Category Archives: Mergers and Acquisitions
Last time I talked about how benchmark data can be used in IT and business use cases to illustrate the financial value of data management technologies. This time, let’s look at additional use cases, and at how to philosophically interpret the findings.
So here are some additional areas of investigation for justifying a data quality based data management initiative:
- Compliance or any audits data and report preparation and rebuttal (FTE cost as above)
- Excess insurance premiums on incorrect asset or party information
- Excess tax payments due to incorrect asset configuration or location
- Excess travel or idle time between jobs due to incorrect location information
- Excess equipment downtime (not revenue generating) or MTTR due to incorrect asset profile or misaligned reference data not triggering timely repairs
- Equipment location or ownership data incorrect splitting service cost or revenues incorrectly
- Party relationship data not tied together creating duplicate contacts or less relevant offers and lower response rates
- Lower than industry average cross-sell conversion ratio due to inability to match and link departmental customer records and underlying transactions and expose them to all POS channels
- Lower than industry average customer retention rate due to lack of full client transactional profile across channels or product lines to improve service experience or apply discounts
- Low annual supplier discounts due to incorrect or missing alternate product data or aggregated channel purchase data
I could go on forever, but allow me to touch on a sensitive topic – fines. Fines, or performance penalties by private or government entities, only make sense to bake into your analysis if they happen repeatedly in fairly predictable intervals and are “relatively” small per incidence. They should be treated like M&A activity. Nobody will buy into cost savings in the gazillions if a transaction only happens once every ten years. That’s like building a business case for a lottery win or a life insurance payout with a sample size of a family. Sure, if it happens you just made the case but will it happen…soon?
Use benchmarks and ranges wisely but don’t over-think the exercise either. It will become paralysis by analysis. If you want to make it super-scientific, hire an expensive consulting firm for a 3 month $250,000 to $500,000 engagement and have every staffer spend a few days with them away from their day job to make you feel 10% better about the numbers. Was that worth half a million dollars just in 3rd party cost? You be the judge.
In the end, you are trying to find out and position if a technology will fix a $50,000, $5 million or $50 million problem. You are also trying to gauge where key areas of improvement are in terms of value and correlate the associated cost (higher value normally equals higher cost due to higher complexity) and risk. After all, who wants to stand before a budget committee, prophesy massive savings in one area and then fail because it would have been smarter to start with something simpler and quicker win to build upon?
The secret sauce to avoiding this consulting expense and risk is a natural curiosity, willingness to do the legwork of finding industry benchmark data, knowing what goes into them (process versus data improvement capabilities) to avoid inappropriate extrapolation and using sensitivity analysis to hedge your bets. Moreover, trust an (internal?) expert to indicate wider implications and trade-offs. Most importantly, you have to be a communicator willing to talk to many folks on the business side and have criminal interrogation qualities, not unlike in your run-of-the-mill crime show. Some folks just don’t want to talk, often because they have ulterior motives (protecting their legacy investment or process) or hiding skeletons in the closet (recent bad performance). In this case, find more amenable people to quiz or pry the information out of these tough nuts, if you can.
Lastly; if you find ROI numbers, which appear astronomical at first, remember that leverage is a key factor. If a technical capability touches one application (credit risk scoring engine), one process (quotation), one type of transaction (talent management self-service), a limited set of people (procurement), the ROI will be lower than a technology touching multiple of each of the aforementioned. If your business model drives thousands of high-value (thousands of dollars) transactions versus ten twenty-million dollar ones or twenty-million one-dollar ones, your ROI will be higher. After all, consider this; retail e-mail marketing campaigns average an ROI of 578% (softwareprojects.com) and this with really bad data. Imagine what improved data can do just on that front.
I found massive differences between what improved asset data can deliver in a petrochemical or utility company versus product data in a fashion retailer or customer (loyalty) data in a hospitality chain. The assertion of cum hoc ergo propter hoc is a key assumption how technology delivers financial value. As long as the business folks agree or can fence in the relationship, you are on the right path.
What’s your best and worst job to justify someone giving you money to invest? Share that story.
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.
That tag line got your attention – did it not? Last week I talked about how companies are trying to squeeze more value out of their asset data (e.g. equipment of any kind) and the systems that house it. I also highlighted the fact that IT departments in many companies with physical asset-heavy business models have tried (and often failed) to create a consistent view of asset data in a new ERP or data warehouse application. These environments are neither equipped to deal with all life cycle aspects of asset information, nor are they fixing the root of the data problem in the sources, i.e. where the stuff is and what it look like. It is like a teenager whose parents have spent thousands of dollars on buying him the latest garments but he always wears the same three outfits because he cannot find the other ones in the pile he hoardes under her bed. And now they bought him a smart phone to fix it. So before you buy him the next black designer shirt, maybe it would be good to find out how many of the same designer shirts he already has, what state they are in and where they are.
Recently, I had the chance to work on a like problem with a large overseas oil & gas company and a North American utility. Both are by definition asset heavy, very conservative in their business practices, highly regulated, very much dependent on outside market forces such as the oil price and geographically very dispersed; and thus, by default a classic system integration spaghetti dish.
My challenge was to find out where the biggest opportunities were in terms of harnessing data for financial benefit.
The initial sense in oil & gas was that most of the financial opportunity hidden in asset data was in G&G (geophysical & geological) and the least on the retail side (lubricants and gas for sale at operated gas stations). On the utility side, the go to area for opportunity appeared to be maintenance operations. Let’s say that I was about right with these assertions but that there were a lot more skeletons in the closet with diamond rings on their fingers than I anticipated.
