The Art of CDP Implementation: a Transforming Approach to Drive Business Results

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Many enterprises select a CDP by running a Request For Proposal. These RFPs often come along with up to 600 questions, showing how important and foundational the decision to purchase a CDP is to the Company, but they always fail to investigate an important aspect of the process.

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If we take into consideration why Enterprises invest in CDPs, it is clear that the reason is to drive business results, and not to have a data stack. While technical capabilities, privacy, security, and pricing are important aspects to consider, defining commercial targets and operating models are equally essential for a successful CDP project. However, enterprise RFPs typically overlook these areas when selecting a vendor, taking them for granted while they are usually not well defined.

Based on our experience, asking customers to clarify their underlying commercial targets often leads to the realisation that these are not very clearly articulated. However, having in place the right operating model is a crucial starting point. At the end of the day, people are the ones that operate the CDP defining, prioritising and executing use cases. So it comes down to how humans think, operate and interact with each other, and how roles, responsibilities, targets, and incentive schemes (e.g. OKRs) are defined and aligned to drive business outcomes.  

To ensure strong positive ROI, organisations must approach CDP projects holistically and focus on their teams' understanding of commercial targets, use cases, and operating models. The approach should be towards a path of transformation. Here are a few recommendations for a successful implementation: 

  1. Executive sponsorship: Strong executive sponsors are fundamental to the project's success. They need to define and monitor economic outcomes, drive organisational change, and overcome daily operational problems, inertia, and political agendas. 
  1. Clear KPIs: Sponsors and teams must define and agree on clear, quantified commercial targets/outcomes and allocate ownership. Targets should be concrete and measurable to track progress. To make an example: personalising an email campaign is not an economic outcome and it is hard to measure. While reducing the Cost per Order by 17% is. 
  1. Right use cases: Use cases should be derived deductively based on the defined targets, with an ideal balance between initial cost and time to implement and their expected outcomes. Use cases should not be defined on how attractive they look on paper, but how fast and easily they can deliver on defined targets. We often see enterprises  that are not clearly scoping out, prioritising and agreeing on use cases, but starting with the seemingly most “cool ones”. What happens is that the cool ones are usually hard to implement, take a lot of time, making stakeholders become impatient, start doubting and a general negative sentiment arises. To avoid that, executive sponsors should facilitate methodical, systematic use case discovery with an emphasis on time-to-value and ease of implementation.  
  1. New operating model: Changing the operating model to be more customer-centric, away from channel-centricity. Usually, teams work in silos - which is often why data is created and lives in silos, too. You find the team that is in charge of the website, some other team operating the app, the call centre team, offline store teams, etc. These teams often use different MarTech and Adtech software tools to engage with customers. However, if you buy a CDP, your underlying philosophy is to think and act from a 360-degree customer view, with an end to end orchestrated approach. This requires adapting the operating models that define how teams collaborate. One example is to set up an incentive scheme that motivates teams to operate with an overall commercial target in mind, contributing to the underlying new philosophy. 

Since CDP vendors are not consultants, they can only do part of the job. This is why it is highly recommended to implement a CDP together with a consultancy that helps to overlook the general strategy, (re-)defining commercial targets, shortlisting use cases and evolving the operating model and incentive schemes. Only with this kind of approach, a CDP implementation can drive strong positive ROI for organisations.