Category Archives: Customers

How Much Does Bad Data Cost Your Business?

Bad data is bad for business. Ovum Research reported that poor quality data is costing businesses at least 30% of revenues. Never before have business leaders across a broad range of roles recognized the importance of using high quality information to drive business success. Leaders in functions ranging from marketing and sales to risk management and compliance have invested in world-class applications, six sigma processes, and the most advanced predictive analytics. So why are you not seeing more return on that investment? Simply put, if your business-critical data is a mess, the rest doesn’t matter.

Dennis Moore explains the implications of using inaccurate, inconsistent and disconnected data and the value business leaders can gain by mastering it.

Dennis Moore explains the impact of using accurate, consistent and connected data and the value business leaders can gain through master data management (MDM).

Not all business leaders know there’s a better way to manage their business-critical data. So, I asked Dennis Moore, the senior vice president and general manager of Informatica’s MDM business, who clocked hundreds of thousands of airline miles last year visiting business leaders around the world, to talk about the impact of using accurate, consistent and connected data and the value business leaders can gain through master data management (MDM).

Q. Why are business leaders focusing on business-critical data now?
A. Leaders have always cared about their business-critical data, the master data on which their enterprises depend most — their customers, suppliers, the products they sell, the locations where they do business, the assets they manage, the employees who make the business perform. Leaders see the value of having a clear picture, or “best version of the truth,” describing these “master data” entities. But, this is hard to come by with competing priorities, mergers and acquisitions and siloed systems.

As companies grow, business leaders start realizing there is a huge gap between what they do know and what they should know about their customers, suppliers, products, assets and employees. Even worse,  most businesses have lost their ability to understand the relationships between business-critical data so they can improve business outcomes. Line of business leaders have been asking questions such as:

  • How can we optimize sales across channels when we don’t know which customers bought which products from which stores, sites or suppliers?
  • How can we quickly execute a recall when we don’t know which supplier delivered a defective part to which factory and where those products are now?
  • How can we accelerate time-to-market for a new drug, when we don’t know which researcher at which site used which combination of compounds on which patients?
  • How can we meet regulatory reporting deadlines, when we don’t know which model of a product we manufactured in which lot on which date?

Q. What is the crux of the problem?
A. The crux of the problem is that as businesses grow, their business-critical data becomes fragmented. There is no big picture because it’s scattered across applications, including on premise applications (such as SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft) and cloud applications (such as Salesforce, Marketo, and Workday). But it gets worse. Business-critical data changes all the time. For example,

  • a customer moves, changes jobs, gets married, or changes their purchasing habits;
  • a suppliers moves, goes bankrupt or acquires a competitor;
  • you discontinue a product or launch a new one; or
  • you onboard a new asset or retire an old one.

As all this change occurs, business-critical data becomes inconsistent, and no one knows which application has the most up-to-date information. This costs companies money. It saps productivity and forces people to do a lot of manual work outside their best-in-class processes and world-class applications. One question I always ask business leaders is, “Do you know how much bad data is costing your business?”

Q. What can business leaders do to deal with this issue?
A. First, find out where bad data is having the most significant impact on the business. It’s not hard – just about any employee can share stories of how bad data led to a lost sale, an extra “truck roll,” lost leverage with suppliers, or a customer service problem. From the call center to the annual board planning meeting, bad data results in sub-optimal decisions and lost opportunities. Work with your line of business partners to reach a common understanding of where an improvement can really make a difference. Bad master data is everywhere, but bad master data that has material costs to the business is a much more pressing and constrained problem. Don’t try to boil the ocean or bring a full-blown data governance maturity level 5 approach to your organization if it’s not already seeing success from better data!

Second, focus on the applications and processes used to create, share, and use master data. Many times, some training, a tweak to a process, or a new interface can be created between systems, resulting in very significant improvements for the users without major IT work or process changes.

Lastly, look for a technology that is purpose-built to deal with this problem.  Master data management (MDM) helps companies better manage business-critical data in a central location on an ongoing basis and then share that “best version of the truth” with all on premise and cloud applications that need it.

Master data management (MDM) helps manage business-critical customer data and creates the total customer relationship view across functions, product lines and regions, which CRM promised but never delivered.

Master data management (MDM) helps manage business-critical customer data and creates the total customer relationship view across functions, product lines and regions, which CRM promised but never delivered.

Let’s use customer data as an example. If valuable customer data is located in applications such as Salesforce, Marketo, Seibel CRM, and SAP, MDM brings together all the business-critical data, the core that’s the same across all those applications, and creates the “best version of the truth.” It also creates the total customer relationship view across functions, product lines and regions, which CRM promised but never delivered.

MDM then shares that “mastered” customer data and the total customer relationship view with the applications that want it. MDM can be used to master the relationships between customers, such as legal entity hierarchies. This helps sales and customer service staff be more productive, while also improving legal compliance and management decision making. Advanced MDM products can also manage relationships across different types of master data. For example, advanced MDM enables you to relate an employee to a project to a contract to an asset to a commission plan. This ensures accurate and timely billing, effective expense management, managed supplier spend, and even improved workforce deployment.

