Current State of MarTech - #5

Welcome MarTech professionals, experts, and executives!

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What's going on today in MarTech in the enterprise?

This week I’m touching on one Big Topic!

CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs! What, Why, Where, When, How, and Who!

I find it fascinating that in the middle of the AI hype when it seems the Generative AI god is coming to save us from the complexities of dealing with vasts amounts of data, large organizations are still struggling to put together a decent customer data platform in place that delivers value to the customers and does not only helps software vendors bring more logos in.

Let’s forget for a second about that stat that claims that almost 50% of businesses are investing in customer data platforms to enhance their CX. The on-the-ground reality is that for most of these businesses, implementing a CDP and other adjacent technologies is nothing but an effort to enhance the data they share with digital advertising platforms, not to deliver “personalized” experiences but to be more effective at buying ad spaces.

Not many years ago, implementing a DMP or data management platform was the right thing to do to merge first-party data with third-party data for that same purpose, more effective buying of ad spaces.  And for the most part, that’s all marketers cared about.

Don’t get me wrong, the complexities in terms of data engineering required to do that weren’t trivial.

Enter the third-party cookie deprecation, the rise of the CDPs, and the emergence of CEPs as real alternatives to customer interaction management at scale, and the complexity tripled, and that’s where we are today.

Most of the mindset of marketing teams in the enterprise is still set on buying ad space more effectively, and towards that goal is where the power of a CDP, CEP, DMP, and adjacent and supporting technology is geared.

However, the technical capabilities that the combination of these platforms can bring to the enterprise are immense in terms of what they can do for customer experience and customer engagement.

These platforms are central to a human-centered approach to customer and business relationships. But we need to look beyond the buy-ads-to-drive-traffic use case.

Let me touch on the five wives (5W) and one husband (1H) of CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs to share my thoughts on a strategy to bring these capabilities into an enterprise environment.

What are CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs?

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

In simple terms, CDPs are software that aggregates and organizes customer data across various touchpoints and is used by marketing teams to create a unified customer profile.

There are many interpretations of a CDP and even approaches or philosophies amongst most CDP providers, or even those built in-house in large companies. However, one main characteristic that most CDPs share is that they centralize customer data to create customer profiles; this central view can be physical or virtual.

Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs)

CEPs are technologies that manage, orchestrate, and automate personalized customer interactions across channels and touchpoints.

CEPs leverage data from CDPs and other sources to deliver relevant and timely interactions, enhancing customer engagement.

CEPs share characteristics with CDPs because they maintain customer profiles required to perform individualization and orchestration of interactions.

Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

DMPs are centralized platforms that collect, integrate, manage, and activate large volumes of data from various sources.

DMPs are primarily used in advertising technology (AdTech) to segment audiences and target ads.

The main difference between CDPs and DMPs is that DMPs are built to aggregate data, which means broad views or segments and hardly cater to individualization.

Why are CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs important?

CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs are critical in the modern marketing technology (MarTech) stack. They enable businesses to understand their customers better, engage with them across multiple channels, deliver individualized experiences, and yes (eye roll), be more efficient at buying digital ad spaces.

CDPs provide a unified view of the customer, enabling businesses to understand their customers' behaviors, preferences, and needs.

CEPs leverage this data to deliver personalized interactions, driving engagement and loyalty.

DMPs, on the other hand, enable businesses to reach their target audiences more effectively, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their advertising efforts.  At least until the third-party cookie fully disappears from the current tracking practices.

Where and When do CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs come into play?

CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs come into play at various customer journey stages. CDPs are used to collect and unify customer data from the first interaction, providing a foundation for understanding the customer.

CEPs come into play when businesses want to engage with their customers, leveraging the data from CDPs to deliver personalized interactions.

DMPs are used when businesses want to deliver targeted ads and not much more.

Who needs these technologies anyway?

I think this is probably the most important question. Despite all the noise and marketing hype about these technologies, not every business will benefit from them. Or at least not from a full combination of them.

If your main goal is to give more data to a DMP, hoping that buying more “personalized” ads will help your business grow, you probably don’t need a CEP.

If your data is inconsistent and you want to centralize it to perform “personalization” but not change your waterfall or workflow-based approach to communications, a CDP can help, but a CEP would clash with your mindset, and it could lead to a waste of resources.

If you want to understand customer intent and react to that in an orchestrated manner, a CEP will be of great help, but that’s not dependent on a CDP.

How do CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs work together?

These platforms work together to deliver a seamless customer experience. CDPs provide the data foundation, CEPs leverage this data to deliver personalized interactions, and DMPs use this data to target ads effectively.

This synergy enables businesses to deliver a consistent and personalized experience across channels, driving engagement and loyalty.

CDPs, CEPs, DMPs, and The Concept of the Engagement Fabric

The Engagement Fabric is a concept that encapsulates the interconnectedness of CDPs, CEPs, and even DMPs. As a concept, it represents the seamless integration of these technologies to deliver a unified and individualized customer experience by supporting the ever-growing and ever-evolving nature of human-to-business relationships through omnichannel customer interactions.

The Engagement Fabric is not just about the technologies themselves but also about the processes, people, and strategies that leverage these technologies to engage with customers effectively.

Download The Engagement Fabric paper here and learn more about the concepts, frameworks, and approaches essential for developing advanced capabilities that enable businesses to model, nurture, and activate contemporary human-to-business relationships.


CDPs, CEPs, and DMPs are critical components of an advanced technology ecosystem. They enable businesses to understand their customers better, engage with them across multiple channels, and deliver personalized experiences.

As we move towards a more directly connected world of human-to-business interactions, these technologies will play an even more critical role, forming the backbone of the Engagement Fabric.

By understanding and leveraging these technologies, businesses can drive customer engagement, loyalty, and growth and, hopefully, a solid platform to deliver more value to their customers.

One last thing

Before we wrap up, know that at Enterprise MarTech, we're committed to simplifying complex topics and equipping you with practical tools to expedite your learning and application of technologies in this field.

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