This article was originally featured on martechadvisor.com.
There’s a hot new technology on the market: The Customer Data Platform (CDP). And if you’re not familiar with it already, then you will be soon enough -- particularly when it comes to mid-market B2B companies.
What is a CDP?
According to the CDP Institute, “a Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”
The rise of big data and the proliferation of martech have paved the way for the CDP, especially among mid-market B2B companies. This setup has created a perfect storm in which businesses have immensely valuable data sitting in siloed systems that they need to tie together to improve accessibility and actionability.
Specifically, a CDP provides value in four core areas:
1) Creating a “Brain” for the Martech Stack
A brain offers two things: The ability to remember facts and the ability to reason based on those facts -- and both must be in the same place to drive value and take action. A CDP creates a much-needed brain for the martech stack by acting as a control panel from which users can take action to improve results, increase efficiency and take advantage of automation. A CDP is your organization’s orchestration engine for customer data.
2) Operationalizing and Streamlining Processes
Processes like data sharing across platforms have traditionally been very manual or required help from a technical resource like an engineer or developer. A CDP changes this dynamic by automating data sharing and making related processes more efficient so that marketing and sales users can spend less time moving and managing data and more time using it to their advantage.
3) Centralizing Data
Most go-to-market teams would agree that the data they need to work in one tool usually lives somewhere else. Unlike engineering teams that have a central product database from day one and build everything around that, go-to-market teams typically start building processes organically as different needs arise. This approach leads to inefficiencies and complexities that make for difficult working experiences. A CDP resolves this problem by providing a central place to organize data and put the proper structure around it.
4) Combining a System of Action and System of Record
CRMs are a system of action for sales, but they can’t be a system of record if they don’t store an entire copy of the customer journey. What today’s go-to-market teams need is a system that combines the ability to collect and activate data. This type of data-first approach used by CDPs ensures that systems of action can perform the necessary personalization by adding the ability to store and leverage raw data.
5 Characteristics of Mid-Market B2B Companies That Align with CDP Priorities
Mid-market B2B companies have numerous defining features that put them in the perfect position to reap the benefits of a CDP.
Five characteristics stand out in particular:
1) Growth Oriented
Mid-market B2B companies are typically in growth mode (as opposed to enterprises that focus primarily on protecting their assets). This growth aligns with the reason why CDPs exist in the first place: To empower go-to-market teams to do their jobs better, execute campaigns flawlessly and close more business.
2) Agile Environment
Most mid-market B2B companies are fairly agile. They prioritize speed of delivery and aggressively look for new ways to do things. And while enterprises typically have an “all in or nothing at all” mindset, mid-market companies go through many iteration cycles as they experiment with different ways to solve problems. The implementation process for a CDP aligns with this flexibility. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking at all. Companies should get started within a few days or a week by integrating their top 3-5 applications and then growing from there one step at a time.
3) Limited Resources
Mid-market companies typically have fewer people and smaller budgets, making it imperative to reduce overhead as much as possible. CDPs deliver on that need by allowing go-to-market teams to be self-sufficient, versus having to ask engineering for help and distracting valuable development resources from higher priority projects. While every go-to-market team needs to use data, no one on that team is (or should be) responsible for maintaining, syncing and manipulating data. That’s exactly where a CDP comes in to optimize processes and help teams achieve operational efficiency.
4) Longer Sales Cycles
B2B companies usually have longer sales cycles that involve numerous touchpoints and create mountains of data. A CDP can help along the way by making sure that interactions across the entire customer journey get tracked, recorded and made available for marketing and sales. It can also make reporting on and analyzing this data far easier.
5) Relationship-Driven Sales
Finally, the B2B sales process is also very relationship-driven, which requires companies to have a deep focus on the customer. And any company that wants to make the customer the center of the entire value cycle needs to focus their processes accordingly. However, that’s difficult to do without a single view of customers. A CDP can provide that single view to help marketing and sales teams have more relevant conversations and make prospects and customers feel like they’re receiving white glove service.
The Ultimate Benefit of a CDP for Mid-Market B2B Companies
When all is said and done, a CDP can help mid-market B2B companies become more data-driven. That’s because when all data lives in one place, it’s easier to access, take action and report on that data, which is exactly what mid-market B2B companies need to do to win in today’s ultra-competitive landscape.
Romain is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hull. An entrepreneur at heart, Romain has been building businesses for over 20 years. In 2010, fueled by his passion for user experience and design, Romain co-founded Creaktif, an award-winning marketing agency focusing on high-end, unique brand experiences for leading companies like Coca Cola, Daft Punk, Chanel, Dior, Renault, Orange, Universal Pictures, Samsung and L’Occitane. In 2012, Romain saw an opportunity for businesses to offer better, more personalized customer experiences through a more unified data strategy. With this vision, he co-founded Hull, which was selected as one of eleven companies to join Techstars Boulder in 2013. As CEO of Hull, Romain provides strategic direction for the company, builds key partnerships with industry leaders, and can often be found on the conference speaking circuit evangelizing the benefits of a sound customer data management strategy. In his spare time, he advises early-stage companies as a Techstars Mentor. Romain holds a Master's Degree in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and is a proud father of two.