Category Archives: Customer Acquisition & Retention
Maybe the problem lies in the widespread confusion about omni- vs. multi-channel initiatives. An omni-channel system takes a connected approach to multiple channels, seamlessly integrating customer activities into a single conversation, even when the customer decides, for whatever reason, to switch channel. In omni-channel retailing, the customer can select and change channels in any way that suits them – and the retailer can respond instantly to deliver the experience that the customer needs. Each time the customer interacts with the brand, they generate data that the retailer can use to better anticipate and serve the customer during the next conversation.
So, if omni-channel initiatives are so powerful, why are retailers not taking the next step?
In a multi-channel system, a retailer grows from a single channel to multiple channels with each channel essentially operating as a separate business unit. Each has its own pricing, promotions, inventories, and back office systems. The omni-channel system integrates all of these channels and their accumulated data into one cohesive view of the business and customer. But many retailers wrongly believe that their organizational structure and systems don’t lend themselves to the new environment.
Many feel that a fundamental redesign of the corporate retail organization – from a single P&L regardless of channel, to “rip and replace” of IT systems – would need to occur at the most basic levels. And many organizations are unsure if the extra time, money and risk to reorganize is worth the advantages promised by an omni-channel strategy. In short, many retailers have adopted a wait-and-see stance before they invest.
However, these retailers can take comfort and guidance from the conclusions of the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions conference. Based on a survey of top retailers, the conference predicts that “In 2015, CIOs will invest in omni-channel integration technologies as a top priority to support growth in the omni-channel shopper sales premium of 30%.“
The Future is Now
When retailers invest in omni-channel integration, they essentially design an entirely new supply chain of unified capabilities that can simultaneously handle the demands of their “brick and mortar” stores, their ecommerce sites, and any other channel that they have in place. The retailers that have already done so are already seeing the benefits:
- Corporations that have invested in omni-channel services are already witnessing an average of 30% increase in sales.
- The IT departments of these corporations are spending far less time performing the redundant or duplicate tasks required by a multi-channel system.
- Both structured and unstructured data are more successfully and easily integrated across the company than with a multichannel operation.
- IT departments can retire older technologies that are no longer performing at their previous levels of efficiency.
- Consumer impacts on individual channels can now be identified almost immediately and the channels adjusted accordingly.
While many businesses may be cautious about taking the next step, the shopping characteristics of today’s consumer are rapidly changing. Customers are moving into an omni-channel world, whether the retailer is ready or not. This means that the business might be forced to play catch-up to their customers, and perhaps sooner than they might like. Omni-channel initiatives simply reflect, improve and realize the value of this customer behavior. Omni-channel initiatives are about making the individual consumer the main focal point of the business model.
In 1991, when the World Wide Web was created, email then had the opportunity to evolve into the mainstream form of communication it is today.
The statistics for modern day email are staggering. Worldwide, there are 2.2 billion email users as of 2012, according to MarketingProfs.
With all these messages flying about, you know there’s going to be some email overload. Google’s Gmail alone has 425 million users worldwide. ESPs know people have too much email to deal with, and there’s a lot of noise out there. More than 75% of the world’s email is spam.
Gmail is one of the applications that recently responded to this problem, and all email marketers need to be aware.
On October 22, Google announced Inbox.
Google’s Inbox takes several steps to bring structure to the abundant world of email with these features:
- Categorizes and bundles emails.
- Highlights important content within the body of the email.
- Allows users to customize messages by adding their own reminders.
This latest update to Gmail is just one small way that the landscape of email marketing and audience preferences is changing all the time.
As we integrate more technology into our daily lives, it only makes sense that we use digital messages as a means of communication more often. What will this mean for email in the future? How will marketers adjust to the new challenges email marketing will present at larger volumes, with audiences wanting more segmentation and personalization?One easy way to stay on top of these and other changes to the e-mail landscape is talking to your peers and experts in the industry. Luckily, an opportunity is coming up — and it’s free.
Make sure you check out the All About eMail Virtual Conference & Expo on November 13. It’s a virtual event, which means you can attend without leaving your desk!
It’s a one-day event with the busy email marketer in mind. Register for free and be sure to join us for our presentation, “Maximizing Email Campaign Performance Through Data Quality.”
Other strategic sessions include email marketing innovations presented by Forrester Research, mobile email, ROI, content tips, email sending frequency, and much more. (See the agenda here.)
This conference is just one indication that email marketing is still relevant, but only if email marketers adjust to changing audience preferences. With humble beginnings in 1971 email has come a long way. Email marketing has the best ROI in the business, and will continue to have value long into the future.
The digital industry is increasingly discussing the topic of Commerce Relevancy. Commerce Relevancy makes information relevant to consumers at the right time and place. Specifically, it ensures sales and marketing offers and materials are personalized at the highest level and consistent across all customer touch points. This post will talk about how much Commerce Relevancy matters and will explain the six building blocks that comprise it.
