This content is part of the Essential Guide: Customer data management tools shape personalization, boost CX

Oracle and Adobe CDP war heats up, Salesforce close behind

The customer data platform market continues to simmer as large vendors such as Oracle, Adobe, SAP and Salesforce rush to catch up to smaller, more nimble CDP competitors.

Oracle and Adobe intensified their rivalry over customer data platforms, the emerging battleground for marketers' tech budgets this year, today unveiling new features and partnerships for the Oracle CDP and Adobe CDP they hope will help win the war.

Neither of the big software vendors technically refer to their CDPs using that industry standard term. Adobe calls the Adobe CDP a "use case for the Adobe Experience Platform," while Oracle calls its CDP a feature set of the larger CX Unity platform.

Adobe introduced new CDP-intensive customer experience features it calls "Triggered Journeys," while Oracle forged new partnerships with large digital consultancies Accenture and Capgemini. The Oracle partners promise to evangelize the CDP's importance in the CX technology stack, Oracle said, and to "address the hype and confusion" surrounding CDPs among the Oracle customer base. The consultancies deal with building customer experiences on the Oracle platform and are in a position to explain CDPs whose features and functionalities can vary from one vendor to the next, to Oracle customers.

"We call it a customer intelligence platform," Oracle chief marketing officer Des Cahill said. "But it's fair to characterize it as an enterprise CDP."

Smaller CDP vendors remain vigilant

Many CDP vendors, such as RedPoint Global, have staked claims in the tech market as best-of-breed managers of customer data. Only in the last year have Oracle and Adobe brought their CDP features to market, while Salesforce and SAP have what they plan to call CDPs slated for release later this year; Salesforce is expected to release a CDP soon.

These big vendors may woo some of his company's business, said Erik Smith, marketing director for CDP vendor Arm Treasure Data.

But it also helps his company when bigger rivals such as Oracle and Adobe raise awareness of the need for CDPs in general, he said. Arm Treasure partners with those same vendors for customer integrations, and the smaller vendors' customers understand the relative sophistication of the smaller pure CDP vendors compared to their large counterparts.

Once Adobe and Salesforce and Oracle officially stepped in the ring, it really solidified the category.
Erik SmithMarketing director, Arm Treasure Data

"Once Adobe and Salesforce and Oracle officially stepped in the ring, it really solidified the category -- they validated the market, so that's great for us," Smith said. Arm Treasure recently released a survey outlining the specific data issues marketing technology buyers use CDPs to resolve.

Meanwhile, David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute and inventor of the CDP label for these platforms unifying customer profiles across marketing, sales, e-commerce and customer service, said he generally agreed with that sentiment. But Raab also somewhat tempered the idea that the entry of the software giants will necessarily lift up the independent vendors.

"It may be unrealistic to say that it's not going to take some business from these guys," Raab said of the smaller CDP players. "A lot of people would much rather buy from a Salesforce or an Oracle or Adobe, the vendors that they're already working with."

Raab advised organizations that need CDPs to carefully look at release timetables for the big vendors' CDP-like features, evaluate what's coming out, and understand delivery schedules.

Smaller, established CDP vendors are far ahead of the big names, he said, and it could take several years for the software giants to catch up to the platforms already on the market. It also may be possible that companies looking for a CDP can't afford to lose ground to their competitors while waiting to see what a company such as Salesforce will deliver, and when.

Adobe's CDP 'use case'

Without the identity management features of the CDP-like Unified Profile underpinning the Adobe Experience Platform and connecting a customer to their past and current customer behavior, Triggered Journeys, unveiled June 17, wouldn't be possible.

Abstract illustration of Adobe CDP customer journey
Adobe's Triggered Journeys attempts to combine customer data, analytics and process automation to enhance customer experiences in real time as Adobe Experience Platform users take cues from their customers' digital devices to record and track their actions.

Triggered Journeys enables users to create customized actions and messaging based on their customers' behavior, with AI and analytics driving experiences.

One example of such an experience, said Ronell Hugh, global brand and product marketing group manager at Adobe, would be a set of actions triggered by a hotel's customer walking through a geofence before check-in that delivers status updates to the customer on when a room would be ready.

If they arrive too early, Experience Platform would serve up ideas such as storing their luggage until check-in and suggesting activities to pass the time until the room's ready. Other examples could be based on triggers activated by geolocation beacons or gamification achievements, he said.

Hugh stressed the real-time nature of the interactions between the Adobe CDP-like features, automation and analytics. He said that's one reason Adobe calls CDP a "use case" and doesn't specify CDP as part of the platform.

"There is a hyper-focus on CDP in the market today," Hugh said. "From our perspective, there's a bigger, broader opportunity."

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