Tag Archives: Informatica
The Surprising Link Between Hurricanes and Strawberry Pop-Tarts: Brought to you by Clean, Consistent and Connected Data
What do you think Wal-Mart’s best-seller is right before a hurricane? If you guessed water like I did, you’d be wrong. According to this New York Times article, “What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers’ Habits” the retailer sells 7X more strawberry Pop-Tarts in Florida right before a hurricane than any other time. Armed with predictive analytics and a solid information management foundation, the team stocks up on strawberry Pop-Tarts to make sure they have enough supply to meet demand.
I learned this fun fact from Andrew Donaher, Director of Information Management Strategy at Groundswell Group, a consulting firm based in western Canada that specializes in information management services. In this interview, Andy and I discuss how IT leaders can increase the value of data to drive business value, explain how some IT leaders are collaborating with business leaders to improve predictive analytics, and share advice about how to talk to business leaders, such as the CFO about investing in an information management strategy.
Q. Andy, what can IT leaders do to increase the value of data to drive business value?
A. Simply put, each business leader in a company needs to focus on achieving their goals. The first step IT leaders should take is to engage with each business leader to understand their long and short-term goals and ask some key questions, such as:
- What type of information is critical to achieving their goals?
- Do they have the information they need to make the next decision or take the next best action?
- Is all the data they need in house? If not, where is it?
- What challenges are they facing when it comes to their data?
- How much time are people spending trying to pull together the information they need?
- How much time are people spending fixing bad data?
- How much is this costing them?
- What opportunities exist if they had all the information they need and could trust it?
Q. How are IT leaders collaborating with business partners to improve predictive analytics?
A. Wal-Mart’s IT team collaborated with the business to improve the forecasting and demand planning process. Once they found out what was important, IT figured out how to gather, store and seamlessly integrate external data like historical weather and future weather forecasts into the process. This enabled the business to get more valuable insights, tailor product selections at particular stores, and generate more revenue.
Q. Why is it difficult for IT leaders to convince business leaders to invest in an information management strategy?
A. In most cases, business leaders don’t see the value in an information management strategy or they haven’t seen value before. Unfortunately this often happens because IT isn’t able to connect the dots between the information management strategy and the outcomes that matter to the business.
Business leaders see value in having control over their business-critical information, being able to access it quickly and to allocate their resources to get any additional information they need. Relinquishing control takes a lot of trust. When IT leaders want to get buy-in from business leaders to invest in an information management strategy they need to be clear about how it will impact business priorities. Data integration, data quality and master data management (MDM) should be built into the budget for predictive or advanced analytics initiatives to ensure the data the business is relying on is clean, consistent and connected.
Q: You liked this quotation from an IT leader at a beer manufacturing company, “We don’t just make beer. We make beer and data. We need to manage our product supply chain and information supply chain equally efficiently.”
A.What I like about that quote is the IT leader was able to connect the dots between the primary revenue generator for the company and the role data plays in improving organizational performance. That’s something that a lot of IT leaders struggle with. IT leaders should always be thinking about what’s the next thing they can do to increase business value with the data they have in house and other data that the company may not yet be tapping into.
Q. According to a recent survey by Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, 60% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are investing in analytics and improved decision-making as their #1 IT priority. What’s your advice for IT Leaders who need to get buy-in from the CFO to invest in information management?
A. Read your company’s financial statements, especially the Management Discussion and Analysis section. You’ll learn about the company’s direction, what the stakeholders are looking for, and what the CFO needs to deliver. Offer to get your CFO the information s/he needs to make decisions and to deliver. When you talk to a CFO about investing in information management, focus on the two things that matter most:
- Risk mitigation: CFOs know that bad decisions based on bad information can negatively impact revenue, expenses and market value. If you have to caveat all your decisions because you can’t trust the information, or it isn’t current, then you have problems. CFOs need to trust their information. They need to feel confident they can use it to make important financial decisions and deliver accurate reports for compliance.