Commerce Relevancy in Fashion
I am a runner. For motivation, I track the majority of my runs on my iPhone. I use an arm band from a leading sports apparel company to carry my iPhone. I’m a great supporter of this apparel brand in general. I love their style so I shop from them frequently. Sometimes, when I travel the US, I shop in their outlet stores. Primarily, however, I shop on their official web-store using my iPad or mobile phone. Since I am a “fashion victim”, it is not easy for me to remember all the channels, shops and websites I have used to buy this brand’s products.
Why am I telling you all this?
For the past few weeks, I’ve repeatedly received email newsletters from this brand, promoting sporting outfits that don’t match my style or size. (Most of the promotion has been products for women, rather than for men, etc.) As a repeat customer, this lack of promotional accuracy has frustrated me. I have purchased many items from this brand. I’ve even shared their logo on twitter and Facebook. Despite my commitment to the brand, the brand still does not know which products I need or which styles I prefer.
Commerce Relevancy in Automotive
I have had a similar experience with my favorite car manufacturer. My wife and I have purchased three of this brand’s cars in the past. We currently lease one of their cars. When I need maintenance, I only visit this brand’s authorized repair garages. I only use official spare parts. Despite my loyalty to the brand, every time I call their stores, I am asked for my phone number. No one from the brand has ever approached me to test a new car, even though my current lease will soon end.
Once, when my current car was being repaired for several days, I requested permission to test drive a particular model, until my current car was ready. I was interested in this new model as a potential next purchase. I was told “it is not possible to test drive the car you’re interested in during the repair process. You may only use the official car rental service.”
Can Relevant Information Make the Difference?
The chapter of “Commerce Relevancy” started in 2013. The eBook on the “Informed Purchase Journey” mentions that consumers use average of 10.4 sources of information before taking a purchasing decision.
What this means for all companies and business people who sell products and services:
They have to earn every new sale to customer who is demanding more information than ever before.
The Meaning of Commerce Relevancy
In order to enable Commerce Relevancy, companies are now asking themselves how to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information. In this business use cases customer profiles or target group personas get match with product information in sales and marketing. The key challenge his to connect the data but also to provide them to customer facing apps and touch points.
6 Building Blocks of Commerce Relevancy
- Product powered: Inside and outside your organization customer and employees have a consistent view of the products you sell, regardless of the touch point.
- Customer centric: No matter, where or how a client interacts with your company, you are able to generate a single view of the customer with address, interaction, and relation data.
- Relationship driven: The biggest value today and tomorrow lays in “connecting the dots” between different information like the availability of a product, from a supplier or warehouse, to the client who demands it.
- Bi-directional: Serving clients with really tailored marketing is only one way – the other way is the feedback on products and services and how this can be re-used.
- Predictive power: With Commerce Relevancy, companies take simple eCommerce recommendations to the next level. This means predicting the next logical action, based in information. This can empower business users to do the right things, data-driven. This makes the customer spend more, data-driven. Happy to give you examples if you reach out to me @benrund
- Real-time data: Customer always want it now. Changes on product offerings, transactions customer make, service centers they call – a service agent always needs to have the complete view with real time data.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog series: “How companies can achieve commerce relevancy step by step.” It impacts, people, processes and technology.
I recently had the opportunity to have a very interesting discussion with Glenn Gow, the CEO of Crimson Marketing. I was impressed at what an interesting and smart guy he was, and with the tremendous insight he has into the marketing discipline. He consults with over 150 CMOs every year, and has a pretty solid understanding about the pains they are facing, the opportunities in front of them, and the approaches that the best-of-the-best are taking that are leading them towards new levels of success.
I asked Glenn if he would be willing to do a Q&A in order to share some of his insight. I hope you find his perspective as interesting as I did!
Q: What do you believe is the single biggest advantage that marketers have today?
A: Being able to use data in marketing is absolutely your single biggest competitive advantage as a marketer. And therefore your biggest challenge is capturing, leveraging and rationalizing that data. The marketers we speak with tend to fall into two buckets.
- Those who understand that the way they manage data is critical to their marketing success. These marketers use data to inform their decisions, and then rely on it to measure their effectiveness.
- Those who haven’t yet discovered that data is the key to their success. Often these people start with systems in mind – marketing automation, CRM, etc. But after implementing and beginning to use these systems, they almost always come to the realization that they have a data problem.
Q: How has this world of unprecedented data sources and volumes changed the marketing discipline?
A: In short… dramatically. The shift has really happened in the last two years. The big impetus for this change has really been the availability of data. You’ve probably heard this figure, but Google’s Eric Schmidt likes to say that every two days now, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003.
We believe this is a massive opportunity for marketers. The question is, how do we leverage this data. How do we pull the golden nuggets out that will help us do our jobs better. Marketers now have access to information they’ve never had access to or even contemplated before. This gives them the ability to become a more effective marketer. And by the way… they have to! Customers expect them to!
