Part 2: How to Get Executive Buy In for a Customer Data Management Initiative

Today, a great business—one that leads its industry—requires strong data management. That’s because savvy consumers aren’t willing to put up with companies whose customer data is a mess. They want companies to understand them, remember them, and arm their people with the customer data they need to go the extra mile to delight them.

But knowing you need strong data management is far easier than getting it done.

In my last blog post, I talked about the reasons data management projects can be so hard to launch, and why having champions of data management in the C-suite is essential to success.

The difficulty of raising the business priority of data management was a focal point during a recent panel I hosted at our MDM 360 Summit in New York earlier this year.

Executives share ways to get executive buy-in for customer data management

Our panelists shared their winning strategies for getting a customer data management initiative up and running.

The panelists were:

  • Nicolas Lance, Vice President of Retirement Income Strategies, OneAmerica®
  • Mike Nutter, Director of Enterprise Data Services, LexisNexis
  • Amit Jha, Global Practice Head, Data Management, Wipro


Synching up across the business for your customer data management initiative 

best practices for launching customer data management initiatives
Amit Jha, Global Practice Head, Data Management at Wipro

“Unfortunately at many companies, data management is still seen as a technology initiative with a long business funding cycle,” said Jha. Jha has helped large organizations define master data management (MDM) and data governance business cases and customer data management solution implementation roadmaps.

To combat this problem, Jha offered three best practices:

  • Link customer data initiatives to larger enterprise initiatives. Don’t try to push it through as standalone initiatives. Good targets include:
    • Customer experience
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
    • Loyalty programs
    • Business transformation
    • Regulatory compliance
  • Research and communicate widely about the business impact of poor customer data, including process failures and reduced productivity. Use metrics that affect business critical functions.
  • Talk about the importance of eliminating data silos. But don’t paint the vision too broadly. Focus on where you can get the most value, get quick wins, and help spread the value across the organization over time.
customer data management initiative at LexisNexis
Mike Nutter, Director of Enterprise Data Services at LexisNexis

Mike Nutter explained that customer data management took root at LexisNexis to improve its financial reporting, but over time they saw broader value across the business and took action.

“Initially, the big driver for MDM was clean, accurate customer data for financial reporting, then we thought ‘why not take that great data and push it back into the systems that run the business?’” said Nutter. “Today, MDM is used for day-to-day operations in marketing, sales and customer service.”


Quantifying business impact of your customer data management initiative 

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is they forget to measure their baseline before making changes. Without this data to quantify the business benefits of their efforts, further investments are hard to come by.


Nicolas Lance, Vice President of Retirement Income Strategies at OneAmerica®

OneAmerica calculated overspending in several key areas and used it drive engagement in customer data management across the business.

In addition, employee efficiency was negatively impacted by inconsistent, inaccurate, out-of-date and disconnected data across the various lines of business and within the systems that support client experiences. Calculating their ‘before’ costs made it easy for the business to see how better data management practices could pay off in real dollars.

While the best metrics will be different for each organization, Jha offered the following instances where siloed data often takes a toll on business efficiency:

  • Duplicate customer records—increases call service times and impact agent efficiency
  • Manual data re-work—wastes employee time and distracts from primary duties
  • Tax calculation errors—reduces customer satisfaction, delays collections and invokes tax penalties
  • Delayed customer on-boarding—reduces customer satisfaction and limits sales opportunities and responsiveness

Seeking a sponsor for your customer data management initiative 

Nicolas Lance shared the importance of strong business-side sponsorship to the success of any data management project. Data management is often thought of as an IT-led initiative, when in fact it is the business that must lead and take ownership of data.

At OneAmerica, the CEO took direct sponsorship of making a customer data management investment that would pay off in big ways across the organization. “Unanimous support from the C-Suite was essential to our success,” Lance said.

Our panelists agreed that once the business gets an initial return, justification for ongoing effort will be much easier. “Measurable business outcomes are easy to find at LexisNexis,” Nutter said. “Data management is part of the fabric of the organization now. It’s just a core part of what we do—and will continue to do.”


customer data management panel
Nicolas Lance, Mike Nutter and Amit Jha at the MDM 360 Summit


Did you enjoy these tips? Learn more about how your company can get a competitive edge by strategically managing and sharing data.

Join us for the MDM 360 Summit in San Francisco

Join us at the MDM 360 Summit at InformaticaWorld. The MDM 360 Summit takes place on May 24, 2016 in San Francisco.

  • Find out what’s new and what’s planned for our data management products, including how you can capitalize on big data and IoT data.
  • Meet our leadership team.
  • Network with Chief Data Officers (CDOs), IT leaders, data savvy business executives and data experts from a variety of industries.
  • Learn valuable lessons in 25 customer sessions, including:
    • Jarrel Jimmerson, CDO, State of Texas, Health & Human Services
    • SirHari Thotapalli, Director of Customer Data management, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
    • David Gleason, Managing Director & Firmwide Head of Data Strategy, Governance &
    • Quality, JPMorgan Chase
    • Teri Mikol, Director of Data Governance, UPMC
    • John Sabel, Enterprise Information Management, State of Washington
    • Ashwani,Sethi, Senior Manager, MDM & Customer Insight, Walt Disney World
    • Patrick Lesandrini, Senior Manager, Integrations & MDM, Paypal
    • Michael Sabelhaus, Customer Master Data Product Owner, Intel
    • Laura Nailer, Ecommerce Manager, Unilever
    • Christophe Drelon, Head of Voice of Customer & Data, Renault
    • Jose Guilherme, BI Manager, SulAmerica Seguros
    • and more!

Special pricing ends soon. Register today!