Customer Data Platform Trends to Watch in 2021

Stay up-to-date on the latest customer data platform (CDP) trends in 2021, including real-time personalization, AI and machine learning, privacy and compliance, and omnichannel marketing.

The rapidly evolving world of digital marketing has seen the rise of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) as an essential tool for businesses seeking to leverage their customer data more effectively. As we move into 2021, several trends are emerging that promise to shape the future of CDPs. Here are the top trends to watch.

1. Increased Demand for Real-Time Data

In 2021, the demand for real-time data is expected to surge. Companies need up-to-the-second information about their customers' behavior to deliver timely, personalized experiences. Expect to see CDPs increasingly offering capabilities to process and action data in real time.

2. Privacy and Data Security

With increasing regulatory scrutiny around data privacy (GDPR, CCPA, etc.) and a growing consumer focus on how their data is used, CDPs will need to prioritize privacy and security. In 2021, expect to see more advanced features for data management, consent management, and data security.

3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

The integration of AI and machine learning with CDPs is a significant trend. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data, uncover deep insights, predict future behavior, and automate personalized marketing actions. In 2021, the fusion of AI and CDPs will drive more sophisticated customer segmentation, predictive analytics, and personalized customer experiences.

4. Unifying AdTech and MarTech

The traditional separation between AdTech and MarTech has often led to disjointed customer experiences. However, the lines are blurring, and 2021 will likely see a further merging of these two realms. CDPs will play a key role in this unification, bringing together customer data from all touchpoints to create a single source of truth.

5. The Rise of the Customer Experience

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, customer experience is becoming a key differentiator. Therefore, in 2021, more companies will use their CDPs not just for marketing but for enhancing the overall customer journey. This means leveraging data to improve all areas of the customer experience, from personalizing the online experience to optimizing customer service interactions.

6. Greater Emphasis on First-Party Data

As third-party cookies are phased out, first-party data becomes more valuable. In 2021, companies will increasingly turn to their CDPs to collect, unify, and activate their first-party data. This shift will not only help businesses navigate the death of the third-party cookie but also enable them to build more direct, meaningful relationships with their customers.

7. Cross-Channel Orchestration

In 2021, the ability to deliver a seamless experience across all customer touchpoints is paramount. Hence, there will be an increased emphasis on CDPs that can orchestrate data across multiple channels in real-time. This orchestration allows brands to deliver personalized, consistent messages, regardless of the channel a customer chooses to interact on.

8. Data Democratization

Businesses are understanding the importance of making data accessible to all departments, not just marketing. CDPs are at the forefront of this data democratization, enabling non-technical users to access, analyze, and act on customer data. This trend towards democratization also necessitates enhanced user-friendly interfaces and training materials to make CDPs accessible for all users.

9. Vendor Consolidation

The CDP market has seen explosive growth over the last few years, leading to a crowded and sometimes confusing vendor landscape. In 2021, we can expect to see consolidation as vendors merge or get acquired, leading to a set of more comprehensive and robust platforms.

10. Industry-Specific Solutions

With CDPs becoming more popular, expect to see more industry-specific solutions in 2021. Industries such as healthcare, finance, or retail have unique requirements and regulations, and generic CDPs might not fully cater to these. This trend will likely spur the growth of CDPs tailored to specific industries' needs.

11. Enhanced Integration Capabilities

As businesses use an increasingly diverse set of tools and platforms, CDPs that can seamlessly integrate with other systems will gain prominence. Look for CDPs to offer enhanced integration capabilities with CRMs, marketing automation platforms, data management platforms (DMPs), and other tools in a business's tech stack.

12. Expansion into Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping is becoming a critical aspect of understanding and improving the customer experience. In 2021, more CDPs are expected to incorporate functionalities that allow businesses to visualize and analyze customer journeys across multiple touchpoints, which will aid in identifying bottlenecks and opportunities for personalization.

13. Compliance Management

As global data protection regulations become more complex and geographically diverse, compliance management is expected to become a significant feature in CDPs. Platforms will be tasked with managing consent across regions and tracking data lineage to ensure that customer data is handled and processed in line with local laws.

14. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics takes the insights generated by a CDP a step further, utilizing machine learning to predict future customer behavior based on past data. CDPs with integrated predictive analytics can help businesses anticipate customer needs, forecast trends, and make data-driven decisions.

15. Identity Resolution

In 2021, the ability of a CDP to resolve customer identities across various touchpoints will become more important. This feature allows businesses to recognize a customer across different devices and platforms, building a more complete and accurate customer profile.

16. IoT Data Integration

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, the ability of CDPs to integrate data from connected devices will be in high demand. This data can provide deep insights into customer behavior and preferences, leading to even more personalized and timely interactions.

17. Open Source Platforms

Open source CDPs are expected to gain traction in 2021. With their highly customizable nature and community-driven updates and features, open source platforms can offer a more flexible and cost-effective solution for some businesses.

18. Enhanced Data Visualization Tools

As the amount of customer data collected continues to increase, so does the need for effective data visualization tools. These tools help in translating complex datasets into a format that is easy to understand and act upon. In 2021, we can expect to see more advanced data visualization capabilities integrated into CDPs.

By presenting data in a visual and interactive manner, businesses can identify patterns and trends more quickly, make data-driven decisions more efficiently, and ultimately deliver a more personalized customer experience. Expect to see a greater variety of data visualization options, from simple bar graphs and pie charts to more complex heat maps and correlation plots.


It's clear that Customer Data Platforms are set to undergo significant transformations in 2021. By staying abreast of these trends, businesses can position themselves to leverage their CDPs more effectively and harness the full potential of their customer data. As always, the key to successful CDP usage lies in understanding your unique business needs and choosing the right platform and features to meet those needs.


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