Interesting question with several different answers. I'll give you the "low hanging fruit" answer, though, since you asked for fundamental differences: Extract, transform, load (ETL) is typically dedicated to BI or data warehousing systems and relies on a defined set of rules--which are specified by a human being. Moreover, while ETL can mean record-at-a-time processing, it's more likely to involve bulk data migration. The purpose of ETL is to facilitate the one-way copy of data from one platform to another.
In contrast, customer data integration (CDI) isn't so much about data movement as it is about operational data retrieval in a real-time or near real-time environment. It's not about copying large volumes of data as much as it is retrieving the current value of a particular customer at a given point in time. CDI is arguably "smarter" than ETL, as it has data matching, merging, and reconciliation "baked in" to its processing, hence the customer record is likely to be the most current, accurate "master" version of that customer. Hence, a CDI hub will likely be the single version of the truth about customers for the enterprise whereas with ETL, your customer record is only as accurate and current as the last batch load.
Both ETL and CDI have value, and neither is a replacement for the other, they just have different purposes in the IT infrastructure, and different value propositions to the business.
More information on ETL
Dig Deeper on Customer data integration software
Related Q&A from Jill Dyché
Is it better for companies to go with an enterprise-wide master data management (MDM) implementation or deploy MDM departmentally? Find out which ... Continue Reading
There’s a lot of confusion about agile business intelligence (BI). Get an expert’s take on what agile BI really is and if it’s a valid BI development... Continue Reading
Are some companies primed to get more use out of social media analytics than others are? Find out, plus learn how a social media analytics strategy ... Continue Reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.