For example, ad re-targeting. Customers expect to be shown ads that are relevant to them, and if marketers don’t successfully do this, they can actually damage their brand.
In addition, competitors are taking full advantage of data, and are getting better every day at winning the hearts and minds of their customers – so marketers need to act before their competitors do.
Marketers have a tremendous opportunity – rich data is available and the technology is available to harness it is now, so that they can win a war that they could never before.
Q: Where are the barriers they are up against in harnessing this data?
A: I’d say that barriers can really be broken down into 4 main buckets: existing architecture, skill sets, relationships, and governance.
- Existing Architecture: The way that data has historically been collected and stored doesn’t have the CMO’s needs in mind. The CMO has an abundance of data theoretically at their fingertips, but they cannot do what they want with it. The CMO needs to insist on, and work together with the CIO to build an overarching data strategy that meets their needs – both today and tomorrow because the marketing profession and tool sets are rapidly changing. That means the CMO and their team need to step into a conversation they’ve never had before with the CIO and his/her team. And it’s not about systems integration but it’s about data integration.
- Existing Skill Sets: The average marketer today is a right-brained individual. They entered the profession because they are naturally gifted at branding, communications, and outbound perspectives. And that requirement doesn’t go away – it’s still important. But today’s marketer now needs to grow their left-brained skills, so they can take advantage of inbound information, marketing technologies, data, etc. It’s hard to ask a right-brained person to suddenly be effective at managing this data. The CMO needs to fill this skillset gap primarily by bringing in people that understand it, but they cannot ignore it themselves. The CMO needs to understand how to manage a team of data scientists and operations people to dig through and analyze this data. Some CMOs have actually learned to love data analysis themselves (in fact your CMO at Informatica Marge Breya is one of them).
- Existing Relationships: In a data-driven marketing world, relationships with the CIO become paramount. They have historically determined what data is collected, where it is stored, what it is connected to, and how it is managed. Today’s CMO isn’t just going to the CIO with a simple task, as in asking them to build a new dashboard. They have to collectively work together to build a data strategy that will work for the organization as a whole. And marketing is the “new kid on the block” in this discussion – the CIO has been working with finance, manufacturing, etc. for years, so it takes some time (and great data points!) to build that kind of cohesive relationship. But most CIOs understand that it’s important, if for no other reason that they see budgets increasingly shifting to marketing and the rest of the Lines of Business.
- Governance: Who is ultimately responsible for the data that lives within an organization? It’s not an easy question to answer. And since marketing is a relatively new entrant into the data discussion, there are often a lot of questions left to answer. If marketing wants access to the customer data, what are we going to let them do with it? Read it? Append to it? How quickly does this happen? Who needs to author or approve changes to a data flow? Who manages opt ins/outs and regulatory black lists? And how does that impact our responsibility as an organization? This is a new set of conversations for the CMO – but they’re absolutely critical.
Q: Are the CMOs you speak with concerned with measuring marketing success?
A: Absolutely. CMOs are feeling tremendous pressure from the CEO to quantify their results. There was a recent Duke University study of CMOs that asked if they were feeling pressure from the CEO or board to justify what they’re doing. 64% of the respondents said that they do feel this pressure, and 63% say this pressure is increasing.
CMOs cannot ignore this. They need to have access to the right data that they can trust to track the effectiveness of their organizations. They need to quantitatively demonstrate the impact that their activities have had on corporate revenue – not just ROI or Marketing Qualified Leads. They need to track data points all the way through the sales cycle to close and revenue, and to show their actual impact on what the CEO really cares about.
Q: Do you think marketers who undertake marketing automation products without a solid handle on their data first are getting solid results?
A: That is a tricky one. Ideally, yes, they’d have their data in great shape before undertaking a marketing automation process. The vast majority of companies who have implemented the various marketing technology tools have encountered dramatic data quality issues, often coming to light during the process of implementing their systems. So data quality and data integration is the ideal first step.
But the truth is, solving a company’s data problem isn’t a simple, straight-forward challenge. It takes time and it’s not always obvious how to solve the problem. Marketers need to be part of this conversation. They need to drive how they’re going to be managing data moving forward. And they need to involve people who understand data well, whether they be internal (typically in IT), or external (consulting companies like Crimson, and technology providers like Informatica).
So the reality for a CMO, is that it has to be a parallel path. CMOs need to get involved in ensuring that data is managed in a way they can use effectively as a marketer, but in the meantime, they cannot stop doing their day-to-day job. So, sure, they may not be getting the most out of their investment in marketing automation, but it’s the beginning of a process that will see tremendous returns over the long term.
Q: Is anybody really getting it “right” yet?
A: This is the best part… yes! We are starting to see more and more forward-thinking organizations really harnessing their data for competitive advantage, and using technology in very smart ways to tie it all together and make sense of it. In fact, we are in the process of writing a book entitled “Moneyball for Marketing” that features eleven different companies who have marketing strategies and execution plans that we feel are leading their industries.