When your sales team has the best possible customer information in Salesforce and the finance team has the best possible customer information in SAP, no one wastes time pulling together spreadsheets of information outside of their world-class applications. Your global workforce doesn’t waste time trying to investigate whether Jacqueline Geiger in one system and Jakki Geiger in another system is one or two customers, sending multiple bills and marketing offers at high cost in postage and customer satisfaction. All employees who have access to mastered customer information can be confident they have the best possible customer information available across the organization to do their jobs. And with the most advanced and intelligent data platform, all this information can be secured so only the authorized employees, partners, and systems have access.

Q. Which industries stand to gain the most from mastering their data?
A. In every industry there is some transformation going on that’s driving the need to know people, places and things better. Take insurance for example. Similar to the transformation in the travel industry that reduced the need for travel agents, the insurance industry is experiencing a shift from the agent/broker model to a more direct model. Traditional insurance companies now have an urgent need to know their customers so they can better serve them across all channels and across multiple lines of business.

In other industries, there is an urgent need to get a lot better at supply-chain management or to accelerate new product introductions  to compete better with an emerging rival. Business leaders are starting to make the connection between transformation failures and a more critical need for the best possible data, particularly in industries undergoing rapid transformation, or with rapidly changing regulatory requirements.

Q. Which business functions seem most interested in mastering their business-critical data?
A. It varies by industry, but there are three common threads that seem to span most industries:

Business leaders are starting to make the connection between transformation failures and bad data.

Business leaders are starting to make the connection between transformation failures and a more critical need for the best possible data.

  • MDM can help the marketing team optimize the cross-sell and up-sell process with high quality data about customers, their households or company hierarchies, the products and services they have purchased through various channels, and the interactions their organizations have had with these customers.
  • MDM can help the procurement team optimize strategic sourcing including supplier spend management and supplier risk management with high quality data about suppliers, company hierarchies,  contracts and the products they supply.
  • MDM can help the compliance teams manage all the business-critical data they need to create regulatory reports on time without burning the midnight oil.

Q. How is the use of MDM evolving?
A. When MDM technology was first introduced a decade ago, it was used as a filter. It cleaned up business-critical data on its way to the data warehouse so you’d have clean, consistent, and connected information (“conformed dimensions”) for reporting. Now business leaders are investing in MDM technology to ensure that all of their global employees have access to high quality business-critical data across all applications. They believe high quality data is mission-critical to their operations. High quality data is viewed as the the lifeblood of the company and will enable the next frontier of innovation.

Second, many companies mastered data in only one or two domains (customer and product), and used separate MDM systems for each. One system was dedicated to mastering customer data. You may recall the term Customer Data Integration (CDI). Another system was dedicated to mastering product data. Because the two systems were in silos and business-critical data about customers and products wasn’t connected, they delivered limited business value. Since that time, business leaders have questioned this approach because business problems don’t contain themselves to one type of data, such as customer or product, and many of the benefits of mastering data come from mastering other domains including supplier, chart of accounts, employee and other master or reference data shared across systems.

The relationships between data matter to the business. Knowing what customer bought from which store or site is more valuable than just knowing your customer. The business insights you can gain from these relationships is limitless. Over 90% of our customers last year bought MDM because they wanted to master multiple types of data. Our customers value having all types of business-critical data in one system to deliver clean, consistent and connected data to their applications to fuel business success.

One last evolution we’re seeing a lot involves the types and numbers of systems connecting to the master data management system. In the past, there were a small number of operational systems pushing data through the MDM system into a data warehouse used for analytical purposes. Today, we have customers with hundreds of operational systems communicating with each other via an MDM system that has just a few milliseconds to respond, and which must maintain the highest levels of availability and reliability of any system in the enterprise. For example, one major retailer manages all customer information in the MDM system, using the master data to drive real-time recommendations as well as a level of customer service in every interaction that remains the envy of their industry.

Q. Dennis, why should business leaders consider attending MDM Day?
A. Business leaders should consider attending MDM Day at InformaticaWorld 2014 on Monday, May 12, 2014. You can hear first-hand the business value companies are gaining by using clean, consistent and connected information in their operations. We’re excited to have fantastic customers who are willing to share their stories and lessons learned. We have presenters from St. Jude Medical, Citrix, Quintiles and Crestline Geiger and panelists from Thomson Reuters, Accenture, EMC, Jones Lang Lasalle, Wipro, Deloitte, AutoTrader Group, McAfee-Intel, Abbvie, Infoverity, Capgemini, and Informatica among others.

Last year’s Las Vegas event, and the events we held in London, New York and Sao Paolo were extremely well received. This year’s event is packed with even more customer sessions and opportunities to learn and to influence our product road map. MDM Day is one day before InformaticaWorld and is included in the cost of your InformaticaWorld registration. We’d love to see you there!

