is clean, accurate, and identifiable before integrating it with your CDP. 

Building a Data Mapping Process for your initial data sources and related tables can be vital to have a clear understanding of what data is needed – both in real-time versus scheduled batch to deliver on your use cases. 

The process can continue to be expanded as you add more data sources and use cases. Additionally, a CDP will force you to consider new levels of data governance and data management processes that can ensure customer data remains accurate and up-to-date over time. Poor data preparation and data quality may result in inaccurate insights and poor decision-making, so it's important you get this right from the start. 


Don't boil the ocean

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when realising a CDP is trying to do too much, too early. And yes, it’s still important to think big, but when it comes to getting your hands dirty in the implementation and configuration mode, it’s essential to start small. This will help you enable your organisation manage risks, avoid unnecessary complexity, and ensure that your implementation is a success story. With a proper foundation in place from the beginning, you will be able to scale the platform, use cases, and your organisation fast. Therefore, start with a minimum viable product (MVP) or a very defined phase 1, show the value measured in the KPIs, and then gradually add use cases and capabilities as you become more comfortable with the technology and its impact on your business.


Prepare your organisation

Finally, the technology of a CDP is nothing without the people surrounding it: To implement, operate, and expand on its capabilities and use cases. It will not transform your business digitally without your organisation's help. A key point is to prepare your organisation for the changes that come with a CDP implementation and the new ways of working. CDP is a big change in ways of working, so you need to ensure that your team is equipped with the skills and knowledge to use the platform effectively. One way to manage is to consider establishing a Center of Excellence with clearly defined roles and responsibilities to bridge business requirements and use cases to IT backlog and tasks. This will help ensure that everyone is aligned with your business objectives and that the CDP is not only being used effectively but also continuously evolving and innovated on. Note that this will in most cases, mean that you need to either hire additional people to your team or fully relocate people to take over - it is rarely a success if CDP tasks are dumped on top of an already busy desk.

All in all, realising a CDP can be a complex process. However, by knowing what to expect from your project, you can ensure a successful implementation and prepare your organisation for the changes. Following these steps, you can make the most out of your CDP investment and deliver data-driven customer experiences driving growth and success for your business. Plus, you will have the right numbers to evaluate the success of the platform in order to take data-driven decisions for future investments.