So readers, what do you think? Who do you think is getting it “right” by leveraging their data with smart technology and truly getting meaningful an impactful results?
Step 1: Determine if you have a customer data problem
A statement I often hear from marketing and sales leaders unfamiliar with the concept of mastering customer data is, “My CRM application is our single source of trusted customer data.” They use CRM to onboard new customers, collecting addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. They append a DUNS number. So it’s no surprise they may expect they can master their customer data in CRM. (To learn more about the basics of managing trusted customer data, read this: How much does bad data cost your business?)
It may seem logical to expect your CRM investment to be your customer master – especially since so many CRM vendors promise a “360 degree view of your customer.” But you should only consider your CRM system as the source of truth for trusted customer data if:
· You have only a single instance of Salesforce.com, Siebel CRM, or other CRM
· You have only one sales organization (vs. distributed across regions and LOBs)
· Your CRM manages all customer-focused processes and interactions (marketing, service, support, order management, self-service, etc)
· The master customer data in your CRM is clean, complete, fresh, and free of duplicates
Unfortunately most mid-to-large companies cannot claim such simple operations. For most large enterprises, CRM never delivered on that promise of a trusted 360-degree customer view. That’s what prompted Gartner analysts Bill O’Kane and Kimbery Collins to write this report, MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, in February 2014.
“The reality is that the vast majority of the Fortune 2000 companies we talk to are complex,” says Christopher Dwight, who leads a team of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) sales specialists for Informatica. Christopher and team spend each day working with retailers, distributors and CPG companies to help them get more value from their customer, product and supplier data. “Business-critical customer data doesn’t live in one place. There’s no clear and simple source. Functional organizations, processes, and systems landscapes are much more complicated. Typically they have multiple selling organizations across business units or regions.”
As an example, listed below are typical functional organizations, and common customer master data-dependent applications they rely upon, to support the lead-to-cash process within a typical enterprise:
· Marketing: marketing automation, campaign management and customer analytics systems.
· Ecommerce: e-commerce storefront and commerce applications.
· Sales: sales force automation, quote management,
· Fulfillment: ERP, shipping and logistics systems.
· Finance: order management and billing systems.
· Customer Service: CRM, IVR and case management systems.
The fragmentation of critical customer data across multiple organizations and applications is further exacerbated by the explosive adoption of Cloud applications such as Salesforce.com and Marketo. Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is common among many larger organizations where additional legacy customer applications must be onboarded and reconciled. Suddenly your customer data challenge grows exponentially.
Step 2: Measure how customer data fragmentation impacts your business
Ask yourself: if your customer data is inaccurate, inconstant and disconnected can you:
· See the full picture of a customer’s relationship with the business across business units, product lines, channels and regions?
· Better understand and segment customers for personalized offers, improving lead conversion rates and boosting cross-sell and up-sell success?
· Deliver an exceptional, differentiated customer experience?
· Leverage rich sources of 3rd party data as well as big data such as social, mobile, sensors, etc.., to enrich customer insights?
“One company I recently spoke with was having a hard time creating a single consolidated invoice for each customer that included all the services purchased across business units,” says Dwight. “When they investigated, they were shocked to find that 80% of their consolidated invoices contained errors! The root cause was innaccurate, inconsistent and inconsistent customer data. This was a serious business problem costing the company a lot of money.”
Let’s do a quick test right now. Are any of these companies your customers: GE, Coke, Exxon, AT&T or HP? Do you know the legal company names for any of these organizations? Most people don’t. I’m willing to bet there are at least a handful of variations of these company names such as Coke, Coca-Cola, The Coca Cola Company, etc in your CRM application. Chances are there are dozens of variations in the numerous applications where business-critical customer data lives and these customer profiles are tied to transactions. That’s hard to clean up. You can’t just merge records because you need to maintain the transaction history and audit history. So you can’t clean up the customer data in this system and merge the duplicates.
The same holds true for B2C customers. In fact, I’m a nightmare for a large marketing organization. I get multiple offers and statements addressed to different versions of my name: Jakki Geiger, Jacqueline Geiger, Jackie Geiger and J. Geiger. But my personal favorite is when I get an offer from a company I do business with addressed to “Resident”. Why don’t they know I live here? They certainly know where to find me when they bill me!
Step 3: Transform how you view, manage and share customer data
Why do so many businesses that try to master customer data in CRM fail? Let’s be frank. CRM systems such as Salesforce.com and Siebel CRM were purpose built to support a specific set of business processes, and for the most part they do a great job. But they were never built with a focus on mastering customer data for the business beyond the scope of their own processes.
But perhaps you disagree with everything discussed so far. Or you’re a risk-taker and want to take on the challenge of bringing all master customer data that exists across the business into your CRM app. Be warned, you’ll likely encounter four major problems:
1) Your master customer data in each system has a different data model with different standards and requirements for capture and maintenance. Good luck reconciling them!
2) To be successful, your customer data must be clean and consistent across all your systems, which is rarely the case.