See the MDM Day Agenda.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Customers, Data Quality, Informatica World 2014, Master Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hospitality Execs: Invest in Great Customer Information to Support A Customer-Obsessed Culture

I love exploring new places. I’ve had exceptional experiences at the W in Hong Kong, El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya and Ventana Inn in Big Sur. I belong to almost every loyalty program under the sun, but not all hospitality companies are capitalizing on the potential of my customer information. Imagine if employees had access to it so they could personalize their interactions with me and send me marketing offers that appeal to my interests.

Do I have high expectations? Yes. But so do many travelers. This puts pressure on marketing and sales executives who want to compete to win. According to Deloitte’s report, “Hospitality 2015: Game changers or spectators?,” hospitality companies need to adapt to meet consumers’ increasing expectations to know their preferences and tastes and to customize packages that suit individual needs.

Jeff Klagenberg helps companies to use their data as a strategic asset

Jeff Klagenberg helps companies use data as a strategic asset and get the most value out of it.

In this interview, Jeff Klagenberg, senior principal at Myers-Holum, explains how one of the largest, most customer-focused companies in the hospitality industry is investing in better customer, product, and asset information. Why? To personalize customer interactions, bundle appealing promotion packages and personalize marketing offers across channels.

Q: What are the company’s goals?
A: The executive team at one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences is focused on achieving excellence in quality and guest services. They generate revenues from the sales of room nights at hotels, food and beverages, merchandise, admissions and vacation club properties. The executive team believes their future success depends on stronger execution based on better measurement and a better understanding of customers.

Q: What role does customer, product and asset information play in achieving these goals?
A: Without the highest quality business-critical data, how can employees continually improve customer interactions? How can they bundle appealing promotional packages or personalize marketing offers? How can they accurately measure the impact of sales and marketing efforts? The team recognized the powerful role of high quality information in their pursuit of excellence.

Q: What are they doing to improve the quality of this business-critical information?
A: To get the most value out of their data and deliver the highest quality information to business and analytical applications, they knew they needed to invest in an integrated information management infrastructure to support their data governance process. Now they use the Informatica Total Customer Relationship Solution, which combines data integration, data quality, and master data management (MDM). It pulls together fragmented customer information, product information, and asset information scattered across hundreds of applications in their global operations into one central, trusted location where it can be managed and shared with analytical and operational applications on an ongoing basis.

Many marketers overlook the importance of using high quality customer information in their personalization capabilities.

Many marketers overlook the importance of using high quality customer information in their investments in personalization.

Q: How will this impact marketing and sales?
A: With clean, consistent and connected customer information, product information, and asset information in the company’s applications, they are optimizing marketing, sales and customer service processes. They get limitless insights into who their customers are and their valuable relationships, including households, corporate hierarchies and influencer networks. They see which products and services customers have purchased in the past, their preferences and tastes. High quality information enables the marketing and sales team to personalize customer interactions across touch points, bundle appealing promotional packages, and personalize marketing offers across channels. They have a better understanding of which marketing, advertising and promotional programs work and which don’t.

Q: What is the role did the marketing and sales leaders play in this initiative?
A: The marketing leaders and sales leaders played a key role in getting this initiative off the ground. With an integrated information management infrastructure in place, they’ll benefit from better integration between business-critical master data about customers, products and assets and transaction data.

Q. How will this help them gain customer insights from “Big Data”?
A. We helped the business leaders understand that getting customer insights from “Big Data” such as weblogs, call logs, social and mobile data requires a strong backbone of integrated business-critical data. By investing in a data-centric approach, they future-proofed their business. They are ready to incorporate any type of data they will want to analyze, such as interaction data. A key realization was there is no such thing as “Small Data.” The future is about getting very bit of understanding out of every data source.

Q: What advice do you have for hospitality industry executives?
A: Ask yourself, “Which of our strategic initiatives can be achieved with inaccurate, inconsistent and disconnected information?” Most executives know that the business-critical data in their applications, used by employees across the globe, is not the highest quality. But they are shocked to learn how much this is costing the company. My advice is talk to IT about the current state of your customer, product and asset information. Find out if it is holding you back from achieving your strategic initiatives.

Also, many business executives are excited about the prospect of analyzing “Big Data” to gain revenue-generating insights about customers. But the business-critical data about customers, products and assets is often in terrible shape. To use an analogy: look at a wheat field and imagine the bread it will yield. But don’t forget if you don’t separate the grain from the chaff you’ll be disappointed with the outcome. If you are working on a Big Data initiative, don’t forget to invest in the integrated information management infrastructure required to give you the clean, consistent and connected information you need to achieve great things.

