There is a growing need for a hybrid technical and business role as more companies add a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to their tech stack. It can be difficult to discover business objectives and translate them into technical requirements, especially if you are dealing with multiple departments.
Segment is the leading Customer Data Platform (CDP), and McGaw is the leading tech stack agency with the most Segment implementations. That experience has given us insight on where your company could fail when implementing Segment, and where you can get a huge ROI.
That’s why we are proposing a new type of role, the “Segment Owner,” along with some guiding thoughts to help you develop your team’s Segment Owner, or become one yourself. While we focus on Segment, these principles can apply to any CDP or CDP-like tool.
- Segment Owner is a key role because it is difficult to discover business objectives and translate them into technical requirements between multiple departments.
- Establish a champion to align all stakeholders from day 1.
- Start creating processes around how the Segment owner will maintain the CDP over time. E.g. What will be the process for updating documentation as new platforms are added?
- Ask each stakeholder what their expectations and criteria for success are. It could be “Build audiences based on lead lifecycle stages” or “Restrict PII from entering downstream platforms.”
- Be transparent about what your overall goals are so everyone is aligned.
The Primary Reason Your Segment Implementation Is Likely to Fail
The most common reason Segment implementations fail is that there is no single owner to maintain the CDP. Larger organizations will commonly centralize Segment ownership into a Marketing Operations or technology team. Smaller enterprise companies often have a single person responsible for maintaining documentation and fielding requests for CDP usage from other business units. It is critical that the team or individual owner has a process for getting buy-in from stakeholders across the business.
Create the Segment Owner role when implementing Segment, and you will greatly increase your ROI from the platform. An optimized Segment implementation will result in 2.9x year-over-year growth in annual revenue based on survey data from Aberdeen.
What is a Segment Owner and How Can Your Business Benefit from Developing the Role?
It can be difficult to discover business objectives and translate them into technical requirements, especially if you are dealing with multiple departments.
Having a single person owning the CDP probably won’t make sense for large enterprise companies. A whole team will be needed to maintain the many integrations across the stack. But for smaller companies with only a few sources and destinations of data, it’s common to have no CDP owner at all. It’s that failure point that we are addressing.
Who Should Be Your Segment Owner?
A Segment Owner manages a company’s Customer Data Platform, bridging technical and business needs to drive value and align departments.
A Segment owner needs to be a solutions architect that understands the needs of your business. This means knowing your underlying technical infrastructure and how Segment integrates with each of your tools. Ultimately, translating that into business value.
I want to be clear that this doesn’t mean that the owner needs to have the role or title of “solutions architect.” The qualities of a great solution architect are key to ensuring your CDP implementation is successful and continues to create value for your business.
But, who on your team is responsible for the Customer Data Platform (CDP) and how it’s used in value creation?
Some common roles this falls under are:
- Product Manager
- Technical Marketer
Segment Owner Responsibilities
Your Segment Owner needs to build out your Segment Implementation with the goal to increase the value of all other tools in your stack.
A Segment owner is responsible for identifying risks and opportunities in a few key areas:
- A Segment owner communicates and aligns value opportunities across teams
- A Segment owner understands the different ways Segment and its integrations deliver value
- A Segment owner defines and leads efforts to customize Segment to the organization
The basic fundamentals we will cover in this post are all about how to communicate and align value opportunities across your internal teams.
No matter who takes the role, when implementing a CDP you must align on that role to support Segment as a tool to drive value across all tools in your stack. To be successful, a Segment owner must be able to understand technical requirements and communicate effectively to both technical and business stakeholders.
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Who Are the Key Stakeholders Across the Organization
Segment is a big purchase that impacts multiple teams across your company. The first thing you need to do is align expectations across every department the platform will impact. The Segment Owner will be responsible for identifying the key stakeholders across teams and putting them in a room together. If it’s not possible to have a standing committee, the Segment Owner is responsible for working with these stakeholders to understand and document their requirements.
If you don’t have representatives across departments in your Segment discussions, STOP!
You must have a coordinated plan to roll out Segment or you will not achieve the return on investment you are hoping for. So who are the common stakeholders?
A Segment implementation will often intersect with the following teams:
It is critical that you identify what teams should be represented when making data infrastructure decisions as early in the process as possible. After everyone is at the table, you need a communication strategy to make those meetings effective.
