At the Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago today, the company announced it is building a customer data platform (CDP) to help brands unify their marketing data. The goal is to create one view of the customer, regardless of whether they are connecting via web, social, mobile apps, messaging services, in-store, on the phone, or anywhere else.

Salesforce described this as a logical extension of its CRM software. “It’s very natural for Salesforce to be in this space,” said Marty Kihn, a former Gartner analyst and now SVP of product strategy for the Salesforce marketing cloud. “The needs that customers are expressing from a CDP are very similar to what they need from a CRM: a single view of the customer, clean data, a place to do analytics, and the ability to bring data together from multiple channels.”

Indeed, customer data platform initiatives seem to be everywhere. Oracle just announced CX Unity, Adobe announced triggered journeys based on a “rich pool of centralized data,” and now Salesforce is building a data platform into its second generation of Customer 360 — its existing solution aimed at giving brands a full 360-degree view of their customers.

The platform comprises three major components, Kihn told me last week: identity management, a system of engagement, and a system of insight. The identity management piece unsurprisingly stitches together data on people, mapping IDs across multiple pieces of software. The system of insights powers personalization, using all the data to understand the “next best action” a brand can take. And the system of engagement component draws on that insight to personalize email, websites, apps, messages, and every other channel that touches a customer, inbound or outbound.

Notably, this new release builds on two pieces of software Salesforce acquired — Krux, a data management platform bought in 2016, and Datorama, a marketing intelligence platform Salesforce picked up in 2018.

This is a pre-announcement, so the new services are currently in beta. They will be available in the fall of 2019 as a pilot only, Kihn told me.

The goal is to streamline things for companies struggling with multiple databases.

“In enterprise, there are at least 15 customer databases,” Kihn said. “I talked to a CPG [consumer packaged goods company] and they said they had 400 — one for every single vendor.”

Consolidating all that down to one platform might be unrealistic for especially complex businesses, at least in the short term. But it’s definitely a worthwhile goal.