What's Up With CDPs From Big MarTech Vendors?

Large infrastructure and MarTech mega vendors - IBM, Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, and SAP - have been slow to join the CDP bandwagon. Salesforce executives have in fact famously dismissed this technology in the past as a passing fad. But all of them have now raised their stakes in this marketplace.

RSG receives many subscriber inquiries about what to expect from these major players, so here's a short summary:

  • IBM: IBM sold off several of its marketing and technology assets to IT services firm HCL and PE firm Centerbridge Partners. Centerbridge entity "Acoustic" now owns IBM’s quasi-CDP offering, which was called Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) and is now re-branded as Acoustic Exchange. HCL now owns Unica, which is also releasing its own CDP capabilities as part of that MarTech suite. 
  • Oracle: Oracle announced CX Unity last year. They call it a “Customer Intelligence Platform” and slated to house their CDP functionality
  • Adobe: Adobe announced Adobe Experience Platform, a broader platform for data integration, segmentation, profile stitching, and so forth. On top of it, they have a set of marketing workflows and connectors to marketing system via a new product called Real-Time CDP. Adobe says both products are not mutually exclusive and I suspect you will almost always end up using both (and probably more).  Still pretty beta, though.
  • Salesforce: Salesforce CDP will be part of Customer 360. In a recent earnings call, Salesforce was quite gung-ho about this platform, though the CDP part is not yet available.
  • SAP: SAP is also planning to roll out CDP capabilities as part of its CX offerings.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft doesn’t have a CDP offering and has not made noises around one. [Update, 21 October, 2019: Redmond has released a CDP and RSG will add it to our evaluations shortly!] But they are part of Open Data Initiative along with Adobe and SAP, positioning themselves in the MarTech space as a more of a Cloud infrastructure vendor.

Mega-Vendors vs Specialized CDP Vendors

The CDP marketplace is vibrant and continuously evolving. We already cover close to 30 vendors, with more getting added regularly. So you have many choices.

 CDP marketplace circa 2019

Figure: CDP Marketplace in 2019

While you should carefully evaluate vendor offerings, ideally using business use-case scenarios, in general, if you are already invested in these mega-software vendors -- such as their marketing cloud or other adjacent offerings -- then it could be worth checking out their CDP offerings, with the proviso that they will be very new, and may not play well with other vendors' toolsets.

On the other hand, if you have a more heterogeneous stack consisting of different products from different vendors, or you value a cleaner separation of concerns in your architecture, you should consider an independent CDP for your customer data management layer.

We'll be adding the major vendors to RSG's CDP evaluations when those solutions are actually real in the marketplace...

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