Am I the only one who wonders this question— why would an organization deploy a technology that unifies enormous quantities of customer data if their business teams can’t access the resulting data? It would be like building one’s dream house inside a 100-meter insurmountable moat. (Good luck getting past those alligators, marketers!)
I am a big believer in solving the root cause of problems (my superiors drilled it into my head as a previous data scientist). Don’t stop asking why, they’d say! That root-cause philosophy brings disappointment when I continually observe vendors being short-sighted with their product offering. Many allege to be a customer data platform (CDP) — which finally delivers the much-ballyhooed single view of the customer — but they neglect to provide its must-have requirement, the point-and-click user interface (UI) (see “A Marketer’s Guide to What Is — and Isn’t — a Customer Data Platform” – Gartner subscription required).
Let me explain the frustration this causes for business teams and more notably, for marketers.
Whether today’s philosophers classify it this way or not, we live in an age of data democracy. A world where tools deliver unparalleled access to information (e.g., Google), one where the non-technical employee aspires for the same level of access to data as someone in their Analytics or IT department. The reality is our business teammates are tired of data bottlenecks. They want self-service.
In fact, it underpins why CDPs came to exist… (spoiler: it was due to unmet needs everywhere!)
- Marketers needed…
- A unified view of their customers to enable their personalization goals
- Firsthand access to customer data instead of waiting for Analytics or IT to provide it
- Analytics needed…
- Comprehensive customer profiles to enable accurate modeling
- Help aggregating and cleaning endless siloes of customer data
- Frontline associates needed…
- Information to prevent customers from knowing more than they do
- IT needed…
- Relief from the onslaught of data requests and system integration projects
- Time to focus on ever-growing compliance and governance regulations
- Customers needed…
- Reprieve from re-submitting their goals and preferences with each new channel they interacted with
And the desire for self-service and data democracy isn’t going away (see “Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2018” – Gartner subscription required). Vendors across technology categories are deploying augmented analytics features across all phases of the analytics workflow, from data preparation to data modeling to insight generation. Down the road, it would not be surprising to see CDPs aim to differentiate their UIs with some of these features:
- Automatic data preparation (designed to automatically audit and reveal data quality issues)
- Sample non-CDP vendor(s): Datawatch, Paxata, Trifacta, UniFi
- Insights via search bars (i.e., natural language querying or NLQ)
- Sample non-CDP vendor(s): Tableau, Power BI Q&A
- Automatic data insight generation (i.e., natural language generation or NLG)
- Sample non-CDP vendor(s): Microstrategy, Nielsen Visual IQ, Oracle Day by Day
Knowing these trends towards self-service, marketers must demand the inclusion of a business-friendly UI. They cannot afford to invest in another data-unifying technology and not check the final box of empowering their non-technical teammates to analyze and action upon all that data (remember MDMs and EDWs?). The onus is on you, Marketing. Don’t forget to eliminate the moat!
Fyi: Perhaps in a next post, I may talk about the must-have features inside a CDP’s user interface.
For now, tell me what you think. Do you agree the UI is oft-forgotten? Do your marketers beg for self-service capabilities to eliminate data bottlenecks? Use the comments section below; I’ll do my best to respond.