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A marketing insider’s view on how to personalise your customer experience at scale with a customer data platform (CDP)

Last week in our Customer Insights: It’s time to get personal webinar, we had the pleasure of welcoming Qassem (Q) Naim to our speaker lineup – alongside our own Rowan Miller and Anthony Cipolla. Q is Head of Data and Tech for leading integrated marketing communications agency FCB New Zealand, working at the forefront of the marketing industry with customer data platforms.

A marketing insider’s view on how to personalise your customer experience at scale with a customer data platform (CDP)

In my capacity as webinar MC, I had the chance to quiz Q on the martech state of the nation when it comes to customer data platforms and get his insights on:

  • What are the biggest challenges and opportunities?
  • What’s he seeing happening in the market?
  • And what do marketing teams need to do to really jump in, get going and derive real value from their data once they’ve consolidated it in their customer data platform (CDP)?

For the benefit of marketers (in particular) who are looking for tips on how to get started to use their data to personalise at scale, we’ve captured the full transcript of Q’s Q&A here.

(If you’re after insights from the rest of the webinar – Rowan’s Dynamics 365 Customer Insights demo and Anthony’s live Q&A, see below for more information and links to the content on demand.)

TB: One of the fundamental challenges with personalisation is gathering and using data from disparate touchpoints. Can you tell us what you've seen in the market around the evolution of customer data platforms to address that challenge?

QN: Customer data platforms (CDPs) to me are the answer to the complexity that comes out on those big martech 5000 (now 8000) slides. The 2020 version has just been released:

martech 5000

There’s a real disparity of data, as well as a disparity of the technologies used to achieve what are meant to be consistent, connected customer experiences. That's what everyone talks about – excellence in customer experience and what this means, and the evolution of consumer expectations to be able to have the same kind of interactions with a business or a brand at any touchpoint, regardless of the channel.

That's something that has become increasingly difficult to do as more tools have popped up.

CDPs to me are the answer to that because they consolidate a variety of different pieces of what were traditionally the marketing technology stacks, or just general business technology stacks, into a more holistic answer to help you interact with your platforms and manage all of that data – everything from anonymous digital advertising touchpoints to known engagements in your direct channels, and everything in between.

Microsoft historically has been a great unifier of many of these tools, with their existing footprint into corporate and enterprise environments. Everybody uses Office to some extent, it seems, and the fact that they're starting to get more engaged and lean more into some of these marketing use cases that are being enabled through tools like Customer Insights is really exciting, because it takes it just one step further from an amalgamation of disparate marketing technologies into an actual corporate technology environment.

TB: In terms of the market itself, are you seeing particular leaders rise to the surface, or consolidation in the marketing and martech industry?

QN: Yes, and this has been rampant for quite some time. The trajectory of acquisitions has been rife across the market and martech space, with the likes of Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP, who have consistently been developing their technology stacks through a series of acquisitions and presenting those as CDPs.

At the same time, there have been other technology solutions that had branded themselves as CDPs first (12 – 18 months ago – things like Segment and Treasure, bespoke tools that branded themselves as CDPs early on). Then even the likes of brands like Tealium, which was historically a tag management solution, has now been branding itself as a customer data platform.

Marketers and technology people love their acronyms and CDP is another three-letter acronym that's come out and caused a bit of confusion. It caused confusion for me when I first saw it, because I wanted to know what the difference was between a CDP and just a properly integrated marketing technology stack.

My answer to that is: a CDP is unification of the variety of functions that you might use disparate tools for into a single unified platform that enables you to orchestrate across the entire customer journey.

TB: That's interesting. Having come from a data warehousing angle myself, what I find interesting is that historically, from a legacy perspective, CDPs can create another silo within organisations. If they're not integrated with your full stack of data or data platform technology, they can become a little bit isolated. So what I find really interesting with Customer Insight is how it integrates. Whether you’re using Office or any other of those Microsoft platforms, it works really well. I think it's a real challenger product that’s coming to the fore.

