For those looking for better ways to manage customer profiles, we have compiled a comparison of three of the best CDPs on the market.
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Nowadays there are thousands of ways to capture information about your clients through a variety of channels, such as web, mobile or mail. Depending on the use case, this information is typically stored in various places such as CRMs, marketing automation tools or other databases. In such a setup it can be difficult to keep all the data in sync in order to create a uniform customer profile, which can have some disadvantages.
Sometimes, when customers shop for a new product online, they receive an email offering them a small discount after they buy the product, which can be frustrating. Imagine your client browses for a new TV in your online store, then decides to make a purchase a few days later. If the data of the specifications page had propagated through the marketing automation system, you would have sent the client a small discount via email to persuade them to buy the TV. However, after the purchase, the discount would be meaningless, and the client might beirritated that they did not get the email beforehand.
This is a classic example of a system where a real-time and uniform profile would be a good match. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) solves this problem by offering a setup where one unified real-time profile is created and can be accessed from various proprietary systems. CDPs also offer specific ways to input data into the platform from proprietary or third-party systems. Additionally, CDPs frequently offer bonus features, such as profile segmentation, omnichannel personalization, artificial intelligence and suggested actions.
In 2019, Adobe presented their own CDP called Adobe Experience Platform. In light of this launch, and considering our broad experience with Adobe Experience Cloud, we looked at main competitors and alternatives...
The CDPs we selected are chosen based on ease of installation, integration, and use, as well as intuitive features that improve customer data management.
Adobe Experience Platform
Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) is Adobe’s venture in the world of CDPs. First released in 2019, it was built from scratch and is not an aggregation of their existing products. One of the key benefits of Adobe is the creation of real-time, unified customer profiles. Additionally, the platform contains refined machine learning and AI capabilities powered by Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s Content Intelligence Service.
AEP is also completely open, meaning that various types of external platforms are supported, both for data input and multichannel campaigns. However, as Adobe can be seen as a leader in content delivery with their Experience Cloud Platform, it would make the most sense to use the AEP in combination with one or more of their other products to ensure a seamless customer management system.
AEP is available as a cloud service. Adobe has partnered with other big players in the market such as Microsoft and SAP to come up with a standard data model for CDPs. This standard is called the Open Data Protocol (or OData) and should simplify mapping customer data to a single unified profile between various systems.
Exponea, founded in 2015, was one of the first companies to release a CDP that was intended only for that purpose. Therefore, they have a lot of experience in this domain.
Similar to the Adobe Experience Platform, it enables the creation of real-time unified customer profiles by providing APIs and connectors allow data to be input from various sources, as well as export this data. It also has some built-in features for marketing automation, artificial intelligence and personalized targeting (which are sold as add-ons). However, when compared to its Adobe counterparts, such as Adobe Campaign, Adobe Sensei and Adobe Target, these modules are less powerful.
The user interface (UI) of Exponea is specifically targeted to marketers, with attractive visual graphs and data. Additionally, Exponea also has a built-in GDPR dashboard to manage customer consents.
Exponea can be used as a cloud service or, unlike Adobe Experience Platform, can be hosted on-premise if data should be kept in-house.
Founded in 2002, Jahia focused on the development of their own Content Management System (JContent). In 2017, they extended their offerings with products for Personalization (JExperience) and a CDP (JCustomer).
One of the downsides is that JCustomer can only be purchased in combination with JContent and JExperience at this time. The CDP is built on top of the open source Unomi project of Apache, which was purposely constructed for the Customer project.
Similar to Exponea and the Adobe Experience Platform, JCustomer also enables the use of unified real-time customer profiles. One of the cornerstones of the product is that it encapsulates GDPR support through consent objects at the core of the system. Another advantage is the extensibility of JCustomer as it was built by utilizing Apache Karaf. Therefore, it is super easy to customize the CDP through the creation or extension of OSGI bundles. In the interest of API uniformity, Jahia also specified an OASIS standard called the Context Server Specification to standardize the API the can be used to integrate external sources with CDPs. Jahia can be setup as an on-premise solution, but also has a cloud service if desired.
All three CDPs have their advantages and disadvantages, so determining which one is right for your business depends on the context in which it will be used.
It is recommended to leverage the Adobe Experience Platform when you are planning to use products or are already using products from the Adobe Experience Cloud, such as Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Campaign or Adobe Target. Remember that the AEP is only available as a cloud service, so this should be taken into account as well.
Exponea is the oldest CDP, making it very mature with a rich feature set. If the CDP will be primarily managed by marketers, it is an excellent choice, as the UI is tailored to their needs with lots of graphs and data.
When your business has some specific requirements that none of the other CDPs can deliver on, it is a good idea to look at Jahia. Their CDP is heavily customizable and moreover is built on open-source software called Unomi. Jahia can be run on-premise so it would also be a match if business data needs to be kept in-house. With Jahia however, users are currently required to purchase the full stack including their CMS (JContent) to leverage the capabilities of their CDP and personalization engine.
About the author
Simon De Schutter is Digital Experience Consultant at Amplexor, based in Belgium. Having joined the team in 2013 as a WCM Consultant, Simon now specializes in multiple Adobe Experience Cloud solutions. As a certified AEM 6.0 developer, he's passionate about building innovative components with a high usability that are loved by users.