- Opportunity: Once you have mitigated the risk and can trust the data, you can take advantage of predictive analytics. Wal-Mart doesn’t just do forecasting and demand planning. They do “demand shaping.” They use accurate, consistent and connected data to plan events and promotions not just to drive inventory turns, but to optimize inventory and the supply chain process. Some companies in the energy market are using accurate, consistent and connected data for predictive asset maintenance. By preventing unplanned maintenance they are saving millions of dollars, protecting revenue streams, and gaining health and safety benefits.
To do either of these things you need a solid information management plan to manage clean, consistent and connected information. It takes a commitment but the pays offs can be very significant.
Q. What are the top three business requirements when building an information management and integration strategy?
A: In my experience, IT leaders should focus on:
- Business value: A solid information management and integration strategy that has a chance of getting funded must be focused on delivering business value. Otherwise, your strategy will lack clarity and won’t drive priorities. If you focus on business value, it will be much easier to gain organizational buy-in. Get that dollar figure before you start anything. Whether it is risk mitigation, time savings, revenue generation or cost savings, you need to calculate that value to the business and get their buy-in.
- Trust: When people know they can trust the information they are getting it liberates them to explore new ideas and not have to worry about issues in the data itself.
- Flexibility: Flexibility should be banked right into the strategy. Business drivers will evolve and change. You must be able to adapt to change. One of the most neglected, and I would argue most important, parts of a solid strategy is the ability to make continuous small improvements that may require more effort than a typical maintenance event, but don’t create long delays. This will be very much appreciated by the business. We work with our clients to ensure that this is addressed.
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.
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.
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.
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy a lot less.” I saw this powerful Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation in an MDM Summit presentation by Dagmar Garcia, senior manager of marketing data management at Citrix. In this interview, Dagmar explains how Citrix is achieving a measurable impact on marketing results by improving the quality of customer information and prospect information.
Q: What is Citrix’s mission?
A: Citrix is a $2.6 billion company. We help people work and collaborate from anywhere by easily accessing enterprise applications and data from any device. More than 250,000 organizations around the globe use our solutions and we have over 10,000 partners in 100 countries who resell Citrix solutions.
Q: What are marketing’s goals?
A: We operate in a hyper-competitive market. It’s critical to retain and expand relationships with existing enterprise and SMB customers and attract new ones. The marketing team’s goals are to boost campaign effectiveness and lead-to-opportunity conversion rates, while improving operational efficiencies.
But, it’s difficult to create meaningful customer segments and target them with relevant cross-sell and up-sell offers if marketing lacks access to clean, consistent and connected customer information and visibility into the total customer relationship across product lines.
Q: What is your role in achieving these goals?
A: I’ve been responsible for global marketing data management at Citrix for six years. My role is to identify, implement and maintain technical and business data management processes.I work with marketing leadership, GEO-based team members, sales operations, and operational experts to understand requirements, develop solutions and communicate results. I strive to create innovative solutions to improve the quality of master data at Citrix, including the roll-out and successful adoption of data governance and stewardship practices within Marketing and across other departments.
Q: What drove the decision to tackle inaccurate, inconsistent and disconnected customer and prospect information?
A: In 2011, the quality of customer information and prospect information was identified as the #1 problem by our sales and marketing teams. Account and contact information was incomplete, inaccurate and duplicated in our CRM system.
Another challenge was fragmented and inconsistent master account information scattered across the organization’s multiple applications. It was difficult to know which source had the most accurate and up-to-date customer and prospect information.
To be successful, we needed a single source of the truth, one system of reference where data management best practices were centralized and consistent. This was a requirement to understand the total customer relationship across product lines. We asked ourselves:
- How can we improve campaign effectiveness if more than 40% of the contacts in our customer relationship management system (CRM) are inactive?
- How can we create meaningful customer segments for targeted cross-sell and up-sell offers when we don’t have visibility into all the products they already have?
- How can we improve lead to opportunity conversion rates if we have incomplete prospect data?
- How can we improve operational efficiencies if we have double the duplicate customer and prospect information than the industry standard?
- How can we maintain high data quality standards in our global operations if we lack the data quality technology and processes needed to be successful?
Q: How are you managing customer and prospect information now?
