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The Ever Elusive Customer 360

Most organizations have recognized that attempting Customer 360 within a CRM application is a road to nowhere.  CRM cannot be the single-source-of-truth for all customer data. Companies still spend tons of consulting time, add dozens of fields to the lead, contact and account objects, install multiple add-on applications in the hope of getting there. Although some people have bought into Master Data Management (MDM) as a panacea, others still keep trying to push the boundaries of CRM. There are many reasons why. Most would say they aren’t able to afford the cost, complexity and IT resources required by traditional legacy on-premises MDM tools.

Top three reasons that come to my mind as to why extending CRM for Customer 360 doesn’t work are:

1.       The assumption that my Customer 360 view is same as yours – No it’s not. 360 view does not mean that dump all the customer data into one application page. It is more about the context than about the content. It is about providing all the relevant customer information to the user, based on user’s role and the task at hand. So, the 360-degree view for a sales rep visiting a client is different from 360-degree view of marketing manager doing segmentation for a campaign and is different from a call center agent trying to resolve a service issue.

2.       Ever increasing sources of data – The Customer 360 view is evolving, expanding – never static. It’s not just the customer profile and interaction data. Now we also want to include information from financial, logistics, support, and training systems. We also wish to understand customer preferences, relationships, sentiment from social networks. And we want to capture location data and data from connected devices. Capturing every single piece of information in CRM for a complete Customer 360 view is not a viable option. CRM is not designed for that.

3.       Duplicate and inaccurate data – Today’s CRM systems provide data cleanup to some extent. For high volume data management with cleaning, matching, merging, unmerging, verification of data while maintaining full audit trails, status, and lineage, where compliance gets into the equation, CRM falls short. With multiple high-velocity data streams, it is very hard to keep up with data maintenance. Data quality is the biggest issue that any sales and marketing department has. Moreover, many medium to large organizations have multiple CRM systems, so creating a single view of a business entities across CRM systems becomes challenging.

Although many acknowledge the value, MDM hasn’t fulfilled the promise either. Apart from the fact that it is expensive and complicated, it leaves the transactions and insights to other systems. Many MDM systems have not yielded the business value commensurate with millions of dollars in investment. We need to think beyond traditional MDM to get to a true Customer 360.

Imagine a Modern Data Management Platform as a Service that eliminates the complexity and helps build industry-specific, role-specific contextual data-driven applications, quickly. Specially designed to consolidate data from all internal and external sources, applications built on Modern Data Management platform support an infinite number of attributes and relationships, and provide contextual, personalized insights using big data scale analytics, enabling a Customer 360 that meets the role and goals of the user requiring the information.

What are the issues you come across that prevent you from having a realistic Customer 360 view? Would love to hear from you.

The Importance of CRM, but Only as a Recording Device

Remember the phrase, “Everything old is new again”? When I was working at Siebel back in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, CRM was definitely disruptive and the marketplace for it became really big, really fast. We sold a lot of CRM deployments, as did our competitors. Some ideas are a flash in the pan while others are interesting for a slightly longer period time, but we knew back then that CRM was here for the long run. It pleases me to observe a resurgence in CRM over the past eighteen months. It seems like many more firms and vendors are re-familiarizing themselves with the compelling benefits of being able to track interactions between sales reps and customers.

Last year IMS acquired 360 Vantage, and salesforce.com and Veeva continue to have strong momentum. Many companies are continuing to arm their sales reps with these tools. However, CRM isn’t the complete answer. It’s true that CRM is useful to ensure that the rep is efficiently interacting with their customer, but is it really helping him/her meet their goals. Many reps see CRM as a means of management tracking their activities, and feel that the application doesn’t add any true guidance to help them sell.

At Reltio we alleviate these concerns, but taking things to the next dimension (literally) by modeling customers in terms of both their master data (MDM) and their transaction and interaction data, pre-aligned through the Reltio Cloud. We believe that modern data management and data-driven applications will provide the insight and analytics that will help reps be more productive. Not only faster and easier than the old-school method of stitching that data together from disparate systems, but literally providing recommended actions directly aligned with the goals of each individual rep.

Those using process-driven applications such as Veeva CRM, salesforce.com sales cloud need not worry, the still have a purpose and as with all legacy applications and data sources, their data needs to be easily loaded and integrated into new modern data management platforms.

There’s still life remaining for the recording device capabilities of CRM, but it’s longevity will be predicated upon how they can be complemented with a new generation of data-driven applications.