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Posted in Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customers, Data Integration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Master Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murphy’s First Law of Bad Data – If You Make A Small Change Without Involving Your Client – You Will Waste Heaps Of Money

I have not used my personal encounter with bad data management for over a year but a couple of weeks ago I was compelled to revive it.  Why you ask? Well, a complete stranger started to receive one of my friend’s text messages – including mine – and it took days for him to detect it and a week later nobody at this North American wireless operator had been able to fix it.  This coincided with a meeting I had with a European telco’s enterprise architecture team.  There was no better way to illustrate to them how a customer reacts and the risk to their operations, when communication breaks down due to just one tiny thing changing – say, his address (or in the SMS case, some random SIM mapping – another type of address).

Imagine the cost of other bad data (thecodeproject.com)

Imagine the cost of other bad data (thecodeproject.com)

In my case, I  moved about 250 miles within the United States a couple of years ago and this seemingly common experience triggered a plethora of communication screw ups across every merchant a residential household engages with frequently, e.g. your bank, your insurer, your wireless carrier, your average retail clothing store, etc.

For more than two full years after my move to a new state, the following things continued to pop up on a monthly basis due to my incorrect customer data:

  • In case of my old satellite TV provider they got to me (correct person) but with a misspelled last name at my correct, new address.
  • My bank put me in a bit of a pickle as they sent “important tax documentation”, which I did not want to open as my new tenants’ names (in the house I just vacated) was on the letter but with my new home’s address.
  • My mortgage lender sends me a refinancing offer to my new address (right person & right address) but with my wife’s as well as my name completely butchered.
  • My wife’s airline, where she enjoys the highest level of frequent flyer status, continually mails her offers duplicating her last name as her first name.
  • A high-end furniture retailer sends two 100-page glossy catalogs probably costing $80 each to our address – one for me, one for her.
  • A national health insurer sends “sensitive health information” (disclosed on envelope) to my new residence’s address but for the prior owner.
  • My legacy operator turns on the wrong premium channels on half my set-top boxes.
  • The same operator sends me a SMS the next day thanking me for switching to electronic billing as part of my move, which I did not sign up for, followed by payment notices (as I did not get my invoice in the mail).  When I called this error out for the next three months by calling their contact center and indicating how much revenue I generate for them across all services, they counter with “sorry, we don’t have access to the wireless account data”, “you will see it change on the next bill cycle” and “you show as paper billing in our system today”.

Ignoring the potential for data privacy law suits, you start wondering how long you have to be a customer and how much money you need to spend with a merchant (and they need to waste) for them to take changes to your data more seriously.  And this are not even merchants to whom I am brand new – these guys have known me and taken my money for years!

One thing I nearly forgot…these mailings all happened at least once a month on average, sometimes twice over 2 years.  If I do some pigeon math here, I would have estimated the postage and production cost alone to run in the hundreds of dollars.

However, the most egregious trespass though belonged to my home owner’s insurance carrier (HOI), who was also my mortgage broker.  They had a double whammy in store for me.  First, I received a cancellation notice from the HOI for my old residence indicating they had cancelled my policy as the last payment was not received and that any claims will be denied as a consequence.  Then, my new residence’s HOI advised they added my old home’s HOI to my account.

After wondering what I could have possibly done to trigger this, I called all four parties (not three as the mortgage firm did not share data with the insurance broker side – surprise, surprise) to find out what had happened.

It turns out that I had to explain and prove to all of them how one party’s data change during my move erroneously exposed me to liability.  It felt like the old days, when seedy telco sales people needed only your name and phone number and associate it with some sort of promotion (back of a raffle card to win a new car), you never took part in, to switch your long distance carrier and present you with a $400 bill the coming month.  Yes, that also happened to me…many years ago.  Here again, the consumer had to do all the legwork when someone (not an automatic process!) switched some entry without any oversight or review triggering hours of wasted effort on their and my side.

We can argue all day long if these screw ups are due to bad processes or bad data, but in all reality, even processes are triggered from some sort of underlying event, which is something as mundane as a database field’s flag being updated when your last purchase puts you in a new marketing segment.

Now imagine you get married and you wife changes her name. With all these company internal (CRM, Billing, ERP),  free public (property tax), commercial (credit bureaus, mailing lists) and social media data sources out there, you would think such everyday changes could get picked up quicker and automatically.  If not automatically, then should there not be some sort of trigger to kick off a “governance” process; something along the lines of “email/call the customer if attribute X has changed” or “please log into your account and update your information – we heard you moved”.  If American Express was able to detect ten years ago that someone purchased $500 worth of product with your credit card at a gas station or some lingerie website, known for fraudulent activity, why not your bank or insurer, who know even more about you? And yes, that happened to me as well.

Tell me about one of your “data-driven” horror scenarios?

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Posted in Banking & Capital Markets, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Complex Event Processing, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customer Services, Customers, Data Aggregation, Data Governance, Data Privacy, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Financial Services, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Healthcare, Master Data Management, Retail, Telecommunications, Uncategorized, Vertical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Understand Customer Intentions To Manage The Experience

I recently had a lengthy conversation with a business executive of a European telco.  His biggest concern was to not only understand the motivations and related characteristics of consumers but to accomplish this insight much faster than before.  Given available resources and current priorities this is something unattainable for many operators.