A: We built a marketing data management foundation. We centralized our data management and reduced manual, error-prone and time-consuming data quality efforts. To decrease the duplicate account and contact rate, we focused on managing the quality of our data as close to the source as possible by improving data validation at points of entry.
Q: What role does Informatica play?
A: We using master data management (MDM) to:
- pull together fragmented customer, prospect and partner information scattered across applications into one central, trusted location where it can be mastered, managed and shared on an ongoing basis,
- organize customer, prospect and partner information so we know how companies and people are related to each other, which hierarchies and networks they belong to, including their roles and organizations, and
- syndicate clean, consistent and connected customer, partner and product information to applications, such as CRM and data warehouses for analytics.
Q: Why did you choose Informatica?
A: After completing a thorough analysis of our gaps, we knew the best solution was a combination of MDM technology and a data governance process. We wanted to empower the business to manage customer information, navigate multiple hierarchies, handle exceptions and make changes with a transparent process through an easy-to-use interface.
At the same time, we did extensive industry research and learned Informatica MDM was ranked as a visionary and thought leader in the master data management solution space and could support our data governance process.
Q: Can you share some of the results you’ve achieved?
A: Now that marketing uses clean, consistent and connected customer and prospect information and an understanding of the total customer relationship, we’ve seen a positive impact on these key metrics:
↑ 20% lead-to-opportunity conversion rates
↑ 20% operational efficiency
↑ 50% quality data at point of entry
↓ 50% in prospect accounts duplication rate
↓ 50% in creation of duplicate prospect accounts and contacts
↓ 50% in junk data rate
The MDM space is filled by a number of well-known players. In addition to Informatica, you’ll also find IBM, Oracle, SAP, and a host of other vendors. But who’s the leader of this space?
The Information Difference is an analyst firm that specializes in MDM, and this firm has been watching the MDM space for years. Recently, The Information Difference compared 12 different MDM vendors, ranked them using 200 criteria, and published their findings in a report of the MDM landscape for Q2, 2013. The firm compared the vendors’ MDM offerings across 6 categories: data governance, business rules, data quality, data storage, data provision, and data movement.
Access to information has always been extremely important to people and organizations. In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, data is an essential competitive advantage for companies. With rapidly growing data volumes, increased complexity, and high market speed, our goal is simple: to easily connect people and data.
Turning data into business outcomes has always been our value proposition at Heiler Software. Using the value of data and information potential is totally in line with the positioning of Informatica. Unleashing the potential of information will help to make the careers of our customers, partners and employees even better.
From beginning of all conversations, from the announcement of the acquisition in October 2012 until today, Informatica’s managers and employees always stuck to the promise they made. That is a great commitment for our employees and customers. Now Informatica has announced the exciting news that the acquisition of Heiler is completed.
Heiler is now a part of the Informatica family. Our entire team is looking forward to the future with Informatica. For Heiler, the door for an exciting and successful future is wide open. Informatica will provide our customers and our employees a promising perspective in a dynamic industry.
Hundreds of customers rely on Informatica’s multi-domain MDM platform to manage customer, location, and asset data, and synchronize accurate master data across operational and analytic systems. I am sure Informatica is committed to being a trusted partner and will work to ensure success with all Heiler’s products.
Heiler has just released PIM 7 to speed up the time to market with all products, across all sales and marketing channels. Also, since March 2013, Procurement 7.1 is available. Informatica is known for innovation. I am convinced that Informatica will continue investing in our business. Their goal is to generate real-time commerce business processes and create a unique customer experience for our customers’ business. Our award winning PIM fits in the Universal MDM strategy to deliver to one vision: Enabling our customers to offer the right product, for the right customer, from the right supplier, at the right time, via the right channels and locations. It is all about inspiring.
Joining the forces will allow our customers to leverage Informatica’s expertise in data quality and data integration to deliver greater business value. With Informatica’s Data Quality offerings, our customers will be able to further accelerate the introduction of your products to market. Additionally, customers will be able to easily onboard data from their suppliers, then distribute to its customers and partners electronically with Informatica B2B. We share a common goal to establish the combination of Informatica MDM and Heiler PIM as the gold standard in the industry.
