Category Archives: Business Impact / Benefits
Make it about me
I know I’m not alone in feeling unimportant when I contact large organisations and find they lack the customer view we’re all being told we can expect in a digital, multichannel age. I have to pro-act to get things done. I have to ask my insurance provider, for example, if my car premium reflects my years of loyalty, or if I’m due a multi-policy discount.
The time has come for insurers to focus on how they use data for true competitive advantage and customer loyalty. In this void, with a lack of tailored service, I will continue to shop around for something better. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Know data – no threat
A new report from KPMG, Transforming Insurance: Securing competitive advantage (download the pdf here) explores the viable use of data for predictable analytics in insurance. The report finds that almost two thirds of insurer respondents to its survey only use analytics for reporting what happened, rather than for driving future customer interactions. This is a process that tends to take place in distinct data silos, focused on an organisation’s internal business divisions, rather than on customer engagements.
The report missed a critical point. The discussion for insurers is not around data analytics – to an extent they do that already. The focus needs to shift quickly to understanding the data they already have and using it to augment their capabilities. ‘Transformation’ is a huge step. ‘Augmentation’ can be embarked on with no delay and at relatively low costs. It will keep insurers ahead of new market threats.
New players have no locked-down idea about how insurance models should work, but they do recognise how to identify customer needs through the data their customers freely provide. Tesco made a smooth transition from Club Card to insurance provider because it had the data necessary to market the propositions its customers needed. It knew a lot about them. What is there to stop other data-driven organisations like Amazon, Google, and Facebook from entering the market? The barrier for entry has never been lower, and those with a data-centric understanding of their customers are poised to scramble over it.
Changing the design point – thinking data first
There is an immediate strategic need for the insurance sector to view data as more than functional – information to define risk categories and set premiums. In the light of competitive threats, the insurance industry has to recognise and harness the business value of the vast amounts of data it has collected and continues to gather. A new design point is needed – one that creates a business architecture which thinks Data First.
To adopt a data first architecture is to augment the capabilities a company already has. The ‘nirvana’ business model for the insurer is to expand customer propositions beyond the individual (party, car, house, health, annuity) to the household (similar profiles, easier profiling). Based on the intelligent use of data, policy-centric grows to customer-centricity, with a viable evolution path to household-centricity, untied to legacy limitations.
Win back the customer
Changing the data architecture is a pragmatic solution to a strategic problem. By putting data first, insurers can find the golden nuggets already sitting in their systems. They can make the connections across each customer’s needs and life-stage. By trusting the data, insurers can elevate the quality of their customer service to a level of real personal care, enabling them to secure the loyalty of their customers before the market starts to rumble as new players make their pitch.
Focusing on a data architecture, the organisation also takes complexity out of the eco-system and creates headroom for innovation – fresh ideas around cross-sell and up-sell, delivering more complete and loyalty-generating service offerings to customers. Loyalty fosters trust, driving stronger relationships between insurer and client.
Insurers have the power – they have the data – to ensure that when next time someone like me makes contact they can impress me, sell me more, make me happier and, above all, make me stay.
With the European Medicines Agency (EMA) date for compliance to IDMP (Identification of Medicinal Products) looming, Q1 2015 has seen a significant increase in IDMP activity. Both Informatica & HighPoint Solution’s IDMP Round Table in January, and a February Marcus Evans conference in Berlin provided excellent forums for sharing progress, thoughts and strategies. Additional confidential conversations with pharmaceutical companies show an increase in the number of approved and active projects, although some are still seeking full funding. The following paragraphs sum up the activity and trends that I have witnessed in the first three months of the year.
I’ll start with my favourite quote, which is from Dr. Jörg Stüben of Boehringer Ingelheim, who asked:
“Isn’t part of compliance being in control of your data?”
I like it because to me it is just the right balance of stating the obvious, and questioning the way the majority of pharmaceutical companies approach compliance: A report that has to be created and submitted. If a company is in control of their data, regulatory compliance would be easier and come at a lower cost. More importantly, the company itself would benefit from easy access to high quality data.
Dr. Stüben’s question was raised during his excellent presentation at the Marcus Evans conference. Not only did he question the status quo, but proposed an alternate way for IDMP compliance: Let Boehringer benefit from their investment in IDMP compliance. His approach can be summarised as follows:
- Embrace a holistic approach to being in control of data, i.e. adopt data governance practices.
- This is not about just compliance. Include optional attributes that will deliver value to the organisation if correctly managed.