QN: You just have to look at the Power Apps environment and Teams and the rapid adoption there, and see just how quickly everything has come up to speed. As Power Apps and Power BI and that whole marketplace and environment has come together, it's been really interesting to see how quickly you can stand up solutions within the Microsoft environment.

TB. Absolutely. I think that’s key to it: How quickly can we derive value out of our investments?. Once we have the data in a central platform, how do you actually act on it? This requires smarts around segmenting customers and targeting offers. Can you offer us some insights into what it takes, currently, to do this in terms data science and AI capabilities? What are you seeing? 

QN: There are two views. Firstly, clarity of objective is huge – having the right understanding across the board of what you're trying to achieve, as you're looking to make a particular intervention. Then it’s having the right stakeholders and resources on board.

FCB does a survey of the marketplace (MarTech: gauging the state) and the number one challenge that Kiwis report is a need for talent and resource, and our Aussie counterparts tell us the same.

So there are some of those things that are true for almost any task that you're trying to achieve, and with the sheer volume and variety of data out there, let alone the velocity and everything else that comes with it, it's untenable to manually filter through that data to be able to deliver scalable experiences.

You can do a one-off and you can sit an analyst down, do some ad hoc analysis and drive a particular execution or a particular recommendation, but to be able to scale that out to truly get to personalised and a one-to-one level with your customers in the way that you're engaging, you need to lean into technology and machines to be able to help you manage that complexity and scale.

So that's really where data and AI comes into play. Personally, I've seen many executions over the past half a decade or so where people are doing really good work, and really interesting, relevant and timely communications in isolation, as part of a concentrated effort or a single execution, but very rarely is that able to scale to live across the entirety of their customer journey and all the touch points.

That's where data and AI comes in – if you're able to maintain and govern a good environment with a solid data infrastructure, you can then leverage machine learning and intelligence to drive the communications at the scale required for that one-to-one to really roll out and be meaningful, which is becoming more and more of a necessity.

TB: I absolutely agree and the point that you touched on around talent, cost and availability is a very real challenge. Being in this industry, trying to get that data science and AI capability to enable what you're trying to achieve is really tough.

So what I'm excited about in particular is some of the out of the box ML and AI capabilities that these platforms are bringing to market. What do you see as the number one challenge facing marketing teams wanting to jump into a platform like Customer Insights?

QN: Big question! You can come at this from a few different angles. As we've touched on, there’s the need for talent and resource. Legacy systems also come into play here. When we work with smaller businesses that are launching new offerings they actually have a much easier time of it because they don't have the same baggage to bring forward with all of their legacy systems.

But fundamentally, if we're going to keep it simple, the challenge that hits everybody when you try and actually realise this is the complexity, and being able to manage it at scale.

To do this, again, it comes back to having clarity of objective and understanding the metrics that matter and what are you actually trying to move, and then being able to have those as the anchor, or the platform from which you hang off all the various executions.

This seems to be the best way to work through the challenges that come with competing business objectives from different functions, whether that be sales and operations and marketing and so on, along with the competing technology solutions that you're often also seeking to integrate and consolidate.

The complexity has got to be the biggest challenge that people have to face. The big challenge for leaders in organisations, whether that's in the technology space or otherwise, is to really try and help reduce that complexity and streamline the task at hand.

Webinar on demand: Customer Insights demo and attendee Q&A

It was fantastic to see such a great turnout across Australia and New Zealand. If you missed the event, you can watch the webinar on demand and download the slides here.

For Rowan’s demo of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, start at 12:28 in the webinar. Anthony’s Q&A component of the webinar starts at 34:07.

More information about Customer Insights:


This blog is part of the #ReimagineWork series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Travis Barker, General Manager Market Development, Data & AI | 07 May 2020

Tags: data insights, Dynamics 365, Data Analytics, #CXreimagine, #DataReimagine, Customer Insights, #ReimagineWork

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