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  • Writer's pictureRick Kenney

We've come a long way, CDPs

Updated: Feb 29

It’s been a heavy burden for CDPs over the past decade or so, carrying all that data along with the ever-present chip on their shoulder. Answering the constant (and often unspoken) jab of ‘What does a CDP ~really~ do that ____ doesn’t?’ will do that to you. Now, with the latest analyst firm 2x2, they’ve finally earned that golden ticket into oak-tabled boardrooms. CDPs have yearned for validation, and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant satiates that. 

There are few if any SaaS firm accomplishments that elbow their way into a first call deck as quickly as ranking in an analyst assessment. CMO blessings in the blink of an eye for BDRs flows. But, this one, like nearly every prior release of a new category in the portfolio of MQs, brings critics and nit-pickers to the forefront. 

The most frequently leveled criticism is the Cheesecake Factory problem. Just like the Cheesecake Factory's endless menu, these reports take a sweeping view of the market. But, if you have many targets, you have none - the breadth is also a weakness,

Image generated by OpenAI's DALL·E

Here's how Gartner positions these MQs - in their own words: 

“research… a specific market, giving you a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors. By applying a graphical treatment and a uniform set of evaluation criteria.” -- Gartner Magic Quadrant

A few call-outs in there: 

  1. Research: analyst firms work hard to learn (and understand) the capabilities of market competitors. This does not mean that the platform and tech are tested first-hand. 

  2. Wide-angle: these are intentionally broad enough to cover a market. This CDP report, for instance, includes and even rewards those that serve multiple market segments; B2B and B2C are both included.

  3. Uniform: these reports develop a standard set of measures (and weights) and adjudicate competitors along those attributes.  

These reports are intended not just for tech providers to use for promotion, of course, but for brands and retailers to have additional input into their tech selection. Choosing the right tech has changed dramatically over the past few years. And, with it, the approaches to these types of reports will need to evolve as well. 

This is where the voice of the market must be represented and those with influence should push for enhancements to these valuable and trusted reports. How will they retain their utility?

→Personalize: market growth brings emerging segments. In ecommerce, defined market segments have emerged for B2B v B2C, digital v. physical goods, platform ecosystem (undoubtedly an important criterion), and others. Grouping these segments makes for difficult or even irrelevant comparisons. 

→Proof: Our tech landscape is gripped by product-led-growth (and faster time-to-value demands). The consumerization of software will lead to a similar trend for assessments - think Wirecutter moving into mid-market and even enterprise software.

There’s one more P that is critical in this - but it is more applicable for those considering software:

→ Problem: when assessing technologies, know your problem. 

What do you want to do, but can’t (efficiently)?

What do you need to do next, but can’t (efficiently)?

Many other problem variants and neighbors might help or hurt (beware scope creep!) your assessment. But, if you know your problem, you’re far more likely to solve it. Once you define your problem, then seek the guidance of sources, from industry reports, to product reviews, and trusted peers and domain experts.

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