After talking extensively with a number of department heads in the oil company; starting with the IT folks running half of the 400 G&G applications, the ERP instances (turns out there were 5, not 1) and the data warehouses (3), I queried the people in charge of lubricant and crude plant operations, hydrocarbon trading, finance (tax, insurance, treasury) as well as supply chain, production management, land management and HSE (health, safety, environmental).
The net-net was that the production management people said that there is no issue as they already cleaned up the ERP instance around customer and asset (well) information. The supply chain folks also indicated that they have used another vendor’s MDM application to clean up their vendor data, which funnily enough was not put back into the procurement system responsible for ordering parts. The data warehouse/BI team was comfortable that they cleaned up any information for supply chain, production and finance reports before dimension and fact tables were populated for any data marts.
All of this was pretty much a series of denial sessions on your 12-step road to recovery as the IT folks had very little interaction with the business to get any sense of how relevant, correct, timely and useful these actions are for the end consumer of the information. They also had to run and adjust fixes every month or quarter as source systems changed, new legislation dictated adjustments and new executive guidelines were announced.
While every department tried to run semi-automated and monthly clean up jobs with scripts and some off-the-shelve software to fix their particular situation, the corporate (holding) company and any downstream consumers had no consistency to make sensible decisions on where and how to invest without throwing another legion of bodies (by now over 100 FTEs in total) at the same problem.
So at every stage of the data flow from sources to the ERP to the operational BI and lastly the finance BI environment, people repeated the same tasks: profile, understand, move, aggregate, enrich, format and load.
Despite the departmental clean-up efforts, areas like production operations did not know with certainty (even after their clean up) how many well heads and bores they had, where they were downhole and who changed a characteristic as mundane as the well name last and why (governance, location match).
Marketing (Trading) was surprisingly open about their issues. They could not process incoming, anchored crude shipments into inventory or assess who the counterparty they sold to was owned by and what payment terms were appropriate given the credit or concentration risk associated (reference data, hierarchy mgmt.). As a consequence, operating cash accuracy was low despite ongoing improvements in the process and thus, incurred opportunity cost.
Operational assets like rig equipment had excess insurance coverage (location, operational data linkage) and fines paid to local governments for incorrectly filing or not renewing work visas was not returned for up to two years incurring opportunity cost (employee reference data).
A big chunk of savings was locked up in unplanned NPT (non-production time) because inconsistent, incorrect well data triggered incorrect maintenance intervals. Similarly, OEM specific DCS (drill control system) component software was lacking a central reference data store, which did not trigger alerts before components failed. If you add on top a lack of linkage of data served by thousands of sensors via well logs and Pi historians and their ever changing roll-up for operations and finance, the resulting chaos is complete.
One approach we employed around NPT improvements was to take the revenue from production figure from their 10k and combine it with the industry benchmark related to number of NPT days per 100 day of production (typically about 30% across avg depth on & offshore types). Then you overlay it with a benchmark (if they don’t know) how many of these NPT days were due to bad data, not equipment failure or alike, and just fix a portion of that, you are getting big numbers.
When I sat back and looked at all the potential it came to more than $200 million in savings over 5 years and this before any sensor data from rig equipment, like the myriad of siloed applications running within a drill control system, are integrated and leveraged via a Hadoop cluster to influence operational decisions like drill string configuration or asmyth.
Next time I’ll share some insight into the results of my most recent utility engagement but I would love to hear from you what your experience is in these two or other similar industries.
Recommendations 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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday we announced our latest cloud integration release – Informatica Cloud Spring 2013. It’s a major step forward in terms of breadth and depth for our software as a service (SaaS) solution. Why, you ask?
- Didn’t all of our cloud integration customers get upgraded to the Winter release in November?
- Didn’t we just broaden into cloud-based master data management (MDM)?
- Don’t we have 3-4 releases per year?
Well, yes…but…there are a few aspects to today’s announcement that I think are particularly noteworthy. Here’s a summary.
All the talk about whether or not healthcare organizations will adopt cloud solutions is much ado about nothing – the simple fact is that they already have adopted cloud solutions and the trend will only accelerate.
The typical hospital IT department is buried under the burden of supporting hundreds of legacy and departmental systems, the multi-year implementation of at least one if not more enterprise electronic health record applications to meet the requirements of meaningful use, all the while contending with a conversion to ICD10 and a litany of other never-ending regulatory and compliance mandates. And this is happening in an economic climate of decreasing reimbursements and flat or declining IT budgets. (more…)
Tracking key information across global, regional and departmental levels is often hard enough without considering multiple Salesforce orgs in your business.
If you’re here, then you may already know what a Salesforce org is, but if not, we have a definition available straight from the horse’s mouth:
“A deployment of Salesforce with a defined set of licensed users. An organization/org is the virtual space provided to an individual customer of salesforce.com. Your organization includes all of your data and applications, and is separate from all other organizations.” (more…)
Today, agility and timely visibility are critical to the business. No wonder CIO.com, states that business intelligence (BI) will be the top technology priority for CIOs in 2012. However, is your data architecture agile enough to handle these exacting demands?
In his blog Top 10 Business Intelligence Predictions For 2012, Boris Evelson of Forrester Research, Inc., states that traditional BI approaches often fall short for the two following reasons (among many others):
- BI hasn’t fully empowered information workers, who still largely depend on IT
- BI platforms, tools and applications aren’t agile enough (more…)
If you haven’t already, I think you should read The Forrester Wave™: Data Virtualization, Q1 2012. For several reasons – one, to truly understand the space, and two, to understand the critical capabilities required to be a solution that solves real data integration problems.
At the very outset, let’s clearly define Data Virtualization. Simply put, Data Virtualization is foundational to Data Integration. It enables fast and direct access to the critical data and reports that the business needs and trusts. It is not to be confused with simple, traditional Data Federation. Instead, think of it as a superset which must complement existing data architectures to support BI agility, MDM and SOA. (more…)