Unlike a few years ago – remember the time before iPad – his organization today is awash with data points from millions of devices, hundreds of device types and many applications.

What will he do next?

What will he do next?

One way for him to understand consumer motivation; and therefore intentions, is to get a better view of a user’s network and all related interactions and transactions.  This includes his family household, friends and business network (also a type of household).  The purpose of householding is to capture social and commercial relationships in a grouping of individuals (or businesses or both mixed together) in order to identify patterns (context), which can be exploited to better serve a customer a new individual product or bundle upsell, to push relevant apps, audio and video content.

Let’s add another layer of complexity by understanding not only who a subscriber is, who he knows and how often he interacts with these contacts and the services he has access to via one or more devices but also where he physically is at the moment he interacts.  You may also combine this with customer service and (summarized) network performance data to understand who is high-value, high-overhead and/or high in customer experience.  Most importantly, you will also be able to assess who will do what next and why.

Some of you may be thinking “Oh gosh, the next NSA program in the making”.   Well, it may sound like it but the reality is that this data is out there today, available and interpretable if cleaned up, structured and linked and served in real time.  Not only do data quality, ETL, analytical and master data systems provide the data backbone for this reality but process-based systems dealing with the systematic real-time engagement of consumers are the tool to make it actionable.  If you add some sort of privacy rules using database or application-level masking technologies, most of us would feel more comfortable about this proposition.

This may feel like a massive project but as many things in IT life; it depends on how you scope it.  I am a big fan of incremental mastering of increasingly more attributes of certain customer segments, business units, geographies, where lessons learnt can be replicated over and over to scale.  Moreover, I am a big fan of figuring out what you are trying to achieve before even attempting to tackle it.

The beauty behind a “small” data backbone – more about “small data” in a future post – is that if a certain concept does not pan out in terms of effort or result, you have just wasted a small pile of cash instead of the $2 million for a complete throw-away.  For example: if you initially decided that the central lynch pin in your household hub & spoke is the person, who owns the most contracts with you rather than the person who pays the bills every month or who has the largest average monthly bill, moving to an alternative perspective does not impact all services, all departments and all clients.  Nevertheless, the role of each user in the network must be defined over time to achieve context, i.e. who is a contract signee, who is a payer, who is a user, who is an influencer, who is an employer, etc.

Why is this important to a business? It is because without the knowledge of who consumes, who pays for and who influences the purchase/change of a service/product, how can one create the right offers and target them to the right individual.

However, in order to make this initial call about household definition and scope or look at the options available and sensible, you have to look at social and cultural conventions, what you are trying to accomplish commercially and your current data set’s ability to achieve anything without a massive enrichment program.  A couple of years ago, at a Middle Eastern operator, it was very clear that the local patriarchal society dictated that the center of this hub and spoke model was the oldest, non-retired male in the household, as all contracts down to children of cousins would typically run under his name.  The goal was to capture extended family relationships more accurately and completely in order to create and sell new family-type bundles for greater market penetration and maximize usage given new bandwidth capacity.

As a parallel track aside from further rollout to other departments, customer segments and geos, you may also want to start thinking like another European operator I engaged a couple of years ago.  They were trying to outsource some data validation and enrichment to their subscribers, which allowed for a more accurate and timely capture of changes, often life-style changes (moves, marriages, new job).  The operator could then offer new bundles and roaming upsells. As a side effect, it also created a sense of empowerment and engagement in the client base.

I see bits and pieces of some of this being used when I switch on my home communication systems running broadband signal through my X-Box or set-top box into my TV using Netflix and Hulu and gaming.  Moreover, a US cable operator actively promotes a “moving” package to help make sure you do not miss a single minute of entertainment when relocating.

Every time now I switch on my TV, I get content suggested to me.  If telecommunication services would now be a bit more competitive in the US (an odd thing to say in every respect) and prices would come down to European levels, I would actually take advantage of the offer.  And then there is the log-on pop up asking me to subscribe (or throubleshoot) a channel I have already subscribed to.  Wonder who or what automated process switched that flag.

Ultimately, there cannot be a good customer experience without understanding customer intentions.  I would love to hear stories from other practitioners on what they have seen in such respect

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Complex Event Processing, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customer Services, Customers, Data Integration, Data Quality, Master Data Management, Profiling, Real-Time, Telecommunications, Vertical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Is My Broadband Insurance Bundle?

As I continue to counsel insurers about master data, they all agree immediately that it is something they need to get their hands around fast.  If you ask participants in a workshop at any carrier; no matter if life, p&c, health or excess, they all raise their hands when I ask, “Do you have broadband bundle at home for internet, voice and TV as well as wireless voice and data?”, followed by “Would you want your company to be the insurance version of this?”

