While no single technology will ever be a silver bullet, a good Customer Data Platform (CDP) can become your company’s single source of truth that pushes your entire organization toward a transformative and truly customer-centric future. Change agents in the hundreds of organizations we’ve worked with from across industries realize one thing: you put in the work to reap the rewards.
A successful CDP implementation does far more than boost revenue: it breaks down data silos, mitigates techstack bloat, spurs cross-functional cooperation, and drives digital transformation. We’ve seen consumer goods companies launch DTC campaigns for the first time and gain deep insights into their buyers. We’ve empowered retail brand teams to create segments in less than two minutes to evaluate whether or not launching a targeted campaign is worth the investment. And, we’ve partnered with countless publishers to leverage look-alike modeling on top of their first-party data to expand their target audiences for advertising partners.
Over the past decade at BlueConic, we’ve found that the most successful CDP implementations stem from change management strategies rooted in a basic framework that accounts for the following:
People: who use customer data and will benefit from unified, actionable data
Process: how a CDP implementation changes where core business processes are performed and how workflows will shift across teams
Technology: where a CDP fits within your existing techstack and where can it help you get more out of your current investments, or eliminate unnecessary technology
How people, processes, and technology inform successful CDP change management strategies
No doubt, there are countless ways to bring a CDP to life within your organization, which is why this post provides you with tried-and-true tools to get started. Bookmark this post to serve as a reference for how to keep people, process, and technology at the core of your CDP change management program.
CDP Change Management Strategy Essential Component #1: People
Written, guided, and inspired by the BlueConic framework, we created our own roles and responsibilities matrix… It may sound silly, but it was key to making sure that we had support from all the business owners in order to be successful and roll out the CDP in good fashion."International/Multi-Tenant
When considering the ‘people’ component of a CDP change management program, start by determining which executive team member (or members) most views the CDP as a critical business capability, as this individual will play a key role in establishing the importance of the CDP in the minds of individuals up and down the org chart. Once an executive leader has been identified, it’s time to select a (non-executive) primary leader who will spearhead the CDP implementation process. This primary leader should create a list of teams or departments that currently work with customer data – or ones that should. Then, the primary leader can decide who from each department or team should sit on a cross-functional team that works with the CDP.
Need help thinking about the type of value each team member will provide? Take a look at BlueConic’s Path-to-Value Framework (figure 1) to jumpstart your thinking around staffing the CDP in alignment with your implementation strategy.
Figure 1: BlueConic's Path-to-Value Framework that outlines the flow of prioritization input, relevant owners, and CDP impact.
Once a comprehensive list of cross-functional CDP users is created, categorize each individual as either a functional/tactical CDP user or a governance/strategic CDP user.
“Functional” — or, as some prefer to call it, “tactical” — CDP users are deeply involved in the day-to-day implementation of the CDP. These individuals bring specialized skillsets to the table that enable them to learn the ins and outs of how the CDP functions as it pertains to their individual roles. Dividing functional users into role-based categories is highly advisable.
Four categories of functional CDP Users:
Power Users: Power Users are CDP Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who work in the tool every day
Capabilities Specialists: Capabilities Specialists are regular users of the CDP for particular uses or use cases, such as segmentation, orchestration, or modeling.
Adjacent Stakeholders: Adjacent Stakeholders may have a number of different titles across the organization and their expertise is leveraged to aid in CDP implementation. Titles include but are not limited to: data science analyst, analytics reporting specialist, web developer, product engineer
Partners & Agencies: Individuals who fall under the ‘Partners & Agencies’ are those who interact with the company by way of a partnership or an agency relationship — they’re often consultants, employees at ad agencies, third-party providers, or system integrators
Governance — or as some may put it, “strategic” — CDP users are those who will be involved in the ongoing management, oversight, and communication of CDP roadmap progress. Like the functional roles, governance roles tend to fall into one of four common categories.
Four categories of governance CDP Users:
Steering Committee Members: The Steering Committee should consist of at least one stakeholder from the core functional groups that will using or directly impacted by CDP
Project Leads: Project Leads coordinate the implementation and adoption of the CDP platform, on behalf of the Steering Committee
Project Managers: Adjacent Stakeholders may have a number of different titles across the organization and their expertise is leveraged to aid in CDP implementation. Likely titles include but are not limited to: data science analyst, analytics reporting specialist, web developer, product engineer
Product Owners: A Product Owner is often seen as liaison to the brand team and may work internally with the brand team to prioritize use cases
Once you’ve identified who can do what and what responsibilities still need someone to be assigned to, you can divide the RACI so that CDP staffers can communicate both value-based outcomes and CDP roadmap updates to key stakeholders across the organization.
