A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a software system that helps present a unified, persistent and updated view of an individual customer, based on internal and external customer data sources from interactions across multiple channels, platforms, and devices.

Purpose-built to collect data from a wide range of sources, CDPs unify customer data from internal and external data sources to form a comprehensive view of the customer. Once that omni-channel customer profile is configured – ideally in real time – the newly constructed data must then be made available to other systems in your tech stack for activation. 

A recent CDP Institute study actually cited integration with internal as external factors as the most important criteria for selecting MarTech, especially amongst those brands who are leaders:

Integrate Everything Martech Selection Chart

In today’s world, your organization’s ability to grow its value over time revolves around your mastery of the customer data across your customer journey. That includes mastering both internal and external data sources to compile the most complete customer profile possible. 

But internal and external data sources are typically managed by different teams, serve different functions, and integrating them together can be challenging. Many organizations will pick one main source of data to create customer profiles or simply pick a system that has a lot of data without being purpose-built for the job, but this leads to siloed profiles and an inconsistent, less relevant customer experience across channels. 

Enter Tealium’s latest product release – Integrate Everything. 

Integrate Everything represents a Swiss Army Knife of data management, with new innovations focusing on enhancing both how easily you can get data into our platform from diverse internal and external data sources, as well as improving how easily you can transform that data to power all the diverse use cases for customer data ranging from marketing to sales to customer service. And, not to be forgotten, how easily you can then send that enriched data back into your tech stack for activation.

Integrate Everything enables your organization to grow in maturity over time by adding more and more use cases to represent your full customer journey. Once you’ve accumulated use cases across the journey, additional higher level, overarching organizational value propositions are unlocked, such as data orchestration and customer journey optimization across your full customer lifecycle to maximize revenue per customer.

Imagine being able to master things like cart abandonment campaigns or customer lookalike models for driving acquisition and then once the journey is filled in, moving on to minimizing customer acquisition costs, democratizing access to data, and other higher level organizational capabilities.

That’s the opportunity created by utilizing all your data sources – internal and external. That’s the flexibility and power of Integrate Everything.

So, what then, you may ask, exactly is the difference between internal and external data sources? How can you take the most advantage of the new strength in Tealium’s CDP?

What are internal customer data sources?

Think of internal data sources as your company’s data warehouses, data lakes, any internal data the company is managing. Commonly this data is integrated as file imports, which has serious negative operational efficiency implications. These kinds of data are typically managed, wrangled and owned by IT teams and data engineers.

Internal customer data can include things like purchase history, identity graphs, web browser history, device information, the customer lifetime value (or other customer analytics), customer feedback and correspondence, loyalty data, and other direct information. The systems that hold this data are diverse, with broadly varying capabilities that impact how easily it is to integrate. Yet, often this data could make a critical difference in informing the best possible customer experience.

What are external customer data sources?

Think of external data sources as a connection to an external database, one that typically dwells within a software or tool that your company uses from a third-party vendor. This can include your CRM, call tracking software, call centers, customer engagement platforms, and email service providers. These kinds of data are usually managed and owned by a person or team in your organization responsible for the licensed software, customizing that software for your company’s needs. These systems too are extremely diverse, yet also hold critical data for informing the best customer experience.

How does Integrate Everything power internal and external customer data sources?

There are a number of new and/or enhanced features in our CDP that help you streamline how you get data in our platform, transform it for your specific needs, and then send it back out in your tech stack for streamlined activation.

For starters, we help you kick off your CDP workflows with Data Connect, simplifying and automating data ingestion through more turnkey integrations.

Data Connect helps you integrate with enterprise data sources like data warehouses, data lakes and cloud applications (opening up automated access to over 1000 data sources). These systems can hold data like product catalog data, loyalty information, customer scoring and more. To ease use of this data (some of it not necessarily directly about a customer, but still important for CX), Data Connect supplies lookup tables that can be used in combination with the customer profile for contextual insights creating a better experience. Without a tool like Connect, your organization would have to combine data from warehouses through various spreadsheets and then upload them manually into a CDP. With Data Connect, you can automatically integrate with all kinds of data sources, internal sources like your data lakes, and external sources, like Salesforce. 

In essence, you now have multiple ways of referencing data (accommodating different systems AND different technical skillsets in your organization) so your data is never stuck in a silo, and your customer profiles are never missing critical information. More data integrations, more happy customers!

We then help you customize your use of internal and external customer data sources by making it easier to transform your data with Tealium Functions.

Functions allows you to transform real-time, streaming data as it’s collected, and host and manage your global transformation rules within a single platform instead of within each individual source.

A bit of a wild card, in the best way possible, Functions allows your organization to reference internal and external data sources or change processes on the fly as needed to best meet your needs. The internal and external sources don’t have to send data over 100% correctly, they can now be mostly correct and then fixed through the transformations available within Functions, without the need to go through replatforming giving you unmatched agility. 

Finally, we help you send your transformed, comprehensive customer profile data back into your tech stack for proper, real-time activation with Data Sync, or by using the industry’s leading integration marketplace enabling you to take advantage of the most current integration options (over 1300 turnkey integrations and customizable options for developers) across the martech ecosystem. 

Data Sync offers robust streaming of your now integrated internal and external data sources – transformed into unified customer profiles – directly back into your data warehouses. It helps to keep your entire customer data supply chain in sync – from collection, to storage, and everywhere in between, across the many places where customer data needs to live. Your organization will be able to fuel analytics and data science initiatives, as well as ensure better CX consistency across enterprise systems.

Understanding the difference between your internal and external customer data sources allows you to better strategize how you will utilize your available data to the maximum extent possible, powered by a CDP. Without a CDP as your middleman, so to speak, your organization will be left to manually integrate… everything. But we’ve already got you covered.

Click here to learn more about our Integrate Everything product release!

Post Author

Hilary Noonan
Hilary is the Director of Content at Tealium.

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