Category Archives: Data Integration
On Saturday, I got a call from my broadband company on my mobile phone. The sales rep pitched a great limited-time offer for new customers. I asked him whether I could take advantage of this great offer as well, even though I am an existing customer. He was surprised. “Oh, you’re an existing customer,” he said, dismissively. “No, this offer doesn’t apply to you. It’s for new customers only. Sorry.” You can imagine my annoyance.
If this company had built a solid foundation of customer data, the sales rep would have had a customer profile rich with clean, consistent, and connected information as reference. If he had visibility into my total customer relationship with his company, he’d know that I’m a loyal customer with two current service subscriptions. He’d know that my husband and I have been customers for 10 years at our current address. On top of that, he’d know we both subscribed to their services while live at separate addresses before we were married.
Unfortunately, his company didn’t arm him with the great customer data he needs to be successful. If they had, he could have taken the opportunity to offer me one of the four services I currently don’t subscribe to—or even a bundle of services. And I could have shared a very different customer experience.
Every customer interaction counts
Executives at companies of all sizes talk about being customer-centric, but it’s difficult to execute on that vision if you don’t manage your customer data like a strategic asset. If delivering seamless, integrated, and consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points is one of your top priorities, every customer interaction counts. But without knowing exactly who your customers are, you cannot begin to deliver the types of experiences that retain existing customers, grow customer relationships and spend, and attract new customers.
How would you rate your current ability to identify your customers across lines of business, channels and touch points?
Many businesses, however, have anything but an integrated and connected customer-centric view—they have a siloed and fragmented channel-centric view. In fact, sales, marketing, and call center teams often identify siloed and fragmented customer data as key obstacles preventing them from delivering great customer experiences.
According to Retail Systems Research, creating a consistent customer experience remains the most valued capability for retailers, but 55 % of those surveyed indicated their biggest inhibitor was not having a single view of the customer across channels.
Retailers are not alone. An SVP of marketing at a mortgage company admitted in an Argyle CMO Journal article that, now that his team needs to deliver consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points, they realize they are not as customer-centric as they thought they were.
Customer complexity knows no bounds
The fact is, businesses are complicated, with customer information fragmented across divisions, business units, channels, and functions.
Citrix, for instance, is bringing together valuable customer information from 4 systems. At Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, it’s about 25 systems. At MetLife, it’s 70 systems.
How many applications and systems would you estimate contain valuable customer information at your company?
Based on our experience working with customers across many industries, we know the total customer relationship allows:
- Marketing to boost response rates by better segmenting their database of contacts for personalized marketing offers.
- Sales to more efficiently and effectively cross-sell and up-sell the most relevant offers.
- Customer service teams to resolve customers’ issues immediately, instead of placing them on hold to hunt for information in a separate system.
If your marketing, sales, and customer service teams are struggling with inaccurate, inconsistent, and disconnected customer information, it is costing your company revenue, growth, and success.
Transforming customer data into total customer relationships
Informatica’s Total Customer Relationship Solution fuels business and analytical applications with clean, consistent and connected customer information, giving your marketing, sales, e-commerce and call center teams access to that elusive total customer relationship. It not only brings all the pieces of fragmented customer information together in one place where it’s centrally managed on an ongoing basis, but also:
- Reconciles customer data: Your customer information should be the same across systems, but often isn’t. Assess its accuracy, fixing and completing it as needed—for instance, in my case merging duplicate profiles under “Jakki” and “Jacqueline.”
- Reveals valuable relationships between customers: Map critical connections—Are individuals members of the same household or influencer network? Are two companies part of the same corporate hierarchy? Even link customers to personal shoppers or insurance brokers or to sales people or channel partners.
- Tracks thorough customer histories: Identify customers’ preferred locations; channels, such as stores, e-commerce, and catalogs; or channel partners.
- Validates contact information: Ensure email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses are complete and accurate so invoices, offers, or messages actually reach customers.
This is just the beginning. From here, imagine enriching your customer profiles with third-party data. What types of information help you better understand, sell to, and serve your customers? What are your plans for incorporating social media insights into your customer profiles? What could you do with this additional customer information that you can’t do today?
