The Rise of the Modern Customer Data Platform

In today’s digital-first, mobile-dominated marketplace, customers interact with businesses across a wider range of channels and a broader life cycle than ever before.

Add to that the nature of today’s consumers, who expect the best possible experience at every step of their journey — from discovery and pre-sale to conversion and post-sale services — and on a variety of channels — from in-store and mobile to call center and loyalty programs.

For businesses, this presents a need to manage a massive amount of customer data. For instance, Forbes recently noted that companies now house an average of 15 silos of customer data. While brands today realize they need to put the customer at the heart of their business and understand how to best deliver meaningful experiences, the lack of a unified dataset makes it difficult to connect insights into customers’ intent and preferences, let alone to execute programs using that data. More than that, regulations such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) state in no uncertain terms that consumers must be in control of how, when, and where that data is collected and used.

Why SAP?

As a provider of both robust front- and back-office solutions, SAP has access to the full spectrum of functionality needed to power the complete, omnichannel customer journey. It is now imperative to build a customer profile that not only includes first-party profile, activity, event, demographic, and behavioural data, but also data that indicates a customer’s intent and perception. In other words, what they are experiencing with your brand.

With its acquisition of market-leading customer identity and preference management provider Gigya, SAP has visibility into more than 10 years of highly scalable, multitenant, cloud-native customer data management solutions storing literally billions of permission-based, first-party customer profiles, as well as 2 billion corresponding consent records. With a combination of the market-leading SAP Marketing Cloud solution and the broader SAP C/4HANA suite of customer engagement products, SAP is building a complete, end-to-end front-office portfolio and is thus positioned to offer the most advanced enterprise-grade customer data platform (CDP) in the market.

Customer Data has Evolved, the Platform Should Too

With 77 percent of world’s transactions touching an SAP system, SAP has access and visibility into the entire life cycle of the customer journey and hence a wealth of customer data. To enable the most comprehensive solution possible, SAP intends to connect silos of customer data from across SAP and non-SAP solutions, integrating data from every touchpoint – from digital to offline – and at each step in the customer journey — from early-stage engagement to brand advocacy. More than this, SAP intends to accomplish this with data protection and privacy as a foundational element, with transparency at the forefront, and with customers in full control of their own data.

With the combination of its advanced customer data management solutions and market-leading SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP can offer a fully integrated, full-service approach to solving today’s biggest business challenges with the customer data platform.

Investing in Outcomes

The customer data platform strategy includes an evolution of these solutions to provide capabilities to ingest a wide variety of data from anywhere, then enable configurable data cleansing and identity resolution functions in order to resolve both online and offline data into unified customer profiles. Additionally, ensuring that brands can manage their individual brand data alongside that of the unified customer profile and make that information actionable in real time – according to the customer’s explicit consent and preferences – to all applicable SAP or third-party applications or services.

Customer Data Platform Benefits

With an enterprise-grade customer data platform in place, SAP clients will be able to:

  • Connect and ingest all customer attributes to create a unified profile, including experiential, operational events and activity, behavioural, consent and first-party profile, and demographic data
  • Activate and orchestrate this data to connected applications that power personalized cross-channel and touchpoint experiences across commerce, marketing, sales, and service
  • Build lasting, trusted customer relationships based on the permission and preferences of the customer
  • Connect offline and online experiences in real time to power meaningful cross-channel customer journeys

We are now in the experience economy; consumers don’t just buy products and services, they buy experiences. This demands a new approach to marketing, sales, and services, one that puts the customer at the forefront. To answer this demand, SAP is offering the most advanced customer data platform in the market to enable brands to focus on their customers, understand their needs, and deliver the best possible experience to them – on their own terms – throughout their relationship with the business.

Welcome to the future of the customer-obsessed enterprise.


Adrian Nash is head of Product for SAP Customer Data Cloud.