Profiles in Innovation: Anthony Botibol Chief Marketing Officer of BlueVenn Explains What Makes a True Customer Data Platform


ForesightOne is committed to helping Marketers make sure that the investments they make in technology are going to deliver on their business requirements.  Recently, ForesightOne, added a new client to its portfolio of CDP vendors, BlueVenn.  Click here to read the press release on our blog[1].  

Customer Data Platforms are as powerful as they are complex; costs and delivery can be quite expansive, and businesses looking to invest in CDP solutions need to be absolutely certain that they’re receiving the capabilities and benefits they expect.  

Too often, organizations will spend large amounts of $ and delivery time for platforms that aren’t really CDPs, and that certainly aren’t delivering on their promises. We at ForesightOne wanted to get to the bottom of this, and to explore what a true CDP actually is.

We were able to gain more clarity surrounding these question marks by engaging with  Anthony Botibol, the Marketing Director at BlueVenn. Since the inception of CDPs a few years ago, BlueVenn has striven to develop a true Customer Data Platform that allows for optimal integration, normalization, identity management, and regulatory compliance. Given his experience helping prospects and industry insiders understand the nuances of CDPs, and his hard work combating all-too-present misconceptions about these solutions, we knew that Anthony would have some great answers for us, and some keen insights for you.

In your own words can you describe what BlueVenn is doing? What’s the mission behind the organization? What would you cite as your main differentials with regards to BlueVenn versus other CDP /MarTech vendors?

We are now, currently, the most feature rich Customer Data Platform on the market. We’ve had that verified independently, and we’ve recently added multi-touch attribution modeling to the platform. It means now that we have the most end-to-end Customer Data Platform that allows you to do full customer data management, customer analytics, full multi-touch attribution, and customer journey orchestration. All of those combined–there’s no other CDP vendor who can do that. Currently, our big play is to educate the market about that.

In terms of how we’re unique: we’ve realized that there are maybe four CDPs that can do customer journey orchestration, and that’s really important because CDPs unify data. Now that’s something they all do, and they all have different ways of activating that data. Some do personalization, some do tag management, some do multi-channel marketing. They all come at it from slightly different angles.

At BlueVenn, it’s not just about activating the data, but about orchestrating the data as well. When you’re orchestrating, you’re not only unifying the data but you’re helping to unify all the decisions that you’re making with your marketing. For instance, with BlueVenn that allows you to say–for this audience–we’re going to send them an email, and if they click on this email we’ll send them a text message. Now, when they respond to that text message, we’re updating the database. Say, they opt out of that text message, we can now know to send them a direct mail.

We’re about having all your marketing channels orchestrated from one solution. That’s the only answer on the market for real-time cross-channel marketing, so that all channels can be real-time with each other.

How have you seen the conversations around CDPs changing? How has BlueVenn adapted?

24 months ago CDPs were fairly new and there was mass confusion around what a CDP truly was. We had to write a lot of content explaining to marketeers how a CDP was different than a CRM or a data warehouse. During this time, we were having vendors put us on shortlists and saying that they’d choose either us or Telium. Now, we were trying to explain that that was crazy because we and Telium were doing totally different things. It was inappropriate competition.

Luckily, we don’t get that anymore. I think that’s because of a largely more educated market. So, ultimately, I think the evolution in the conversations around CDPs is a greater awareness around what a CDP is, what it does, and what a CDP vendor will provide. Now, it’s not just about buying a CDP but about working out which CDP is best for your business requirements.

There are currently a wide range of strategies and philosophies around CDPs. Do you think there are common approaches that are overrated? Underrated? To what philosophy does the BlueVenn team subscribe?

Going back to the evolution, another problem with the CDP market is that there are a lot of platforms that we would say are not true CDPs.

Now the number one goal of a Customer Data Platform should be to unify customer data. Personalization can be an end result, but that’s not the main goal. Another thing about a CDP is it has to be, in quotes, packaged software.

There are a ton of great tools that just aren’t CDPs, because a CDP is designed to give a marketer a user interface to manage customer data, to load data, to change processing rules; and that is what is compelling about CDPs.

Prior, it was all a mess of long-winded service projects until the CDP came along; and CDPs said it’s no longer these long-winded projects or a magical black box. These projects can be accomplished by an actual piece of software. Unfortunately, that’s being twisted and eroded right now, especially by marketing clouds who are all claiming they’re building CDPs.

Now, I’ve done analysis–and I’m getting this independently verified– and I’ve gone through 16 of these platforms to see if they actually have a proper user interface with multi-channel journey orchestration (with the important word being ‘orchestration’ as opposed to ‘activation’) and only four to five (including Redpoint, Agilone, Exponea, QuickPivot and Optimove).

So, there’s a big issue here.

CDPs should be here to help small organizations feel empowered to simplify these processes so that they can do it themselves. In many of the “CDPs” offered, however, it seems that’s something that’s been lost, and that the fundamental features that define a CDP and make it valuable are simply absent.

There can be some confusion around what a Single Customer View is, and how it’s different than a CDP. Can you just quickly explain what that distinction is, and why understanding that distinction is important?

The Customer Data Platform is the software, and the Customer Data Platform handles the algorithms and data matching to provide you with what comes out the back-end, which is the Single Customer View (SCV).

Now how do you explain an SCV to others? Well, to me, an SCV is about ensuring that you have one record for every customer, and an entire memory of every interaction–click, like transaction–that they’ve ever had with you, de-duplicated and advanced.

Now, the reason that not every CDP talks about Single Customer View is that many will talk about what they call “The Golden Record.” Again, this is another thing that I was a little shocked to hear, perhaps because I took SCV for granted.

Now to get a Single Customer View you have to de-duplicate, cleanse, and normalize the data you’ve collected. By normalize we mean that if you have a product–a size 14 black dress–and in one system it has one product code, while in an older legacy system it is listed under a completely different product code, BlueVenn will compare those codes, recognize that the products are the same, log that appropriately, and simply tell a marketer that a customer purchased a “Size 14 Black Dress” so that they don’t have to keep learning product codes.

Keeping that in mind, it’s clear to see how normalization, cleansing, and de-duplication are central to creating that coherent SCV. But, once more, out of those 16 vendors, only five do that. And, to us, that begs the question of, if you aren’t doing this, if you aren’t helping marketers make sense of this data, aren’t you really just bringing together a bunch of data and shoving it in one place?

That’s what a lot of them are doing. And that’s why they say “Golden Record” instead of SCV. Because while they may indeed have records of everything, they can’t honestly call what they’re providing a “Single Customer View.” Looking back to those 16 platforms we did an analysis of, this feature is equally lacking. Even among those four or five I cited as standing above the rest, two or three of those were still lacking a truly productized SCV UI.

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