We’ve helped hundreds of companies across numerous industries build a total customer relationship view. Merrill Lynch boosted marketing campaign effectiveness by 30 percent. Citrix boosted conversion rates by 20%. A $60 billion global manufacturer improved cross-sell and up-sell success by 5%. A hospitality company boosted cross-sell and up-sell success by 60%. And Logitech increased sales across channels, including their online site, retail stores, and distributors.
Informatica’s Total Customer Relationship Solution empowers your people with confidence, knowing that they have access to the kind of great customer data that allows them to surpass customer acquisition and retention goals by providing consistent, integrated, and seamless customer experiences across channels. The end result? Great experiences that customers are inspired to share with their family and friends at dinner parties and on social media.
Do you have a terrible customer experience or great customer experience to share? If so, please share them with us and readers using the Comment option below.
This post is about Markitecture – a combination of marketing and architecture for IT solutions. Whether it is on a whiteboard or a PowerPoint slide, markitecture is typically a one page informal illustration of a system’s structure and interactions. It shows the major components, their relationships and has a few carefully selected labels and text that describes the design philosophies embodied in it. While it is easy to create and there value in a markitecture, it doesn’t qualify as Architecture and it isn’t sufficient for solving the real underlying problems. (more…)
One of THE biggest challenges in companies today is complexity. To be more specific, unnecessary complexity resulting from silo behaviors and piece-meal point solutions. Businesses today are already extremely complex with the challenges of multiple products, multiple channels, global scale, higher customer expectations, and rapid and constant change, so we certainly don’t want to make the IT solutions more complex than they need to be. That said, I’m on the side of NO we don’t need a CSO as this blog recently surveyed its readers. We just need a business architecture practice that does what it’s supposed to. (more…)
The emergence of the business cloud is making the need for data ever more prevalent. Whatever your business, if your role is in the sales, marketing or service departments, chances are your productivity depends a great deal on the ability to move data quickly in and out of Salesforce and its ecosphere of applications.
With the in-built data transformation intelligence, the Data Wizard (click here to try the Beta version), changes the landscape of what traditional data loaders can do. The Data Wizard takes care of the following aspects, so that you don’t have to:
- Data Transformations: We built in over 300 standard data transformations so you don’t have to format the data before bringing it in (eg. combining first and last names into full names, adding numeric columns for totals, splitting address fields into its separate components).
- Built-in intelligence: We automate the mapping of data into Salesforce for a range of common use cases (eg., Automatically mapping matching fields, intelligently auto-generating date format conversions , concatenating multiple fields).
- App-to-app integration: We incorporated pre-built integration templates to encapsulate the logic required for integrating Salesforce with other applications (eg., single click update of customer addresses in a Cloud ERP application based on Account addresses in Salesforce) .
Unlike the other data loading apps out there, the Data Wizard doesn’t presuppose any technical ability on the part of the user. It was purpose-built to solve the needs of every type of user, from the Salesforce administrator to the business analyst.
Despite the simplicity the Data Wizard offers, it is built on the robust Informatica Cloud integration platform, providing the same reliability and performance that is key to the success of Informatica Cloud’s enterprise customers, who integrate over 5 billion rows of data per day. We invite you to try the Data Wizard for free, and contribute to the Beta process by providing us with your feedback.
In case you haven’t noticed, data integration is all the rage right now. Why? There are three major reasons for this trend that we’ll explore below, but a recent USA Today story focused on corporate data as a much more valuable asset than it was just a few years ago. Moreover, the sheer volume of data is exploding.
For instance, in a report published by research company IDC, they estimated that the total count of data created or replicated worldwide in 2012 would add up to 2.8 zettabytes (ZB). By 2020, IDC expects the annual data-creation total to reach 40 ZB, which would amount to a 50-fold increase from where things stood at the start of 2010.
But the growth of data is only a part of the story. Indeed, I see three things happening that drive interest in data integration.
First, the growth of cloud computing. The growth of data integration around the growth of cloud computing is logical, considering that we’re relocating data to public clouds, and that data must be synced with systems that remain on-premise.