- Get started by creating simple, clear work packages.
Although Dr Stüben did not outline his technical solution, it would include data quality tools and a product data hub.
At the same conference, Stefan Fischer Rivera & Stefan Brügger of Bayer and Guido Claes from Janssen Pharmaceuticals both came out strongly in favour of using a Master Data Management (MDM) approach to achieving compliance. Both companies have MDM technology and processes within their organisations, and realise the value a MDM approach can bring to achieving compliance in terms of data management and governance. Having Mr Claes express how well Informatica’s MDM and Data Quality solutions support his existing substance data management program, made his presentation even more enjoyable to me.
Whilst the exact approaches of Bayer and Janssen differed, there were some common themes:
- Consider both the short term (compliance) and the long term (data governance) in the strategy
- Centralised MDM is ideal, but a federated approach is practical for July 2016
- High quality data should be available to a wide audience outside of IDMP compliance
The first and third bullet points map very closely to Dr. Stüben’s key points, and in fact show a clear trend in 2015:
IDMP Compliance is an opportunity to invest in your data management solutions and processes for the benefit of the entire organisation.
Although the EMA was not represented at the conference, Andrew Marr presented their approach to IDMP, and master data in general. The EMA is undergoing a system re-organisation to focus on managing Substance, Product, Organisation and Reference data centrally, rather than within each regulation or program as it is today. MDM will play a key role in managing this data, setting a high standard of data control and management for regulatory purposes. It appears that the EMA is also using IDMP to introduce better data management practice.
Depending on the size of the company, and the skills & tools available, other non-MDM approaches have been presented or discussed during the first part of 2015. These include using XML and SharePoint to manage product data. However I share a primary concern with others in the industry with this approach: How well can you manage and control change using these tools? Some pharmaceutical companies have openly stated that data contributors often spend more time looking for data than doing their own jobs. A XML/SharePoint approach will do little to ease this burden, but an MDM approach will.
Despite the others approaches and solutions being discovered, there is another clear trend in Q1 2015
MDM is becoming a favoured approach for IDMP compliance due to its strong governance, centralised attribute-level data management and ability to track changes.
Interestingly, the opportunity to invest in data management, and the rise of MDM as a favoured approach has been backed up with research by Gens Associates. Messers Gens and Brolund found a rapid increase in investment during 2014 of what they term Information Architecture, in which MDM plays a key role. IDMP is seen as a major driver for this investment. They go on to state that investment in master data management programs will allow a much easier and cost effective approach to data exchange (internally and externally), resulting in substantial benefits. Unfortunately they do not elaborate on these benefits, but I have placed a summary on benefits of using MDM for IDMP compliance here.
In terms of active projects, the common compliance activities I have seen in the first quarter of 2015 are as follows:
- Most companies are in the discovery phase: identifying the effort for compliance
- Some are starting to make technology choices, and have submitted RFPs/RFQs
- Those furthest along in technology already have MDM programs or initiatives underway
- Despite getting a start, some are still lacking enough funding for achieving compliance
- Output from the discovery phase will in some cases be used to request full funding
- A significant number of projects have a goal to implement better data management practice throughout the company. IDMP will be the as the first release.
A final trend I have noticed in 2015 is regarding the magnitude of the compliance task ahead:
Those who have made the most progress are those who are most concerned about achieving compliance on time.
The implication is that the companies who are starting late do not yet realise the magnitude of the task ahead. It is not yet too late to comply and achieve long term benefits through better data management, despite only 15 months before the initial EMA deadline. Informatica has customers who have implemented MDM within 6 months. 15 months is achievable provided the project (or program) gets the focus and resources required.
IDMP compliance is a common challenge to all those in the pharmaceutical industry. Learning from others will help avoid common mistakes and provide tips on important topics. For example, how to secure funding and support from senior management is a common concern among those tasked with compliance. In order to encourage learning and networking, Informatica and HighPoint Solutions will be hosting our third IDMP roundtable in London on May 13th. Please do join us to share your experiences, and learn from the experiences of others.
This article was originally posted on Argyle CMO Journal and is re-posted here with permission.
According to a new global study from SDL, 90% of consumers expect a consistent customer experience across channels and devices when they interact with brands. However, according to these survey results, Gartner Survey Finds Importance of Customer Experience on the Rise — Marketing is on the Hook, fewer than half of the companies surveyed rank their customer experience as exceptional today. The good news is that two-thirds expect it to be exceptional in two years. In fact, 89% plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.
So, what role do CMOs play in delivering omnichannel customer experiences?