Buying insurance like broadband

Buying insurance like broadband

Now let me be clear; while communication service providers offer very sophisticated bundles, they are also still grappling with a comprehensive view of a client across all services (data, voice, text, residential, business, international, TV, mobile, etc.) each of their touch points (website, call center, local store).  They are also miles away of including any sort of meaningful network data (jitter, dropped calls, failed call setups, etc.)

Similarly, my insurance investigations typically touch most of the frontline consumer (business and personal) contact points including agencies, marketing (incl. CEM & VOC) and the service center.  On all these we typically see a significant lack of productivity given that policy, billing, payments and claims systems are service line specific, while supporting functions from developing leads and underwriting to claims adjucation often handle more than one type of claim.

This lack of performance is worsened even more by the fact that campaigns have sub-optimal campaign response and conversion rates.  As touchpoint-enabling CRM applications also suffer from a lack of complete or consistent contact preference information, interactions may violate local privacy regulations. In addition, service centers may capture leads only to log them into a black box AS400 policy system to disappear.

Here again we often hear that the fix could just happen by scrubbing data before it goes into the data warehouse.  However, the data typically does not sync back to the source systems so any interaction with a client via chat, phone or face-to-face will not have real time, accurate information to execute a flawless transaction.

On the insurance IT side we also see enormous overhead; from scrubbing every database from source via staging to the analytical reporting environment every month or quarter to one-off clean up projects for the next acquired book-of-business.  For a mid-sized, regional carrier (ca. $6B net premiums written) we find an average of $13.1 million in annual benefits from a central customer hub.  This figure results in a ROI of between 600-900% depending on requirement complexity, distribution model, IT infrastructure and service lines.  This number includes some baseline revenue improvements, productivity gains and cost avoidance as well as reduction.

On the health insurance side, my clients have complained about regional data sources contributing incomplete (often driven by local process & law) and incorrect data (name, address, etc.) to untrusted reports from membership, claims and sales data warehouses.  This makes budgeting of such items like medical advice lines staffed  by nurses, sales compensation planning and even identifying high-risk members (now driven by the Affordable Care Act) a true mission impossible, which makes the life of the pricing teams challenging.

Over in the life insurers category, whole and universal life plans now encounter a situation where high value clients first faced lower than expected yields due to the low interest rate environment on top of front-loaded fees as well as the front loading of the cost of the term component.  Now, as bonds are forecast to decrease in value in the near future, publicly traded carriers will likely be forced to sell bonds before maturity to make good on term life commitments and whole life minimum yield commitments to keep policies in force.

This means that insurers need a full profile of clients as they experience life changes like a move, loss of job, a promotion or birth.   Such changes require the proper mitigation strategy, which can be employed to protect a baseline of coverage in order to maintain or improve the premium.  This can range from splitting term from whole life to using managed investment portfolio yields to temporarily pad premium shortfalls.

Overall, without a true, timely and complete picture of a client and his/her personal and professional relationships over time and what strategies were presented, considered appealing and ultimately put in force, how will margins improve?  Surely, social media data can help here but it should be a second step after mastering what is available in-house already.  What are some of your experiences how carriers have tried to collect and use core customer data?

Disclaimer:
Recommendations and illustrations contained in this post are estimates only and are based entirely upon information provided by the prospective customer  and on our observations.  While we believe our recommendations and estimates to be sound, the degree of success achieved by the prospective customer is dependent upon a variety of factors, many of which are not under Informatica’s control and nothing in this post shall be relied upon as representative of the degree of success that may, in fact, be realized and no warrantee or representation of success, either express or implied, is made.
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Posted in B2B, Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customer Services, Customers, Data Governance, Data Privacy, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, Enterprise Data Management, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Healthcare, Master Data Management, Vertical | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside Dreamforce ’13: Why sales may be building 360-degree customer views outside Salesforce

I had a disturbing conversation at Dreamforce. Long story short, thousands of highly skilled and highly paid financial advisors (read sales reps) at a large financial services company are spending most of their day pulling together information about their clients in a spreadsheet, leaving only a few hours to engage with clients and generate revenue.

Not all valuable customer information is in Salesforce

360_degree_city-1024x640

Are you in sales? Your time is too valuable to squander on jobs technology can do. Stop building 360-degree customer views in spreadsheets. Get it delivered in Salesforce.

Why? They don’t have a 360-degree customer view within Salesforce.

Why not? Not all client information that’s valuable to the financial advisors is in Salesforce.  Important client information is in other applications too, such as:

  • Marketing automation application
  • Customer support application
  • Account management applications
  • Finance applications
  • Business intelligence applications

Are you in sales? Do you work for a company that has multiple products or lines of business? Then you can probably relate. In my 15 years of experience working with sales, I’ve found this to be a harsh reality. You have to manually pull together customer information, which is a time-consuming process that doesn’t boost job satisfaction.

