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Data warehouse vs. CDP: What are the differences and synergistic potential

Find out the difference between a CDP and a data warehouse and how to apply these technologies to create architecture that best reflects your business objectives.


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Customer Data Platform (CDP) and a data warehouse are all concepts related to data management, and all of these systems are used to store data and enable advanced analytics

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) and a data warehouse are all concepts related to data management, and all of these systems are used to store data and enable advanced analytics. However, each concept has distinct characteristics, serves different purposes, and caters to specific organizational data management needs. In short, they are not interchangeable but can be used together to provide a comprehensive data ecosystem.


Let’s break down each concept and identify the differences between customer data platforms (CDP) and data warehouses and how they can complement each other.


What is a data warehouse?


A data warehouse is a centralized repository for storing, organizing, and analyzing large volumes of structured data from various sources within an organization (e.g., databases, CRM systems, ERP systems, and other external data feeds). It supports historical reporting, business intelligence, and data analysis. Data warehouses are typically characterized by their ability to efficiently handle structured data, enabling complex queries and transformations. They follow a schema-on-write approach, where data is structured and organized before being ingested into the warehouse.


A typical data warehouse architecture


A typical data warehouse architecture consists of the following components:

  • Data Sources: These can include databases, transactional systems, relational databases, and other sources.

  • ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Process: Data is extracted from source systems, transformed into a standardized format, and loaded into the data warehouse.

  • Data Storage: The data warehouse stores structured data in tables optimized for querying and reporting.

  • Data Modeling: Data is organized into dimensions (descriptive data) and facts (measurable data) to support multidimensional analysis. -** Query and Reporting Tools:** Users access the data warehouse through BI tools, SQL queries, or custom applications for data analysis and reporting.


What is a Customer data platform (CDP)?


A customer data platform (CDP) is designed to collect, store, consolidate, and manage customer data from various online & offline sources, such as websites, mobile apps, CRM systems, etc., to create unified and comprehensive customer profiles. CDPs focus on individual user-level data and provide a 360-degree view of customer interactions, behaviors, and preferences across multiple touchpoints. This information allows businesses to:

  • Create granular customer audiences

  • Deliver more relevant and timely messages

  • Personalize marketing campaigns

  • Drive marketing engagement

  • Provide businesses with insights for data-driven decision-making.

Generally, a CDP would support data integration, audience segmentation, and activation across marketing channels. A good full-stack CDP would also include data management features such as ETL/Reverse ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) for schemaless ingestion of raw data, which allows it to ingest and harmonize data on the fly without requiring extensive data modeling upfront, saving time and resources for the client organization.


A typical CDP architecture


A Customer Data Platform (CDP) architecture typically comprises three key components:


  • Data ingestion: This component is responsible for collecting and aggregating customer data from various sources, such as websites, mobile apps, CRM systems, data lakes, data warehouses, and third-party data providers. It involves data connectors, APIs, and ETL processes to ensure data is cleansed, normalized, and ready for analysis.

  • Data storage: The core of a CDP, this component stores the integrated customer data in a unified format, often employing a data lake or data warehouse. It enables the efficient retrieval and management of customer profiles, behavior data, and transaction history.

  • Data activation: This component focuses on making the customer data actionable. It includes tools for audience segmentation, marketing personalization, and real-time data access. Marketers and other stakeholders use this component to craft targeted campaigns, improve customer experiences, and drive engagement.


Source: Meiro

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