The Future of Data Warehouses and CDPs: A Data and Marketing Strategy to Drive Customer Growth

This series of articles will strip down the complexities of the data warehouse, providing insights into how these solutions, previously operating in their silos, have converged to become the bedrock of modern enterprises' growth ambitions.


By Sean Spediacci

In the never-ending race to engage and retain customers, companies have mapped a myriad of strategies to remain competitive. From specialized software to data-driven marketing, the approach to be customer-first has been as varied as it is vital. What stands out are the parallel progressions of two key components – Data Warehouses and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). This series of articles will strip down the complexities, providing insights into how these solutions, previously operating in their silos, have converged to become the bedrock of modern enterprises' growth ambitions.

Part 1: The Genesis and Convergence

The inception of data warehousing was deeply rooted in the need for comprehensive business intelligence, primarily serving executives who need insights into past performance. Meanwhile, CDPs were created to be the foundation of modern data ecosystems, ensuring the alignment of customer interactions across multiple channels, including analytics. Their paths, though complementary, were purposefully distinct, each working to ease a specific organizational pain point. However, we have reached a major turning point.

Enabling Growth Priorities 

Businesses are coming to terms with the fact that growth isn't only about marketing in a data silo, but about building interconnected systems that learn and adapt to behaviors in real-time. The modern data era ushered in by Big Data has seen a reshuffling of roles for not just the data warehousing infrastructure but also for CDPs. Once confined to marketing, CDPs now operate as the backbone of customer growth systems. They are responsible for aggregating and organizing data from various touchpoints to enable real-time decision-making across the entire customer lifecycle for use cases in customer support, ecommerce, and more.

The Role of the CDP in Customer Growth

Customer data has exploded across disparate channels and systems in the digital age. With customers engaging across web, mobile, social, in-store, and more, their data is fragmented across all these touchpoints. This fragmentation makes it extremely difficult for companies to stitch together a unified customer profile. 

CDPs emerged as a solution to complex integration and unification challenges, creating persistent, unified customer profiles by gathering data from all channels and systems. This can include anonymous behavioral data from websites and mobile apps, transactional data from POS systems, CRM data, support tickets data, and more. If a customer has a touchpoint with your business a CDP is generally the best solution for creating a unified view of their interactions across your business.

By stitching together all these interactions into a cohesive profile tied to a unique ID, a "golden record" for each customer is formed, offering companies a single source of truth about their customers' interests, transactions, and relationships. 

With this comprehensive view, companies can activate profiles across channels for personalized experiences. Data is routed to downstream systems to enable tailored messaging in marketing automation, personalized product recommendations, consistent service across channels, and more.

The transformation of CDPs can be attributed to the growing relevance of customer experiences in driving business success. As companies strive to build better relationships with customers, CDPs are the key enablers that provide a unified view of customers' interactions, preferences, and behaviors. With this comprehensive understanding, businesses can create personalized experiences at scale, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Role and Evolution of Cloud Data Stores in Unifying data

The evolution of data warehouses has transformed their role in businesses across various sectors. Historically, traditional on-premise data warehouses offered limited flexibility and incurred high costs, from equipment to licensing fees. These systems were rigid, hard to scale, and had a niche focus on BI and analytics, limiting access to a small group of technical users.

However, the rise of Hadoop in the mid-2000s marked a shift in the data warehousing landscape. It allowed for open-source distributed data storage and management, offering organizations limitless storage and computational capacity. It proved to be a game-changer in democratizing big data analytics, enhancing accessibility, and removing the cost barriers of traditional data warehouses.

While Hadoop brought significant cost savings, scalability, and flexibility, it also introduced complexities in installation, integration, and governance, which hindered its adoption. Despite its innovative approach, the governance and complexity issues prompted an increased shift towards easier-to-adopt cloud data warehouse solutions.

Today, cloud data warehouses have solved many of these early challenges and evolved to be more than just analytical systems with their separation of compute and storage, like Hadoop based systems, to ultimately help drive business growth. They have transformed to meet the diverse needs of businesses, helping them better leverage data, empower wider user groups, and drive growth.

The Convergence: Combining Forces for Enhanced Customer Insights

The intersection of these two powerful solutions has paved the way for a unified approach towards achieving growth goals. By bringing together the data from a warehouse with the real-time customer data processing capabilities of CDPs, businesses can now create a truly holistic view of their customers. Essentially, no one system is perfectly designed to be a “single source of truth” without being supplied with data from multiple other systems. The CDP needs to unify data across multiple touchpoints into trusted profiles before sending it to the warehouse where it can be linked to rich relational data sets within the warehouse.

Working together, they can integrate customer event data, which includes information on individual customer actions and behaviors gathered from various sources like website interactions, app usage, and email marketing responses, with object data such as static information like organizational relationships, product associations and more. Collectively, this data forms a comprehensive customer profile, enabling a more personalized and targeted approach to marketing. 

Additionally, this integration offers a platform for robust audience creation and journey building for overall understanding of customer behavior, preferences, and patterns - providing invaluable insights for marketers to enhance customer experiences and drive growth. In essence, the integration of CDPs and data warehouses collates and converts disparate customer data into valuable insights, enabling marketers to deliver personalized customer experiences and facilitate data-driven growth.

Towards a Unified Future

The remarkable connection between data warehouses and CDPs represents a paradigm shift in the pursuit of customer-centricity and business growth. This convergence, fostered by technological advancements and a unified data strategy, empowers organizations to harness the full power of their data. By leveraging both solutions together, companies will be better positioned to anticipate customer needs and deliver unparalleled adaptive experiences.

In our upcoming post, we'll delve into how you can "Build the Cross-Functional Dream Team." We'll discuss the significance of a cross-functional team in maximizing data warehouses and CDPs together, while pinpointing key stakeholders in engineering, data, and marketing. Discover effective strategies for uniting these stakeholders to address use cases, ensuring businesses stay innovative in customer engagement and retention.

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