Salesforce Gets Serious About CDPs With Revamped Customer 360 Product

Salesforce officially threw its hat into the ring with the launch of a customer data platform (CDP) on Tuesday at its Connections conference in Chicago.

Salesforce has been circling a CDP launch for the past year, since its $800 million acquisition of Datorama, a data integration service, and the launch of an internal identity graph called Customer 360 shortly thereafter. That identity graph will now become the core of the CDP product, which is inheriting the name Customer 360.

Salesforce, along with practically every company in the mar tech ecosystem, has grappled with the definition of a CDP.

“Frankly, I think that’s mostly marketing. We have all the pieces of a CDP, but really, what is that?” Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Bob Stutz told AdExchanger a year ago.

At the time, he predicted CDPs would be a “passing fad” as identity graphs, tag management companies, CRMs and DMPs evolve into mobile, customer-based data solutions.

Whether it’s marketing jargon or not, the CDP moniker has stuck, and players across the industry are staking their claim in the nebulous category.

“We’re embracing the CDP as a natural evolution of the CRM,” said Marty Kihn, Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s SVP of product strategy, who, as Gartner research VP last year, was one of the first to try to define the CDP category.

“We have a strong claim to this space,” Kihn said. One reason Salesforce embraced the new three-letter acronym is that in surveys over the past year, clients often named Salesforce as their CDP vendor, he said.

Many of Salesforce’s clients also already use or are evaluating startup CDPs on the market right now, Kihn said. Salesforce is well positioned to enter those RFPs because most CDP players have “partial solutions,” while Salesforce has a DMP and tag management service (formerly Krux), a CRM, data storage, Datorama’s integration toolkit, the identity graph and MuleSoft’s ubiquitous mar tech API plug-ins.

The CDP category is also about to get much more competitive – and expensive.

Salesforce spent billions of dollars in the past year alone buying and building the pieces that make up its Customer 360 offering. Meanwhile, Adobe just launched its CDP solution on Monday. And, also on Monday, Oracle announced a major expansion of Oracle CX Unity, its version of a CDP.

CDP startups have taken chunks of brand mar tech budgets that major cloud companies consider theirs by right. And companies like Salesforce, Oracle or Adobe will try to blanket the category by filling all the niches, including tag management, API integrations and cross-device identity, which other CDPs pitch as their specialties or differentiators.

For instance, Kihn said Salesforce is building a data onboarding solution, another mar tech category spinning into CDPs, for clients to use with Customer 360.

“I get a sense from customers and marketers who I know that if they don’t get a handle on this consumer data issue now, then they won’t ever be able to,” he said. “Some companies will have just missed the boat. And they’re losing time.”

 

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