While customer data has never been more important, the challenges of managing it have increased.

The first challenge is gathering it, which is no small feat given the proliferation of channels and the various tools needed to manage them — from email automation to social media orchestration.

Then comes connecting it, which requires getting various data sources to play nice with each other, as well as ensuring they’re all connecting the right person’s data from each source.

Then comes the need to analyze it to find not only meaningful correlations, but ones you can act upon. And let’s not forget the need to keep it all secure and compliant.

Why the customer data market is so confusing

Given both the massive benefits and looming challenges of customer data, it’s no wonder the technology marketplace for customer data solutions is ballooning. Maybe you’re still trying to determine the right solution for your unique business needs. If so, our breakdown of the differences between the use cases for CDP, DMP, and CRM solutions will help.

But it’s also possible you’ve decided you want smarter segmentation processes, advanced personalization capabilities, a 360-degree view of your customers based on behavioral, CRM, and transactional data, and intelligent campaigns and paid media driven by deep data insight. That is, you’ve decided you need a CDP — “packaged software that,” according to the CDP Institute, “creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”

(You can find a deeper dive into this definition here.)

How IDC helps you make sense of it all

Having narrowed your search to a specific platform is great. But there’s still a lot to wade through. It’s here where the “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Customer Data Platforms Focused on Front-Office Users 2021-2022 Vendor Assessment,” (IDC MarketScape: Worldwide CDP Front-Office) is critical.

With a rigorous scoring methodology based on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, the IDC MarketScape’s vendor assessment model provides an overview of information and communications technology suppliers in a given market. In short, the IDC MarketScape offers a clear framework for comparing solution vendors — giving technology buyers a 360-degree assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

The IDC MarketScape: Worldwide CDP Front-Office seeks to make sense of a market that has become, according to IDC analysts, “diverse with functional overlaps and gaps all around.”

To do so, the IDC analysts divide the CDP market in half based on solutions suited to one of two user groups — “front office” or “technical user”. While users from each of these categories can use most CDPs for benefits, non-technical (front office) users typically require more intuitive user interfaces (UIs).

This specific report is focused on the 12 platforms ideal for front-office users requiring intuitive UIs, such as those in marketing, customer experience (CX), loyalty, customer service, customer support, and sales. The next report, set to publish the first quarter of this year, will focus on the 12 platforms better tailored to technical users, including marketing technology and operations, data science and analytics, IT, data operations, and privacy and compliance.

While IDC analysts decided to make the separation between platforms based on user group, they also note that in some ways this separation is arbitrary.

What you need to know to pick a CDP, according to IDC

Finding the ideal CDP for your unique business needs requires getting clear on your requirements, both business and technical. Fortunately, the report has you covered here as well, breaking down buyer needs into:

  • Business criteria:
    • Industry
    • User communities
    • Use cases
    • Company size
  • Technical criteria:
    • Infrastructure maturity and complexity
    • Speed and scale
    • Security and compliance
    • Data management and analytics capabilities

The report dives into each category above (while also offering two tables in the Appendix for more clarity) — just one sample of the useful information it offers.

Perhaps the most important information is the vender breakdown. After all, once you know what your requirements are, you need to understand which vendor fits them best.

We’re thrilled to be considered a Leader in the field, and happy to see IDC considers our platform ideal for many organizations. As the report says, “Customers in large enterprises that need global solutions, services, and support should consider Sitecore a strong choice, especially those in travel and hospitality, banking and payments, media and advertising, retail, and telecom industries.”

It’s about the product, but it’s more about your team

The last aspect of the report we want to point out is IDC’s agreement with something we say often.

Making use of a clarifying grocery store analogy, the report suggests that an organization can have the most innovative technology available (or the fanciest brick-and-mortar grocery store) but if users (or clerks) aren’t trained how to use it, the organization will see little, if any, ROI.

The right technical solution is essential, but not sufficient for digital transformation. Getting the most out of any innovative technical platform — from a DXP to a CDP — requires thoughtful strategy, skilled implementation, and organizational transformation.

This is one of the reasons we’re so involved in and proud of the deep and wide ecosystem of implementation experts, solution partners, and strategy consultants we’ve cultivated over the last two decades. As anyone who’s ever been to our annual conference, Sitecore Symposium, knows well, you’re not just buying a solution with Sitecore, you’re becoming a part of our family.

You can learn more about CDPs, and what solution is best for your particular needs, in the full report here.

David Schweer is Vice President of Product Marketing at Sitecore. Connect with him on LinkedIn