3) Even if you use DUNS numbers, some systems use the global DUNS number; others use a regional DUNS number. Some manage customer data at the legal entity level, others at the site level. How do you connect those?
4) If there are duplicate customer profiles in CRM tied to transactions, you can’t just merge the profiles because you need to maintain the transactional integrity and audit history. In this case, you’re dead on arrival.
There is a better way! Customer-centric, data-driven companies recognize these obstacles and they don’t rely on CRM as the single source of trusted customer data. Instead, they are transforming how they view, manage and share master customer data across the critical applications their businesses rely upon. They embrace master data management (MDM) best practices and technologies to reconcile, merge, share and govern business-critical customer data.
More and more B2B and B2C companies are investing in MDM capabilities to manage customer households and multiple views of customer account hierarchies (e.g. a legal view can be shared with finance, a sales territory view can be shared with sales, or an industry view can be shared with a business unit).
According to Gartner analysts Bill O’Kane and Kimberly Collins, “Through 2017, CRM leaders who avoid MDM will derive erroneous results that annoy customers, resulting in a 25% reduction in potential revenue gains,” according to this Gartner report, MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, February 2014.
Are you ready to reassess your assumptions about mastering customer data in CRM?
Get the Gartner report now: MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization.
Before I joined Informatica I worked for a health plan in Boston. I managed several programs including CMS Five Start Quality Rating System and Risk Adjustment Redesign. We recognized the need for a robust diagnostic profile of our members in support of risk adjustment. However, because the information resides in multiple sources, gathering and connecting the data presented many challenges. I see the opportunity for health plans to transform risk adjustment.
As risk adjustment becomes an integral component in healthcare, I encourage health plans to create a core competency around the development of diagnostic profiles. This should be the case for health plans and ACO’s. This profile is the source of reimbursement for an individual. This profile is also the basis for clinical care management. Augmented with social and demographic data, the profile can create a roadmap for successfully engaging each member.
Why is risk adjustment important?
Risk Adjustment is increasingly entrenched in the healthcare ecosystem. Originating in Medicare Advantage, it is now applicable to other areas. Risk adjustment is mission critical to protect financial viability and identify a clinical baseline for members.
What are a few examples of the increasing importance of risk adjustment?
1) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) continues to increase the focus on Risk Adjustment. They are evaluating the value provided to the Federal government and beneficiaries. CMS has questioned the efficacy of home assessments and challenged health plans to provide a value statement beyond the harvesting of diagnoses codes which result solely in revenue enhancement. Illustrating additional value has been a challenge. Integrating data across the health plan will help address this challenge and derive value.
2) Marketplace members will also require risk adjustment calculations. After the first three years, the three “R’s” will dwindle down to one ‘R”. When Reinsurance and Risk Corridors end, we will be left with Risk Adjustment. To succeed with this new population, health plans need a clear strategy to obtain, analyze and process data. CMS processing delays make risk adjustment even more difficult. A Health Plan’s ability to manage this information will be critical to success.
3) Dual Eligibles, Medicaid members and ACO’s also rely on risk management for profitability and improved quality.
With an enhanced diagnostic profile — one that is accurate, complete and shared — I believe it is possible to enhance care, deliver appropriate reimbursements and provide coordinated care.
How can payers better enable risk adjustment?
- Facilitate timely analysis of accurate data from a variety of sources, in any format.
- Integrate and reconcile data from initial receipt through adjudication and submission.
- Deliver clean and normalized data to business users.
- Provide an aggregated view of master data about members, providers and the relationships between them to reveal insights and enable a differentiated level of service.
- Apply natural language processing to capture insights otherwise trapped in text based notes.
With clean, safe and connected data, health plans can profile members and identify undocumented diagnoses. With this data, health plans will also be able to create reports identifying providers who would benefit from additional training and support (about coding accuracy and completeness).
What will clean, safe and connected data allow?
- Allow risk adjustment to become a core competency and source of differentiation. Revenue impacts are expanding to lines of business representing larger and increasingly complex populations.
- Educate, motivate and engage providers with accurate reporting. Obtaining and acting on diagnostic data is best done when the member/patient is meeting with the caregiver. Clear and trusted feedback to physicians will contribute to a strong partnership.
- Improve patient care, reduce medical cost, increase quality ratings and engage members.
It is troublesome to me to repeatedly get into conversations with IT managers who want to fix data “for the sake of fixing it”. While this is presumably increasingly rare, due to my department’s role, we probably see a higher occurrence than the normal software vendor employee. Given that, please excuse the inflammatory title of this post.
Nevertheless, once the deal is done, we find increasingly fewer of these instances, yet still enough, as the average implementation consultant or developer cares about this aspect even less. A few months ago a petrochemical firm’s G&G IT team lead told me that he does not believe that data quality improvements can or should be measured. He also said, “if we need another application, we buy it. End of story.” Good for software vendors, I thought, but in most organizations $1M here or there do not lay around leisurely plus decision makers want to see the – dare I say it – ROI.
