Three areas to consider as you prepare to implement a Customer Data Platform

So you’ve recognized the need for a customer data platform to help you create meaningful personalized experiences for your customers. As a disruptive technology, implementing a CDP may seem daunting because it can disrupt the way people have done things in the past. And that can be a good thing. I’m going to share a few things you can do internally to help ensure adoption and success.

Given today’s environment, many companies recognize the need to implement a CDP and they want to do so quickly. After all, who wants to wait to boost customer engagement and drive higher conversions? But many companies make the mistake of approaching a CDP as just another data management platform initiative, and it’s not. That’s because a CDP isn’t just about data or data science or marketing, it’s about your customers. And almost everyone in your company owns a part of making the customer experience better. Interestingly, that comes as a surprise to many.

Here are three areas to focus on to help ensure success with your CDP implementation.

A CDP is NOT just another technology investment.

A CDP is a big change for many companies. If you have a change manager in your organization, that’s great. Bring them to the table early as you discuss your CDP plans so they can help you determine how the CDP will impact your organization and what they need to do to facilitate the transition. It can require a mindset change in how you approach marketing, sales, and how you engage with your customers. Most often, companies think they are customer-centric because they try to create experiences, or force customers down a particular path to meet the objectives of the company. Instead, companies should provide customers the content, product, or services that the customer wants. This is a change in mindset for most.

If you don’t have anyone in the change management role, then you should make setting up a change management process a priority. This can be managed by an ad hoc committee of stakeholders from across the organization including representatives from marketing, IT, HR, and legal. Together, the change management team can address issues such as data privacy, staffing, which tools you can continue to use, and which tools you can phase out.

Align on the goals for the CDP.

Organizational alignment is critical to the success of any CDP initiative. In a traditional data management platform, management tends to be siloed. Data scientists may own one part, IT another, and marketing a third part. This can prevent individual groups from getting the full value of the investment, either because of limited visibility, limited access, or limited resources to manage their part of the platform.

CDP ownership is structured differently. Because everyone is invested in the success of customer relationships, CDPs should be managed by a cross-functional team. More than being on the same team, each group should be working toward shared goals, whether it’s increasing customer lifetime value or acquiring new customers or reducing customer churn. With aligned goals, you are ensured everyone is going to stay the course versus looking out for their own departmental needs.

Create a CDP staffing roadmap

Nothing sinks a CDP project faster than the words “We’re going to need extra headcount.” In addition to a technology roadmap, CDPs require a staffing roadmap that shows how you can get from the skill sets you have today to the skill sets you’ll need tomorrow. While this is important, the good news is that more people isn’t usually the answer.

We recommend that organizations look at educating existing employees about the opportunities that come with the implementation of CDP technology. It’s often a simple matter of adding a few extra skills and a few hours per week to gain those skills—time that, in most cases, the CDP saves through added efficiency. You’ll want to identify and engage with those employees early in the process, so they understand how a CDP will help improve the customer experience and impact the business. A CDP will make everyone’s jobs easier and more efficient.

As with any digital transformation effort, preparing for change will ensure that your organization isn’t surprised by that change. People want to be in control so if everyone involved knows what to expect and what’s expected of them, it’s a good sign that you’ll be able to get more value from your CDP investment sooner.