Data Cloud is the real-time platform for customer magic. By harmonising data that’s updated every millisecond, it enables your teams to meet your customers right where they are, like never before.
Have you ever called a support line and spent unnecessary time talking the agent through your purchase history to get the right level of support? Or how about browsing through an ecommerce site, expecting to see those pants you’ve been looking at for weeks, but instead you need to dig around for it? These are familiar scenarios for most of us. We expect every experience we have to be connected and updated in real time. When they aren’t, we’re disappointed.
Now take a moment to think about the wealth of customer data available to businesses these days: by global volume, it doubles every 12 hours. Data Cloud makes it easy for every business to make sense of all their data from any system, channel, or data stream. It integrates data from every step in the customer experience into a unified customer profile record. And that real-time customer profile can be used to instantly create an unprecedented level of personalisation, which feels like magic.
What is the business impact of Data Cloud?
Here are a few scenarios that show how Data Cloud makes the customer experience so much better:
- You lose your credit card and report it stolen at 3 p.m. Someone attempts to make a purchase using your card at 3:05, but is blocked immediately because the merchant uses Data Cloud for Marketing and receives up-to-the-second alerts.
- You call customer service about a problem you’re having with a product. Because the company uses Data Cloud for Service, this triggers an automatic action pausing all marketing and sales interactions with you until your problem is resolved. As a result, you are spared from the kind of everyday, annoying interactions that drive customers away – like getting an email offer to buy the very product you’re having a problem with.
- A personalised offer on a website you’re browsing changes instantly because of something you just clicked in a marketing email. Because the company uses Data Cloud for Sales, that offer immediately is now more relevant to you than the one you’d otherwise be looking at, convincing you to go ahead and make a purchase.
- You have an urgent healthcare need. When milliseconds matter most, your healthcare provider can deliver proactive guidance and care recommendations with access to your real-time patient data.
Across any industry, companies can leverage a unified profile and real-time data to deliver more personalised experiences. As you can see in all these experiences, milliseconds make all the difference. The cost of not keeping up could be poor reviews on social media, a loss in healthcare efficiency, and more.
Is this a customer data platform (CDP)?
Customer data platforms, which have historically been more of a marketing tool, unite siloed data into a shared view. Data Cloud takes this one step further by funnelling a nearly infinite amount of dynamic data to Customer 360 in real time. This means your customer data is continuously updating with new data from any of their touchpoints, faster than ever.
Everything in this unified customer profile record is visible and actionable across Salesforce’s entire suite of products, including all industry solutions. You can also build custom apps that take advantage of Data Cloud, allowing you to meet customer expectations for apps that reflect their behaviour in real time.
Its constantly updated data, massive scale, and unified profile also enable:
- Artificial intelligence that updates outputs every millisecond
- Automated workflows that can adapt in an instant based on new data
- An unprecedented level of accuracy in analytics
What’s new and innovative here?
Two major things differentiate Data Cloud. The first is that it is real-time, which means it collects and unifies data in milliseconds and lets brands act instantly. The action could be a product offer for something a customer is looking at right now, versus something they already bought last week, or a service interaction for a problem a customer is having at this very moment. This enables a new level of customer interaction that is very different from what has been possible for brands until now.
The second is that it enables all your teams — across sales, service, marketing, commerce, and more — to adapt the experiences they provide in real time to whatever is going on in your customer’s world.
Other customer data platforms on the market focus only on marketing and/or commerce. That represents a fraction of the interactions customers have with your brand. It’s impossible to give your customers the magical experiences they are looking for when you’re basing your engagements on a fraction of what your company knows about them.
Customers feel the impact of this every day. It’s the reason, for example, why a service rep you call for help is not aware of the product you bought yesterday, or you get marketing emails for baby clothes you bought for your sister’s baby.
Real-time, connected data is the game changer in all these scenarios. Data Cloud is the first product to provide that.
How does Data Cloud work?
Data Cloud is part of the Salesforce platform, the engine that powers the entire Customer 360. When we add functionality to it, every cloud gets better. We did this previously with Flow, and then again with Einstein, bringing intelligence and automation to every experience across sales, service, marketing, and commerce. The addition of Data Cloud into the Salesforce platform democratises access to real-time data across every cloud.
Connect all your data
Before Data Cloud, Salesforce was built to deal with mostly transactional data. The addition of Data Cloud complements our existing transactional database with the ability to take in massive volumes of data in real time. Like all other Salesforce platform features, Data Cloud is built using Salesforce metadata, meaning data stored in Data Cloud is visible and available to be used by Customer 360. If you’re a bank with a transactional data system, for instance, you can connect to any streaming data, any legacy data, and any data from an external source in real time. So if your mobile application is open, for example, it can be connected to Data Cloud.
Harmonise your data
Based on our 20-plus years of dealing with business applications, we created a set of data models that we call the Customer Graph, which harmonises all these data streams in a single customer profile. Once this happens, it no longer matters where each piece of data originated, or how it was initially labelled – it’s all part of the profile.
Engage your data to put it to work for you
Key to that process is the way Data Cloud resolves identities, so a customer’s complete history of interactions with your brand – both known and anonymous – is consolidated into one profile.
Data Cloud stores all this data using a lakehouse architecture. This makes it easier to categorise and classify the array of unstructured data that businesses rely on – such as medical records – which have historically been messier to deal with. The result is that Data Cloud can more quickly access all this data and put it to work for you.
Create a better experience
What’s the point of having a big pool of data? It’s all about your customer. With privacy and compliance built in, Data Cloud can resolve all that data so that you’re no longer looking at each customer through a narrow lens – a customer opens a mobile app, a customer opens an app on their smart TV. Now, you’re able to treat each customer not as a transaction or a number, but as a person.
It means that, for example, when you call customer support, they know what you were just doing with your product. They don’t have to ask you. They can answer your question proactively.
How does Data Cloud implement data ethics and keep data secure?
Our vision for Data Cloud is to lead the industry on privacy and data ethics via best-in-class consent management, policy automation, and more. In collaboration with our Office of Ethical and Humane Use of Technology, Data Cloud is designed with privacy and data ethics best practices from the ground up. Most importantly, the Salesforce Platform adds a layer of data policy management to Data Cloud to make it possible for customers to keep their data safe and meet regulatory compliance requirements globally.
This post originally appeared on Salesforce Blog