However, IT and business leaders should take note that a misalignment due to lack OR disregard of communication is a critical success factor. If the business does not get what it needs and wants AND it differs what Corporate IT is envisioning and working on – and this is what I am talking about here – it makes any IT investment a risky proposition.
Let me illustrate this with 4 recent examples I ran into:
1. Potential for flawed prioritization
A retail customer’s IT department apparently knew that fixing and enriching a customer loyalty record across the enterprise is a good and financially rewarding idea. They only wanted to understand what the less-risky functional implementation choices where. They indicated that if they wanted to learn what the factual financial impact of “fixing” certain records or attributes, they would just have to look into their enterprise data warehouse. This is where the logic falls apart as the warehouse would be just as unreliable as the “compromised” applications (POS, mktg, ERP) feeding it.
Even if they massaged the data before it hit the next EDW load, there is nothing inherently real-time about this as all OLTP are running processes of incorrect (no bidirectional linkage) and stale data (since the last load).
I would question if the business is now completely aligned with what IT is continuously correcting. After all, IT may go for the “easy or obvious” fixes via a weekly or monthly recurring data scrub exercise without truly knowing, which the “biggest bang for the buck” is or what the other affected business use cases are, they may not even be aware of yet. Imagine the productivity impact of all the roundtripping and delay in reporting this creates. This example also reminds me of a telco client, I encountered during my tenure at another tech firm, which fed their customer master from their EDW and now just found out that this pattern is doomed to fail due to data staleness and performance.
2. Fix IT issues and business benefits will trickle down
Client number two is a large North American construction Company. An architect built a business case for fixing a variety of data buckets in the organization (CRM, Brand Management, Partner Onboarding, Mobility Services, Quotation & Requisitions, BI & EPM).
Grand vision documents existed and linked to the case, which stated how data would get better (like a sick patient) but there was no mention of hard facts of how each of the use cases would deliver on this. After I gave him some major counseling what to look out and how to flesh it out – radio silence. Someone got scared of the math, I guess.
3. Now that we bought it, where do we start
The third culprit was a large petrochemical firm, which apparently sat on some excess funds and thought (rightfully so) it was a good idea to fix their well attributes. More power to them. However, the IT team is now in a dreadful position having to justify to their boss and ultimately the E&P division head why they prioritized this effort so highly and spent the money. Well, they had their heart in the right place but are a tad late. Still, I consider this better late than never.
4. A senior moment
The last example comes from a South American communications provider. They seemingly did everything right given the results they achieved to date. This gets to show that misalignment of IT and business does not necessarily wreak havoc – at least initially.
However, they are now in phase 3 of their roll out and reality caught up with them. A senior moment or lapse in judgment maybe? Whatever it was; once they fixed their CRM, network and billing application data, they had to start talking to the business and financial analysts as complaints and questions started to trickle in. Once again, better late than never.
So what is the take-away from these stories. Why wait until phase 3, why have to be forced to cram some justification after the purchase? You pick, which one works best for you to fix this age-old issue. But please heed Sohaib’s words of wisdom recently broadcast on CNN Money “IT is a mature sector post bubble…..now it needs to deliver the goods”. And here is an action item for you – check out the new way for the business user to prepare their own data (30 minutes into the video!). Agreed?
“Start your master data management (MDM) journey knowing how it will deliver a tangible business outcome. Will it help your business generate revenue or cut costs? Focus on the business value you plan to deliver with MDM and revisit it often,” advises Michael Delgado, Information Management Director at Citrix during his presentation at MDM Day, the InformaticaWorld 2014 pre-conference program. MDM Day focused on driving value from business-critical information and attracted 500 people.
In Ravi Shankar’s recent MDM Day preview blog, Part 2: All MDM, All Day at Pre-Conference Day at InformaticaWorld, he highlights the amazing line up of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) customers speakers, Informatica experts as well as our talented partner sponsors.
Here are my MDM Day fun facts and key takeaways:
- Did you know that every 2 seconds an aircraft with GE engine technology is taking off somewhere in the world?
GE Aviation’s Chief Enterprise Architect, Ginny Walker, presented “Operationalizing Critical Business Processes: GE Aviation’s MDM Story.” GE Aviation is a $22 billion company and a leading provider of jet engines, systems and services. Ginny shared the company’s multi-year journey to improve installed-base asset data management. She explained how the combination of data, analytics, and connectivity results in productivity improvements such as reducing up to 2% of the annual fuel bill and reducing delays. The keys to GE Aviation’s analytical MDM success were: 1) tying MDM to business metrics, 2) starting with a narrow scope, and 3) data stewards. Ginny believes that MDM is an enabler for the Industrial Internet and Big Data because it empowers companies to get insights from multiple sources of data.
- Did you know that EMC has made a $17 billion investment in acquisitions and is integrating more than 70 technology companies?
