Most businesses in the digital realm have a customer data platform or CDP, as more and more organizations see the value they offer. While the form a data platform takes can vary from group to group, acquiring a system offers a few choices, and one solution doesn’t fit all needs across the board. One organization might require features a different brand considers optional.

Buying a fully bundled data platform results in a quick start-up process, but the bundled package can come with software bloat or without specialized features. Building a bespoke customer data platform gives you complete control and a world of customization options, but the process takes longer and can come with added headaches upfront before the system reaches full deployment.

Deciding which path is best depends on your unique needs and available bandwidth. Regardless of your decision, ensure you have all the information before passing the point of no return.

Fully Bundled: Ready to Go, But No Customization

Pre-made, bundled platforms offer the greatest level of convenience for brands that want to get going right away and aren’t too concerned with specific features. While having a bundled platform at your fingertips is an appealing proposition, the decision to take this route isn’t without considerations and complications.

Having a third party assemble your new platform adds to the overall cost, and features included in the hefty price tag might not provide value. It’s like buying a car off the line and taking it home the same day, knowing you’ll never use the lighter socket in the back seat. The car will still do everything you need, but you can’t remove the dead weight of features you don’t need—and they’re baked into the price. A skilled mechanic could make tweaks, but without that knowledge, you’re at the mercy of the bundle.

Having some aspects of your platform hidden away in a black box you can’t fully see or modify can complicate data truth and introduce data doubt.

However, a bundled data platform isn’t intended for brands that require specific features and have the technical knowledge to seek them out. A ready-to-go platform is convenient because it requires less expertise and experience across the organization. For example, adding a pre-built data platform to a data warehouse doesn’t add technical complexity as it’s often fully managed.

The pick-up-and-go nature of bundled systems can leave users in the dark as transformation and storage schemas are typically locked in a black box you can’t fully see or modify. Having some aspects of your platform hidden in this way can complicate data truth. Ideally, you only have one source of truth—but the fully bundled and restricted nature of a bundled CDP can create a second source of truth that introduces data doubt. Having components you can’t see or directly control adds variables that can affect the veracity of your data. This isn’t a deal breaker for everyone, but it’s an aspect you shouldn’t overlook.

Composable: Unite What You Need and Leave the Rest

A fully custom-built customer data platform offers the most flexibility and feature selection, but it also comes with the most required legwork. There isn’t a set price tag or feature list, but rather a system of multiple smaller purchases that amass to the final product. While the compiling process takes more work, this option gives your organization full freedom to develop best-of-breed and highly owned stacks and even build on top of existing architecture. Complete freedom to customize means you won’t pay for anything you don’t want, but there’s a larger time and resource commitment required to develop a working system.

There isn’t one source for composable platform components, and combining multiple services adds complexity that must be sorted before deployment. Ensuring compatibility and seamless integration becomes your job rather than the supplier’s responsibly (as with a bundled platform). If you have the knowledge, time, and resources, you can tackle a custom platform—but it’s best to know what you are getting into before making a choice.

Consider The Best Approach, Not the Fastest or Cheapest

A fully functional data platform is necessary in today’s world, but the process to acquire one varies from business to business. The needs and bandwidth of one business will never match another, and the same goes for customer data platforms. Carefully consider your needs and capabilities before committing to a path. Do you value a simplistic single point of failure, as you’ll get with a bundled system—or would you prefer a more nuanced and customized system? Does your modern data stack enable a composable platform, or would a bundled platform better match your organization?

Don’t rush into a decision that will backfire later. Instead, take the time to evaluate your current position and what customer data platform realistically helps your brand the most. Opting for fast and cheap now might be the wrong move, but you won’t know until you assess.

Next Steps: Choose the Best Customer Data Platform for Your Business

Choosing or creating a customer data platform represents a significant fork in the road that can determine your path for the foreseeable future. The last thing you want is to hastily pick an option only to regret it soon after. Rather than wasting time, money, and effort later, take an earnest moment to consider the best option.

However, we realize that choice paralysis is a problem many people face. If you’re unsure where your business currently stands and can’t decide which customer data platform is best for you, it’s time to call for expert help. BlastX Consulting helps leading companies build customer experience strategies, infrastructure, and operations for sustained brand loyalty, which includes helping you find the right data platform. Contact us today to learn more.