Understand The Difference Between Customer Journey Orchestration & Customer Data Platforms

There are many new and emerging technologies in the CX and marketing space. With so many options available, it’s not surprising that researching and choosing the right solution can feel a bit overwhelming. Two of the most common platform types CX teams come across during the research phase are customer data platforms and customer journey orchestration platforms. But what exactly is a customer data platform? What is a customer journey orchestration platform? Is one platform type better than the other? Most importantly, which one is likely to deliver the best results?

In this article, Alterian’s Product Director, Alex Thompson, answers the five questions most frequently asked by CX leaders who are considering and comparing customer data platforms and customer journey orchestration platforms. These answers will help to give you a clearer understanding of what’s right for your business so you can get the buy-in you need and implement the technology to achieve your goals.

1 What’s the difference between a customer data platform and a customer journey orchestration platform?

At a surface level, it may seem like customer data platforms (CDP) and customer journey orchestration (CJO) platforms are very similar. While both platform types do contain customer data and utilize that data, they are quite unique and each have their own distinct purpose.

A customer data platform exists to provide better customer data to marketing automation tools such as those used for email, SMS, and web personalization. The data the platform holds along with the data processing techniques and visual tools within the platform are designed with this in mind. Ultimately, customer data platforms give businesses access to better customer data to support better marketing activity.

Customer journey orchestration platforms also leverage customer data but elevates it to a whole new level. They are purposefully built to allow CX teams to see and understand individual customer journeys and optimize these in real-time. The customer journey also spans a much wider number of touchpoints compared to a customer data platform which typically only focus on marketing touchpoints and incorporates other parts of the customer lifecycle touchpoints, such as contact center, point of sale, self-service apps, websites, live agent, and chat bots. They also consider and track a wider set of KPI measures, extending beyond simply revenue and conversion to cover cost and customer satisfaction.

2 Can’t I use my customer data platform to do what a customer journey orchestration platform does?

The short answer is no, not if you want to have a true view of the customer journey instead of just a view of your marketing touchpoints and metrics. Additionally, customer journey orchestration platforms can connect to many more touchpoints, back-office systems, and types of data. This allows for greater connectivity across all departments and helps to deliver a more consistent and positive customer experience.

In addition, a platform like Alterian’s Real-Time CX that comprises Customer Journey Analytics and Customer Journey Orchestration has market leading AI capabilities that enable you to more quickly analyze, visualize and quantify  journey-specific metrics. Examples include:

  • Channel switching cost
  • Friction points
  • High and low points of customer satisfaction
  • Revenue opportunities
3 I’ve already got a customer data platform. Why do I need a customer journey orchestration platform?

Having a customer data platform means you have access to a large amount of quality data, giving you a strong foundation for marketing and customer experience success. But to ensure all that data is working for you to its fullest potential, you need a platform that can interact in real-time with your customers and orchestrate a better customer experience. That’s where Customer Journey Analytics and Customer Journey Orchestration platforms come in. These give you an accurate view across the entire customer journey rather than just a customer record. This real-time visibility not only demonstrates how customers behave across journeys, it also helps you to understand how that behavior impacts your KPIs.

4 Do I need a Customer Data Platform to make Customer Journey Orchestration work?

Absolutely not. Customer journey orchestration platforms can maintain a real-time view of customer journeys, cross-channel identity stitch, and combine customer data from multiple sources in real-time. As well as being utilized for real-time journey orchestration, this data can be connected to and used by any external system.

5 I want to invest in a customer data platform and a customer journey orchestration platform. Which one should I implement first?

When implementing a new system or technology, one of the biggest priorities for any business is time to value. Starting with customer journey orchestration will allow you to achieve noticeable returns far more quickly. It will also be easier to measure the value. The reason for this is because customer journey orchestration platforms can adapt and action activity to optimize the customer experience across all interactions in real-time. A customer data platform makes customer data available, but that data is one step removed from the actual customer interaction. Generating tangible value for the customer and business needs to happen in an entirely different system, often one that the customer data platform is not even receiving data from.

In today’s competitive market, the leaders in customer experience are the businesses that prioritize customer actual needs and continually evolve to keep up with them. The key to this is a customer journey orchestration platform.

Winning the executive buy-in to implement a new customer journey orchestration technology remains an ongoing challenge for CX teams. The first step to getting approval is to define your objectives and success measures of the proposed initiative. Next, we always recommend teams to focus on a single use case that can prove the ROI of the platform; this can be used as evidence to support the adoption of a full-scale rollout.

At Alterian, we advise the CX leaders we work with to start with Journey Discovery, this helps identify the journeys that have the greatest impact on business objectives and produces the insights needed to create the business case to win executive buy-in for full implementation.

To find out how Alterian’s Real-Time CX Platform can help you achieve your business and customer experience goals, contact us  and start your journey, your way today.


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