Figure 2: An example of how roles can be divided across the RACI.
CDP Change Management Strategy Essential Component #2: Process
BlueConic was the technology we needed to enable an entirely new way of working that eliminated previous data bottlenecks and supported cross-functional collaboration."Head of Marketing Technology & Personalization, Telia Company
Now that you have your teams in place, it’s time to focus on how these teams currently spend their time when it comes to customer data – and what outcomes and results are currently hurdles, due to the way data is made available for activation.
When considering how workflows will change with CDP implementation, we recommend mapping your CDP’s core capabilities to the core business processes that will be impacted by CDP implementation — we do this in the context of a Core Process Assessment. At BlueConic, this means being keenly aware of how data unification (i.e., BlueConic’s unified customer profiles) activates multidimensional segmentation, modeling & analytics, and lifecycle orchestration — each of which aligns with key marketing processes.
Even though you may have aspects of your CDP’s capabilities (e.g., segmentation, analytics, and orchestration) in other areas of your techstack, it’s worth considering how your team would answer the following types of questions for each capability, in order to begin streamlining internal processes:
How do I run each of these capabilities/processes today?
How will it be different to do each of these processes with the CDP?
How will aspects of the customer’s journey change with the implementation of a CD or change in capability?
How does that change your daily/weekly/monthly workflow?
Who is involved and how is that different from who is involved today (added or removed, increased or decreased)?
ROI from a CDP can come from reducing reliance on IT, analytics, and agencies from pulling data for segmentation, giving marketing teams richer insights into customers, and helping teams test and iterate more quickly. That all comes from changing existing internal processes with a CDP.
CDP Change Management Strategy Essential Component #3: Technology
The technical team is going to tremendously decrease… so that big transition phase is very, very important because our internal team needs to ramp up, skill-wise, and obviously this is a challenge, as well as a key milestone. "International/Multi-Tenant
Many companies want to avoid messing with something that’s getting the job done, even when that means utilizing only 42% of their tech stack, on average. At the same time, every business leader wants their company to operate more efficiently, to minimize cross-functional bottlenecks, and to get the most out of their existing martech investments. This means that when the time is right, it’s necessary to either sunset legacy tech that has been made redundant or realize the full potential of another tool by sending it better data, as often happens when a successful CDP change management strategy takes hold.
When evaluating technology, we recommend taking a benefit-based approach, rather than a feature-based one. Feature-based comparisons focus on the technical features of products or systems, relative to common user problems but they frequently cause individuals to miss the forest through the trees. A CDP isn’t meant to be a 1:1 replacement for an existing technology within your stack.
Let’s take these three scenarios in Figure 3, for example.
A feature-based analysis of products focuses on questions such as:
Which platform has more processing power?
Which system can store a greater number of data types?
How quickly can I run a query in this system vs that system?
Figure 3: Examples of techstack "replacement scenarios"
On the other hand, benefit-based analyses prioritize how the products in question are driving business outcomes or being leveraged by users, through asking questions such as:
Is the data in this system still actionable by the marketing department, when and where they need it? Is the technology marketing friendly — does it reduce dependencies on other departments, such as IT?
Is a customer experience impacted to a meaningful degree when a support rep. runs a query in this system vs that system?
For scenario 1, the publisher with the data science environment using a feature-based approach might lean towards a data warehouse because it has more processing power, can housean astronomical amount of data, and the data scientist might be able to run a query in a week or two to deliver to the marketing team. But, if the publisher were to use a benefit-based approach, they would realize that using a data warehouse for an engagement score would mean:
Marketing has to wait for the data scientist to return the engagement score when they can get to it in their queue of requests from all teams
The engagement score isn’t that useful when it’s a week or two old, if marketing is trying to run a campaign via email for their segment of most engaged customers the next day
And that’s just the beginning of how to build a CDP change management program
Above all, the secret weapon that will yield success when kicking off an organization-wide CDP change management strategy is your partnership with your chosen CDP vendor. A partnership with your CDP vendor’s team that is built on trust and a deep understanding of your business needs is, without a doubt, the most important tool in your CDP change management toolbox. As one of our enterprise clients put it: “We are a great company, and we want to work with great vendors… working with BlueConic was almost like working with family.”
No matter how you think about CDP implementation, it pays to ensure that your organization has both assessed its level of CDP readiness and partnered with a CDP expert before building out a large-scale CDP change management strategy. Then, when the day comes to finally create that CDP change management strategy, you’ll be well equipped to dig in — with an eye for people, process, and technology at every step along the way.