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When considering an investment in a customer data platform, organizations typically ask “Are we ready?” The concept of digital readiness or how to prepare can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to. Having worked with well over 200 brands, we’ve found similarities in what successful companies have done in advance of research, investment, and launch.
With that, I’ll share 6 areas you should focus on as you kick off your CDP research and implementation.
The first and most important area of focus is Use Case Alignment. Defining the use cases you will employ to meet corporate objectives is paramount. Use cases should include clear descriptions of the problem to be solved or the opportunity to be recognized. Typical use cases include “Increase targeted ad engagement via affinity” or “Create a single customer view of siloed data.” Another could be “Decrease customer churn” or “Increase up-sell opportunities for product/service X”. Use cases should also consider the level of complexity, implementation difficulty, and timelines required as well as potential ROI and KPI’s. This would allow you to choose the lowest hanging fruit so you can start impacting your business as quickly as possible. We find that many companies look at a CDP implementation as a data project and spend huge amounts of time on data implementation without focusing on their use cases and end up importing data that’s not needed or used to implement the use cases. We’ve found that typical implementations take advantage of approximately 100 fields in our standard schema. Customers then ask for an average of an ADDITIONAL 150 CUSTOM fields yet only use 9% of those custom fields. This can significantly slow down the time to value.
Once use cases are clearly defined, it’s important to then identify dependencies for execution, including integration, data sources, and what support is needed from teams within the organization.
Next up is your data strategy. A complete and successful data strategy requires agreement across multiple departments; sales, marketing, customer service, and legal to understand the business cases in which the data will be used. That allows for clear definitions of data storage and privacy consideration. Oftentimes, we see our customers creating a Data Playbook which is readily available to all stakeholders managing, handling, or impacted by customer data.
Once we understand our priorities and have chosen only the data we’ll need to execute on those priorities, we turn our attention to the MarTech stack. Understanding what is in your MarTech stack and how they ‘play’ with a CDP is vital. It’s essential to choose a CDP that is agnostic and allows you to work within your current confines or with any changes you have planned. Redundancies, efficiencies, and integrations must be budgeted, scoped, and planned for in partnership with your vendor partner. In turn, those activities should result in updated marketecture documentation and technical roadmaps that teams can align with and reference.
The remaining components have to do with business structures. They include organizational culture & alignment, Staff Planning, and Change Management.
The missed opportunity of many failed digital transformation initiatives is the chance to re-imagine your organizational alignment to benefit from new technology and ways of working. Consider the changes that occurred as organizations moved from on-prem solutions to SaaS solutions. It required re-alignment around innovation which isn’t always easy and is often best led with C-level sponsorship providing guidance and support as teams learn to collaborate in new ways with new tools. A new or updated organizational RACI is a great place to start while incorporating business and vendor partner roles in the reimagined way of working.
As we consider our organizational alignment, we inevitably begin to think about staffing and upskilling.
“Do we have the right people in the right roles right now and for the future?” is the question every enterprise attempting to execute digital transformation, is trying to answer. Understanding the talent you have on hand as well as how to upskill them and where you’ll need to invest in new resources is critical to success.
Mapping gaps in resources and talent is crucial to growth planning. While a staffing and upskilling plan that aligns with your technical roadmap will ensure that we are planning appropriately for the future.
Finally, the principle that brings all of our components together is change management. Transformation is often hard, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Leveraging change management resources and methodology as a part of your readiness plan will ensure that your policy, teams, and individual contributors are not only prepared for new ways of working but immediately enabled to use new capabilities to drive increased ROI and a faster path to value.