Stop building 360-degree customer views in spreadsheets 

So what can you do about it? Stop building 360-degree customer views in spreadsheets. There is a better way and your sales operations leader can help.

One of my favorite customer success stories is about one of the world’s leading wealth management companies, with 16,000 financial advisors globally.  Like most companies, their goal is to increase revenue by understanding their customers’ needs and making relevant cross-sell and up-sell offers.

But, the financial advisors needed an up-to-date view of the “total customer relationship” with the bank before they talked to their high net-worth clients. They wanted to appear knowledgeable and offer a product the client might actually want.

Can you guess what was holding them back? The bank operated in an account-centric world. Each line of business had its own account management application. To get a 360-degree customer view, the financial advisors spent 70% of their time pulling important client information from different applications into spreadsheets. Sound familiar?

Once the head of sales realized this, he decided to invest in information management technology that provides clean, consistent and connected customer information and delivers a 360-degree customer view within Salesforce.

The result? They’ve had a $50 million dollar impact annually and a 30% increase in productivity. In fact, word spread to other banks and the 360-degree customer view in Salesforce became an incentive to attract top talent in the industry.

Ask sales operations to give you 360-degree customer views within Salesforce

I urge you to take action. In particular, talk to your sales operations leader if he or she is at all interested in improving performance and productivity, acquiring and retaining top sales talent, and cutting costs.

Want to see how you can get 360-degree customer views in Salesforce? Check out this demo: Enrich Customer Data in Your CRM Application with MDM. Then schedule a meeting with your sales operations leader.

Have a similar experience to share? Please share it in the comments below.

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Posted in Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customers, Data Integration, Data Quality, Financial Services, Master Data Management, Operational Efficiency, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Squeezing the Value out of the Old Annoying Orange

I believe that most in the software business believe that it is tough enough to calculate and hence financially justify the purchase or build of an application - especially middleware – to a business leader or even a CIO.  Most of business-centric IT initiatives involve improving processes (order, billing, service) and visualization (scorecarding, trending) for end users to be more efficient in engaging accounts.  Some of these have actually migrated to targeting improvements towards customers rather than their logical placeholders like accounts.  Similar strides have been made in the realm of other party-type (vendor, employee) as well as product data.  They also tackle analyzing larger or smaller data sets and providing a visual set of clues on how to interpret historical or predictive trends on orders, bills, usage, clicks, conversions, etc.

Squeeze that Orange

Squeeze that Orange

If you think this is a tough enough proposition in itself, imagine the challenge of quantifying the financial benefit derived from understanding where your “hardware” is physically located, how it is configured, who maintained it, when and how.  Depending on the business model you may even have to figure out who built it or owns it.  All of this has bottom-line effects on how, who and when expenses are paid and revenues get realized and recognized.  And then there is the added complication that these dimensions of hardware are often fairly dynamic as they can also change ownership and/or physical location and hence, tax treatment, insurance risk, etc.

Such hardware could be a pump, a valve, a compressor, a substation, a cell tower, a truck or components within these assets.  Over time, with new technologies and acquisitions coming about, the systems that plan for, install and maintain these assets become very departmentalized in terms of scope and specialized in terms of function.  The same application that designs an asset for department A or region B, is not the same as the one accounting for its value, which is not the same as the one reading its operational status, which is not the one scheduling maintenance, which is not the same as the one billing for any repairs or replacement.  The same folks who said the Data Warehouse is the “Golden Copy” now say the “new ERP system” is the new central source for everything.  Practitioners know that this is either naiveté or maliciousness. And then there are manual adjustments….

Moreover, to truly take squeeze value out of these assets being installed and upgraded, the massive amounts of data they generate in a myriad of formats and intervals need to be understood, moved, formatted, fixed, interpreted at the right time and stored for future use in a cost-sensitive, easy-to-access and contextual meaningful way.

I wish I could tell you one application does it all but the unsurprising reality is that it takes a concoction of multiple.  None or very few asset life cycle-supporting legacy applications will be retired as they often house data in formats commensurate with the age of the assets they were built for.  It makes little financial sense to shut down these systems in a big bang approach but rather migrate region after region and process after process to the new system.  After all, some of the assets have been in service for 50 or more years and the institutional knowledge tied to them is becoming nearly as old.  Also, it is probably easier to engage in often required manual data fixes (hopefully only outliers) bit-by-bit, especially to accommodate imminent audits.

So what do you do in the meantime until all the relevant data is in a single system to get an enterprise-level way to fix your asset tower of Babel and leverage the data volume rather than treat it like an unwanted step child?  Most companies, which operate in asset, fixed-cost heavy business models do not want to create a disruption but a steady tuning effect (squeezing the data orange), something rather unsexy in this internet day and age.  This is especially true in “older” industries where data is still considered a necessary evil, not an opportunity ready to exploit.  Fact is though; that in order to improve the bottom line, we better get going, even if it is with baby steps.