Why We Recommend You Align Early
How Do You Communicate with Each Stakeholder
Identify early what teams should be represented when making data infrastructure decisions.
Each team has different needs. Achieving total agreement may not be possible, so it’s the Segment Owner’s job to find the critical path forward. The key will be to understand the common priorities different teams will have going into the internal conversation. Some companies will need to have further discussions to identify and mitigate legal and security concerns, particularly in industries that require HIPAA compliance.
Companies that operate in the European Union will need to factor in GDPR. Privacy implications should be considered early to understand what restrictions your legal and security teams need across all sources and destinations of data.
Here are some potential questions and concerns each team may bring up when discussing a Segment implementation:
- How much support will you need from engineering to maintain this tool?
- Will this reduce the engineering hours needed to support the downstream destinations?
These are common questions you might hear from the software engineers that are tasked to evaluate and eventually support a CDP. What you need to know is what destinations will ingest data from Segment, and whether those destinations have native integrations with Segment. If a tool does not have a native integration it can most likely still be integrated, but it will require more engineering support.
- Who will have access to this tool?
- What permissions are needed? What sensitive data is shared?
IT will want to know how much they will need to manage access and permissions, and they may have crossover with Risk/Security on things like sensitive data. Fortunately, Segment has robust tools to manage access including SSO support, and data sanitation options to ensure sensitive data is handled properly. You need to audit and document what data your company would need to send through Segment, and line that up with your internal policies on transferring data to 3rd party tools.
- Will we be sending PII into this tool?
- How do we handle a data deletion request?
- How can we be sure this is GDPR compliant?
- What are their HIPAA compliance policies?
Information security is often one of the toughest hurdles in onboarding a new technology, particularly one as huge and impactful as a CDP. It is critical that you meet with this team and understand ALL of their concerns, and address them one by one. Segment can meet all of the strictest security standards, but it has to be set up so that those expectations are met. Documenting security requirements ahead of time and establishing clear guidelines for how data will be integrated into the CDP will save you a lot of time and headaches.
- How will this integrate into our existing marketing platforms?
- Can we sync audiences from our CRM?
- Will lead stages and scoring be integrated?
- How does this enable us to do things we can’t already do?
Marketing teams tend to be very story-driven, and you will get a lot more engagement if you tell a story of how their activities will change (and hopefully improve!) after onboarding Segment. To do that, align marketing’s current KPIs and goals with key functionalities of the CDP. Set goals on how you will measure success to align your team and be excited to make progress.
- Will we be able to track X’s behavior now?
- How will user profiles work?
- Can we use this data in the X analytics platform?
Product teams tend to be very data-driven and want to get to where they can gain insight and take action. Segment can definitely power up customer profiles and supercharge data in the data warehouse and in event-based analytics platforms. When you meet with the product team, ask them what the gaps are in their user tracking today. Build your Segment implementation plan to include improvement on those data gaps, and you will without a doubt be a hero to the product team.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid when Implementing Segment
A CDP touches virtually every department, which makes it easy to overlook accountability and see things slip through the cracks. There is always risk when onboarding a new tool, and Segment is no exception. Avoid these three things upfront to ensure success.
1. DON’T silo the decision-making process.
Your team is excited, you have executive buy-in, and you are pushing the project forward to the next steps. Maybe you’re the visionary leader on a team that is ready to push the company forward to the next level, great work. For everyone else, listen up.
If other departments are giving you the cold shoulder, do not bypass them at this stage. Trying to align multiple stakeholders after purchase is a huge mistake, and it will slow down your implementation and potentially prevent you from getting the full ROI you know you can achieve.
Ask questions to understand the other teams’ concerns, and show where the CDP will bring business value as a way to align everyone to the company’s vision.
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2. DON’T wait to set a Segment Owner.
Failure to set a clear owner at the beginning leads to an underutilized or failed implementation. We’ve done hundreds of these and it’s proven time and time again that failure to set an owner is a mistake.
3. DON’T wait to document your implementation.
After designating a Segment owner, make sure the job responsibilities include documenting your unique configurations and project history. If that person leaves, the documentation should be thorough enough that someone else can pick up where they left off.
It can be tough to find someone with the business knowledge, technical savvy, and communication skills to understand and document the needs of every team impacted by a CDP.
The question C-Suite will be asking next is likely, “How are we going to get ROI on this purchase?” We’ll cover that topic in a future article.