Blog post

Act now: Abandon the pursuit of a 360 degree customer view

By Benjamin Bloom | July 01, 2021 | 1 Comment

Marketing Technology and Emerging Trends

A 360-degree view of the customer has long been an aspirational goal of marketing, IT, and CX teams.  For reasons laid out in new Gartner research, you should curtail such aspirations.  

Discussions with Gartner clients consistently reveal the tremendous technical and financial commitments required to assemble a “Customer 360”, and today’s environment adds new complexities: the furious pace of change among your customers,  in your business, and the regulatory environment.   On top of substantial financial costs, organizations contemplating the 360-degree view must grapple with this sizable investment and its tremendous hurdles:  near-impossible technical challenges, accelerating regulatory scrutiny, and data collection practices that ignore what customers want. 


Mature marketing technology teams don’t assume that their investments will overcome such hurdles: instead, they balance risk and potential reward and construct scenarios that preserve options while limiting risk of disaster, through pragmatic and adaptable planning processes (see Maturity Model for marketing Technology Gartner subscription required).  Technology would certainly be part of your solution.  But even with the right technology, barely half of marketing analytics survey respondents say it’s worth the effort of constructing a 360 degree view of the customer. 

 In 2021, martech teams see getting a handle on data management as a top priority (see “mastering data management, one of our Top Trends in Marketing Technology for 2021) Despite investments in technologies like CDPs, marketing teams continue to face challenges to leverage that data – a recent analysis of our martech survey found that brands on average have invested in 2.3 CDPs (see Survey Analysis: Customer Data Platform Utilization is High, Yet Customer Data Management Challenges Persist). 

Faced with the risk of overinvestment, a regulatory environment that can produce abrupt changes from tech giants and consumers who are becoming increasingly skeptical of brands, will you simply stay the course, or will you adapt?  Will you cut short a pursuit of a customer 360 which will almost certainly be a drag on your business?  The role of agility in developing an organization’s marketing technology strategy, and the capabilities to support, were a key finding of our 2020 Marketing Technology Survey – those with an agile approach to their martech roadmap were better able to adapt to and ACT in the face of 2020’s challenges.  

What you’ll find in our maverick research isn’t an indictment of data. We highlight the value of the right data, used in the right way.  We urge you to acknowledge the technical infeasibility of a full “360 degrees”,  a growing regulatory burden on individual-level data, and respecting consumers seeking control over their own information.  As such, we predict that:

By 2026, 80% of organizations pursuing a “360-degree view of the customer” will abandon these efforts because they flout data privacy regulations, rely on obsolete data collection methods, and erode customer trust

To dig in more deeply, see Maverick* Research: Pursuing a 360-Degree View of the Customer Will Destroy Your Business.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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  • While I concur that most brands are not seeing the ROI in many of their MarTech investments, I don’t agree that they should abandon the goal of understanding their audiences and being able to provide highly personalized and contextualized digital experiences. My experience suggests that too many companies jump right into buying new technologies before they are ready. They compile massive amounts of data without really figuring out how they are curate and analyze that data to produce insights that can drive meaningful experiences. We’ve seen the most success with those companies who take the time and make the investment in understanding first, then designing the experience second and only finally start thinking about the systems to deliver, manage and measure those experiences.