At RSG we frequently get asked about "the Salesforce CDP." I always reply, which one? This often comes as a surprise to an enterprise MarTech leader, whose Salesforce rep has led them to believe that there's only one.
In fact, there are two: Evergage / Interaction Studio, and Audiences 360 / Salesforce CDP. The vendor keeps changing the names of these platforms, but that doesn't remove the fundamental conundrum that it offers two rather different platforms for this broad market.
Salesforce acquired the former "Evergage CDP" two-and-a-half years ago and immediately started marketing it as a personalization platform.
Personalization is one of many canonical CDP use cases, and an area where Evergage concentrated. Recently Salesforce expanded the platform's remit to journey listening and light orchestration, allowing Evergage to replace the former Interaction Studio (OEM of Thunderhead) with something the vendor actually owned. Got that?
But here's the thing, Evergage was built on a CDP base and still competes for several use cases in that market. The company was reasonably mature and came with a bevy of connectors to other MarTech platforms, including those from Adobe. Sometimes Salesforce reps will push Interaction Studio into CDP deals, either intentionally because of fit, or because they know it better, or because....who knows?
Emerging out of the "Salesforce Customer 360" multi-platform initiative, the CDP formerly known as "Audiences" is homegrown. Though a recent addition, interestingly it looks much older because it's adopted the standard, grandfatherly Salesforce UX.
In any case, it's a quite thin and extraordinarily pricey platform. Unlike Evergage, this CDP is more suited to unifying customer data in an all-Salesforce environment, rather than an independent layer in your stack. We think it will be some time — likely years — before it grows into a full-blown offering.
What You Should Do
So, Salesforce has a conundrum here. I don't feel sorry for them, and you shouldn't either. Just recognize that for the vast majority of you, neither choice will prove optimal. Interaction Studio as a CDP likely means a major transition in your future. Audiences CDP means counting on Salesforce to grow it up in a hurry, and paying a pretty penny in the meantime.
The good news is that you don't need to make Salesforce's conundrum your own. You can choose among 30+ other highly viable solutions.
Yet there's a larger story here: don't license foundational technology like a CDP from an incumbent vendor without testing architectural and use-case fit. Preparing for the stack of the future means adopting a CDP that can play an independent role in your environment.