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Even Santa Needs a Little Data-driven Help

Holiday spending is expected to increase to its highest this season since the great recession, according to various groups and organizations. The NRF (National Retail Federation) expects sales to increase 3.6% in November and December, to $655.8 billion – surpassing the 2.5% ten-year average.

With consumers using more and more varied shopping channels, and the expectation of hyper-personalization and engagement growing, retailers often struggle to deliver the right messages to the right consumers at the right time. Data can go a long way, but only when it’s first managed, organized and presented in a way that allows everyday business users, such as those in sales and marketing, to use it in their everyday efforts to reach customers.

Santa, like most retail organizations need to leverage rich customer data for smarter engagement, to ultimately deliver – whether by reindeer or drone – a better customer experience.

Data is Santa’s most valuable marketing asset – he, and the elves need to get the right presents to the intended recipients through proper data management. For retailers, even though consumers pay for physical products from retail, the differentiation comes down to customer experience and service. Modern data management practices can help make the engagement with customers more personalized. But with the level of sensitive and proprietary data available, they also need to ensure the highest levels of security and audit for both compliance. Everywhere there’s a Grinch looking to steal or misuse data. Data breach losses and noncompliance fines, coupled with lost of confidence in brand. Look for fine-grained audit and controls for tracking, alerting and managing access and distribution of data.

A complete view of the list through reliable data. Gone are the days where Santa could just rely on a letter to the North Pole. With the proliferation of channels for interaction, getting an accurate view of not just customer profiles, but their related behaviors, transactions, and relationships has never been more critical – it aids in better customer experience, enabling you to increase sales and customer satisfaction. New data-driven applications are enabling leading retail organizations to gain a complete view of their customers, and leverage the wealth of consumer information at big data scale.

Use machine learning for hyper personalization and engagement – As Santa knows, you’re only as good or fast as your best Elf. Fortunately, artificial intelligence is quickly evolving from a buzzword to an essential component of a holistic retail data management platform – and it’s enabling retail organizations to provide more personalized communications with customers. Predictive analytics and machine learning can provide intelligent insights and next-best actions for customer engagement. Ensuring that even trainee Elves are empowered with the knowledge to succeed. But before implementing these technologies, first ensure your data is nice – naughty or incorrect data leads to misleading and poor execution.

Tools and techniques exist today to support Santa, and retail sales & marketers everywhere to deliver better customer engagement and experience. It’s definitely better to give than to receive. Have a data-driven holidays.

Driving Digital Transformation Through Modern Master Data Management

Ankur Gupta, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Reltio

Digital Strategy is not a separate strategy, but instead a new lens on the overall business strategy that incorporates customer intelligence, sales & service optimization and digital marketing efforts (e.g. mobile, e-commerce and social). Key drivers of digital transformation among B2C organizations are profitability, customer satisfaction and increased speed to market. Whether you are a retailer, restaurant, travel company, media & entertainment company, lifestyle brand, or a consumer bank, you want to create a seamless, personalized and consistent customer experience across all channels (web, email, phone, stores) and departments (marketing, sales, support).

However, personalization is a double-edged sword. All digital transformation and personalization efforts would fail if data underneath is of poor quality, siloed and delayed. According to an estimate, poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by U.S. enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases. On the contrary, if done correctly, it can considerably boost your business (Amazon’s conversion to sales of on-site recommendations could be as high as 60%). Some of the top of mind issues discussed during various sessions included:

Garbage in – garbage out. 

Today, hyper-personalization is possible because of digital transformation enabled by cloud, mobile, big data, internet of things and many more cutting-edge technologies. Similarly, companies have invented great processes (order-to-cash, supply chain management, onboarding, provisioning) to manage customers, prospects, suppliers and partners. What’s still not treated as a top priority is the quality of data driving these processes.

Omnichannel initiative of any consumer brand is as good as its underlying data. A reliable data foundation alone, created through a Modern Data Management Platform, can lead to a truly personalized engagement,” said Ramon Chen, Chief Marketing Officer of Reltio, during the panel discussion, “Lessons from Lifestyle Brands: Omnichannel Marketing and Strategy.

The thought was echoed by other participants who discussed how reliable data is the key to effective customer experiences.

Data silos within the organization.

Being able to understand and monitor end-to-end consumer journey is vital. Yet, it is not uncommon for each team or function within an organization to define and measure customer experiences independently, in isolation. The result is disconnected global operations, fragmented multichannel visibility and incomplete views of customers that slow down all digital transformation efforts. Data-driven applications built on a Modern Data Management platform gives you not only the 360-degree view of your customers, products, channel partners, or suppliers but also a contextualized view of relationships among these entities. More importantly, it helps you create a single-source of truth across sales, marketing and support to provide the right customer with the right offering at the right time, thus enhancing the customer experience.

Data silos across organizations.

Co-innovation, co-creation and collaborative curation of consumer information, at a big data scale, can open the door to new possibilities. For example, personalized recommendations for food, movies, hotels and shopping can be packaged together for a particular consumer if the companies in these different industries are willing to share data with each other. Furthermore, such data exchange helps these non-competing business entities to monetize their precious consumer data assets. As digital touchpoints proliferation continues, a Modern Data Management solution will help companies to trade reliable data currency in a secure fashion.

Business outcomes don’t feed the underlying master data.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. It is critical to get smarter with each interaction. A Modern Data Management Platform coupled with Machine Learning enables contextual information and helps you answer high-impact business questions such as – Will my customer buy this product or not? Is this review written by a customer or a robot? Which category of products is most interesting to this customer? And so on. On top of that, a Modern Data Management solution captures all actual business outcomes and enriches the master data in a closed-loop, thus continuously fueling the recommendation engine for making smarter predictions.

It’s time for data to be managed in such a way to make true digital transformation happen. Once Modern Data Management is in place, a consumer brand can reap substantial benefits on a continual basis. Starting with proper data quality and alignment of key data assets across systems, departments and channels, it helps build a reliable data foundation for all your digital transformation initiatives. Businesses who will timely address this challenge will be ahead of the competition.