In fact, what you want is one centralized brain to manage data decisions and understand the next best experience for the customer. CDPs can act as that centralized brain—they provide information not just across different channels on the platform, but also to different teams across an organization. “The CDP is a perfect balance of getting a strong view of your customer and making sure all that data is actionable in real time,” says Fleisch. By “real time,” Fleisch is referring to latencies of milliseconds, instead of hours or days.

This real-time intelligence helps brands build strong relationships with customers by meeting them where they are, with exactly what they want and need. According to the 2022 Adobe Trust Report, 72% of consumers say their trust for a brand increases when content is relevant and delivered at the right time and place.

The level of personalization customers demand can only happen with real-time action on customer data. For example, everybody likes offers that save them money, so sending customers a coupon for services or products is a good enticement—but only if it is a coupon they’ll use. A generic coupon or, worse, one sent to a customer that doesn’t fit the target demographic, may decrease trust in a brand.

Real-time data personalization for customers

CDPs are applicable across industries and regions. For a sizeable company with more complex deployments, Fleisch notes, CDPs may be used to provide greater customization and sophistication around how data is handled and governed across an enterprise. For smaller companies, use of CDPs may be more marketing focused, led by a team that is keen to deliver consistent experiences, from customer acquisition through retention and loyalty.

For example, London-based TSB Bank determined it needed to unify its customers’ banking experiences across channels, especially with more of its customers going digital. Other objectives were to provide customers with the most relevant content in real time, establish stronger consistency between online and in-branch transactions, and to move away from third-party cookies and toward consent-driven first-party data.

According to Mike Gamble, director of analysis and design for TSB, “We needed a complete picture of every person who banks with us, from their history to their needs to how they move through the customer journey, and that meant centralizing our data on a single platform.” TSB customers who browsed new homes online, for example, might receive information about TSB’s mortgages. Just one year after implementing a CDP, the bank saw a 400% boost in loan applications.

As a first step toward exploring a CDP, Fleisch suggests confirming the need and use case(s) for your organization. Next, ensure you understand the long-term needs of your business, and keep that vision top of mind. “Think long term about how a customer data platform can truly unify data, connect teams, and find value in all of that customer-provided data without running into dead ends down the road,” says Fleisch.  

This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.

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