The data integration providers, such as Informatica, have stepped up. They provide data integration technology that can span enterprises, managed service providers, and clouds that dealing with the special needs of cloud-based systems. Moreover, at the same time, data integration improves the ways we doing data governance, and data quality,
Second, the growth of big data. A recent IDC forecast shows that the big data technology and services market will grow at a 26.4% compound annual growth rate to $41.5 billion through 2018, or, about six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market. Additionally, by 2020, IDC believes that line of business buyers will help drive analytics beyond its historical sweet spot of relational to the double-digit growth rates of real-time intelligence and exploration/discovery of the unstructured worlds.
The world of big data razor blades around data integration. The more that enterprises rely on big data, and the more that data needs to move from place to place, the more a core data integration strategy and technology is needed. That means you can’t talk about big data without talking about big data integration.
Data integration technology providers have responded with technology that keeps up with the volume of data that moves from place to place. As linked to the growth of cloud computing above, providers also create technology with the understanding that data now moves within enterprises, between enterprises and clouds, and even from cloud to cloud. Finally, data integration providers know how to deal with both structured and unstructured data these days.
Third, better understanding around the value of information. Enterprise managers always knew their data was valuable, but perhaps they did not understand the true value that it can bring.
With the growth of big data, we now have access to information that helps us drive our business in the right directions. Predictive analytics, for instance, allows us to take years of historical data and determine patterns that allow us to predict the future. Mashing up our business data with external data sources makes our data even more valuable.
Of course, data integration drives much of this growth. Thus the refocus on data integration approaches and tech. There are years and years of evolution still ahead of us, and much to be learned from the data we maintain.
Last fall, at a large industry conference, I had the opportunity to conduct a series of discussions with industry leaders in a portable video studio set up in the middle of the conference floor. As part of our exercise, we had a visual artist do freeform storyboarding of the discussion on large swaths of five-foot by five-foot paper, which we then reviewed at the end of the session. For example, in a discussion of cloud computing, the artist drew a rendering of clouds, raining data on a landscape below, illustrated by sketches of office buildings. At a glance, one could get a good read of where the discussion went, and the points that were being made.
Data visualization is one of those up-and-coming areas that has just begin to breach the technology zone. There are some powerful front-end tools that help users to see, at a glance, trends and outliers through graphical representations – be they scattergrams, histograms or even 3D diagrams or something else eye-catching. The “Infographic” that has become so popular in recent years is an amalgamation of data visualization and storytelling. The bottom line is technology is making it possible to generate these representations almost instantly, enabling relatively quick understanding of what the data may be saying.
The power that data visualization is bringing organizations was recently explored by Benedict Carey in The New York Times, who discussed how data visualization is emerging as the natural solution to “big data overload.”
This is much more than a front-end technology fix, however. Rather, Carey cites a growing body of knowledge emphasizing the development of “perceptual learning,” in which people working with large data sets learn to “see” patterns and interesting variations in the information they are exploring. It’s almost a return of the “gut” feel for answers, but developed for the big data era.
As Carey explains it:
“Scientists working in a little-known branch of psychology called perceptual learning have shown that it is possible to fast-forward a person’s gut instincts both in physical fields, like flying an airplane, and more academic ones, like deciphering advanced chemical notation. The idea is to train specific visual skills, usually with computer-game-like modules that require split-second decisions. Over time, a person develops a ‘good eye’ for the material, and with it an ability to extract meaningful patterns instantaneously.”
Video games may be leading the way in this – Carey cites the work of Dr. Philip Kellman, who developed a video-game-like approach to training pilots to instantly “read” instrument panels as a whole, versus pondering every gauge and dial. He reportedly was able to enable pilots to absorb within one hour what normally took 1,000 hours of training. Such perceptual-learning based training is now employed in medical schools to help prospective doctors become familiar with complicated procedures.
There are interesting applications for business, bringing together a range of talent to help decision-makers better understand the information they are looking at. In Carey’s article, an artist was brought into a medical research center to help scientists look at data in many different ways – to get out of their comfort zones. For businesses, it means getting away from staring at bars and graphs on their screens and perhaps turning data upside down or inside-out to get a different picture.
