360° Customer view – are we there yet?

Coming from the world of Master Data Management (MDM) the “360° view of a Customer” is a much-used phrase. The concept of gaining a holistic view of the Customer has been around as long as there have been silos of data. Historically, the enterprise customers have been focused on squeezing out efficiencies out of their enterprise software environments, with:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – this was the first step towards standardization of enterprise systems. However, as we all know the 360° view extended beyond the ERP realm very quickly
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – for a while the CRM systems promised to deliver everything for engaging a customer. Very soon, the industry realized that the customer data was spread across many silos
  • Integration Technologies, i.e. EAI/ETL – to advance the cause of a 360° view, enterprises tried to connect all the stove-pipes, which was necessary since the multiple systems were not going away but it only turned out to be temporary relief as the focus shifted to the quality of the data. EAI/ETL only delivered the transport but not the data quality and the data management processes
  • MDM/CDI (Customer Data Integration) – addressed the core problem of tying the data together across the structured data systems, both inside and outside the enterprise. However, will MDM be able to keep pace with the expanding view of the 360° view of the Customer.

The Expanding View

With the advent and proliferation of the Social Media and Social Networks, there is an added dimension of the Customer Engagement that can only be addressed by understanding the dynamic and context specific customer behavior. The marketers and the sales teams need access to the rich behavioral and sentiment data about their target customers that allows them to learn and adapt their strategy to meet the needs of todays customer. To further illustrate the adoption of Social Media the numbers from Forrester’s Groundswell content suggests that there are less than 20% of the consumers who are now staying away from Social Media technologies.

This extension of the 360° view not only applies to the Customer data but also other data domains such as Supplier, Prescriber, Vendor, Partner, Product, etc. In addition to this the other part of the extended view is the ability to understand the Influence or the Risk associated with each Customer (once again applies to other data domains as well) by understanding their Social Graph or Social Sphere.

The uncomfortable truth is that the 360° view is outpacing the tools available in the market to handle it. There is valuable data (both structured and unstructured) that is a goldmine for enterprises that can make use of it. However, this requires a structured approach and investment in building out the infrastructure and capabilities that allow you to tackle this convergence of your Enterprise data and “Big Data” from outside your firewall.

Shore up your Data Investment

To take a step in the right direction and start building for making sense of this deluge of information, you have to start investing in Data. For some enterprises MDM is the right first step, but beyond that they need to look at augmenting and adding to their customer data the various gems of information from the Social Media. This data is going to be key to how you run your next generation of campaigns, marketing, sales engagement, customer outreach, and even reacting faster to market needs and moving the needle on Innovation with a renewed customer focus. By investing in the extension of the 360° view of the Customer to the Social Media sources, you will start to evolve a structured approach to the next steps in this direction, such as:

  • Segmentation
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Trend analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • New real time metrics

The power of the Social Media is here to stay and expand. It is now time for you to expand your concept of the 360° view to move from reaction to Innovation…

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2 Responses to 360° Customer view – are we there yet?

  1. Manish Sood says:

    Thank you. I appreciate your feedback.

  2. Afshin Shobair says:

    Excellent article, clear analysis of MDM current state and future needs of business beyond MDM.

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