If you are aware of business models and their difficulties to leverage data, write to me.  If you even know about an annoying, peculiar or esoteric data “domain”, which does not lend itself to be easily leveraged, share your thoughts.  Next time, I will share some examples on how certain industries try to work in this environment, what they envision and how they go about getting there.

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Posted in Application Retirement, Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customers, Data Governance, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Master Data Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Operational Efficiency, Product Information Management, Profiling, Telecommunications, Transportation, Utilities & Energy, Vertical | 1 Comment

Improving CMS Star Ratings… The Secret Sauce

Many of our customers are Medicare health plans and one thing that keeps coming up in conversation is how they can transform business processes to improve star ratings. For plans covering health services, the overall score for quality of those services covers 36 different topics in 5 categories:

1. Staying healthy: screenings, tests, and vaccines

2. Managing chronic (long-term) conditions

3. Member experience with the health plan

4. Member complaints, problems getting services, and improvement in the health plan’s performance

5. Health plan customer service

Based on member feedback and activity in each of these areas, the health plans receive a rating (1-5 stars) which is published and made available to consumers. These ratings play a critical role in plan selection each Fall. The rating holds obvious value as consumers are increasingly “yelp minded,” meaning they look to online reviews from peer groups to make buying decisions. Even with this realization though, improving ratings is a challenge. There are the typical complexities of any survey: capturing a representative respondent pool, members may be negatively influenced by a single event and there are commonly emotional biases. There are also less obvious challenges associated with the data.

For example, a member with CHF may visit north of 8 providers in a month and they may or may not follow through on prescribed preventative care measures. How does CMS successfully capture the clinical and administrative data on each of these visits when patient information may be captured differently at each location? How does the health plan ensure that the CMS interpretation matches their interpretation of the visit data? In many cases, our customers have implemented an enterprise data warehouse and are doing some type of claims analysis but this analysis requires capturing new data and analyzing data in new ways.

We hear that those responsible for member ratings, retention and acquisition routinely wait >6 months to have a source or data added to a reporting database. The cycle time is too great to make a quick and meaningful impact on the ratings.

Let’s continue this discussion next week during your morning commute.

Join me as I talk with Frank Norman a Healthcare Partners at Knowledgent.

During this “drive time” webinar series, health plans will learn how to discover insights to improve CMS Star ratings.

Part 1 of the webinar series: Top 5 Reasons Why Improving CMS Star Ratings is a Challenge

Part 2 of the webinar series: Using Your Data to Improve CMS Star Ratings

Part 3 of the webinar series: Automating Insights into CMS Star Ratings

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Posted in Application Retirement, Big Data, CIO, Customers, Data Warehousing, Enterprise Data Management, Healthcare | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Data Integration and Enterprise Success, a Winning Combination

Interesting that I found this one.  Informatica announced that two Informatica customers were named Leaders in the Ventana Research 2013 Leadership Awards, which honor the leaders and pioneers who have contributed to their organizations’ successes.  While many of you may think that I’m shelling for our host, these stories are actually hard to come by, and when I find them I love to make hay.

This is not a lack of interest; it’s just the fact that those successful with data integration projects are typically the unsung heroes of enterprise IT.  There are almost never awards.  However, those who count on enterprise IT to provide optimal data flow in support of the business processes should understand that the data integration got them there.  In this case, one of the more interesting stories was around UMASS Memorial Health Care: Leadership Award For CIO George Brenckle

“The Ventana Research Leadership Awards recognize organizations and supporting technology vendors that have effectively achieved superior results through using people, processes, information and technology while applying best practices within specific business and technology categories.” Those receiving these awards leverage the Informatica Platform, thus why the award is promoted.  However, I find the approaches and the way technology is leveraged most interesting.

Just as a bit of background.  UMASS Memorial Health Care undertook the Cornerstone initiative to transform the way data is used across its medical center, four community hospitals, more than 60 outpatient clinics, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  The geographical distribution of these entities, and the different ways that they store data is always the challenge.

When approaching these problems you need two things: First, a well defined plan as to how you plan on approaching the problem, including the consumption of information from the source, the processing of that information, and the production of that information to the target.  Cornerstone implements common patient, clinical and financial systems and drive information across these systems to optimize healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes, grow the patient population and increase efficiency.

UMASS Memorial Health Care used Informatica to establish a data integration and data quality initiative to incorporate data from its clinical, financial and administrative sources and targets.  Using the Informatica technology, they are able to place volatility into the domain of the integration technology, in this case, Informatica.  This allows the integration administrator to add or delete systems as needed, and brings the concept of agility to a rapidly growing hospital system.

“The success of Cornerstone has resulted in primary patient panel analytics, online diabetes care, a command center for the ICU, and compliance with Medicare programs.”  Indeed, the business results are apparent around the use of data integration approaches and technology, including the ability to trace this project back to an immediate and definable business benefit.

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Posted in Customers, Healthcare | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment