Singing the Customer Data Platform Blues: Who’s to Blame for Disjointed Customer Data?


Share on LinkedIn

I’m in the midst of collating data from 150 published surveys about marketing technology, a project that is fascinating and stupefying at the same time. A theme related to marketing data seems to be emerging that I didn’t expect, and many marketers won’t necessarily be happy to hear.

Many surveys present a familiar tune: most marketers want unified customer data but few have it. This excerpt from an especially fine study by Econsultancy make the case clearly, although plenty of other studies show something similar.

So far so good. The gap is music to my ears, since helping marketers fill it is what keeps consultants like me in the business. But it inevitably raises the question of why the gap exists.

The conventional answer is it’s a technology problem. Indeed, an Experian survey makes exactly this point: the top challenges are all technology related.

And, comfortingly, marketers can sing their same old song of blaming IT for failing to deliver what they need.  For example, even though 61% of companies in this Forbes Insights survey had a central database of some sort, only 14% had fully unified, accessible data.

But something sounds a little funny. After all, doesn’t marketing now control its own fate? In this Ascend2 report, 61% of the marketing departments said they were primarily responsible for marketing data and nearly all the others said they shared responsibility.

Now we hear that quavering note of uncertainty: maybe it’s marketing’s own fault? That’s something I didn’t expect. And, just maybe, the data is saying that. For example, a study from Black Ink ROI found that the top barrier to success was better analytics (which implicitly requires better data) and explicitly listed data access as the third-ranked barrier.

But – and here’s the grand finale – the same study found that data integration software ranked sixth on the marketers’ shopping lists. In other words, even though marketers knew they needed better data, they weren’t planning to spend money to make it happen. That’s a very sour chord indeed.

But the song isn’t over.  If we listen closely, we can barely make out one final theme: marketers won’t invest in data management technology because they don’t have the skills to use it. At least, that’s what this survey from suggests.

In its own way, that’s an upbeat ending: expertise can be acquired, either through training or hiring outside experts (or possibly even mending some fences with the IT team). Better tools, like Customer Data Platforms, can help by reducing the expertise needed. So while marketers’ movement towards a complete customer view isn’t a triumphal Sousa march, there’s no need for a funeral dirge quite yet.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hi David,

    this rings a bell with me. A while ago I was charged (by the IT department) of a client of mine to design a data quality approach for them, build the process, suggest software etc. …

    It never went live although working perfectly fine.

    Reason was mainly that it wasn’t important enough to the business unit.



Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here