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Customer Data Platform: Buy vs. Build

Marketing technologists and CTOs are having to make a difficult decision. They are realizing that they need to control their customer data to maintain privacy and security, and activate that data across surfaces their customers see.

Arriving like a knight in shining armor, Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), have promised the world with every bell and whistle available. Do you want to personalize your website based on the last time the user visited based on cookie tracking? Sure, they can do that. Want to create an audience for emails, they can do that too. Customer Data Platforms like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Adobe Marketing Cloud, mParticle, and others. So, what's the catch. Well there are a few:

  1. Engineering Setup - Your data engineering team needs to setup SDKs in your apps, pixels in your website, and data pipelines from your data warehouse to populate the CDP with data. All of this needs to be maintained.
  2. Data on 3rd party servers - Your most sensitive customer data all sits on 3rd party company SAAS servers.
  3. Cost - CDPs are pricey, but come with a steak dinner and a round at Pebble Beach.

So, why not build a CDP yourself? You need something custom for your business. Your own engineering teams understand this best and can build to your use case. It also means your data stays in your cloud which in a privacy conscious world is very important. Here are a few challenges that come up when building a CDP we've seen:

  1. Hidden cost of employees - This is often a more expensive route than CDPs. Why? Oftentimes companies don't treat their employees like an expense. If you are paying a team of 4 engineers $175k with benefits for a year to build your CDP, you have still spent $700k.
  2. Opportunity cost - By dedicating valuable engineering to creating your own CDP, you are giving up the chance to have them work on your core product as a business. This has an opportunity cost. Your differentiation in the market isn't building CDPs, it is doing what makes you money. Make your back office someone else's front office.
  3. Domain Expertise - Your average software or data engineer does not have knowledge of how to build a CDP and all of its functionality. So, you will have to introduce PMs and other experienced CDP builders to your organization to help lead the team leading to more time, more cost.
  4. Less Integrations - Typically, we notice when companies build a CDP themselves they lack integrations the marketing team needs and there is usually friction. Marketing begins asking for more features and engineering managers are forced to eat the cost of not only maintaining the CDP but continuing to build out additional features for years.

A hybrid approach. With Flywheel we've aimed for a hybrid approach that takes the best of CDPs and building it yourself. We deploy the Flywheel Audience Platform in your cloud using Terraform so your data stays right where it should be, and you get the full functionality your marketers expect.

  1. Data stays in your cloud - We deploy the Flywheel Audience Platform in your Cloud project so your data stays right in your data warehouse.
  2. 0 Engineering time - Flywheel's deployment engineers setup and configure the audience platform in your cloud with no data pipelines or pixels required for your engineering team to launch.
  3. Audience expertise - Our secret sauce is building customer audiences for your marketing team to target. We intelligently segment your customers based on those at risk, high value, and purchase frequency frameworks for better retargeting.
  4. Collaborative audiences building - Flywheel's audience builder interface enables you r team to collaborate on audiences like they are using Google Docs adopting best practices and improving targeting.
  5. Integrations - With Flywheel, your marketing teams can keep using the 3rd party marketing software they love. We just make them better by sending intelligent audiences to them.
  6. Domain expertise - Our founders started their career at Google working with their technology team to build out a customer audience platform. We have 10+ years experience in CDPs and setting them up at enterprise organizations. You are in good hands.
  7. Privacy built in - The Flywheel Audience Platform is built from the ground up with GDPR, CCPA, and future compliance legislation in mind. We enable your teams to eaisly comply with user requests for anonymization and destruction of data across your marketing systems.

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