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Customer 360: Looking Toward The Future

(Editor's Note: Customer 360 is now Salesforce CDP)

As I head home from my annual trek to San Francisco to attend Dreamforce for the 8th time, something this year felt different. As I started my time at Dreamforce, there was a hype and eager anticipation to see what Salesforce will reveal. An anticipation that hasn’t been felt since the release of Lighting. Much of that anticipation centered around Salesforce’s new product that was announced at their marketing-focused conference, Connections, around Customer 360 (now known as Salesforce CDP). Why so much hype?

The marketplace has been buzzing with this idea of a unified customer profile, or a 360 degree view of the customer. How can an organization with multiple points of engagement through siloed systems provide a consolidated view of their customers that is actionable, insightful, and scalable? The traditional answer has always been through large scale IT projects that take so much time to complete, that the systems containing the relevant data have actually changed by the completion of the original scope of the project leaving the project dated before it can provide the value that justified the effort to begin with.

With a MarTech landscape that includes data warehouses, data management platforms (DMPs), master data management (MDM) and customer data platforms (CDPs), why Customer 360? 

With multiple acquisitions (namely Demandware (now Commerce Cloud), and ExactTarget (now Marketing Cloud)) under its belt, Salesforce’s own platform is currently fragmented. Each of these platforms are unique and distinct from the core Force framework of their Sales and Service Cloud platforms. The initial approach was connectors that moved data that then needed to persist in each system. That approach is not scalable as Salesforce looks towards the future, and it doesn’t solve for duplicative customer identifiers, not to mention persisting the same data in multiple systems just doesn’t make sense and could add unnecessary data security issues. As Salesforce looks to find the best possible ways to help companies interact with their customers, Customer 360 makes perfect sense.

As Salesforce looks to find the best possible ways to help companies interact with their customers, Customer 360 makes perfect sense.

Customer 360 will round out their platform and make it watertight. Additionally, it sets them up for future acquisitions with a path for quick integration. Customer 360 will also provide a seamless experience for users and customers within the platform by taking the extensive functionalities of the various platforms into micro-services. 

Another challenge that Customer 360 is primed to help solve is consent management. With new privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA (and surely more to come), understanding and mastering your own 1st party data is a must. The days of access to 2nd and 3rd party data for audience development could be numbered. Companies must focus on developing audience strategies across their own 1st party data quickly. How do you create more opportunity with your existing customers? You do it by understanding them better across every interaction they have with your brand. 

As I was talking to our customers who were attending the conference, many of them asked, “What does this mean for us, Ryan?” The reality of that question is that it will absolutely be a journey. Customer 360 is a tool, but data unification is a strategy that starts outside of a technology conversation. There are many groups that need to come together and align on the why and the what. Once alignment is made, then you can start to the hard work of piping your customer data into a tool like Customer 360. 

The good news here is that Salesforce recognized that the need for a friendly tool to solve traditionally technical requirements was a must to make this work. Their acquisition of Datorama is a strong example of that. Make a tool that allows a business person to create business rules and transformation logic without the need of an integration engineer. That is what the UI of Customer 360 will be. A console that will allow a business person or marketer to take that piped data and apply business rules and logic that allow for the transformation and matching. That is the heart of Customer 360. Empowering business decisions to be made in real time to move business processes forward that would traditionally take months of IT projects. 

However, this is by no means turnkey; especially if you are an existing Marketing Cloud customer. Key management has always been a challenge across Salesforce’s ecosystem as we discussed above. My advice is to stay resolute and patient as you take on the necessary steps to rewire what you have in place today while you enhance and improve it through this exciting tool for your future growth and scale. 

Also, remember you don’t have to do it alone. Finding a strong partner to assist with not only the tactics of implementing a solution like this, but also to help with the strategy and change management aspects of the why and the how can be hugely beneficial. 

I leave you with this: A recent study found that 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, and that 80% of customers say the experience with a company is just as important as the product or service.

Yet that same study also cited that 41% of customers believe companies don’t care about the security of their data; and 57% will switch to a competitor for a better experience. To conclude, the study found that 66% of customers are actually willing to pay more for a better experience.

We help marketers create that better experience.

We’ve been innovating on ways to enhance marketers experience using the Salesforce platform, and will continue to help marketers leverage Salesforce both today and in the future as Customer 360 comes to fruition.