Another benefit of the acquisition is that all customers will receive world-class support from Informatica’s Global Customer Support organization, which delivers a comprehensive set of support programs including 24×7 support across 10 regional support centers. Customers have ranked Informatica as #1 in customer satisfaction for seven years in a row. In addition, Informatica’s strong global partner ecosystem brings the right resources to solve business and technical challenges across more industries.
By reaching this important milestone my mission as CEO of Heiler Software AG will be fulfilled. Personally, I’m going to stay connected to Informatica and I am excited to get involved in the future of this excellent and innovative company.
The future of Universal MDM is close to my heart.
Rolf J. Heiler, born 1959, married, three children, graduated in 1982 in Business management, majoring in IT and process organization. In 1987, Rolf Heiler founded Heiler Software GmbH. From 2000 Heiler Software was quoted on the stock exchange in 2000 in the “New Market” sector.
At InformaticaWorld, we made a very exciting announcement—the introduction of PowerCenter Express, our entry-level data integration and profiling tool. What is PowerCenter Express, exactly? Well, in a nutshell, it’s giving the Power of PowerCenter to everyone, “to the people” if you like. We made PowerCenter Express available to all attendees at InformaticaWorld and they’ll be able to install it and be up and running in less than ten minutes. Since it’s PowerCenter, they’ll be able to scale up to enterprise class capabilities whenever they need to, using Vibe, our “Map Once, Deploy Anywhere” technology. Starting in July PowerCenter Express will be generally available to everyone- as a free download from Informatica’s Marketplace.
What we are doing with PowerCenter Express, is making sure that everyone, including departments and growing businesses, have access to PowerCenter’s high quality data integration and profiling tools. Until now the options for these groups have been limited—hand coding or open source products. Neither of these options is able to scale to be able to handle enterprise class data integration requirements. Which meant that before the advent of PowerCenter Express when these smaller organizations reached the point where they needed enterprise class capabilities and had to migrate to an enterprise data integration tool, they had no choice but to scrap all of their prior work . We don’t want that to happen anymore. We don’t want anyone to have to re-write mappings, to re-do work—ever. We want people to be able to map once, and deploy anywhere. And that’s what PowerCenter Express makes possible, that any organization, no matter how small, can start with PowerCenter—the gold standard for data integration—and stay with PowerCenter, re-using those same mappings when they transition to enterprise class, or when they want to deploy those mappings to Hadoop.
The reality is, as organizations’ data integration complexity reaches a certain point, they end up coming to Informatica—for the best products , the best support and the biggest ecosystem of developers. But in the past, for smaller organizations starting with the fully functional PowerCenter wasn’t always the best option. With PowerCenter Express, organizations can start small, start now, and scale fast. PowerCenter Express offers a real choice and future protection for entry-level data integration
If you’d like to learn more about PowerCenter Express before the public launch, shoot me an email at EBurns@Informatica.com. And start following me here, I’ll be posting a lot about this exciting new product over the coming weeks and months.
Emily V. Burns
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, PowerCenter Express
Last week I talked about Informatica World 2013, and how MDM is poised to be a major attraction. Now I know I was right, because the registrations are pouring in. Take MDM Day, the pre-conference event exclusively for our Master Data Management (MDM) customers and partners: So far, we’ve exceeded our attendance expectations threefold – to almost 350 people! This is exciting for us, but it’s also a clear sign of just how important MDM is in today’s IT infrastructure.
Here’s a bit about what we have planned for MDM Day:
In the morning, three Informatica MDM customers will present: Thomson Reuters, Lawson Products, and Allergan. Thomson Reuters will discuss how the company got its CxOs on-board with MDM, Lawson Products will recount a complete transformation in product data management, and Allergan will share insights on delivering repeated business value with MDM.
After each customer presentation, we’ll host an in-depth panel discussion led by both the customer and systems integration partners, which will be open to participation from the audience. These sessions will be highly interactive, allowing attendees to learn firsthand what worked and what didn’t, from some of Informatica’s most successful MDM customers.
In the afternoon sessions, attendees will be able to learn directly from Informatica MDM product management and development teams. We’ll demo the latest capabilities of MDM 9.5.1 and 9.6, including Salesforce MDM, and unveil some exciting new MDM advancements that are currently under development. Informatica MDM experts will discuss important architectural considerations in implementing Universal MDM, including Heiler PIM integration, and introduce ways to derive the most value from Universal MDM implementations.
We’ll cap off the day with roundtable discussions, providing customers with many opportunities to discuss their projects with Informatica development, product management, professional services, and support. Customers will be able to ask questions about new releases, features, and the MDM product roadmap, and they’ll have an opportunity to provide input for future versions. We’ll also offer a roundtable dedicated to discussing partner needs and ways to better support customer success.
I’ll look forward to seeing you at MDM Day!
There are many reasons why you can’t afford to miss Informatica World 2013, and below we have selected five to highlight. Let us know which is your top reason for joining us at Informatica World 2013 in the comments below:
Get in the “data integration” know. See and hear about the latest solutions and product updates, including the Informatica Roadmap and see live demos of our latest offerings before anyone else!
Gain face time 1.0. Informatica experts will be standing by in our “Hands on Lab” offering free advice and consulting.
Make your ‘mark.’ 90% of past attendees said that what they learned at Informatica World has an immediate and positive impact on their job and their organization’s success.
Networking. Network with your peers. Informatica World has attendees from around the world.
Rick Smolan. Learn from the author of The Human Face of Big Data how big data makes a difference in your everyday life.
Next week we are giving away a copy of Rick Smolan’s The Human Face of Big Data on the Informatica World Facebook Page. Check back daily for your chance to win!
According to a Forbes article, the average organization will grow their data by 50 percent in the coming year. Overall corporate data is expected to grow by 94 percent. According to Informatica, data is predicted to increase by as much as 75 times the current volume by the year 2020. What is Big Data all about? Big Data is the management and analytics of an immensely growing volume, variety, and velocity of data in a digital world. A precise definition of big data from analysts like Gartner and Forrester is a hot topic right now that is covered in a lot of blogs.
In my point of view, big data is connecting the dots. It is connecting more than ever before. But what is the role of product data in a big data world?
After recently talking to our customer Halfords, the UK retailer for bicycle and auto parts revealed: All challenge Amazon. Halfords is known as the expert and friend for cyclists. Therefore they position their brand as the leading expert with the best information. They use product information as a differentiator in the market to gain customers’ trust.
This article refers to a challenge that a lot of distributors and retailers are facing. In order to better serve their B2B and B2C customers, they grow and position their product range to be the one trusted supplier. The long tail (endless aisle) strategy offers higher margins with niche products as well.
These distributors and retailers are faced with the challenge of handling 100s or 1000s of suppliers providing content for millions of products. What happens when different suppliers provide information for the same product?
A business case of big product data: Innovative distributors attempt to merge different product content to create the best and richest product information. This requires an intelligent analysis of a supplier’s product data, and intelligent automatism in order to merge this data to create superior product content. The role of the data steward in defining these rules and policies becomes more important than ever before.
How can this be solved?
Data doesn’t only come from suppliers but from other data sources as well. Basic product information might come from a data hub like GS1 or could be synchronized from the distributor’s ERP system, which in turn might be leading the creation of new products in the distributor’s master assortment.
This basic data will be enriched by data coming directly from the manufactures or the suppliers of the distributor. These different data sources provide content for the same products in different levels of quality, richness, and completeness.
Which parts of product information are used from which data sources is determined by objective data quality rules combined with a definition of trust specific to each data source. One supplier is known for accurate descriptions in English while another provides the better German information. And yet a third data source usually provides the best images.
Governance of Product Information Creates Competitive Advantages
This is when Product Information Management comes into the field: to control big product data. According to Heiler’s PIM Product Manager, Markus Schuster, these business processes can only be successful when used with intelligent, highly automated data quality proofpoints and workflows that adhere to the data governance policy.