A lot of my time is spent discussing enterprise and end user value of software solutions. Increasingly over the last few years the solution focus has moved from being first about specific application and business processes to being data centric. People start with thinking and asking about what data that is collected, displayed, manipulated and automated instead of what is the task (e.g. we need to better understand how our customers make buying decisions instead of we need to streamline our account managers daily tasks). I have been working on a mental model for how to think about these different types of solutions and one that would give me a better framework when discussing product, technical and marketing topics with clients or friends in the industry.
I came up with the following framework as a 2×2 matrix that uses two main axis to define the perceived value of data centric solutions. These are the Volume & Complexity of Data Integration and the Completeness & Flexibility of Data Analytics.
The reason for these definitions is that one very real change is that most clients that I work with are constantly dealing with distributed applications and business processes which means having to figure out how to bring that data together either in a new solution or in a analytics solution that can work across the various data sets. There is no single right answer to these issues but there are very real patterns of how different companies and solutions approach the underlying issue of growing distributed data inside and outside the control of the company.
1. Personal Productivity. These are solutions that collect and present data mostly for individual use, team data sharing and organization. They tend to be single task oriented and provide data reporting functions.
2. Business Productivity. These solutions usually span multiple data sources and are focused on either decision support, communication or collaboration.
3. Business Criticality. Theses solutions provide new value or capabilities to an organization by adding advanced data analytics that provided automated response or secondary views across distributed data sources.
4. Life Criticality. These solutions are a special subset which are aimed at either individual, group or social impact solutions. Traditionally these have been very proprietary and closed systems. The main trend in data-centric solutions is coming from more government and business data being exposed which can be integrated into new solutions that we just never could even do previously let alone think up. I do not even have a good example of a real one yet, but I see it as the higher level solution that evolves as at the juncture of real-time data meets analytics and distributed data sets.
Some examples of current solutions as I would map them on the perceived value of data centric solutions framework. Some of these are well known and others you probably have never heard. Many of these new solutions were not easy to create without technology that provides easier access to data from distributed resources or compute power for supporting decision support.
What I really like about this value framework is that it allows us to get beyond all the buzzwords of IoT, BigData, etc and focus on the real needs and solutions that are needed and that cross over these technical or singular topics but on their own are not actual high value business solutions. Feedback welcome.
Data Governance, the art of being Regulation Ready is about a lot of things, but one thing is clear. It’s NOT just about the technology. You ever been in one of those meetings, probably more than a few, where committees and virtual teams discuss the latest corporate initiatives? You know, those meetings where you want to dip your face in lava and run into the ocean? Because at the end of the meeting, everyone goes back to their day jobs and nothing changes.
Now comes a new law or regulation from the governing body du jour. There are common threads to each and every regulation related to data. Laws like HIPAA even had entire sections dedicated to the types of filing cabinets required in the office to protect healthcare data. And the same is true of regulations like BCBS 239, CCAR reporting and Solvency II. The laws ask; what are you reporting, how did you get that data, where has it been, what does this data mean and who has touched it. Virtually all of the regulations dealing with data have those elements.
So it behooves an organization to be Regulation Ready. This means those committees and virtual teams need to be driving cultural and process change. It’s not just about the technology; it’s as much about people and processes. Every role in the organization, from the developer to the business executive should embed the concepts of data governance in their daily work. From the time a developer or architect builds a new system, they need to document and define everything and every piece of data. It reminds me of days writing code and remembering to comment each code block. And the business executive likewise is sharing business rules and definition from the top so they can be integrated into the systems that eventually have to report on it.
Finally, the processes that support a data governance program are augmented by the technology. It may seem to suffice, that systems are documented in spreadsheets and documents, but those are more and more error prone and in the end not reliable in audit.
Informatica is the market leader in data management infrastructure to be Regulation Ready. This means, everything, from data movement and quality to definitions and security. Because at the end of the day, once you have the people culturally integrated, and the processes supporting the data workload, a centralized, high performance and feature rich technology needs to be in place to complete the trifecta. Informatica is pleased to offer the industry this leading technology as part of a comprehensive data governance foundation.
Informatica will be sharing this vision at the upcoming Annual FIMA 2015 Conference in Boston from March 30 to April 1. Come and visit Informatica at FIMA 2015 in Booth #3.