According to a recent report, Gartner’s Executive Summary for Leadership Accountability and Credibility within the C-Suite, a high percentage of CEOs expect CMOs to lead the integrated cross-functional customer experience. Also, customer experience is one of the top three areas of investment for CMOs in the next two years.
I had the pleasure of participating on a panel discussion at the Argyle CMO Forum in Dallas a few months ago. It focused on the emergence of omnichannel and the need to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels.
Lisa Zoellner, Chief Marketing Officer of Golfsmith International, was the dynamic moderator, kept the conversation lively, and the audience engaged. I was a panelist alongside:
- Chris Brogan, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Analysis,Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
• Chris Berg, Vice President, Store Operations, The Home Depot
• Chip Burgard, Senior Vice President, Marketing, CitiMortgage
Below are some highlights from the panel.
Lisa Zoellner, CMO, Golfsmith International opened the panel with a statistic. “Fifty-five percent of marketers surveyed feel they are playing catch up to customer expectations. But in that gap is a big opportunity.”
What is your definition of omnichannel?
There was consensus among the group that omnichannel is about seeing your business through the eyes of your customer and delivering seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels.
Customers don’t think in terms of channels and touch points; they just expect seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences. It’s one brand to the customer. But there is a gap between customer expectations and what most businesses can deliver today.
In fact, executives at most organizations I’ve spoken with, including the panelists, believe they are in the very beginning stages of their journey towards delivering omnichannel customer experiences. The majority are still struggling to get a single view of customers, products and inventory across channels.
“Customers don’t think in terms of channels and touch points; they just expect seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences.”
What are some of the core challenges standing in your way?
A key takeaway was that omnichannel requires organizations to fundamentally change how they do business. In particular, it requires changing existing business practices and processes. It cannot be done without cross-functional collaboration.
I think Chris Berg, VP, Store Operations at The Home Depot said it well, “One of the core challenges is the annual capital allocation cycle, which makes it difficult for organizations to be nimble. Most companies set strategies and commitments 12-24 months out and approach these strategies in silos. Marketing, operations, and merchandising teams typically ask for capital separately. Rarely does this process start with asking the question, ‘What is the core strategy we want to align ourselves around over the next 24 months?’ If you begin there and make a single capital allocation request to pursue that strategy, you remove one of the largest obstacles standing in the way.”
Chip Burgard, Senior Vice President of Marketing at CitiMortgage focused on two big barriers. “The first one is a systems barrier. I know a lot of companies struggle with this problem. We’re operating with a channel-centric rather than a customer-centric view. Now that we need to deliver omnichannel customer experiences, we realize we’re not as customer-centric as we thought we were. We need to understand what products our customers have across lines-of-business such as, credit cards, banking, investments and mortgage. But, our systems weren’t providing a total customer relationship view across products and channels. Now, we’re making progress on that. The second barrier is compensation. We have a commission-based sales force. How do you compensate the loan officers if a customer starts the transaction with the call center but completes it in the branch? That’s another issue we’re working on.”
Lisa Zoellner, CMO at Golfsmith International added, “I agree that compensation is a big barrier. Companies need to rethink their compensation plans. The sticky question is ‘Who gets credit for the sale?’ It’s easy to say that you’re channel-agnostic, but when someone’s paycheck is tied to the performance of a particular channel, it makes it difficult to drive that type of culture change.”
“We have a complicated business. More than 500 Hyatt hotels and resorts span multiple brands and regions,” said Chris Brogan, SVP of Strategy and Analytics at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “But, customers want a seamless experience no matter where they travel. They expect that the preference they shared during their Hyatt stay at a hotel in Singapore is understood by the person working at the next hotel in Dallas. So, we’re bridging those traditional silos all the way down to the hotel. A guest doesn’t care if the person they’re interacting with is from the building engineering department, from the food and beverage department, or the rooms department. It’s all part of the same customer experience. So we’re looking at how we share the information that’s important to guests to keep the customer the focus of our operations.”
“We’re working together collectively to meet our customers’ needs across the channels they are using to engage with us.”
How are companies powering great customer experiences with great customer data?
Chris Brogan, SVP of Strategy and Analytics at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, said, “We’re going through a transformation to unleash our colleagues to deliver great customer experiences at every stage of the guest journey. Our competitive differentiation comes from knowing our customers better than our competitors. We manage our customer data like a strategic asset so we can use that information to serve customers better and build loyalty for our brand.”
Hyatt connects the fragmented customer data from numerous applications including sales, marketing, ecommerce, customer service and finance. They bring the core customer profiles together into a single, trusted location, where they are continually managed. Now their customer profiles are clean, de-duplicated, enriched, and validated. They can see the members of a household as well as the connections between corporate hierarchies. Business and analytics applications are fueled with this clean, consistent and connected information so customer-facing teams can do their jobs more effectively and hotel teams can extend simple, meaningful gestures that drive guest loyalty.
When he first joined Hyatt, Chris did a search for his name in the central customer database and found 13 different versions of himself. This included the single Chris Brogan who lived across the street from Wrigley Field with his buddies in his 20s and the Chris Brogan who lives in the suburbs with his wife and two children. “I can guarantee those two guys want something very different from a hotel stay. Mostly just sleep now,” he joked. Those guest profiles have now been successfully consolidated.
This solid customer data foundation means Hyatt colleagues can more easily personalize a guest’s experience. For example, colleagues at the front desk are now able to use the limited check-in time to congratulate a new Diamond member on just achieving the highest loyalty program tier or offer a better room to those guests most likely to take them up on the offer and appreciate it.
According to Chris, “Successful marketing, sales and customer experience initiatives need to be built on a solid customer data foundation. It’s much harder to execute effectively and continually improve if your customer data is not in order.”
How are you shifting from channel-centric to customer-centric?
Chip Burgard, SVP of Marketing at CitiMortgage answered, “In the beginning of our omnichannel journey, we were trying to allow customer choice through multi-channel. Our whole organization was designed around people managing different channels. But, we quickly realized that allowing separate experiences that a customer can choose from is not being customer-centric.
Now we have new sales leadership that understands the importance of delivering seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels. And they are changing incentives to drive that customer-centric behavior. We’re no longer holding people accountable specifically for activity in their channels. We’re working together collectively to meet our customers’ needs across the channels they are using to engage with us.”
Chris Berg, VP of Store Operations at The Home Depot, explained, “For us, it’s about transitioning from a store-centric to customer-centric approach. It’s a cultural change. The managers of our 2,000 stores have traditionally been compensated based on their own store’s performance. But we are one brand. For example in the future, a store may be fulfilling an order, however because of the geography of where the order originated they may not receive credit for the sale. We’re in the process of working through how to better reward that collaboration. Also, we’re making investments in our systems so they support an omnichannel, or what we call interconnected, business. We have 40,000 products in store and over 1,000,000 products online. Now that we’re on the interconnected journey, we’re rethinking how we manage our product information so we can better manage inventory across channels more effectively and efficiently.”
Omnichannel is all about shifting from channel-centric to customer-centric – much more customer-centric than you are today. Knowing who your customers are and having a view of products and inventory across channels are the basic requirements to delivering exceptional customer experiences across channels and touch points.
This is not a project. A business transformation is required to empower people to deliver omnichannel customer experiences. The executive team needs to drive it and align compensation and incentives around it. A collaborative cross-functional approach is needed to achieve it.
Omnichannel depends on customer-facing teams such as marketing, sales and call centers to have access to a total customer relationship view based on clean, consistent and connected customer, product and inventory information. This is the basic foundation needed to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points and improve their effectiveness.
This is an age of technology disruption and digitization. Winners will be those organizations that can adapt quickly and drive business transformation on an ongoing basis.
When I first met John Schmidt Vice President of Global Integration Services at Informatica, he asked me to visualize Business Transformation as “A modern tool like the internet and Google Maps, with which planning a road trip from New York to San Francisco with a number of stops along the way to visit friends or see some sights takes just minutes. So you’re halfway through the trip and a friend calls to say he has suddenly been called out of town, you get on your mobile phone and within a few minutes, you have a new roadmap and a new plan.”
So, why is it that creating a roadmap for an enterprise initiative takes months or even years, and upon development of such a plan, it is nearly impossible to change even when new information or external events invalidate the plan? A single transformation is useful, but what you really want is the ability to transform our business on an ongoing basis. You need to be agile in planning of the transformation initiative itself. Is it even feasible to achieve a planning capability for complex enterprise initiatives that could approach the speed and agility of cross-country road-trip planning?
The short answer is YES; you can get much faster if you do three things:
First, throw out old notions of how planning in complex corporate environments is done, while keeping in mind that planning an enterprise transformation is fundamentally different than planning a focused departmental initiative.
Second, invest in tools equivalent to Google Maps for building the enterprise roadmap. Google Maps works because it leverages a database of information about roads, rules of the roads, related local services, and points of interest. In short, Google Map the enterprise, which is not as onerous as it sounds.
Third, develop a team of Enterprise Architects and planners with the skills and discipline to use the BOST™ Framework to maintain the underlying reference data about the business, its operations, the systems that support it, and the technologies that they are based on. This will provide the execution framework for your organization to deliver the data to fuel your business initiatives and digital strategy.
The results in a closer alignment of your business and IT organizations, there will be fewer errors due to communication issues, and because your business plans are linked directly to the underlying technical implementation, your business value will be delivered quicker.
This is not some “pie in the sky” theory or a futuristic dream. What you need is a tool like Google Maps for Business Transformation. The tool is the BOST™ Toolkit leverages the BOST™ Framework, which through models, elements, and associated relationships built around an underlying Metamodel, interprets enterprise processes using a 4-dimensional view driven by business, operations, systems, and technology. Informatica in collaboration with certified partners built The BOST™ Framework. It provides an Architecture-led Planning approach to for business transformation.
Benefits of Architecture-led Planning
The Architecture-led Planning approach is effective when applied with governance and oversight. The following four features describe the benefits:
Enablement of Business and IT Collaboration – Uses a common reference model to facilitate cross-functional business alignment, as well as alignment between business and IT. The model gets everyone on the same page, regardless of line of business, location, or IT function. This model explicitly and dynamically starts with business strategy and links from there to the technical implementation.
Data-driven Planning – Being able to capture data in a structured repository helps with rapid planning. A data-driven plan makes it dynamic and adaptable to changing circumstances. When the plan changes, rather than updating dozens of documents, simply apply the change to the relevant components in the enterprise model repository and all business and technical model views that reference that component update automatically.
Cross-Functional Decision Making – Cross-functional decision-making is facilitated in several ways. First, by showing interdependencies between functions, business operations, and systems, the holistic view helps each department or team to understand the big-picture and its role in the overall process. Second, the future state architectural models are based on a view of how business operations will change. This provides the foundation to determine the business value of the initiative, measure your progress, and ultimately report the achievement of the goals. Quantifiable metrics help decision makers look beyond the subjective perspectives and agree on fact-based success metrics.
Reduced Execution Risk – Reduced execution risk results from having a robust and holistic plan based on a rigorous analysis of all the dependent enterprise components in the business, operations, systems and technology view. Risk is reduced with an effective governance discipline both from a program management as well as from an architectural change perspective.
Business Transformation with Informatica
Integrated Program Planning is for organizations that need large or complex Change Management assistance. Examples of candidates for Integrated Program Planning include:
Enterprise Initiatives: Large-scale mergers or acquisitions, switching from a product-centric operating model to more customer-centric operations, restructuring channel or supplier relationships, rationalizing the company’s product or service portfolio, or streamlining end-to-end processes such as order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, hire-to-retire or customer on-boarding.
Top-level Directives: Examples include board-mandated data governance, regulatory compliance initiatives that have broad organizational impacts such as data privacy or security, or risk management initiatives.
Expanding Departmental Solutions into Enterprise Solutions: Successful solutions in specific business areas can often be scaled-up to become cross-functional enterprise-wide initiatives. For example, expanding a successful customer master data initiative in marketing to an enterprise-wide Customer Information Management solution used by sales, product development, and customer service for an Omni-channel customer experience.
|The BOST™ Framework identifies and defines enterprise capabilities. These capabilities are modularized as reconfigurable and scalable business services. These enterprise capabilities are independent of organizational silos and politics, which provide strategists, architects, and planners the means to drive for high performance across the enterprise, regardless of the shifting set of strategic business drivers.The BOST™ Toolkit facilitates building and implementing new or improved capabilities, adjusting business volumes, and integrating with new partners or acquisitions through common views of these building blocks and through reusing solution components. In other words, Better, Faster, Cheaper projects.
The BOST™ View creates a visual understanding of the relationship between business functions, data, and systems. It helps with the identification of relevant operational capabilities and underlying support systems that need to change in order to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives. The result will be a more flexible business process with greater visibility and the ability to adjust to change without error.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Data Mania industry event hosted by Informatica. The afternoon event was a nice mix of industry panels with technical and business speakers from companies that included Amazon, Birst, AppDynamics, SalesForce, Marketo, Tableau, Adobe, Informatica, Birst, Dun & Bradstreet and several others.
A main theme of the event that came through with so many small, medium and large SaaS vendors was that everyone is increasingly dependent on being able to integrate data from other solutions and platforms. The second part of this was that customers increasingly expect the data integration requirements to work under the covers so they can focus on the higher level business solutions.
I really thought the four companies presented by Informatica as the winners of their Connect-a-Thon contest were the highlight. Each of these solutions was built by a company and highlighted some great aspects of data integration.
Databricks provides a cloud platform for big data processing. The solution leverages Apache Spark, which is an open source engine for big data processing that has seen a lot of adoption. Spark is the engine for the Databricks Cloud which then adds several enterprise features for visualization, large scale Spark cluster management, workflow and integration with third party applications. Having a big data solution means bringing data in from a lot of SaaS and on premise sources so Databricks built a connector to Informatica Cloud to make it easier to load data into the Databricks Cloud. Again, it’s a great example the ecosystem where higher level solutions can leverage 3rd party.
Thoughspot provides a search based BI solution. The general idea is that a search based interface provides a tool that a much broader group of users can use with little training to access to the power of enterprise business intelligence tools. It reminds me of some other solutions that fall into the enterprise 2.0 area and do everything from expert location to finding structured and unstructured data more easily. They wrote a nice blog post explaining why they built the ThoughtSpot Connector for Informatica Cloud. The main reason they are using Informatica to handle the data integration so they can focus on their own solution, which is the end user facing BI tools. It’s the example of SaaS providers choosing to either roll their own data integration or leveraging other providers as part of their solution.
BigML provides some very interesting machine learning solutions. The simple summary would be they are trying to create beautiful visualization and predicative modeling tools. The solution greatly simplifies the process of model iteration and visualizing models. Their gallery of models has several very good examples. Again, in this case BigML built a connector to Informatica Cloud for the SaaS and on premise integration and also in conjunction with the existing BigML REST API. BigML wrote a great blog post on their connector that goes into more details.
FollowAnalytics had one of the more interesting demonstrations because it was a very different solution than the other three solutions. They have a mobile marketing platform that is used to drive end user engagement and measure that engagement. They also uploaded their Data Mania integration demo here. They mostly are leveraging the data integration to provide access to important data sources that can help drive customer engagement in their platform. Given their end users are more marketing or business analysts they just expect to be able to easily get the data they want and need to drive marketing analysis and engagement.
My takeaway from talking to many of the SaaS vendors was that there is a lot of interest being able to leverage higher level infrastructure, platform and middleware services as they mature to meet the real needs of SaaS vendors so that they can focus on their own solutions. The ecosystem might be more ready in a lot of cases than what is available.
Last week was Informatica’s first ever Data Mania event, held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. We had an A-list lineup of speakers from leading cloud and data companies, such as Salesforce, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Tableau, Dun & Bradstreet, Marketo, AppDynamics, Birst, Adobe, and Qlik. The event and speakers covered a range of topics all related to data, including Big Data processing in the cloud, data-driven customer success, and cloud analytics.
While these companies are giants today in the world of cloud and have created their own unique ecosystems, we also wanted to take a peek at and hear from the leaders of tomorrow. Before startups can become market leaders in their own realm, they face the challenge of ramping up a stellar roster of customers so that they can get to subsequent rounds of venture funding. But what gets in their way are the numerous data integration challenges of onboarding customer data onto their software platform. When these challenges remain unaddressed, R&D resources are spent on professional services instead of building value-differentiating IP. Bugs also continue to mount, and technical debt increases.
Enter the Informatica Cloud Connector SDK. Built entirely in Java and able to browse through any cloud application’s API, the Cloud Connector SDK parses the metadata behind each data object and presents it in the context of what a business user should see. We had four startups build a native connector to their application in less than two weeks: BigML, Databricks, FollowAnalytics, and ThoughtSpot. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
With predictive analytics becoming a growing imperative, machine-learning algorithms that can have a higher probability of prediction are also becoming increasingly important. BigML provides an intuitive yet powerful machine-learning platform for actionable and consumable predictive analytics. Watch their demo on how they used Informatica Cloud’s Connector SDK to help them better predict customer churn.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/lop7m9IH2aw
Databricks was founded out of the UC Berkeley AMPLab by the creators of Apache Spark. Databricks Cloud is a hosted end-to-end data platform powered by Spark. It enables organizations to unlock the value of their data, seamlessly transitioning from data ingest through exploration and production. Watch their demo that showcases how the Informatica Cloud connector for Databricks Cloud was used to analyze lead contact rates in Salesforce, and also performing machine learning on a dataset built using either Scala or Python.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/607ugvhzVnY
With mobile usage growing by leaps and bounds, the area of customer engagement on a mobile app has become a fertile area for marketers. Marketers are charged with acquiring new customers, increasing customer loyalty and driving new revenue streams. But without the technological infrastructure to back them up, their efforts are in vain. FollowAnalytics is a mobile analytics and marketing automation platform for the enterprise that helps companies better understand audience engagement on their mobile apps. Watch this demo where FollowAnalytics first builds a completely native connector to its mobile analytics platform using the Informatica Cloud Connector SDK and then connects it to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online using Informatica Cloud’s prebuilt connector for it. Then, see FollowAnalytics go one step further by performing even deeper analytics on their engagement data using Informatica Cloud’s prebuilt connector for Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/E568vxZ2LAg
Analytics has taken center stage this year due to the rise in cloud applications, but most of the existing BI tools out there still stick to the old way of doing BI. ThoughtSpot brings a consumer-like simplicity to the world of BI by allowing users to search for the information they’re looking for just as if they were using a search engine like Google. Watch this demo where ThoughtSpot uses Informatica Cloud’s vast library of over 100 native connectors to move data into the ThoughtSpot appliance.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/6gJD6hRD9h4
The problem many banks encounter today is that they have vast sums of investment tied up in old ways of doing things. Historically, customers chose a bank and remained ’loyal’ throughout their lifetime…now competition is rife and loyalty is becoming a thing of a past. In order to stay ahead of the competition, gain and keep customers, they need to understand the ever-evolving market, disrupt norms and continue to delight customers. The tradition of staying with one bank due to family convention or from ease has now been replaced with a more informed customer who understands the variety of choice at their fingertips.
Challenger Banks don’t build on ideas of tradition and legacy and see how they can make adjustments to them. They embrace change. Longer-established banks can’t afford to do nothing, and assume their size and stature will attract customers.
Here’s some useful information
Accenture’s recent report, The Bank of Things, succinctly explains what ‘Customer 3.0’ is all about. The connected customer isn’t necessarily younger. It’s everybody. Banks can get to know their customers better by making better use of information. It all depends on using intelligent data rather than all data. Interrogating the wrong data can be time-consuming, costly and results in little actionable information.
When an organisation sets out with the intention of knowing its customers, then it can calibrate its data according with where the gold nuggets – the real business insights – come from. What do people do most? Where do they go most? Now that they’re using branches and phone banking less and less – what do they look for in a mobile app?
Customer 3.0 wants to know what the bank can offer them all-the-time, on the move, on their own device. They want offers designed for their lifestyle. Correctly deciphered data can drive the level of customer segmentation that empowers such marketing initiatives. This means an organisation has to have the ability and the agility to move with its customers. It’s a journey that never ends -technology will never have a cut-off point just like customer expectations will never stop evolving.
It’s time for banks to re-shape banking
Informatica have been working with major retail banks globally to redefine banking excellence and realign operations to deliver it. We always start by asking our customers the revealing question “Have you looked at the art of the possible to future-proof your business over the next five to ten years and beyond?” This is where the discussion begins to explore really interesting notions about unlocking potential. No bank can afford to ignore them.
Who remembers their first game of Pong? Celebrating more than 40 years of innovation, gaming is no longer limited to monochromatic screens and dedicated, proprietary platforms. The PC gaming industry is expected to exceed $35bn by 2018. Phone and handheld games is estimated at $34bn in 5 years and quickly closing the gap. According to EEDAR, 2014 recorded more than 141 million mobile gamers just in North America, generating $4.6B in revenue for mobile game vendors.
This growth has spawned a growing list of conferences specifically targeting gamers, game developers, the gaming industry and more recently gaming analytics! This past weekend in Boston, for example, was PAX East where people of all ages and walks of life played games on consoles, PC, handhelds, and good old fashioned board games. With my own children in attendance, the debate of commercial games versus indie favorites, such as Minecraft , dominates the dinner table.
Online games are where people congregate online, collaborate, and generate petabytes of data daily. With the added bonus of geospatial data from smart phones, the opportunity for more advanced analytics. Some of the basic metrics that determine whether a game is successful, according to Ninja Metrics, include:
- New Users, Daily Active Users, Retention
- Revenue per user
- Session length and number of sessions per user
Additionally, they provide predictive analytics, customer lifetime value, and cohort analysis. If this is your gig, there’s a conference for that as well – the Gaming Analytics Summit !