EMC’s Barbara Latulippe, aka “The Data Diva,” is the Senior Director of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EMC is a $21.7 billion company that has grown through acquisition and has 60,000 employees worldwide. In her presentation, “Formula for Success: EMC MDM Best Practices,” Barbara warns that if you don’t have a data governance program in place, you’re going to have a hard time getting an MDM initiative off the ground. She stressed the importance of building a data governance council and involving the business as early as possible to agree on key definitions such as “customer.” Barbara and her team focused on the financial impact of higher quality data to build a business case for operational MDM. She asked her business counterparts, “Imagine if you could onboard a customer in 3 minutes instead of 15 minutes?”
- Did you know that Citrix is enabling the mobile workforce by uniting apps, data and services on any device over any network and cloud?
Citrix’s Information Management Director, Michael Delgado, presented “Citrix MDM Case Study: From Partner 360 to Customer 360.” Citrix is a $2.9 billion Cloud software company that embarked on a multi-domain MDM and data governance journey for channel partner, hierarchy and customer data. Because 90% of the company’s product bookings are fulfilled by channel partners, Citrix started their MDM journey to better understand their total channel partner relationship to make it easier to do business with Citrix and boost revenue. Once they were successful with partner data, they turned to customer data. They wanted to boost customer experience by understanding the total customer relationship across products lines and regions. Armed with this information, Citrix employees can engage customers in one product renewal process for all products. MDM also helps Citrix’s sales team with white space analysis to identify opportunities to sell more user licenses in existing customer accounts.
- Did you know Quintiles helped develop or commercialize all of the top 5 best-selling drugs on the market?
Quintiles’ Director of the Infosario Data Factory, John Poonnen, presented “Using Multi-domain MDM to Gain Information Insights:How Quintiles Efficiently Manages Complex Clinical Trials.” Quintiles is the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services with more than 27,000 employees. John explained how the company leverages a tailored, multi-domain MDM platform to gain a holistic view of business-critical entities such as investigators, research facilities, clinical studies, study sites and subjects to cut costs, improve quality, improve productivity and to meet regulatory and patient needs. “Although information needs to flow throughout the process – it tends to get stuck in different silos and must be manually manipulated to get meaningful insights,” said John. He believes master data is foundational — combining it with other data, capabilities and expertise makes it transformational.
While I couldn’t attend the PIM customer presentations below, I heard they were excellent. I look forward to watching the videos:
- Crestline/ Geiger: Dale Denham, CIO presented, “How Product Information in eCommerce improved Geiger’s Ability to Promote and Sell Promotional Products.”
- Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply: Director of Marketing, Kitch Walker presented, “Driving Omnichannel Customer Engagement – PIM Best Practices.”
I also had the opportunity to speak with some of our knowledgeable and experienced MDM Day partner sponsors. Go to Twitter and search for #MDM and #DataQuality to see their advice on what it takes to successfully kick-off and implement an MDM program.
There are more thought-provoking MDM and PIM customer presentations taking place this week at InformaticaWorld 2014. To join or follow the conversation, use #INFA14 #MDM or #INFA14 #PIM.
Arkady, you recently came back from the National Retail Federation conference. What are some of the issues that retailers are struggling with these days?
Arkady Kleyner: There are some interesting trends happening right now in retail. Amazon’s presence is creating a lot of disruption which is pushing traditional retailers to modernize their customer experience strategies. For example, most Brick and Mortar retailers have a web presence, but they’re realizing that web presence can’t just be a second arm to their business. To succeed, they need to integrate their web presence with their stores in a very intimate way. To make that happen, they really have to peel back the onion down to the fundamentals of how product data is shared and managed.
In the good old days, Brick and Mortar retailers could live with a somewhat disconnected product catalog, because they were always ultimately picking from physical goods. However in an integrated Web and Brick & Mortar environment, retailers must be far more accurate in their product catalog. The customers entire product selection process may happen on-line but then picked up at the store. So you can see where retailers need to be far more disciplined with their product data. This is really where a Product Information Management tool is critical, with so many SKUs to manage, retailers really need a process that makes sense from end to end for onboarding and communicating a product to the customer. And that is at the foundation of building an integrated customer experience.
In times of the digital customer, being online and connected always, we announced “commerce relevancy” as the next era of omnichannel and tailoring sales and marketing better to customers. What information are you seeing to be important when creating better customer shopping experience?
Arkady Kleyner:This is another paradigm in the integrated customer experience that retailers are trying to get their heads around. To appreciate how involved this is, just consider what a company like Amazon is doing. They have millions of customers and millions of products and thousands of partners. It’s literally a many to many to many relationship. And this is why Amazon is eating everybody alive. They know what products their customers like, they know how to reach those customers with those products, and they make it easy to buy it when you do. This isn’t something that Amazon created over night, but the requirements are no different for the rest of retailers. They need to ramp up the same type of capacity and reach. For example if I sell jewelry I may be selling it on my own company store but I may also have 5 other partnering sites including Amazon. Additionally, I may be using a dozen different advertising methods to drive demand. Now multiply that times the number of jewelry products I sell and you have a massive hairball of complexity. This is what we mean when we say that retailers need to be far more disciplined with their product data. Having a Product Information Management process that spans the onboarding of products all the way through to the digital communication of those products is critical to a retailer staying relevant.
