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The Customer Data Platform of Tomorrow, Today

Posted on: October 18, 2018 | Posted by: Leo Merle

Visible. Virtual. Vital.

Customer Data Platforms (CDP) have taken the customer engagement world by storm: globally, the CDP market is already worth $903 million, and is expected to grow by 29.3% annually between 2018 and 2023. As defined by Gartner, traditional CDP solutions are marketing systems that store customer data from both internal and external sources in order to track customer behavior over time and target marketing messages to customers based on this data — key to successful customer data management.

While traditional CDP solutions provide a valuable baseline for informing customer interactions, customers’ expectations of enterprise engagement are evolving—and CDP technology must evolve along with them. In order to immediately interact with any customer on any channel based on their historical preferences as well as their in-the-moment intent, today’s enterprises require a more flexible Customer Data Platform model than traditional solutions are able to offer. In other words, they need a Virtual CDP.

A Virtual Customer Data Platform for Anytime, Anywhere Interaction

Today’s customers demand to be known and understood by enterprises in an instant, no matter where they may be or what sort of assistance they may require. This means that a CDP is only as strong as its ability to power in-the-moment, in-session intervention in the customer experience across all channels.

Only 19% of marketing leaders, however, report that they have a robust set of analytics and customer data tools to drive in-the-moment decisions. Traditional CDP solutions are a part of this problem. By aggregating customer information from all enterprise systems, external sources, and engagement channels, traditional CDPs create an inordinate amount of data that is difficult to store, cleanse, or update efficiently. These ever-growing warehouses of data may be packed with customer insights, but they are simply not optimized for the visibility, flexibility, or real-time decision-making necessary to power in-session engagement that truly differentiates a brand in the eyes of customers.

Virtual CDP solutions work differently. Leveraging APIs or microservices to eliminate the need to store or copy large amounts of customer data, Virtual CDPs empower enterprises to perform rapid look-ups and access specific customer information from disparate systems and engagement channels in real-time. From transaction history to loyalty points, Virtual CDPs correlate each customer’s historic data to their in-the-moment activity on any channel—and even external factors such as their local weather—optimizing outreach to resonate with their real-time intent.

The Future of Virtual CDP-Enabled Engagement

Let’s walk through a play-by-play of how a Virtual Customer Data Platform, combined with the power of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) computing system, can intervene to flexibly engage customers and drive revenue in-the-moment.

John is at his local shopping mall when he enters a department store that he visits frequently, both online and in-person.

The department store’s Virtual CDP solution already has access to John’s historic data, and—now that he and his smartphone have entered into the range of the store’s Wi-Fi—his current location. His proximity to their store triggers a quick look-up for all relevant data about John.

John has come to the store today to return an item he ordered online. He makes his way toward the Customer Service desk to speak to a sales representative.

Thanks to the Virtual CDP’s quick look-up, the department store’s AI/ML solution has rapidly determined that a product return is the most likely reason for John’s visit. The data about his recent in-app purchase and his subsequent questions to a customer service chatbot didn’t need to be discovered within a cyber-warehouse of millions of customer data points; instead, this data was located and correlated to John’s current situation in real-time.  

As John heads for Customer Service and passes Men’s Footwear, John receives a push notification from the department store’s app. It’s a 15% discount for a pair of shoes that he recently put in his online shopping cart, but never purchased.

During the rapid data look-up in the Virtual CDP, an incomplete transaction was also found. The rapidity of this discovery enabled the intelligent AI/ML tool to determine that John may be receptive to conducting a product exchange as opposed to a product return, and thus, this targeted message was deployed as John approached the appropriate section of the store.

Realizing that he now has an opportunity to exchange his recent purchase for the shoes he is interested in, John grabs a pair in his size and makes his way to customer service to complete the transaction.

This was the right offer, in the right place, at the right time, and it could never have been deployed without in-the-moment insights from the Virtual Customer Data Platform. By the time a traditional CDP could have located and correlated these disparate data points, it would have been too late—John would have been out of the store and no longer receptive to the message. A Virtual CDP is the key to intervening while the customer is still in the same place, with the same mindset.

The future of real-time intervention relies on rapid customer data look-ups that aren’t encumbered by traditional CDP storage systems. With a Virtual CDP, enterprises have the flexibility and visibility they need to immediately locate customer data and apply AI/ML decisioning tools with speed and accuracy.

With ZineOne, this data-driven, in-session intervention isn’t a vision of the future—it can be achieved today. Learn more about our Virtual Customer Data Platform, a key element of our AI-powered Customer Engagement Hub, a rapidly deployable system for streaming and processing key cross-channel customer insights in real-time.