Adobe Aims To Beat Salesforce To The Punch With Its CDP, Now In Beta

If you’re a marketing cloud, you’ve suddenly got customer data platform fever.

On Monday, Adobe rolled out the beta version of its CDP, housed within the Adobe Experience Platform. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Salesforce will host its Connections conference in Chicago this week, where it’s planning to share more details about its CDP, while Oracle is expected to make a CDP-related announcement of its own in the coming days.

The big guys seem to have realized that the CDP trend is unavoidable.

“Their customers are asking for a solution to the very real pain of not being able to access unified customer profiles,” said David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute. “It took the marketing clouds some time to recognize this was a big problem that isn’t going away, and now they are hustling to catch up so they can avoid clients having to buy an extremely strategic system from someone else.”

One of the biggest questions about all of these offerings, however, is whether they’re not actually a walled garden play of sorts. CDPs are meant to be a neutral technology, and while there’s value in connecting data across different applications within a single marketing cloud, marketers have lots of other data that lives in different parts of their stack.

“We’re not misled to believe that customers only use our product in the marketing space,” said Ronell Hugh, head of go-to-market strategy and product marketing for the Adobe Experience Platform.

Adobe claims that its Experience Platform is open and extensible to any data set. Customers can bring any data they want into the platform through an API, including data from Salesforce and Oracle.

“We realize that to make a CDP more potent, marketers need to be able to manage all of their customer data sets, and it can’t just be exclusive to Adobe or just online data,” Hugh said.

Adobe first teased its CDP offering at its Summit event in March, but the specifics were scarce. Now that the platform is in beta, there’s a little more information.

At its core, this is technology to help IT organizations get a better handle on data infrastructure so that marketers can centralize their first-party and third-party data in one place and activate it across channels in real time, Hugh said.

“A lot of legacy products are static with siloed customer profiles, and Adobe has not been any different – Campaign has data and profiles, and the same is true for Analytics,” he said. “The Experience Platform is about empowering brands to fully understand their customers and delivering centralized data management.”

Hugh threw a little shade at the scores of independent vendors that populate the CDP ecosystem.

“There’s been buzz over the last several years, customers talking about CDPs and a proliferation of vendors coming into the marketplace,” he said. “But the reality is that separate tools struggle to manage the nuanced technological challenge of gathering and activating data across channels.”

CDP technology is just one piece of the Adobe Experience Platform. Adobe plans to release additional use cases to complement the CDP functionality, including the ability to build applications through APIs using customer profile data and apply AI and machine learning to the customer journey.

Also on Monday, Adobe released a capability called Triggered Journeys within Adobe Campaign using functionality from Adobe Experience Platform. It allows marketers to set up automated customized prompts based on user actions, such as geobased messaging sent to shoppers in store or push notifications at live events.

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