In which businesses do you see the need for more efficient product catalog management and channel convergence?
Arkady Kleyner: There is a huge opportunity out there for the existing Brick & Mortar retailers that embrace an integrated customer experience. Amazon is not the de facto winner. We see a future where the store near you actually IS the online store. But to make that happen, Brick and Mortar retailers need to take a serious step back and treat their product data with the same reverence as they treat the product itself. This means a well-managed process for onboarding, de-duping, and categorizing their product catalog, because all the customer marketing efforts are ultimately an extension of that catalog.
Which performance indicators are important? How can retailers profit from it?
Arkady Kleyner: There are two layers of performance indicators that are important. The first is Operational Intelligence. This is the intelligence that determines what product should be shown to who. This is all based on customer profiling of purchase history. The second is Strategic Intelligence. This type of intelligence is the kind the helps you make overarching decisions on things like
-Maximizing the product margin by analyzing shipping and warehousing options
-Understanding product performance by demographics and regions
-Providing Flash Reports for Sales and Marketing
Which tools are needed to streamline product introduction but also achieve sales numbers?
Arkady Kleyner: Informatica is one of the few vendors that cares about data the same way retailers care about their products. So if you’re a retailer, you really need to treat your product data with the same reverence as your physical products then you need to consider leveraging Informatica as a partner. Their platform for managing product data is designed to encapsulate the entire process of onboarding, de-duping, categorizing, and syndicating product data. Additionally Informatica PIM provides a platform for managing all the digital media assets so Marketing teams are able to focus on the strategy rather than tactics. We’ve also worked with Informatica’s data integration products to bring the performance data from the Point of Sale systems for both Strategic and Tactical uses. On the tactical side we’ve used this to integrate inventories between Web and Brick & Mortar so customers can have an integrated experience. On the strategic side we’ve integrated Warehouse Management Systems with Labor Cost tracking systems to provide a 360 degree view of the product costing including shipping and storage to drive a higher per unit margins.
You can hear more from Arkady in our webinar “The Streamlined SKU: Using Analytics for Quick Product Introductions” on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
Maybe the word “death” is a bit strong, so let’s say “demise” instead. Recently I read an article in the Harvard Business Review around how Big Data and Data Scientists will rule the world of the 21st century corporation and how they have to operate for maximum value. The thing I found rather disturbing was that it takes a PhD – probably a few of them – in a variety of math areas to give executives the necessary insight to make better decisions ranging from what product to develop next to who to sell it to and where.
Don’t get me wrong – this is mixed news for any enterprise software firm helping businesses locate, acquire, contextually link, understand and distribute high-quality data. The existence of such a high-value role validates product development but it also limits adoption. It is also great news that data has finally gathered the attention it deserves. But I am starting to ask myself why it always takes individuals with a “one-in-a-million” skill set to add value. What happened to the democratization of software? Why is the design starting point for enterprise software not always similar to B2C applications, like an iPhone app, i.e. simpler is better? Why is it always such a gradual “Cold War” evolution instead of a near-instant French Revolution?
Why do development environments for Big Data not accommodate limited or existing skills but always accommodate the most complex scenarios? Well, the answer could be that the first customers will be very large, very complex organizations with super complex problems, which they were unable to solve so far. If analytical apps have become a self-service proposition for business users, data integration should be as well. So why does access to a lot of fast moving and diverse data require scarce PIG or Cassandra developers to get the data into an analyzable shape and a PhD to query and interpret patterns?
I realize new technologies start with a foundation and as they spread supply will attempt to catch up to create an equilibrium. However, this is about a problem, which has existed for decades in many industries, such as the oil & gas, telecommunication, public and retail sector. Whenever I talk to architects and business leaders in these industries, they chuckle at “Big Data” and tell me “yes, we got that – and by the way, we have been dealing with this reality for a long time”. By now I would have expected that the skill (cost) side of turning data into a meaningful insight would have been driven down more significantly.
Informatica has made a tremendous push in this regard with its “Map Once, Deploy Anywhere” paradigm. I cannot wait to see what’s next – and I just saw something recently that got me very excited. Why you ask? Because at some point I would like to have at least a business-super user pummel terabytes of transaction and interaction data into an environment (Hadoop cluster, in memory DB…) and massage it so that his self-created dashboard gets him/her where (s)he needs to go. This should include concepts like; “where is the data I need for this insight?’, “what is missing and how do I get to that piece in the best way?”, “how do I want it to look to share it?” All that is required should be a semi-experienced knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint to get your hands on advanced Big Data analytics. Don’t you think? Do you believe that this role will disappear as quickly as it has surfaced?