At the Game Developers Conference recently held in San Francisco, the focus of this event has shifted over the years from computer games to new gaming platforms that need to incorporate mobile, smartphone, and online components. In order to produce a successful game, it requires the following:
- Needs to be able to connect to a variety of devices and platforms
- Needs to use data to drive decisions and improve user experience
- Needs to ensure privacy laws are adhered to.
Developers are able to quickly access online gaming data and tweak or change their sprites’ attributes dynamically to maximize player experience.
When you look at what is happening in the gaming industry, you can start to see why colleges and universities like my own alma mater, WPI, now offers a computer science degree in Interactive Media and Game Design degree . The IMGD curriculum includes heavy coursework in data science, game theory, artificial intelligence and story boarding. When I asked a WPI IMGD student about what they are working on, they are mapping out decision trees that dictate what adversary to pop up based on the player’s history (sounds a lot like what we do in digital marketing…).
As we start to look at the Millennial Generation entering into the workforce, maybe we should look at our own recruiting efforts and consider game designers. They are masters in analytics and creativity with an appreciation for the importance of great data. Combining the magic and the math makes a great gaming experience. Who wouldn’t want that for their customers?
I won’t say I’ve seen it all; I’ve only scratched the surface in the past 15 years. Below are some of the mistakes I’ve made or fixed during this time.
MongoDB as your Big Data platform
Ask yourself, why am I picking on MongoDB? The NoSQL database most abused at this point is MongoDB, while Mongo has an aggregation framework that tastes like MapReduce and even a very poorly documented Hadoop connector, its sweet spot is as an operational database, not an analytical system.
RDBMS schema as files
You dumped each table from your RDBMS into a file and stored that on HDFS, you now plan to use Hive on it. You know that Hive is slower than RDBMS; it’ll use MapReduce even for a simple select. Next, let’s look at row sizes; you have flat files measured in single-digit kilobytes.
Hadoop does best on large sets of relatively flat data. I’m sure you can create an extract that’s more de-normalized.
Instead of creating a single Data Lake, you created a series of data ponds or a data swamp. Conway’s law has struck again; your business groups have created their own mini-repositories and data analysis processes. That doesn’t sound bad at first, but with different extracts and ways of slicing and dicing the data, you end up with different views of the data, i.e., different answers for some of the same questions.
Schema-on-read doesn’t mean, “Don’t plan at all,” but it means “Don’t plan for every question you might ask.”
Missing use cases
Vendors, to escape the constraints of departmental funding, are selling the idea of the data lake. The byproduct of this is the business lost sight of real use cases. The data-lake approach can be valid, but you won’t get much out of it if you don’t have actual use cases in mind.
It isn’t hard to come up with use cases, but that is always an afterthought. The business should start thinking of the use cases when their databases can’t handle the load.
To do a larger bit of analytics, you may need a bigger tool set like that may include Hive, Pig, MapReduce, R, and more.
Informatica joins new ServiceMax Marketplace – offers rapid, cost effective integration with ERP and Cloud apps for Field Service Automation
To deliver flawless field service, companies often require integration across multiple applications for various work processes. A good example is automatically ordering and shipping parts through an ERP system to arrive ahead of a timely field service visit. Informatica has partnered with ServiceMax, the leading field service automation solution, and subsequently joined the new ServiceMax Marketplace to offer customers integration solutions for many ERP and Cloud applications frequently involved in ServiceMax deployments. Comprised of Cloud Integration Templates built on Informatica Cloud for frequent customer integration “patterns”, these solutions will speed and cost contain the ServiceMax implementation cycle and help customers realize the full potential of their field service initiatives.
Existing members of the ServiceMax Community can see a demo or take advantage of a free 30-day trial that provides full capabilities of Informatica Cloud Integration for ServiceMax with prebuilt connectors to hundreds of 3rd party systems including SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Netsuite and Workday, powered by the Informatica Vibe virtual data machine for near-universal access to cloud and on-premise data. The Informatica Cloud Integration for Servicemax solution:
- Accelerates ERP integration through prebuilt Cloud templates focused on key work processes and the objects on common between systems as much as 85%
- Synchronizes key master data such as Customer Master, Material Master, Sales Orders, Plant information, Stock history and others
- Enables simplified implementation and customization through easy to use user interfaces
- Eliminates the need for IT intervention during configuration and deployment of ServiceMax integrations.
We look forward to working with ServiceMax through the ServiceMax Marketplace to help joint customers deliver Flawless Service!